Passata, otherwise known as tomato puree in the United States, is a super common ingredient, particularly if you’re fond of making Italian food. But it’s certainly not limited to food from that region! It can be used in a variety of ways and different types of cooking. So it’s certainly always nice to have some to hand.
When compared to crushed tomato or canned tomatoes, tomato passata produces richer, more robust tomato-flavored sauces.
It’s ideal for preparing fast soups and pasta sauces when you can’t (or don’t want to) boil for a long period (e.g. 30 minutes or longer) to break down the chunks of crushed or diced tomato that would otherwise be necessary to thicken the sauce.
While it’s hard to beat any dish that uses a made-from-scratch tomato puree, buying a quality passata is the next best thing. But what do you do if you can’t use an entire container before it goes bad? Or, you happened to buy too many bottles at the grocery store and are worried they might expire before you can use them all, what next? Can you freeze passata?
Can Passata Be Frozen?
I have great news for you, passata can definitely be frozen. You can easily store passata in the freezer for long-term storage. And actually, passata, like other tomato-based foods, tends to freeze quite well if it’s done properly. You can also freeze both opened and unopened passata, but the preparation for freezing each is slightly different.
Passata is essentially pureed and sieved tomatoes with a touch of salt. Sometimes there may be seasoning such as basil or garlic, but that’s all there is to it. As such, it’s not a meal on its own and is not much more than a base for other dishes. While it’s a very important ingredient, by freezing it, you won’t negatively impact whatever food you plan on making with it. In fact, due to its nature, you likely won’t be able to tell at all!
You don’t have to always use it in your cooking either. Since passata freezes so well, you can even use it as a base in other things. One way is to use it when making homemade ketchup. Homemade tomato sauce is so much healthier than buying it from the store and can provide an upgrade in taste if done correctly as well.
Another way to use passata after it’s been frozen is in a Bloody Mary as a substitute for tomato juice. You can make the drink a bit thicker and more flavorful by using passata instead. Of course, it may be more of an acquired taste.
Additionally, if you’ve made a spaghetti sauce or dish with a passata base, then you can most likely freeze that as well. The only reason you couldn’t is if there is an ingredient in the dish that shouldn’t be frozen like shrimp.
Freezing Unopened vs Opened Passata
Once you’ve finished using a passata jar or bottle, place it in the refrigerator. Expect it to become infected with bacteria if you keep it out at room temperature for too long after you’ve opened it. The sauce will have gone bad and will be unsafe to consume.
In the refrigerator, an opened bottle or container of passata can last up to ten days. I suggest that you use any leftovers as soon as possible, however.
The differences in freezing unopened vs opened passata are pretty negligible. The only real difference is that you have to open the fresh container of passata just to store it, and not to use it. The rest of the method stays the same.
Similar to other foods, however, if it’s an opened container of passata, you should store it in the freezer as soon as possible. So, if you have any doubts that you won’t use it within the aforementioned 10 days, you should freeze it. And ideally, this is just after you use it. The earlier you put it in the freezer, the better the results.
How Long Can You Freeze Passata For?
If you freeze passata properly, it can last for a long time in the freezer. You can expect frozen passata to last at least three months. While it will technically still be safe to eat nearly indefinitely, it will start to lose its flavor after it’s been in there for too long. After the first three months, you can expect the quality of the passata to begin degrading.
How to Freeze Passata
There are two common methods of freezing passata. Both of them are very straightforward and only require a few steps.
The first method is in an airtight freezer-safe container, and the other method is in an ice cube tray. And as I said before, it should be frozen as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours of opening the jar, can, or carton.
Below you’ll find both methods of freezing. This is the same method for both opened and unopened containers.
Method #1: Airtight Container
- First, find a suitable container to store the passata. Since most stores sell passata in cans or glass bottles, you need to first transfer the contents of the container (whether it’s leftover passata or a full container) into a freezer-safe container. Glass bottles and cans both are not suitable for freezer storage. This is because liquids expand and it’s likely that the can or bottle will explode. So, to avoid this, make sure to choose a proper freezer-safe container or impermeable freezer bag to store the passata.
- Transfer the contents into the container(s). If you won’t be using all of the passata at once, then you should transfer it into multiple portions that you’ll use in the future. This is because you should try to avoid thawing and refreezing passata. Also, make sure to not overfill the container. You should leave a bit of headspace for the liquid to expand.
- Label the container or bag with the date and then place it in the freezer.
Method #2: Ice Tray
An ice tray is no longer just for freezing water into ice. Storing herbs, homemade bouillon, or passata are also some other uses. It makes for very convenient use later on. Here is how you do it.
- First, fill the ice tray(s) with passata. Depending on how much passata you’re freezing you may even need more than two. When you fill the ice trays, don’t overfill them. Leave some headspace for it to expand, just as you would when storing it in an airtight container.
- Place the ice tray(s) into the freezer and then allow them to fully freeze.
- After they are completely frozen, take them out of the freezer and transfer the cubes into a freezer-safe bag or container. Then, label the bag or container and return the cubes to the freezer.
Note: if you’ve made homemade passata then it’s first necessary to allow it to cool before you prepare it and store it in the freezer.
How to Defrost Passata
Defrosting passata is super easy. The best way is to simply move it into the fridge for safe defrosting. While it may take a while, it’s the best way.
You can also leave it out at room temperature for faster defrosting, but make sure to not leave it out for more than two hours. Set an alarm to remind you if you need to. Additionally, you can simply use it in your recipe as a frozen ingredient if you’re short on time.
After it’s been defrosted I recommend using it within 24 hours. Enjoy your passata!