A food paste is a semi-liquid colloidal suspension, emulsion, or aggregation used in food preparation or eaten directly as a spread. Pastes are often highly spicy or aromatic, are often prepared well in advance of actual usage, and are often made into a preserve for future use. Common pastes are some fruit preserves, curry pastes, and nut pastes. Purées are food pastes made from already cooked ingredients.
Some food pastes are considered to be condiments and are used directly, while others are made into sauces, which are more liquidy than paste. Ketchup and prepared mustard are pastes that are used both directly as condiments and as ingredients in sauces.
Many food pastes are an intermediary stage in the preparation of food. Perhaps the most notable of such intermediary food pastes is dough. A paste made of fat and flour and often stock or milk is an important intermediary for the basis for a sauce or a binder for stuffing, whether called a beurre manié, a roux or panada. Sago paste is an intermediary stage in the production of sago meal and sago flour from sago palms.
Food for babies and adults who have lost their teeth is often prepared as food pastes. Baby food is often very bland, while older adults often desire increased spiciness in their food pastes.
Blenders, grinders, mortars and pestles, metates, and even chewing are used to reduce unprocessed food to a meal, powder, or when significant water is present in the original food, directly into a paste. If required, water, oil and other liquids are added to dry ingredients to make the paste. Often the resultant paste is fermented or cooked to increase its longevity. Often pastes are steamed, baked or enclosed in pastry or bread dough to make them ready for consumption.
Traditionally, salt, sugar, vinegar, citric acid and beneficial fermentation were all used to preserve food pastes. In modern times canning is used to preserve pastes in jars, bottles, tins and more recently in plastic bags and tubes.
Tomato paste is made from boiling tomatoes until they form a thick paste which is stored for later use in soups, sauces and stews.
Qizha is a Palestinian paste made from crushed black fennel seeds.
Yeast extracts, usually as byproduct from brewing beer, are made into food pastes, usually dark-brown in colour. They are used to flavour soups and sausages, in the preparation of salad dressings, and directly as spreads.
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