Can tomato paste be substituted for tomato purée?

Andrew Grimm
  • Can tomato paste be substituted for tomato purée? Andrew Grimm

    A recipe for meat loaf from an Australian book (apparently terminology differs from country to country) calls for 1 cup (250 mL/8 fl oz) of tomato purée, and 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce.

    Wikipedia's article on tomato purée claims that the main difference between purée and paste is the thickness, whereas tomato sauce has a different taste.

    Can I substitute tomato paste for the tomato purée? If not, is it because the taste, or the amount of water, differs?

    If so, how much "triple concentrated" tomato paste should be substituted for a cup of tomato purée?

    Edit: the tomato paste ingredients are: concentrated tomato (98%), salt. Link to the product page.

  • I think of tomato sauce as the plain stuff in the cans, and marinara as the seasoned red sauce served on many Italian pasta dishes. But many people use the terms interchangeably it seems, and even many authentic Italian restaurants list tomato sauce on their menus where it's actually the delicious seasoned stuff.

    I'm guessing that the Wikipedia article referring to sauce as having a different taste than puree and paste uses tomato sauce in the seasoned sense, like marinara, not the plain-stuff-in-cans sense. If that makes sense...

    As to the tomato paste vs. puree, the paste will be thicker and more concentrated in flavor and texture/composition. If you're looking for the closest consistency and flavor to puree to duplicate a recipe, you might start with about 2/1 ratio of puree/paste and tweak from there. If it were me just cooking on the fly like usual, I'd use the paste straight across (but seasoned with fresh herbs) for the more intense flavor, and back it down as and if necessary.

  • I'll weigh in on this one, having extensive cooking experience on both sides of the pond. The terminology is indeed confusing when it comes to tomato products. By tomato sauce they don't mean canned tomato sauce like you get in the states, they actually mean ketchup! As for puree there's two types, one is just what it means, pureed tomatoes in a can, and the other is super-concentrated like what in the US is called tomato paste and comes in a tube.

    Given it's this recipe is asking for 250ml of puree they must mean the canned stuff, as adding that much concentrate would be hideous. To replicate UK/AU style tomato puree I'd use a can of tomato sauce with a half mini-can of tomato paste to thicken it up a bit. That still sounds like a bit too much liquid for my taste.

    Alternatively you can use my mom's technique and add a can of concentrated tomato soup to the mix, it makes a great meat-loaf!

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