If you’re a whiz in the kitchen, there’s a good chance you’ve reached for your little can of tomato paste a time or two. Now that you’re trying to remove processed, packaged, and canned foods from your diet, where does your favorite umami-laden ingredient fall into place? Is it a “sometimes” ingredient? Or, is tomato paste Paleo?
What is Tomato Paste?
Tomato paste is basically just cooked and dehydrate tomatoes, in puree form. There’s a pretty basic three-step process major manufacturers go through to make tomato paste. The tomatoes are simmered for a long time to remove the moisture. Then, the seeds and stems are strained out until you’re left with a pretty thick sauce. Finally, the seedless sauce is again simmered to remove the rest of the moisture and create a thick paste. Sounds pretty harmless, right?
Not always. There are a few things to be concerned about. For starters, almost all tomato pastes contain citric acid, and several have added salt. Many popular brands also have added sugar, which is certainly unnecessary. The cans themselves are often lined with BPA (or other toxic lining), which leeches into the food due to the acidity content of tomatoes. Plus, many are worried about the concentration of pesticides when you buy regular tomato paste.
Is Tomato Paste Paleo?
Do these problems exclude tomato paste from the Paleo diet? No, probably not, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care when purchasing tomato paste. Yes, it is Paleo, but watch out for the brands with added sugars and other ingredients. Opt for organic to avoid the high concentrations of pesticides in the conventional stuff. Try to find tomato paste in glass jars, tetra paks, or tubes to avoid BPA, and be aware of the salt content in any brand you may purchase. Additionally, if you think buying tomato paste is a slippery slope back into the world of processed foods – make it yourself! Check out the recipes below for making and using tomato paste!
Note: You can also make a “tomato paste” by simply pureeing sun-dried tomatoes. Add a little oil if necessary, or reconstitute the tomatoes a little bit, then if it’s slightly too thin, bake it in your oven on 350ºF until the water evaporates and it makes a paste!