How To Make Quick Tomato Puree

Tomato puree is a very common and important ingredient in Greek cuisine. It is made by grating tomatoes on a box grater, but there’s an easier way these days: puree them in a food processor.

Nothing could be easier, just core the tomatoes and throw them in the food processor. If you halve them first you’ll be able to fit more in, and quartering them will squeeze even more in. But all you really have to do is throw them in and turn the machine on.

Tomatoes in food processor, ready to puree.

Process them into a puree and keep processing for another minute or so to make sure the skin is finely chopped and incorporated into the puree. You’ll still see some little bits of skin, but that’s okay, they won’t be noticed after cooking.

Tomato puree after processing.

I started using the food processor to make tomato puree last summer when I had tons of tomatoes from my garden, and since then I seldom use a box grater to grate tomatoes. Oh sure, if I only needed to grate a few tomatoes for a dish I probably would use a grater instead of dragging out the food processor, but these days I always have tomato puree in the freezer, so I never need to grate a small amount on the spur of the moment.

Here are five advantages to using the food processor:

1. The skins are used, not wasted. Even the tough skins of garden tomatoes blend in just fine.
2. The seeds are less noticeable because they’re somewhat pulverized.
3. It’s easy to make large batches to freeze.
4. It’s easy to use up sudden gluts from the garden (see #3).
5. It works better than grating does if the tomatoes are rather firm.

Any ideas for other ways of making tomato puree?

Recipes that use tomato puree:

Beef with Artichokes (Moschari me Agkinares)

Beef with Green Beans (Moschari me Fasolakia)

Beef with Quince (Moschari me Kydonia)

Calamari Cooked in Wine (Kalamarakia Krasata)

Eggs Scrambled In Tomatoes (Strapatsada)

Fried Eggplant with Garlicky Tomato-Vinegar Sauce (Tiganites Melitzanes me Skordo kai Ntomata)

Peppers in Tomato Sauce with Feta (Piperies me Feta)

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce (Makaronia me Kima)

Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce and Myzithra Cheese (Makaronada)

Tomato-Pepper Sauce (Saltsa me Ntomata kai Piperia)

Zoe’s Green Beans (Fasolakia tis Zoes)

29 Comments »

  1. Comment by manju

    I have to confess I’ve never made tomato puree before — for some reason I thought you had to simmer it. Now that I know it’s so easy, we’ll definitely try this with our tomato harvest (if our poor plants don’t drown in this 2d week of thunderstorms we’ve been having, with another week of storms on the way!…)

    manju’s last blog post..Eat Your (Sea) Veggies!

  2. Comment by Brooke Campbell

    I agree, since moving to a food processor, it’s been much more fun and enjoyable to cook foods like sauces and puree’s. I’ve been buying skinless tomato’s, but now I’m trying my hand at growing some in the backyard, which might be great for this recipe.

    Brooke Campbell’s last blog post..Hannah Montana CD The Movie Soundtrack Audio

  3. Comment by Lulu

    @Manju - Well, you do end up simmering the puree when you use it. But different recipes would simmer it for different lengths of time, usually after sauteing some veggies, the selection of which varies by recipe. So it’s nice to have plain, uncooked tomato puree ready to go.

    @Brooke - You’ll love your backyard tomatoes pureed!

  4. Comment by Katie

    Good one. I’ve grated them by hand, cooked and pureed but this will be summer in the freezer!

  5. Comment by FoodJunkie

    I have never grated tomatoes in my life! Using the blender is just too easy to pass…

  6. Comment by Lulu

    @Katie - There’s nothing better than summer in the freezer!

    @FoodJunkie - I guess I’m showing my age… :-P

  7. Comment by zip sauce

    Freezing them is so convenient. I grow them in the summer and freeze batches so I can use them in the winter.

  8. Comment by Lulu

    That’s what I do too, zip sauce. :-)

  9. Comment by Gay

    I do a lot tomato sauce myself. Tomatoes are quite cheap where I live. Nothing beats using fresh tomatoes for sauces, right? :)

  10. Comment by Lulu

    @9 Gay: I totally agree. Great use for fresh tomatoes and you get a fresher, cleaner tasting sauce than when using canned products.

  11. Comment by Jeanne

    I tried this for the first time on my very first harvest (EVER!…there were nearly 70 tomatoes and only 6 plants!!) and it was terrific! I normally use canned tomato puree to make pizza sauce, but hunted for a way to use my harvest. I added my seasonings while the tomatoes were being processed. So glad I don’t have to go the cooking route! THANK YOU!

  12. Comment by Jeanne

    I forgot to mention that I drained the excess juices through cheesecloth. My family loved the sauce!

  13. Comment by Lulu

    Great ideas, Jeanne! I especially like the draining through cheesecloth for a way to have a nice thick sauce without having to cook so long you lose the fresh flavor. I’ll definitely try this! And I know I can come up with a way of using the juices.

  14. Comment by Andrew

    Just in time, Jeanne!

    I began to stew the Oct 7 2009 Big Boy tomato crop to reduce the volume, when I saw your cheesecloth comment.

    It worked great.
    There is 36 oz of tomato paste and 85 oz of sweet tasting tomato wash, by no means to be discarded, since it does taste good. -The total of 121 oz. (~7.5 #).
    The cheesecloth method concentration is 121/36 = about 3/1
    Thanks for the tip.

  15. Comment by Lulu

    Wow, these are great ideas! I love the idea of having a thick yet fresh-tasting sauce. I’m thinking I could use the drained tomato liquid in bread, maybe add some cheese and olives &/or garlic for something really fancy.

  16. Comment by Simply Life

    This is great to know -thanks!

  17. Comment by April

    You can use the tomato wash or juice in soups, stews etc. We freeze ours in ice cube trays then pop into a double zip freezer bag to have on hand anytime.

  18. Comment by Alex

    Thanks i made a lot of pizzas and i need it well we can use the blender instead of the food processor

  19. Comment by Robot Menager

    Yes,
    Fresh Tomato juice for a soup or a pizza it’s great.
    And I don’t want to remeber how I achieved this before my food processor….
    Fresh tomato juice has nothing to do with the crap of canned products.

  20. Comment by John Carlton

    Nice article! Well, the things that must be to do preventing problem about this is add seasonings to the sauce before preserving it or when you use it. On other hand, this method of making tomato sauce has not been tested for canning safety, and may not be acidic enough to can safely. It is best suited for preserving by freezing or dehydrating.

  21. Comment by diane Likes Food Processor

    yes i agree with these food processor the work has become very easy and the tomato puree and sauce is more perfect . Thanks for ood processor

    diane

    Food Processor Review

  22. Comment by Barbara Mandich

    Just finished grating the tomatoes - too late for the food processor, but next time. I will definately use the cheesecloth. Thanks!

  23. Comment by Brooke

    Glad to have found this post! Sooooooooooo many tomatoes this year!!

  24. Comment by L

    From garden,Fresh grown tomatoes cored only and blemishes removed, to Vita-Mix, to pot, bring to boil, simmer to desired consistency (or thicken with corn starch), add any desirables for preferred sauce or tomatoe sauce based stew to put atop any pasta. Freeze in serving size containers, remove frozen block of sauce then vacuum seal. Sauce will last a long time. When it’s time to eat there’s a quick meal to be had.

  25. Comment by Ruby

    Wow, I’m really loving the puree, goes well will Indian, Iranian food..and forgot to mention about the yummy tomato sauce for pastas and pizzas also soup…

  26. Comment by Lyle R. Weeres

    After draining the sauce through the strainer a fe times you get a nice thick to,matte sauce! I save the Tomato water for sou stock rather then using tap water for soup base! That way you are still getting all the nourishment from the tomatoes, I pour in containers then freeze and use when ever I am making a pot of soup. I may try some in bread today as that sounds delicious. ! Bravo!

  27. Comment by Wendy

    Just read an article on how bad canned tomatoes are for your body so we’ve begun to make all of our sauces from fresh tomatoes only. Thank you for this simple recipe - it will definitely be used! (Bad tomatoes article: http://www.prevention.com/7foodsthatshouldnever/index.shtml)

  28. Comment by brian

    how about using the wash for oh say a bloody mary???

  29. Comment by Peggy

    I am greek and only have some of my mom’s receipts. Everything sounds great.

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