Whether you are buying or making your own tamarind paste, it is unlikely that you will use it all in one sitting. You could make a tamarind pie or other desserts that call for a lot of tamarind paste.
If you have any with leftovers, you will probably want to make sure that you store it properly to use it again when the time comes. You spent your money on buying it or your time making it, so no reason to let it go to waste.
How to store tamarind paste
Store tamarind paste in a cool, dry place, if you have room in the fridge, it’s the best place to keep it. It can keep up to a year, possibly more if you keep it in the fridge at all times.
You can also store unopened tamarind paste in the spice cabinet, and then move it to the fridge or a cool place once is opened.
If the jar you buy from the store says to refrigerate after opening or make your own at home, it is probably best to store it in the fridge. Just remember that if you do so, you will need to stir it or dilute it with water before using it as it gets much thicker in the fridge.
Can you freeze tamarind paste?
Yes, you can freeze tamarind paste to make it last even longer but very often it is not necessary since if stored properly tamarind paste will last for a very long time. Freezing tamarind paste is like freezing jam, you can do it but it is a waste of space and also the taste and texture may suffer when thawing them.
Read also: Tamarind Paste VS Tamarind Concentrate
What is tamarind paste?
Tamarind paste is made from the pulp that you will find inside the tamarind fruit/pods. The pods are brown and hard, but you will find seeds and pulp (the pulp is what you eat and cook with most of the time) when you open them up.
After you separate the seeds from the pulp, it is fairly easy to turn it into tamarind paste. Still, it is also not very expensive to buy at grocery stores. Whether you want to make it or buy it premade from the grocery store, it is up to you.
As far as taste, tamarind paste tends to be very sour, and many people describe it to be citrusy. It is definitely one of the more complex fruits and flavor with smokey and caramel flavors mixed into the sour flavor. Finally, the tamarind paste’s texture is fairly thick and sticky and, in many ways, looks like molasses (but it is not a substitute for molasses!)
What can you do with tamarind paste?
If you are concerned about your tamarind paste going bad, you may wonder what different kinds of things you can use it in. Well, you will find that many Asian recipes call for tamarind paste, such as noodles, curries, sauces, and soups.
You will also find it in various Mexican dishes, especially one more popular Mexican drink called agua fresca de tamarindo. It is actually not that hard to make from your own home with tamarind paste. You can also use it as a marinade to help tenderize meat, or you can cook it into a variety of different desserts and candies.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind no matter what recipe you are making. First of all, you can use it straight from the container, but you will need to make sure that there is some kind of sugar or sweetener in your recipe. Otherwise, the sour flavor of the tamarind will be overpowering and take over the dish.
Also, keep in mind that the thickness and strength of tamarind paste are different depending on what recipe you use to make it or what brand you buy at the store. It is a good, general rule that the thinner the paste is, the weaker the flavor is, so you will have to add more to get the same taste.
Is it better to store the whole tamarind?
This really depends on a number of different things. Suppose you buy at the store or can your tamarind paste in a properly sealed container. In that case, tamarind paste can last a really long time in the cabinet or the fridge. Still, once it is open, it generally only lasts around a month or around three months in the freezer.
On the other hand, if you store tamarind fruit whole in the freezer properly, it can last indefinitely. If you want to freeze whole tamarinds, you have to do it before the shell starts to crack or get freezer burn. If the shells have already cracked, it is still better to go ahead and make a paste before freezing it.
How to make your own tamarind paste
As stated previously, tamarind paste is actually really easy to make yourself; all you need is tamarind pulp and water. Suppose you are making your paste from fresh tamarind. In that case, you will need to open them and separate the seeds from the pulp yourself. You can still buy tamarind pulp at the grocery store if you are looking to make the process even simpler.
You start by combining small chunks of tamarind pulp and hot water in a mixing bowl and then just let it sit until it cools. You need to wait at least thirty minutes, but you can also let it wait for several hours before you go further. Once the water has cooled down, you will massage the pulp in the water until it starts to dissolve.
In your hand, you should just feel fiber, not any soft pulp. From there, you want to strain what is in your mixing bowl through a coarse sieve. Bring the paste in the pot to a boil (stir constantly) and then pour the hot tamarind into glass jars and seal them up while still hot.
Read Also: How To Store Kumquats?
Where can you buy tamarind?
At most grocery stores, you should be able to buy tamarind paste, tamarind concentrate, or whole tamarind, but if you are looking for the blocks of tamarind pulp, it may be a better idea to go straight to an international market near you, especially one that sells Indian, Latin, or Southeast Asian foods, as you will probably have better luck there unless your grocery store is particularly well-stocked.