How long does tomato paste last?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “How long does tomato paste last?” and will discuss how to properly store tomato paste?

How long does tomato paste last?

Tomato paste, if kept unopened, has a shelf life of six months beyond the “best by” date on the packaging. When kept in a cool, dry place, an  open can of tomato paste is kept for about a week. According to the USDA, the shelf life of unopened tomato paste is 27 months in room temperature, 5 days in the refrigerator after opening and 2 to 3 months in the freezer.

Is Tomato Paste Perishable?

The USDA defines tomato paste as a product having at least 24% solids from tomatoes. In general, tomato paste is processed by heat to assure preservation in hermetically sealed containers. Due to the high concentration of solids, the acidity (pH < 4.6) and the thermal treatment, which inactivates the hydrolytic enzymes and destroy microorganisms, tomato paste has increased shelf life at room temperature as long as it is kept unopened (1). 

Cans, glass jars, or tubes are the most common packaging options for tomato paste. They all follow the same fundamental storage recommendations.

Keep the container out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources as long as it hasn’t been opened. Also, keep in mind that a glass jar shouldn’t be left in direct sunlight. When it comes to storing tomato paste, the pantry or kitchen cabinet is the obvious choice. Just make sure it isn’t near an oven or a radiator before putting it there. A study showed that the vitamin C of tomato paste stored at room temperature decreased with prolonged storage, with only 13% remaining at 12 months. The carotenoids and quercetin remained stable through 12 months of ambient storage (1). 

Tomato paste should be stored in the refrigerator while not in use, once it has been opened. Cans are more difficult to seal than glass jars or tubes. You may use cling wrap or a plastic bag and a rubber band to seal these items. or store in a glass jar or sealable container to keep it fresher for longer.

Tomato paste, of course, does not keep for a lengthy period. Fortunately, we can extend its shelf life by many months with just a little amount of additional effort.

Tomato Paste Freezes Okay?

Tomato paste may certainly be frozen. The drawback is that the paste loses some of its quality when it’s defrosted. Fortunately, tomato paste is most often employed in cooked foods, where this little alteration is hardly evident,

Freezing can decrease the chemical reactions rates and slow down losses that may occur in vitamin content of foods. Studies showed that the contents of beta-carotene and lycopene of tomato products decreased slowly but continuously during the frozen (-20°C) and room temperature storage. This decrease was significantly greater at normal storage temperature than under frozen storage. The reason for the color change of tomato products is a carotenoid oxidation and this cannot be totally eliminated, even at freezing temperatures (2).

It’s possible to store the leftover paste in the freezer, but there’s a better option available. Frozen food is now ready to be served. Ice cube trays make it simple to freeze and clean up. Using these steps, you can achieve it:

·         Put the paste in the tray.

·         The cubes will become solid after a few hours of freezing in the dish.

·         Frozen cubes are ready to be transferred to a freezer bag. If you’d like, include a label with your name and the date.

·         The freezer bag should be placed in the freezer.

Isn’t that clear? It just takes a few minutes, and all that’s left to do is wash the ice cube trays.

TIP:  may not be necessary when using the paste in recipes that are cooked over a stovetop.

When ice cube trays aren’t large enough, a muffin tin may be used in their place.

Is Tomato Paste Good for a While?

The expiration date appears on every jar of tomato paste. The unopened paste, like other condiments, such as barbeque sauce, may readily survive months after the expiration date. Of course, if you keep it for a long time, the quality may degrade, but the paste is still safe to consume unless there is a defect in the container.

When you open the container, the amount of time the paste is safe to use varies. Canned tomato paste may be stored in the refrigerator for up to seven days if it is properly packed. Tomato paste stored in a glass jar is more likely to remain fresh for an extra day or two.

However, none of these times is outstanding, so if you want the paste to persist longer, you have two choices. Frozen food is the first step. There is also the option of purchasing tomato paste in a tub. For the most part, opened tomato paste containers keep their quality for roughly 45 days. The shelf life depends on the processing methods, the chemical characteristics of the product (if it is more or less concentrated), the acidity (tomato variety used) and especially, the initial microbial count at the beginning of the storage period (3). 

TIP: Costly containers of tomato paste are common. Use cans or jars and store the extras in the freezer to save money.

Identifying Bad Tomato Paste

The most evident indicator of spoiling for tomato paste is the formation of mold. Discard the container if it shows signs of mold growth.

WARNING: There is a chance that any apparent discoloration on the paste’s surface is mold. That’s why it’s advisable to get rid of it as well.

Another common symptom that the paste has gone bad is the presence of an unpleasant odor. Even if the paste becomes runny, you can probably still eat it, but it’s best to discard it. Adding it to a delicious dish like spaghetti and meatballs is a waste of time since the flavor won’t be there. 

Changes in color also occur due to oxidation of the pigments or Maillard reaction, but this does not necessarily mean it is no longer safe to consume. Changes in the texture, which becomes watery, and the formation of off-odors can be signs of bacterial degradation. The spoilage in tomato products is mainly attributed to yeasts and molds as they can survive in acidic conditions (3).

The paste is probably safe to consume if everything is in order. Check to see whether it’s still okay to use in your recipe by giving it a taste test beforehand.

TIP: When it comes to spotting dangerous food, humans have a very excellent sense of intuition. Always follow your instincts when it comes to determining whether or not a product is beyond its sell-by date.

Other FAQs about Tomato Paste that you may be interested in.

Can you use canned tomato paste after the expiration date?

What is the difference between tomato paste and tomato puree?

How to counteract too much tomato paste?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the query, “How long does tomato paste last?” and discussed how to properly store tomato paste?

References

  1. Koh, Eunmi, Suthawan Charoenprasert, and Alyson E. Mitchell. Effects of industrial tomato paste processing on ascorbic acid, flavonoids and carotenoids and their stability over one‐year storage. J Sci Food Agric, 2012, 92, 23-28.
  2. Biacs, P., and U. Wissgott. Investigation of colour changes of some tomato products during frozen storage. Food/Nahrung, 1997, 41, 306-310.  
  3. Nkhata, Smith Gilliard, and Emmanuel Owino Ayua. Quality attributes of homemade tomato sauce stored at different temperatures. Afr J Food Sci, 2018, 12, 97-103. 

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.