Does Tomato Paste Go Bad? How Long Does Tomato Paste Last?

Tomato paste is one of those versatile ingredients that can be added to many dishes. It gives great balance and flavor, but does it ever go bad? In this article we will discuss that.

Quick Answer

Tomato paste can go bad over time. If unopened, some tomato pastes can last for months or even years. If you keep tomato paste outside, it will begin to spoil after 2-3 hours. Tomato paste stored in the refrigerator can last for 3-5 days. Tomato paste stored in the freezer can last up to 5 months. Common storage methods are tube, glass jar, or can. Each has different components that can affect the shelf life of tomato paste.


We’ll go deeper into each of the different methods of storage, as well as their overall effectiveness. Let’s being with some of the basics:

Does Tomato Paste Go Bad? How Long Does Tomato Paste Last?

You buy some tomato paste for a special dish, but the recipe only calls for a small amount of paste. You decide to store the rest for a later time, but how long will it keep before it needs to be thrown out?

How Long Does Tomato Paste Last Outside

You buy tomato and only use a small portion; you may be wondering how long you can leave it out. Whether you place it on the counter or outside in the elements, this method is the shortest storage method available.

If left on the countertop, tomato paste can last only a few hours before the risk of bacteria is high enough to question its safety. If you keep your house cooler it may buy you some time, but not by much.

If you leave tomato paste outside, especially if it’s warm outside, you are betting on the paste being good for only about an hour or so. If it’s cold outside, you may be ok for another hour or two, but that’s pushing it.

How Long Does Tomato Paste Last in the Fridge?

Storing your tomato paste in the refrigerator is one of the best ways to keep it preserved. This is because it keeps the bacteria growth at bay without negatively affecting the flavor or consistency. You will want to keep any leftover tomato paste in a jar, can or plastic tube.

As long as you make sure the container is sealed tightly, most leftover tomato paste will last between three to five calendar days, if stored in a can.

If you decide to use glass as a storage compartment, tomato paste can last a couple days longer than if you were to store it in a can.

How Long Does Tomato Paste Last in the Freezer?

Frozen tomato paste can last for roughly four to five months if properly sealed. Keep in mind that freezing can alter the taste and consistency of the paste. If you decide to go this route, you have a couple options:

  • Ice Cube Trays: You can portion out your leftover tomato paste into ice cube trays and freeze them that way. This helps when you have a recipe that requires only a small amount of tomato paste.
  • Ziplock/Freezer Bag: If you decide to freeze the bulk of your tomato paste, simply place the tomato paste in a freezer bag or ziplock bag, and make sure all the extra air is sealed out of it.

Now that we know the different methods of preserving tomato paste, let’s talk about other questions related to tomato paste.

How To Tell If Tomato Paste Has Gone Bad / How To Know Tomato Paste is Fresh

If you’ve had your tomato paste in the refrigerator for a while, you may be wondering how to tell if it’s still any good. What about when you’re at the store and you go to pick out tomato paste for your next recipe – how do you know if it’s fresh?

First, let’s determine whether your tomato paste has gone bad. There are typically three ways to tell if your tomato paste is on its way out:

  • Smell: If you notice that your tomato paste smells a bit off, you should throw it away. Bacteria and mold can produce gases that create an unpleasant odor.
  • Appearance: When inspecting your tomato paste, check to see if there is any mold growing on it. Blue or while mold will be your giveaway signs that it’s time to toss the tomato paste.
  • Flavor: If you taste something strange when testing out your tomato paste, chances are it’s no longer any good. It’s better not to take any chances.

So if you’re at the store and see canned, glass or tubes of tomato paste, a good rule of thumb is to check the expiration date. Then, as long as you don’t notice any mold or strange odors, chances are the paste is fresh and ready to go!

How to Store Tomato Paste?

Tomato paste can be found in three different types of containers:

  • Canned: One of the most common ways to find tomato paste. Cans have been used for decades, and continue to offer a sturdy and reliable option for storage.
  • Glass: For those concerned about BPAs, this is another way tomato paste is found and stored.
  • Plastic Tube: While not as popular as cans or glass, plastic tubes are a flexible way to keep tomato paste.

While it’s never a good idea to place glass or cans in the freezer, a plastic tube is more forgiving and offers greater molecular flexibility. Leftover cans or glasses of tomato paste should be stored in the refrigerator for optimal shelf life.

Can You Freeze Tomato Paste? How?

You can absolutely freeze tomato paste. Depending on your needs and what future recipes will call for, you may need to do a little prep work.

  • Preparation: Measure out your tomato paste by the spoonful onto a plate covered in plastic wrap. This prevents sticking. Also, be sure to space each spoonful out so that each tomato paste ball does not make contact with each other.
  • Freeze: Place the plate in the freezer until the tomato paste is frozen, usually a couple of hours. Then, place frozen spoonful into a plastic bag.
  • Ice Cube Trays: Portion out into ice cube trays and freeze until needed.
  • Freezer bag or Ziplock: Place entirety of contents into freezer bag and expel any extra air out.

The key with any freezing method is to squeeze out as much air as possible. This will help prevent freezer burn, as well as delay any altering of taste or texture.

How to Thaw Tomato Paste?

Now that the time has come to use your frozen tomato paste in your next recipe, it’s time to thaw out the bits of paste that you spent so much time freezing. How do you do it?

The safest and best way to keep all the flavor and texture of your tomato paste is to thaw it at room temperature. If you’re in a hurry, you can place the bag in cool water until it is thawed.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tomato Paste

Is Tomato Paste The Same Thing As Ketchup? While it may be tempting to substitute the tomato paste in your recipe for some ketchup, they’re not the same thing. Tomato paste is a concentrated form of tomatoes made from mature tomatoes. Ketchup is made from more raw tomatoes, with sugar and other ingredients.

Does Store-bought Tomato Paste Last Longer Than Homemade? If you make your tomato paste from scratch, you will most likely be using fresh ingredients, and very little (if any) preservatives. Buying your tomato paste at the store will often have preservatives in it, causing it to last longer. So basically, yes, store-bought lasts longer than homemade, although not by much.

Wrap Up

Tomato paste is something that can be used in all sorts of dishes. It is only good for a few hours left at room temperature, but if you store in the refrigerator or freezer you’re looking to extend the shelf life from 5 days to about 5 months. Do you like tomato paste? How have you used it in recipes? Let us know in the comments below.

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