Food glossary

Tomato products

Tomato products

Tomatoes withstand heating and cooking processes very well. As a result a wide range of popular and convenient store-cupboard tomato products are available and you can get a distinctive tomato flavour in seconds, by simply opening a jar, can or bottle.

Canned tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of the few fruits that can be canned really successfully and they are the most popular tomato store-cupboard product available.

Plum tomatoes are normally selected for canning. A wide variety of canned tomatoes are available, these range from basic Italian tomatoes in natural juice to sweet and delicious Italian cherry tomatoes in natural juice.

Chopped tomatoes which can be added straight to recipes for quick and easy cooking are also available, either plain or for even more convenience, with extra ingredients such as olive oil and garlic, basil or green and black sliced olives.

Uses: Canned tomatoes are excellent in sauces for pastas and pizzas, having an intense and distinct flavour. They can also be used in casseroles, soups and risottos.

To store: Keep in a dry place for up to 1 year.

To cook: When using canned tomatoes, add 1 tsp of sugar to the recipe to help bring out the sweet flavour.

Crushed Italian tomatoes

Made from crushed tomatoes and blended with tomato purée these bottled tomatoes have a finer texture than chopped tomatoes and a coarser texture than passata. They are available plain, with onion and garlic and with herbs.

Uses: Ideal as a pasta sauce, a topping for pizzas or in soups and stews. .

To store: Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year. Once opened store in the fridge and use within 5 days.

Tomato juice

A smooth, liquid form of tomatoes available in cans or bottles.

Uses: Tomato juice is mainly used as a drink- either served with salt and pepper and a dash of Worcestershire sauce or with vodka and Worcestershire sauce to make the cocktail Bloody Mary. Tomato juice can be included in small quantities in recipes where a subtle tomato flavour and smooth texture are required.

To store: Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year. Once opened store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Tomato ketchup

One of the most popular condiments available, tomato ketchup can be found on café and restaurant tables all over the world. It is made from a combination of tomatoes, vinegar, sugar and spices and is available in glass or plastic squeezy bottles.

Uses: As an accompaniment to a wide variety of foods, especially chips, fried fish, sausages and burgers. Tomato ketchup is especially popular with children.

To store: Keep in a cool, dark place. Once opened store in the fridge and use within 8 weeks.

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Tomato paste

This coarse paste made from sun-dried tomatoes has a texture mid-way between sun-dried tomatoes in oil and tomato purée. Tomato paste is sold in jars and also contains sunflower and olive oils.

Uses: Tomato paste is a popular Italian antipasto (starter) and can be eaten on its own, it also makes a tasty addition to pasta sauces, pizzas, canapés and salads.

To store: Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year. Once opened store in the fridge and use within 7 days.

Tomato purée

Tomato purée is a concentrated smooth paste with a very strong tomato flavour. It is available in cans, tubes and jars. Organic tomato purée which is made from tomatoes grown on selected Italian farms is also sold.

Sun-dried tomato purée and sun dried tomato purée with oil, herbs and spices are also available, they have the rich taste of the dried tomatoes and are even more concentrated than regular purée due to the fact that the tomatoes are preserved in oil. You may wish to reduce the amount of oil in a recipe if you are using this type of purée.

Uses: Tomato purée adds a rich flavour and a very bright colour to sauces and soups, marinades, pizzas and risottos. It should be used very sparingly because the flavour is very intense and will overpower other ingredients if it's not used in moderation

To store: Tomato purée should be stored in the fridge once opened - tubes will keep for up to 1 month and cans for up to 1 week.

Tomato sauce

Often confused with the condiment tomato ketchup, tomato sauce is a ready-made sauce made with chopped tomatoes. A variety of sauces are available, containing a range of different ingredients including onions, garlic, herbs, olive oil, chillies and mushrooms. It is sold in jars and also as a fresh sauce, fresh organic tomato sauce is also available.

Uses: Mainly used as a pasta sauce but also for topping pizzas. Tomato sauce can also be used as a topping for cooked chicken, pork or fish fillets or used as a base for a beef or lamb casseroles.

To store: Keep jars of tomato sauce in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Once opened, store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Keep fresh tomato sauce in the fridge for up to 1 week.


Also known as creamed tomatoes, passata is made from ripe tomatoes that have been puréed and sieved to remove the skin and seeds. Depending on the degree of sieving, it can be perfectly smooth or slightly chunky.

Uses: Passata is a useful store cupboard ingredient and is invaluable in recipes like soups, sauces, casseroles, stews and pasta dishes where a smooth finished result is required.

To store: Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year. Once opened store in the fridge and use within 5 days.

Sun-dried tomatoes

These wonderfully rich tomatoes, have an intense, sweet flavour and a deliciously chewy texture. They are available either dried and sold in packets (organic sun dried tomatoes are available) or in jars preserved in olive oil.

Uses: The packet variety can be either eaten on their own as a snack or rehydrated in hot water until soft for cooking (use the tomato-flavoured water for soups or sauces). Sun-dried tomatoes preserved in oil can simply be drained and chopped and added straight to a dish or eaten as they are. The oil in which they are preserved takes on a wonderful tomato flavour and can be used for cooking or to make a salad dressing. Use either type of sun-dried tomatoes in soups, pasta sauces or as an Italian-style starter, served with mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and basil.

To store: Keep the dried, packet variety in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Once they are rehydrated, store in the fridge and use within 2 days. Sun-dried tomatoes in oil can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year, once opened store in the fridge for up to 2 months.

To prepare: Sun-dried tomatoes need to be rehydrated before use, simply soak them in warm water for 15 minutes, rinse then thoroughly drain.

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