Does Tomato Paste Go Bad? (And How Long Does It Last)

Does Tomato Paste Go Bad

Tomato paste is an essential ingredient when making Italian-style foods from scratch.  It makes your sauces thicker and adds a delicious taste.  Tomato paste comes in jars, tubes, and cans.  Each one of these styles has its own storage and shelf-life guidelines.

Yes, tomato paste does go bad.  Because of the acidity levels in tomatoes, tomato paste tends to degrade over time.  Before it’s opened, you can use it for about six months after the due date. If you open it and it has a sour taste, you’ll want to throw it out.  Tomato paste can be preserved after opening by freezing.

Tomato paste is essentially a very thick tomato sauce that comes in plain or various flavors.  For a concentrated flavor, it can be used in pizzas, spaghetti sauces, stews, meatloaf, or other dishes.  

Does Tomato Paste in a Can Go Bad?

Tomato paste has a “Best-by Date.”  As long as the can is not damaged, the tomato paste will be good for about six months after this date.  If the can is damaged, open it sooner and check for signs of spoilage. Upon inspection, if the paste passes a smell, texture, or visual look, it is still safe to eat, but it may not taste as fresh.  Once you have opened the can, cover it or place it in another airtight container and place it in the fridge; it will keep about 5-7 days.  After that, it may start to mold.  If you place the contents in a plastic or glass container with a tight lid, it will keep out more air than in a plastic bag.  Air is the enemy that leads to spoilage. 

Does Tomato Paste in a Jar Go Bad?

Similar to cans, tomato paste in a jar will retain quality up to 6 months after its “Best-by” date.  If you open the jar and use some of it, it will last seven to ten days in the refrigerator.  It keeps a bit longer than the canned tomato pastes mainly due to its container.  A glass jar with a lid will protect the paste from air longer.  After that, the flavor may degrade, and the paste may start to discolor or mold.

Does Tomato Paste in a Tube Go Bad?

Tomato paste in a tube follows the same pattern as cans or jars.  Unopened it will stay fresh around six months after the “best by” date as long as it’s stored in a cool place away from heat sources.  Once opened, paste in a tube will last about 45 days in the refrigerator when the top is screwed back on tightly.  While tomato paste in a tube might be a more expensive option, you may end up wasting less product in the long run.   

How Long Does Homemade Tomato Paste Last?

If you have an abundance of tomatoes, you can make your own paste.  Combine chopped tomatoes and olive oil and cook it until it is nice and thick.  Run it through a food mill to remove seeds and skins.  Add salt and lemon juice for color preservation and flavor.  Bake it in the oven on cookie sheets until it is thick and liquid is absorbed.  It will then look like a paste.  You can then place it in sealed glass jars in your refrigerator for several weeks, freeze it in trays for up to nine months, or pressure can make it in small jars for storage for up to a year.

Why does Tomato Paste go Bad?

The fresher the ingredients, the quicker it has an opportunity to go bad.  Tomato paste sealed in a car, jar, or tube will last quite some time because it is not exposed to air.  Air is the enemy to many dishes.  The mold prevalent in the air can settle on foods and start to grow.  Bacteria from utensils or other ingredients can start to grow.  Placing foods in a cold environment such as a refrigerator or freezer can inhibit this growth, but only for so long.  When things are frozen, the mold spores will go dormant, but as soon as the temperatures warm up, the clock starts ticking again.  

All-natural tomato sauce has few ingredients, but tomatoes naturally have some sugar.  This contributes to its shelf life.  Some brands of tomato paste might add preservatives that extend this shelf life.  These additives may or may not affect the quality of food.  

How long does Tomato Paste Last After it’s been opened?

After it’s been opened, tomato paste in a can lasts about a week under refrigeration, a jar will last 2-3 days longer due to the airtightness of the lid, and tubes of paste will last about a month and a half.

How Do I know if Tomato Paste has Gone Bad?

Signs of a tomato paste that you should probably throw out are:

  • Mold growth could be in the form of a discoloration on the surface, which could be green, black, or white, or a fuzz might form anywhere in the container.
  • Smell – if the tomato paste does not smell fresh or tomatoey, it probably should be thrown out.
  • Watery – the tomato paste might start to separate, it is still safe to use if you Stir it up, but it might not be as flavorful as a fresh paste.
  • Color – the tomato paste will get dark if exposed to air.  This is a sign of degrading ingredients.
  • Sticky – if the paste is sticky, the jar was not sealed well, and its ingredients have gone bad.

How to Properly Store Tomato Paste

  1. If your tomato paste package is not yet open, keep it in your pantry, in a cupboard, or on a shelf that is not near a heat source. 
  2. Once you have opened tomato paste and do not use the entire contents, please place it in the refrigerator.  The problem with tomato paste is that many recipes call for just a tiny amount.  So, you have a couple of options.
  3. If you purchase a can and do not use the entire contents, you can place a piece of plastic wrap over the top and place it in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Can You Freeze Tomato Paste?

Freezing extra tomato paste is an option.  Place the tomato paste in an ice cube or muffin tray and freeze until it’s firm, then pop the cubes out of the trays and store them in a freezer bag.  The quality degrades a little when you defrost the paste, but the minor change is not noticeable when used in cooked issues.

Can You Get Sick From Eating Old Tomato Paste?

The general consensus is that eating old tomato sauce is a quality rather than a health issue.  Even some advocate scraping moldy parts off the top and still using the non-moldy parts.  We can safely recommend that if there is any question, just open a new container. It’s not worth ruining a pot of other ingredients or risking an upset stomach.


CONTADINA Tomato Paste, 12 Pack, 6 oz Can Contadina Roma Tomatoes Paste

This familiar brand comes in a 6-ounce can, a typical size.   It contains only 100% fresh Roma tomatoes and citric acid (Vitamin C).  The ingredients are non-GMO, and the can is BPA-free. 

Field Day, Tomato Paste, 6 Ounce Field Day Organic Tomato Paste

This is an organic, non-GMO, vegan, kosher paste in a 6-ounce can; it uses fresh, vine-ripened organic tomatoes.  A bit of citric acid is added for freshness.  This brand has a whole line of organic products for a complete meal.  

Bionaturae Tomato Paste | Organic Tomato Paste | Keto Friendly | Non-GMO | USDA Certified Organic | No Added Sugar | No Added Salt | Made in Italy | 7 oz (12 Pack) Bionaturae Tomato Paste

Made in Italy, this 100% organic paste 7-ounce jarred paste is made from one ingredient:  Organic Tomato Paste.  It is non-GMO, keto-friendly, and has no added salts or sugars. It’s also gluten-free and made in a dedicated gluten-free facility.

Tuscanini Tomato Paste Tube, 7.5oz, Made with Premium Italian Tomatoes Tuscanini Tomato Paste

This is a double-concentrate tomato paste in a 7.5-ounce tube with 99.5% tomatoes and a bit of salt.  It is non-GMO, gluten-free, and kosher. The package recommends using the contents within three weeks of opening.

Cento Double Concentrated ORGANIC Tomato Paste - 2/ 4.56 oz tubes Cento Double-Concentrated Tomato Paste

With simple ingredients of tomato paste and salt, this tube has four servings.  It is made with all-natural ingredients from Italy.  At 4.56 ounces, there is less waste if it goes bad.

Related Questions

What can I substitute for Tomato Paste?

Tomato paste is a concentrated tomato sauce.  You can use crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce.  If your recipe calls for one tablespoon of tomato paste, use three tablespoons of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes.  You will need to simmer your tomato dish a little more because there is more juice in the sauce to reduce and thicken.  You can substitute fresh tomatoes as well with the same ratio.

What is the Difference between Tomato Paste and Tomato Puree?

Tomato paste is thicker and more concentrated.  It has a slightly sweeter flavor, as the sugars as the water has been cooked out of the tomatoes, leaving a natural sweetness.  Tomato puree is often tomato paste that has been diluted with water. Tomato sauce has an even thinner consistency.

Does Tomato Paste Thicken Sauces?

In addition to enhancing rich, savory flavors, it is a natural thickening agent for tomato-based sauces.  When adding it to tomato sauces, simmer it for at least ten minutes to thicken the sauce.

Kimberly Burton

Kim Burton is a certified Nutrition Coach and freelance writer living in the mountains of Colorado. She believes in a Qualitarian diet and that the path to a healthy lifestyle begins inside of each one of us. After years of struggling with her own health, she found that changing the way she eats and moves made all the difference. She uses what she learns to empower others to think of food as medicine.

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