For years, whenever I bought tomato paste, I would buy the tiny, cheap can at the grocery store, use about a tablespoon of the stuff, and then store it in the side shelf of the fridge in the can with some foil crumpled over it, or maybe stick it in a zip-top bag if I was really thinking about it. My pasta sauce would be delicious and then I’d totally forget I had the tomato paste at all. By the time I came back to use the can, I’d find a layer of mold on it. It didn’t feel great, to buy something and only get to use a tablespoon or two of it before having to chuck out the rest, and yet I continued in this cycle, over and over.
Yes, you can freeze tomato paste. And sometimes I would have the wherewithal to take the can, portion it into tablespoon sized balls, freeze it, and then put those tomato paste balls into a bag for later use. But more often than not something would distract me from the process, or I wouldn’t use them for too long and then have to just throw them out on my next freezer purge.
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Then, on a whim, because I love things that come in a squeeze tube, I bought a tube of tomato paste from Trader Joe’s instead of my usual can. Because the tube allowed me to squeeze out only what I needed without exposing the rest of it to air, the next time I came back from my sauce sabbatical to use the paste again, I didn’t go through the whole “oh-no-mold” cycle. I wasted less and didn’t have to dig through my freezer to find the blobs of paste I had squirreled away using some mysterious, forgotten organizational method.
Friends, I am never going back. The tube of tomato paste is usually a bit more expensive than the can—at Whole Foods it’s more in the $2 range instead of the $0.69 that the can runs me at my local grocery store. And those cents can add up, I udnerstand. If you’re on a budget and more conscientious of freezer storage than I, by all means, the cans will do just fine. But I found that investing that bit more on the tubes ensured I wasn’t throwing away most of a perfectly good can of food because of neglect, and that ends up saving me money in the long run. Try the tube, and see how your tomato paste storage game improves.
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