Storage Tips

This TikTok Hack Is Saving Our Tomato Paste

Say goodbye to mold, rust, and everything else that ruins this near-perfect ingredient.

March 17, 2022
Photo by Rocky Luten

Tomato paste is good for adding an intense, red hue, deep tomato flavor, and body to bolognese sauce, chili, and marinara sauce. Need to dress up as a vampire for Halloween in a pinch? Tomato paste is there in all its faux-gory glory. But nobody’s perfect. If you’ve cooked with tomato paste before, then you know well that most recipes call for only all for a tablespoon or two of the paste; since most cans of tomato paste are sold in eight-ounce quantities, it will take a lot of chili and marinara sauce to get through the entire can. And whoever finishes an entire can without it going bad? Seriously, email me. I want to know. And mold, as always, creeps its way in and finds a way to ruin the leftover tomato paste before you can even make a dent. So instead of crossing your fingers and lying to yourself, saying “I’ll definitely use this all up before it goes bad,” listen to the beauty and brains of TikTok.

In a recent video posted to the social media app, TikTok user Rebeca Huffman addressed this very issue. “It’s the saga of the wasted tomato paste,” she begins. Instead of letting mold and rust fester in the can, she came up with the easiest way to store tomato paste, hands down. Grab a snack-size Ziploc bag, scoop the tomato paste into the bag, and pat it down to remove all of the air and flatten the contents. Next, seal the bag, take the spine of a knife (aka not the sharp part of the blade), and create perforations by scoring the bag to create four distinct rectangles of tomato paste. Place the bag flat down in the freezer and let it harden completely. Next time you need just a tablespoon or two of tomato paste, break off one of the individual squares and add it to whatever you’re cooking. Most days, TikTok makes me feel old and out of touch, but after this hack, I’ve never felt stronger.

Product Pick

If you’re not so keen on using single-use plastic freezer bags, store leftover tomato paste in an ice cube tray. Our favorite is from Souper Cubes; the pre-portioned silicone makes it so easy to pop out something sticky like tomato paste and the airtight lid helps to prevent freezer burn. As soon as the tray is empty, pop the Souper Cubes tray in the dishwasher for a generous cleaning. Rinse and repeat.

Share your brilliant food storage hacks with us in the comments below!
Grab your copy

It's here: Our game-changing guide to everyone's favorite room in the house. Your Do-Anything Kitchen gathers the smartest ideas and savviest tricks—from our community, test kitchen, and cooks we love—to help transform your space into its best self.

Grab your copy

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • FREDflintstone1.
  • Ginger Bellerud-Corthell
    Ginger Bellerud-Corthell
  • isw
  • AntoniaJames
  • Kelly Vaughan
    Kelly Vaughan
Former Food52 Staff Editor


FREDflintstone1. March 19, 2022
I store my jar of tomato paste upside down, ensuring that there is no air between the top and the paste. I’ve been doing this for years and the paste has never become mouldy.
Ginger B. March 18, 2022
Tomato paste also comes in tubes (like toothpaste tubes)...that way you can use a couple of tablespoons and then seal it up to use again. Not rocket science, but once I found the tubes in the grocery store, I've never needed a hack for tomato paste again!
Kelly V. March 18, 2022
Those are great! Unfortunately they're harder to find than canned tomato paste, but I stock up when I can get my hands on them.
Smaug March 18, 2022
I thought everybody used that- it's no longer at all difficult to find. Trader Joe's carries it for one- even my bottom-of-the-heap Safeway usually has it. Good for me because I generally use very small quantities- it has some interesting flavor qualities, but to me has no real resemblance to the flavor of tomatoes.
cyanpineapple April 9, 2022
Yeah, they were harder to find a few years ago, but these days you can find tomato paste tubes in pretty much every grocery store
isw March 18, 2022
Benn flattening and freezing tomato paste for years. Works for all sorts of other things too; I usually have a flat package of chipotles in adobo in there alongside it.
Liz S. March 18, 2022
Various forms of freezing small bits ... I do like the souper cubes. Like tomato paste, chipotles in adobo also comes in a tube ... also anchovy paste. Three tubed staples in my refrigerator :)
Smaug March 18, 2022
Chipotles are also available dried, either whole or ground. I've found that the canned ones keep quite well in a jar in the refrigerator after opening, though.
AntoniaJames March 17, 2022
Souper Cubes are, without question, the way to go. Better for the planet than zip top bags, easier to use - all-around such a good solution.

I have sets in every size. I recommend them, all the time, to all the smart cooks in my life. ;o)
Kelly V. March 17, 2022
Love to hear that you are a fan! They really are the best.
Liz S. March 18, 2022
Another huge fan of souper cubes and also have all of the sizes. I make mini pasta bakes in the 2 cup, freeze for a quick lunch/dinner, 1 cup for broth, beans, rice, various cooked meat in jus, and the small for bits of whatever. I was pleasantly surprised that they do not stain from things like tomato sauce.

BUT ... another option for tomato paste is the tube option. I LOVE this as I often make small batches of things and need just a tsp or T.

My local groceries have it, but of course, there is Amazon!