Martha Stewart’s Tomato Paste Hack Is Totally Brilliant (with a Couple of Adjustments)

published May 14, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Aliza Gans

One of the white whales of cooking tips is how to properly save tomato paste. You know you shouldn’t let your barely-used can of paste languish in the fridge, but what’s the best way to deal with leftovers? There’s Kitchn’s Editor-in-Chief Faith Durand’s popular dollop technique, the ice cube trays tip, or you can even freeze it into sheets. You see? Lots of great ideas.

You’d think our quest for saving tomato paste would be over, but then I came across this 2011 tip from Martha Stewart. And if anyone could make me try a new way to do something, it’s her. Could this be the one that blows the other ideas out of the water? I had to try it to find out.

Read more: Tomato Paste Saver from Martha Stewart

Here’s Martha Stewart’s Trick for Saving Tomato Paste

To start, you scoop out a small spoonful of tomato paste and use it for whatever you’re cooking. Next, you open the other side of the can and discard one of the ends. Then, seal the paste-filled can with plastic wrap and puts the whole thing in the freezer. The next day, push out all the paste in the can and re-wrap the paste in plastic wrap. The next time you need some tomato paste, you simply slice off whatever amount you need with a serrated knife.

Here’s What Happened When I Tried Martha’s Tip

Martha Stewart’s tomato paste push-up pop technique sounds easy enough, but I encountered problems from the moment I tried to open both sides of the can.

Problem #1: I used the wrong kind of can opener. I was able to get one end of the can off, but the other one ended up dimpled and impossible to crack. My can opener might’ve caused complications because it is a smooth edge can opener. This device cuts from the edge of the can, not the inside, so the circumference of the cut lid can’t fit within the cylinder (If you own this kind of can opener, you know what I’m talking about). Without a cut lid that fits inside the can, there’s no push-up pop effect that allows you to push the leftover paste out of the can. 

Tip #1: Use a jagged-edged can opener. This trick — taken literally and attempted from start-to-finish — won’t work if you have a smooth edge can opener. 

Even if I did have a jagged-edged traditional can opener this hack sounded a little dangerous: slicing my finger by pushing a lid that looked like a shuriken through the frozen tomato paste portal didn’t sound like a fun Sunday. I was partially glad I had my smooth-edged can so I could test whether the extrusion and slicing step was even possible and worth the risk. I had to get crafty, though. 

Credit: Aliza Gans

Problem #2: The can was too frozen. I was eventually able to get both ends off of a different can of tomato paste. After an overnight freeze, I found a smaller lid (from a milk jug) that fit inside the can and tried to extrude the paste. No luck. The contents were frozen and wouldn’t budge. I didn’t want to run the knife between the can and the paste to loosen it, as that could damage the knife.

Tip #2: Run your frozen can under hot water. I ran the frozen can under some hot water, which enabled me to loosen the frozen tomato tube (a step that Martha’s hack omits). And what do you know? The paste slinked beautifully from the can, and with a serrated knife, I was able to slice it cleanly. It was very satisfying. I’d do this trick again, and will keep my milk jug lids as tomato paste push-buttons. 

Have you tried Martha Stewart’s tip for saving leftover tomato paste? Let us know in the comments.