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I have a tube of tomato paste that is "double concentrated" (brand is "Cento"). Do you use half as much as a recipe calls for, or is this a case where all tomato paste has been "double concentrated" forever and one brand just got around to putting it on the box?

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I would not change the amount.

Tomato products are graded as following:

  • pureed tomatoes (passata di pomodoro), up to 10% dry mass
  • tomato paste (concentrato di pomodoro) single, 14 to 22% dry mass
  • tomato paste double, 28 to 30% dry mass
  • tomato paste triple, 36 to 40% dry mass.

These are German numbers. Other countries use somewhat different prescriptions, but are in roughly the same range. There are higher concentrations of tomato paste too, but they are not commonly sold in supermarkets.

My first reason to not use it is that singly concentrated tomato paste is rarely sold. So I would assume that whoever wrote your recipe intended to use either doubly or triply concentrated paste. It is unlikely that, by changing the amount, you will get closer to what the recipe author used. You may even be already on the low side of tomatoes (if the author uses triple), so you'd make it even less authentic if you try to compensate.

Second, as you see, this is not some simple mathematical doubling of everything. Not even the dry mass jumps exactly double as much, and a tomato is not simply dry mass. If you really wanted to be closer to the recipe (if it has been designed for singly concentrated), you would have to reduce by less than half. And even then, you cannot be completely the same in taste, since the heat/pressure concentration process changes more than just the amount of water.

Third, tomato paste is an ingredient that is used when you want your dish to have lots of tomato flavor and little water. If this was not the case, the author would probably be suggesting the use of tomato puree or canned tomato pieces. Even if the recipe was originally developed for singly concentrated paste, it is rarely wrong to add more tomato flavor by using doubly concentrated. So just throw the whole amount in and see what happens - chances are, you'll like it.

  • 1
    I think we may hit another of those "what we call it here vs there" translation issues... so, though I'm in complete agreement on all you say as regards strengths & how much to use, just a couple of different 'standard supermarket descriptions' from a UK perspective. Passata is always sold by that name, not as 'purée' [usually in glass jars or TetraPak boxes]. Purée is almost exclusively double concentrate at 28-30% [mainly in tubes, sometimes as small cans]. It's usually only called 'paste' in the ingredients description, not on the front of the pack. Single & triple are rare. – Tetsujin Dec 17 '18 at 16:03
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    @Tetsujin I actually don't know what the English words are. I live in Germany, and they do sell "passierte Tomaten" and "Tomatenmark" for the passata and concentrato. I couldn't come up with a good English name for "passata", so I used the descriptive "pureed", which is typically applied when other food is run through a food mill. If the terms here are badly chosen with regard to typical usage in English, you are welcome to change them. – rumtscho Dec 17 '18 at 16:18
  • Before I would think of unilaterally changing your descriptions, I'd like at least one native US English speaker to weigh in with the US equivalents, so we can hit something approaching a consensus on terminology :) – Tetsujin Dec 17 '18 at 16:26
  • @Tetsujin, assuming the OP is in the US of course. In the UK we have passata and (double concentrated) puree, by the way, and I could believe that adding an equal amount of water to the latter would give something like the former – Chris H Dec 17 '18 at 19:48
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    @ChrisH - I've never tried it, but I'm pretty sure watering down purée will not give you passata, it will just give you watery purée. One has been through a heat cycle of some sort; potentially the equivalent of getting back fresh coffee by adding water to dried coffee ;) – Tetsujin Dec 17 '18 at 19:55
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Tomato paste is used as a thickener for sauces. Use the same amount the recipe calls for. if the recipe is too thick, adjust it with a bit of water until you get the desired consistancy.

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    good point! And when looking at the numbers of dry, if it really gets too thick, one would only need to add between 6 and 16 g of water per 100 g tomato paste - such fine adjustments are rarely needed, that's quite within tolerance levels for most recipes. – rumtscho Dec 17 '18 at 17:07

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