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Frozen Tomato Paste and Chipotles

If you hang out on the internet at all these days, you’ve probably seen the idea of freezing a can of tomato paste after opening both ends… you know, so you can slide the paste out and slice off just the amount you need. I just can’t get on board with storing my tomato product, even at freezing temperatures, in metal. Just can’t do it. Even in a lined can. It might have BPA or who knows what. BUT, I love the idea – the convenience! So I set my puzzle-solving mind to this problem and came up with my own answer.

It takes a bit more effort. It makes a little more mess. Not much, though. It all depends on how you trade off frugality, convenience, wastefulness aside from cost considerations, and your time.

All you need is some plastic wrap. My Wilton Flower Formers were handy, but not necessary, to hold the tomato paste while it froze into a log. The long edge of a baking pan worked just as well. You could even do this freeform if you wanted.

Use plastic wrap to line whatever you are using as a form or mold. Spoon out paste (I used a small spreading spatula.) Distribute evenly – I tapped the pan and forms on the counter, did a bit of squeezing after I rolled the plastic wrap over the paste in the baking pan. Freeze. Re-wrap for freezer storage or put in a container.

How will I know how much to slice or break off when the time comes to grab a few tablespoons for a recipe? Math. I love math :) I love math a lot.

One can of tomato paste is “about” 10 tablespoons. One can filled almost 2 plastic forms, spanning about 20 inches, I have 1” = 1/2 Tbsp.

And yes, I have a ruler in my kitchen drawer (comes in very handy at the oddest times!), but I think that my husband and I can eyeball an inch, or two, after years of sewing, remodeling, etc. Close enough!

Then, it struck me! What else do I always scramble to use up, or throw away sadly after a few days? Chipotle chiles in Adobo Sauce!! Right? You know it!

And, by the way, just how much IS “one chile in adobo sauce?” Seems to me there’s quite a choice here in my can. I added up, averaged big with little, and decided I’m going to go by 12 chiles per can. The big ones averaged out the small ones. Luckily enough, the can tells me there’s about six 2-Tablespoon servings inside, or 12 tablespoons! Easy math for that one: 1 Tbsp = 1 chile.

I got messy with the chipotles: I squeezed both ends of each chile to find and remove any tough cores and the leaf cap-thingies from a couple of them (what are those called? It’s like what an eggplant has.) Then I crowded the chipotles together, chef-knifed them across one way, then again the other way, and now I have diced chiles in adobo sauce ready to freeze in a log; just under 1” per chile needed in a recipe. Pre=chopped. With just the right amount of sauce. And no leafy things. And best of all, no waste.

The chiles are the best part of the frozen tomato paste venture.

One day later, take the tomato paste logs out of the freezer, unwrap them, slice them into 1” pieces, label a freezer bag and load it up – you are now set for soup and casserole season! If you freeze the chipotles in adobo, you are ready to make controllably spicy soups, like the butternut soup recipe below, or Tortilla Soup. Mmmm!


http://www.hormelfoodsrecipes.com/recipes/details/7478/chipotle-squash-soup.aspx  I made this soup the day I did this. I had to wait for the chipotles to freeze enough so I wouldn’t mess up my project!

NOTES about the Chipotle Squash Soup: if you are of the “mild salsa” crowd, I suggest you start with half the chiles because it was pretty darn spicy for me. If you do use the Hormel Real Bacon pieces, do yourself a favor and sizzle them a bit in a small frying to crisp up and freshen up the flavor. My butternut squash didn’t quite measure up to the amount the recipe called for, so I dumped in some frozen leftover cooked carrots and an apple to make up the difference. You see those ingredients in other butternut squash soup recipes!

I put sautéed chicken (seasoned with a smoked herb/spice/salt blend I got at a craft fair) cut in pieces into the bottom of our bowls, and ladled the soup over. Mmmmm! But this soup would be good with grilled sandwiches (think paninis) for lunch or dinner, or… if you are me, it *was* good for breakfast, too!


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