As far as I am aware passata is obtained by crushing tomatoes and then sieving the result without heating. That sounds an awful lot like juice to me. What is the difference (if any) between passata and tomato juice? Under what circumstances could they be substituted for each other?

Pubs often sell small bottles of tomato juice so on camping trips etc I suspect it may be easier to get tomato juice than passata, although it hasn't been necessary yet.

2 Answers 2


Passata still contains the pulp of the tomato, whereas juice is literally just the juice.

So juice is thin like water whereas passata is thick like crushed tomatoes minus the seeds and skin. You probably wouldn't use tomato juice for making a marinara sauce.

  • So it's the grade of the sieving? Juice can contain pulp too (orange juice 'with bits in'). I'm assuming that nobody would say that orange juice with pulp wasn't juice.
    – tardigrade
    Nov 11, 2016 at 10:29
  • 1
    @tardigrade I would say it's more that tomato juice is for drinking (with some cooking applications just like any other juice) whereas passata is probably only ever used for cooking.
    – MKHC
    Nov 11, 2016 at 10:38
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    Tomato juice has pulp (but no seeds or skins) by definition. A current trend in modern cuisine is making tomato soup from pure juice (search Youtube for 'tomato water') - this isn't red but still has the tomato taste, which makes it a surprising dish.
    – user34961
    Nov 11, 2016 at 12:45
  • I have successfully cooked down tomato juice into a sauce (mixed with passata) to use it up. But it takes too long to be worth doing routinely.
    – Chris H
    Nov 11, 2016 at 12:46
  • @pyro Hmm. So if I tried to drink passata it would become juice (and cooking with juice would make it passata)? I'm not completely convinced.
    – tardigrade
    Nov 11, 2016 at 15:10

I hate to disappoint you but nowadays almost everything comes from tomato concentrate/puree. This is e.g. produced in China, then transported here, then diluted (and maybe mixed with some other ingredients like salt or lemon juice) and sold as either passata or juice.

In that case the only difference is the dilution, and they can be substituted 'downwards' (more dilution). I have done this, e.g. making soup from puree instead of passata.

I can only refer you to a 2005 Dutch episode of the program 'Keuringsdienst van Waarde' about tomato puree.
They wanted to know how a tin of tomato puree can be sold for as little as €0.08, and followed the trail through Italy (where we in Europe think it usually comes from) to China.

At 20:00 into the episode they (again) talk to an Italian producer who also imports concentrate from China, and confirms this (he talks English BTW).

  • While this is interesting the same process could apply equally to juice and passata, meaning that it doesn't really answer the question.
    – Chris H
    Nov 11, 2016 at 12:47
  • edited to answer
    – user34961
    Nov 11, 2016 at 13:03
  • Thanks. Could you add any information on what level of dilution corresponds to puree, passata and juice? For instance, in the UK if juice is diluted relative to its original concentration it can't be called juice (but can be called "nectar"). This FDA document (accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/…) seems to say puree has to have 8-24% solids while "concentrated juice" has to have at least 4%, but doesn't mention regular juice or passata.
    – tardigrade
    Nov 11, 2016 at 15:21
  • @tardigrade Sorry, I have no info on that - would need to Google just like you ;-)
    – user34961
    Nov 11, 2016 at 15:29

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