There is no big secret as to how to make tomato powder, and as you will see here, it is the easiest thing in the world to do. But why do it? Well, first, no part of the tomato (except the stem) is ever wasted. Use the tops, bottoms, skins collected after blanching, or whole tomato if you wish. I usually blanch my tomatoes before making sauces and salsa (whether I plan to can it or not). This leaves me with a huge bowl of tomato skins that used to end up in the compost, but not anymore. I just stick them in the fridge until I am done with my canning project and the next day, I dry and powder them.
Yes, that is all fine and wonderful, but what is tomato powder good for? Lots of things! I frequently use it on and in meat dishes just like any other seasoning. It goes in meatloaf, hamburger patties, right on grilled chicken, in salad dressing (especially vinegarettes), artisan breads, etc. adding a rich flavor and lots of nutrients. Can you imagine a homemade artisan tomato basil loaf dipped in a tangy olive oil & tomato dressing? Oh my! You can also add a few spoonfuls of tomato powder to soups and stews to help thicken them and give them a tomato-y kick. It is also great for seasoning Mexican dishes like this one. Or you can use it to make tomato paste or as a substitute for tomato paste. It’s great for homemade meatloaf glaze or even homemade ketchup. If properly stored, it keeps forever and does not require refrigeration unless and until you reconstitute (re-hydrate) it by using it in a recipe. You can treat it like any other dried herb in your cabinet.
Yes, there are plenty of things you can use it for but start with your imagination! That said, let’s see how it is done. As I mentioned, I usually powder just the skins, but you can dehydrate & powder any part of the tomatoes if you wish. But here are the steps with “skins only” as an example.
NOTE: This post assumes that you have and know how to use a dehydrator, a spice mill or food processor, and a vacuum sealer with a jar attachment. If you need either instructions on how to use them OR information on where (and WHY) to buy them, please read How To Use Canning Jars For Dry Storage. That post will give you all the directions you need, whether you are working with tomato powder or something else.
1. Spread the skins as thinly and evenly as possible on your dehydrator trays.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, use cookie sheets in your oven at its lowest possible temperature. But watch them closely, it will not take long using that method.
2. Load the dehydrator and set it to “Vegetables” (medium) and attach the lid.
3. Walk away for 5-7 hours, checking periodically and turning the shelves if needed. When they turn orange and are crispy, they are ready.
4. Look closely to make sure all moisture is removed.
5. Curl the liners and dump the skins into a large bowl.
6. Give the skins a quick crush with your clean hands until you have small enough pieces to fit in your spice mill or food processor. Grind into a fine powder.
7. Pour the powder into a sterile mason jar (or at least a very clean one). Use a canning funnel to help keep the jar’s rim clean.
8. If you plan to place the tomato powder in the cupboard for daily use, simply put a lid and ring on it and label it. If you are placing it in long term storage, you will need to vacuum seal it to keep it fresh longer. Place a canning lid on the jar (two if it is a regular mouth jar) and put the jar attachment in place and push downward. Lock & turn on the machine, apply some pressure to the lid of the machine to help form a vacuum. Details available in How To Use Canning Jars For Dry Storage.
That post also covers why you use two canning lids on a regular mouth jar.
9. Test the seal by attempting to remove it. If it provides resistance and would need to be pried off, then the seal is good. Further test by turning the jar upside down over a bowl.
10. Label the jar and place it for long term storage.
And that is all there is to it. Not counting drying time, this entire effort should take no more than an hour to make enough tomato powder to last a year. That is, until you find out how useful & tasty it is … then maybe a few months. But it is worth the effort and stops the waste. Let us know if you try it! We would love to hear your feedback.