Do you know what we hate the most about tomato paste? It’s the fact that only a small amount of it is needed in most recipes.
Imagine this: you want to create a delicious pasta dish for your family, and so you opened a whole can of tomato paste only to find out that the recipe only calls for a tablespoon!
And you refrigerate it, hoping that you’ll get to use it one day.
The day did come, but it came a few months later than you expected. So you stand there checking out that leftover tomato paste, wondering, does tomato paste go bad?
Simple answer: Yes, tomato paste can go bad eventually.
The good news is it lasts long when unopened, and there are lots of things you can do to extend the shelf life of an opened can of tomato paste.
What are these? Continue reading if you want to know!
When you do, you’ll also get to learn the answers to these questions:
- What’s in a tomato paste?
- How long does tomato paste last?
- How to tell if tomato paste has gone bad?
- How to store tomato paste?
If you want to know the juicy truth, let’s get started!
What’s in a Tomato Paste?
The recipe for tomato paste is pretty simple as it’s made of only one ingredient—tomatoes. It’s produced by cooking down tomatoes to a thick paste after removing its skin and seeds. It’s known for giving off an intensified and concentrated acidic and umami flavor of tomatoes that comes from being cooked down.
Types of Tomato Paste
Because of its sharp flavor, you would only need a small amount of paste in your recipes. This is why you can find tomato paste in three formats—canned, in a glass jar, and tube.
Which one of these should you get?
Among the three, it’s the small canned tomato paste or tomato paste in a jar that contains more paste, which makes it a great option if you’re planning to throw a big party, invite friends over, or cook for a big family.
But if you just plan on using it in smaller dishes or home cooking for a small family, buy a tomato paste tube.
Uses of Tomato Paste
Since it packs a lot of that umami flavor in such a small amount, tomato pastes are usually used to enhance the flavor of various dishes like braised meats, chilis, pizzas, soups, and stews.
Pro Tip: Our favorite use for tomato paste is in pasta sauces. We add it to boost that tomato flavor and, at the same time, allow the sauce to stick to the pasta for a more flavorful dish.
How Long Does Tomato Paste Last?
All tomato paste products come with a printed date on their label.
Trivia: This date is not an expiration date but a best by date. The difference between the two is expiration date indicates safety. In contrast, the best by date refers to the manufacturer’s estimate regarding how long the tomato paste can remain at its best quality.
This means that as long as the container is not damaged and is stored properly, tomato paste will be safe for consumption even months past the best by date.
With that said, the shelf life of unopened tomato paste is 6 months past the Best by date.
To give you an idea of how long opened tomato paste last, here are the shelf life guidelines that you need to know:
- Canned Tomato Paste: 5 to 7 days
- Tomato Paste Tube: 45 days
- Tomato Paste in Glass Jars: 7 to 10 days
How Can You Tell if Tomato Paste Has Gone Bad?
Please keep in mind that the shelf life guidelines we’ve mentioned are just estimates, and there’s a slight chance that tomato paste will go bad earlier than expected.
Because of this, it’s a must that you always check for signs that your tomato paste is bad. Here they are:
1. Mold Growth
This is the most obvious sign of spoiled tomato paste. If there’s already a mold in the paste’s container, you should throw it out right away.
Pro Tip: When in doubt, always err on the side of caution and consider any discoloration at the surface of the sauce as mold growth.
2. Off Odor
If you had a whiff of an unpleasant smell upon opening the can or tube or jar, throw the paste right away.
3. Watery Texture
To be honest, watery tomato paste can still be safe for consumption. However, it might no longer taste as good and would make your cooked dishes watery, so you should discard it already.
Warning: Will bad tomato paste make you sick? As long as the tomato paste has no mold, odor, or bad taste, you’ll most likely be fine. If you consumed a moldy tomato paste, the worst symptoms you can experience are nause and vomitting.
How to Store Tomato Paste?
To prevent the premature spoilage of your tomato paste, you need to make sure that it’s stored properly. Here are some food storage tips on how to do that:
1. Unopened tomato paste must be stored in a dark, cool, and dry place.
Whether it’s in a can, glass jar, or tube, you should keep tomato paste away from light, moisture, and heat. That’s why you can place it in a kitchen cabinet or pantry or anywhere that’s not near your stove or oven.
2. Store opened tomato paste in the refrigerator.
Once opened, tomato paste must be properly stored inside the refrigerator. You shouldn’t leave opened tomato paste at room temp for a few hours to prevent bacterial growth.
3. Transfer leftover tomato paste to an airtight container.
Never refrigerate leftover paste in its can. Instead, transfer it to an airtight container or small glass jars before refrigerating.
4. If you want to extend its shelf life, freeze tomato paste.
Here’s some good news: Opened tomato paste can last for up to 5 months when stored in the freezer. Below are the options that you have in freezing tomato paste:
- Pour tomato paste in ice cube trays and freeze. This option is recommended if you’ll only need a small amount of tomato paste at a time in the future.
- Transfer to a freezer bag and freeze. Make sure to release the excess air before sealing the bag. This is an excellent option if you’ll eventually use the tomato paste in bulk.
Warning: Can you freeze tomato paste? Yes, but freezing tomato paste can lead to a change in its taste and consistency after thawing.
Wrapping It Up
Tomato paste does go bad, unfortunately. The worst part is its shelf life is relatively short, especially once it has been opened (5 to 45 days depending on its container).
But here’s some good news: there are many ways to retain the best quality of your tomato paste for longer.
The best news is, you can find everything you need to know on how to do that in this article.
So now, the ball is on your court. What else are you waiting for?
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