When a recipe calls for a couple of teaspoons or so of tomato paste and I’m using a 6-ounce can, that means I’m bound to have quite a bit left over. Rather than transfer it into a separate container or store the open can in the fridge—you shouldn’t do this—I recently tried a popular TikTok hack shared by Rebecca Hoffman that promised I would never waste tomato paste again. I was drawn to how easy this smart tip looked.
For this no-waste tomato paste hack, Hoffman transfers the leftover tomato paste into a small zip-top bag. She spreads the tomato paste in the bag and flattens it to release all of the air out. This ensures that the tomato paste doesn’t get freezer burn. Then she scores the tomato paste into portions with the spine of a large knife. She freezes the bag and uses the tomato paste as needed—the scores make it easy to break off the portions.
I am very passionate about not letting food go to waste. Most often, I store leftover tomato paste by freezing them in ice cube trays. Could Hoffman’s hack be easier and better? Here’s my experience.
The 4 Reasons I Like This Hack
- The method of storing leftover tomato paste in a zip-top bag is practical. It helps prevent food waste and supports budget-friendly cooking—no wasting ingredients!
- The scores make it easy to break off portions of the frozen tomato paste as needed, so you can use it over time without thawing and refreezing the whole bag.
- The flat-laying bag takes up very little space in the freezer.
- The tomato paste freezes well in the plastic bag. If sealed tightly, it’s airtight, so it’s not going to get freezer burn easily.
A Few Challenges I Encountered, Plus Easy Tips To Make It Easier
1. The indentations don’t hold their shape:
Huffman suggests scoring the tomato paste in the bag with the back—the dull side—of a large knife. I scored one side then flipped the bag to do the other side, and the first side lost its indentations. I tried a few times until it finally held its shape. But when I transferred the bag into the freezer, the scores disappeared, so I had to re-do it.
TIP: Instead of doing a front-and-back sawing motion with the knife, scoot it left and right to push the tomato paste away from each other.
2. The tomato paste sticks to the plastic bag:
When I removed a portion of frozen tomato paste from the bag, it melted quickly, stuck to the bag, and my hands got messy.
TIP: Don’t let the frozen tomato paste sit out on the counter—you will need to snap off what you need quickly, use it right away, and throw the bag back into the freezer as soon as you can.
3. You’ll need a flat surface in your freezer:
Until it’s frozen, the bag of tomato paste has to sit on a flat surface so that the scores are able to harden the way you press them down. I personally have a hard time finding perfectly flat and open space in my freezer, so it wasn’t practical for me.
TIP: Make sure all of the air is out of the bag to avoid freezer burn. Then use a Sharpie to write down the date you froze it on the bag—even frozen ingredients lose their luster over time. For at least a couple of hours, the bag should lay flat so that it can freeze into its portioned flat shape. After that, you can store it anywhere in the freezer.
I am always the hype girl for a tip that helps prevent food waste, but for now, I will stick to freezing leftover tomato paste in my reusable silicone ice cube trays. It’s a truly mess-free method for popping out tomato paste cubes as needed. Plus, I won’t need to waste plastic bags. I would recommend the bag method if you don’t have an ice cube tray.