Tomato puree is a thick liquid made from cooked and strained tomatoes. The puree is made from whole tomatoes and generally does not include added water. The tomatoes used for puree are usually cooked for a short amount of time. It can be made from scratch or bought off the shelf at the supermarket and is used in many tomato-based dishes around the world.
Tomato puree often gets confused with other processed foods such as tomato paste or sauce. The difference between tomato paste or sauce and puree is the added ingredients and consistency. Tomato sauce is usually thinner than puree and has spices and other vegetables added to create a ready-to-use blend. Tomato paste can be thick puree, but the tomatoes are cooked for a much longer period of time before being crushed.
Even though there are differences in the various tomato products, tomato puree, sauce and paste can sometimes be substituted for each other. Some recipes will use the word puree and sauce alternately. Other dishes specifically call for puree for its own unique qualities.
This thick tomato product can be made using fresh tomatoes or may be used from a can. Homemade puree is usually made from slow-cooked, crushed tomatoes and then canned or jarred by hand. Puree from the store is usually canned from a tomato products manufacturer. There are several tomato product companies, giving consumers many brand choices.
A tomato-milling machine can be used in the process of making homemade tomato puree. Some of these machines strain the tomatoes using a hand crank to press the juice and pulp out of the tomato. Other machines are electric and strain the tomatoes with the touch of a button. Either machine is designed to help make homemade tomato puree a quick and easy process.
Puree and other tomato products can be an added healthy choice to a balanced diet. Tomatoes contain many needed vitamins and are low in cholesterol and saturated fats. Homemade puree is often the healthier choice, as some canned products may contain added sugar or salt.
Many dishes use tomato puree either as a base or as an added ingredient. Soups and sauces often use puree as a base for taste and thickness. Other dishes including casseroles, meats and vegetables use puree for its pleasant taste and texture. Tomato-based products such as puree and sauce are cooked and used many ways in different countries.