The tamarind tree yields large brown pods that contain tamarind fruit, which has a distinctive flavor and can be used in a variety of culinary applications. Tamarind paste and tamarind concentrate are two ingredients made with tamarind fruit. The two are often confused for one another due to their similar appearances and tastes.
The main difference between tamarind paste and concentrate is that tamarind paste is made directly from the fruit, and has a much stronger flavor. In comparison to tamarind concentrate, tamarind concentrate has a more gel-like consistency and tastes diluted. Here are the differences between these two products!
What Is Tamarind Paste?
Thai cooking often uses tamarind paste, especially for savory dishes, but it can also be used to make candy and desserts. Specifically, the pulp around the seeds in the pod is used to prepare the paste. The seeds are removed from the pulp before it is used. It’s great that you can make tamarind paste in your own kitchen or buy it ready-made.
Alternatively, you can purchase tamarind paste in a jar, which is easier to use than the block, or you can purchase tamarind paste in a block, which needs to be reconstituted with boiling water. You can find tamarind paste fairly easily and it lasts for quite a while, so it’s a fantastic ingredient to have on hand when making pad thai.
What Is Tamarind Concentrate?
Similar to tamarind paste, tamarind concentrate is made from the pulp of the tamarind pod with the seeds removed, however, tamarind concentrate is easier to use for cooking due to its gel-like consistency. The paste is similar to tamarind paste when sold in jars, and it has a similar flavor, but with a more diluted taste. There are various parts of the tamarind fruit that can be used to make tamarind concentrate, but it is not made from the whole fruit.
The Confusion Between The Two
Since many brands sell both tamarind paste and concentrate, it can be difficult to differentiate between the two. In most cases, this refers simply to pre-made tamarind paste that can be added to a meal after diluting it with water. However, it’s easy to see where the confusion arises. You must know what you are looking for when you are buying tamarind paste or tamarind concentrate – only some brands have clear distinctions.
Tamarind has a very complex flavor profile, which makes it popular for a variety of cooking styles as well as both sweet and savory dishes. Since tamarind paste and tamarind concentrate are made from the same plant, their flavors are similar. Both are sour with citrusy notes, balanced out with sweet caramel notes. Regardless of which you choose, both will give you sweet, sour, tangy, and tart flavors, which can be a great addition to any meal.
You can bring out certain flavors more by using various ingredients with tamarind. To bring out more caramel flavor and reduce sourness in the paste or concentrate, sugar is added to tamarind.
Strength Of Flavor
There is a difference in the intensity of flavor between the two. As tamarind paste is derived directly from tamarind pulp, it has a stronger flavor and should be used in moderation. Although tamarind concentrate also has a strong flavor, it is more diluted than tamarind paste since it uses other parts of the pod as well – it also has a gel-like consistency. The taste of tamarind paste is milder than paste, but it still holds a kick of flavor, and it will definitely enhance the taste of your dishes.
How They’re Used
It is just the preparation method that differs between tamarind paste and tamarind concentrate. In order to use tamarind paste blocks, you have to cut or break off some of the block, and then mix it down with boiling water. For mixing the other ingredients, you usually use two parts water to one part tamarind paste. Usually, tamarind paste comes in a jar and can be added to other ingredients as is, but you may want to add a bit of water to make it more liquid.
You can still add a small amount of water to tamarind concentrate, but it should not be necessary to use it. It has a gel-like consistency, which makes it easier to add to other ingredients. The complex flavors of tamarind allow it to be used in so many different ways.
The most common use is to make pad thai and other Thai dishes, but it can also be used as a marinade for chicken, lamb, or beef when mixed with other ingredients. You can also use tamarind paste and tamarind concentrate to make desserts and cocktails!
The same storage method can be used for both tamarind paste and concentrate. Store them in a cool, dry area, such as a pantry. Once opened, it is recommended to keep the paste or concentrate in the refrigerator. Before adding the paste or concentrate to a meal, stir the contents first or dilute them with some water if they become thick in the refrigerator. You can store tamarind paste and tamarind concentrate in the refrigerator for several months if you store them properly.
Are They Interchangeable?
You can use tamarind paste and tamarind concentrate interchangeably, since they are made from the same thing and have similar flavors. However, their quantities and dilution must be adjusted accordingly. The concentrate should be diluted with two parts of water if you intend to use it in place of tamarind paste blocks. For a similar taste, you can substitute 1 tablespoon of premade tamarind paste for 1.5 tablespoons of the block.
If you want to use tamarind paste instead of tamarind concentrate, you will need to dilute it down to match the consistency of the concentrate. You’ll need to taste it as you go to make sure it is suitable.
What Is Tamarind Puree?
Another product made from tamarind is tamarind puree, which is different from paste and concentrate. Tamarind puree is made from dried tamarind fruit and has a more liquid consistency than the other two. It is more like a dipping sauce.
A tamarind puree can be added to sauces and stir-fries to give them a sweet and sour flavor. The puree does not need to be cooked down, so it is commonly added at the end of cooking.
There are some differences between tamarind paste and tamarind concentrate that affect their preparation and flavor. Tamarind paste is made from the pulp of the tamarind pod, and it can either be sold in a solid block or in a premade jar. It has a strong citrusy, sweet and sour flavor, which translates well into food.
Tamarind concentrate is made from the pulp of the pod and parts of the fruit. It is dark in color, full of flavor, and is slightly milder than the paste. The complex flavor of these two ingredients make them great for both sweet and savory dishes, but they are most commonly used in Thai cooking.
Having learned all about tamarind paste and tamarind concentrate, here are some additional questions we thought you might have.
How do you turn tamarind paste into concentrate?
Put some tamarind block into a large bowl and pour boiling water over it. Once the water has cooled, massage the block into the water to make a more liquid tamarind paste.
What can I use in place of tamarind paste?
Traditionally, lime juice or a mixture of vinegar and sugar is substituted for tamarind paste.