Tomatoes are something we use in many different aspects of cooking. You can grow tomatoes in your garden and use them fresh or can them. Or, you can purchase tomato products from the store, with so many options to choose from.
There’s pasta sauce, pizza sauce, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato puree, and more. If you’re not familiar with all of them, it can be challenging to tell them apart and know what you need and when you need it.
What is the difference between tomato puree and crushed tomatoes? The primary difference between tomato puree and crushed tomatoes is that tomato puree is finer and does not contain chunks. Crushed tomatoes will have more of a pulpy, chunky, and slightly more watery consistency. Crushed tomatoes also contain some added amount of tomato puree or paste.
In this guide, we will share with you just what the differences are between tomato puree and crushed tomatoes. They are similar in some ways, but also vary quite a bit in other ways.
We will use this opportunity to help you differentiate between the two and know when to use which option.
Tomato Puree Vs Crushed Tomatoes
As you learn more about these tomato products, we’ll find that there are times when they can be substituted for one another.
Both tomato puree and crushed tomatoes have their own unique makeup that sets them apart, but they also have a lot of similarities.
As we progress through this guide, we will start by covering first tomato puree and then crushed tomatoes.
When you think of the different tomato options, you’re probably familiar with terms like tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and more.
Tomato puree falls into the lineup somewhere between tomato paste and crushed tomatoes.
Tomato puree is thick in nature but it consists of pureed tomatoes, so there are no chunks. It is smooth and has a deep flavor.
You can find one of our favorite tomato puree products here. Made by Hunt’s, a popular household brand, it’s smooth and made with 100% natural ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about artificial ingredients or preservatives.
Tomato puree is made by cooking and straining tomatoes. It is a puree liquid. The end consistency is a mix between the thickness of tomato paste and the saucier consistency of tomato sauce.
Tomato puree is also set apart with a deeper flavor than these other tomato alternatives. It is a processed product, but it is also something you can make at home, depending on your preferences.
How Tomato Puree Is Made
To give you a better understanding of what sets tomato puree apart from crushed tomatoes, we wanted to walk you through the basic process of making tomato puree.
Whether or not you remove the skins of the tomato is optional. Some people make puree with skins while others remove skins. However, you will want to remove the sepals and stems from your tomatoes for the process.
Roma tomatoes make the most flavorful puree, but any tomato can be used. The steps of this process will likely vary from brand to brand and cook to cook.
Here is how tomato puree is made:
- Rinse the tomatoes and pat them dry.
- Peel the tomatoes (optional) and then cut them in halves. Remove any bruises as necessary and then remove the core (sepal) from the tomato.
- We recommend using a spoon to remove the seeds, as well as the watery pulp from the core of the tomato.
- Chop the tomatoes. This is not a fine art; you’re just making them small enough to blend smoothly.
- Place tomatoes in a pot, turn the burner to medium-high, and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Let the tomatoes cool for about 10 minutes.
- Use a blender or food processor to blend the tomatoes. You can also strain the mixture through a sieve to catch large chunks.
- If your mixture is too watery, you can return it to the pot and let it simmer until enough moisture has been eliminated. Stir and watch closely to avoid burning.
- Remove it from the heat and let it cool. Use or store as preferred.
Tomato puree is great for soups, casseroles, homemade sauces, and stews. If you need a substitute for sauce, you can use tomato puree and season it as desired. You can even add some tomato paste to thicken it up.
Tomato puree is unique in its own way but is a very simple and versatile product as well.
While tomato puree is its own product with no additives, crushed tomatoes actually have tomato puree or tomato paste mixed in.
Crushed tomatoes are a combination of diced tomatoes and either tomato puree or tomato paste.
Crushed tomatoes are made using the process of stewing tomatoes first, dicing them, and then adding one of these other products. Crushed tomatoes sometimes have other seasonings or additives as well.
You will find that they might have small stewed chunks or no chunks at all. The texture can vary.
The primary difference here is that crushed tomatoes are literally just that. They are tomatoes that have been stewed and crushed or diced. Then, the tomato puree or tomato paste is added to make them saucier.
You can find our top pick for crushed tomatoes here. We like this option from Tuttorosso because it does not have additives or preservatives to be concerned about.
This one has a unique twist with the addition of basil, which just adds some light flavor to the combination.
How Crushed Tomatoes Are Made
Just as we did with tomato puree, we want to provide you with a look into how crushed tomatoes are made. Remember that they can be made through varying processes. We’re simply providing this as a resource for comparison.
Here is a quick overview of how crushed tomatoes can be made. From this point, you can freeze or can the crushed tomatoes and store them as you prefer. We recommend removing the skins, but again, this is optional.
Here is how crushed tomatoes are made:
- If you are removing your skins, dip your tomatoes into boiling water for just 30-60 seconds and then immediately place them in cold water. The skins should slip right off.
- Cut the tomatoes in half. Remove green or bruised areas, remove stems, and cut out the core and seeds of the tomatoes.
- Dice the tomatoes into smaller chunks. Again, this doesn’t have to be perfect, you’re just making them smaller.
- Place cut tomatoes into a pan and bring to a boil using medium-high heat. During this process, use a potato masher to start crushing the tomatoes and releasing the juices. Stir the mixture often and add tomatoes as you go. Be careful not to scorch them.
- Once all tomatoes have been added and crushed, let them boil gently for about 5 minutes.
- Add lemon juice for canning or freezing purposes.
This should produce a slightly chunky and slightly runny sauce-like mixture. The tomatoes should be crushed so that you don’t have any sizeable chunks remaining. You can add salt or any seasoning to the mixture as preferred as well.
Crushed tomatoes are great for making casseroles, sauces, soups, and even salsa.
We shared a lot of information here about both tomato puree and crushed tomatoes. While they are both made with tomatoes, you will find that their consistency and textures are very different.
When you purchase pre-made crushed tomatoes, they most likely have tomato puree as part of the combination.
Tomato puree is slightly thick, with a consistency somewhere between paste and sauce. Crushed tomatoes have a consistency that is similar to sauce but could contain some chunkier pieces as well.
The primary difference between the two is their consistency or thickness.
We hope that you have found this guide to tomato puree vs. crushed tomatoes to be a valuable resource that will help you to differentiate between these two products. They are very similar and yet very different at the same time.
We invite you to review the following question and answer section for some additional information that could be helpful.
Can I Substitute Tomato Puree for Crushed Tomatoes?
You can substitute these for each other. You may notice a difference in the overall texture but you can make either into different sauces. You may find that you need to add some tomato paste or sauce to get the right thickness.
We have another article dedicated to showing you the 5 best substitutes for crushed tomatoes.
Do Crushed Tomatoes and Tomato Puree Use the Same Tomatoes?
This can vary across the board. You can use any type of tomato to make either one of these products. Experts recommend Roma tomatoes for the best flavor, but this is not a requirement.
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