Let’s learn how to make tomato powder using fresh tomatoes or tomato skins! This is a fun and different way to preserve tomatoes, especially if you’ve already made your fair share of tomato sauce, soup, or other tomato preserves with your garden bounty. It’s also a great way to reduce waste and use tomato skins that are usually otherwise discarded – since many tomato recipes instruct you to remove them. An added bonus is that this tomato powder can easily be turned into tomato paste!
What is tomato powder?
Tomato powder is a dry seasoning made by dehydrating tomatoes and then grinding them into a fine powder. The result is a bright, sweet and savory concentrated powder. It’s typically used in dry form to add flavor and color to a variety of meals, though it can also be mixed with water (reconstituted) to use as tomato paste. On the other hand, some folks do the opposite and dehydrate tomato paste to make tomato powder.
What kind of tomatoes should I use to make tomato powder?
You can use any type of tomatoes to make tomato powder. Heirlooms, slicers, romas, just the skins… That said, I’ve found that cherry tomatoes make especially delicious, sweet, and flavorful tomato powder or dry tomato paste! They also dry exceptionally well, and stick less to the trays than large fruit dried in slices. Fully ripe tomatoes will offer superior flavor to less ripe ones.
Note that it takes a lot of tomatoes to create a modest amount of tomato powder – which can be a good thing if you have a bumper crop on your hands! As you’ll see in the photos below, my 3 dehydrator trays full of tomatoes condensed down into just over a half-pint jar of homemade tomato powder. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In addition to saving space in storage, the flavor and nutrients in tomato powder are exponentially concentrated too! So, a little goes a long way.
Tip: If you’re attempting to make tomato powder with skins alone, you can save up skins in the freezer until you accumulate enough to make a batch of powder if needed.
Steps to Make Tomato Powder
1) Cut and gut tomatoes
If you’re making tomato powder using tomato skins only, skip to the next step!
Using whole fresh tomatoes, start by washing and cutting the tomatoes. Cut cherry tomatoes in half, small tomatoes into quarters, and larger tomatoes into thin even slices. It’s important to try to keep all your tomato pieces roughly the same size and thickness so they’ll dry evenly. The smaller and thinner the pieces, the faster they’ll dry.
While I don’t worry about getting every last seed, I do scoop or squeeze out most of the tomato seeds and “guts” into a separate bowl to discard (compost). Removing extra juices upfront will help the tomatoes dry more quickly.
2) Fully dry tomatoes
Next, we need to dry the tomatoes. You can either use the oven or a food dehydrator, but it’s best to use a dehydrator since it takes a long time to fully dry them. (Though tomato skins will dry much faster!)
To dry tomatoes in a food dehydrator, spread the cut tomatoes (or tomato skins) out on your dehydrator sheets in a single layer. They can touch but shouldn’t overlap. Dry on 135-145°F until they’re fully dry. Ours usually take a couple days.
To dry tomatoes in the oven, spread the tomatoes out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a reusable silicone baking mat. Place in the oven on the lowest temperature setting possible and cook until the tomatoes are dry and crispy, but not burnt. Use a convection fan if available. This will take many hours.
For both methods, place the tomatoes skin-side down to reduce runoff and sticking.
The tomatoes are “done” drying when they’re crispy and no longer soft or chewy. They’ll be a lot more firm than sun-dried tomatoes, and should snap in half rather than bend. If the tomatoes aren’t 100% dry, your homemade tomato powder may get clumpy or spoil in storage.
3) Grind into powder
Once the tomatoes are dry, it’s time to turn them into tomato powder! Use a blender, food processor, or coffee grinder to pulverize and grind the dry tomatoes into a fine powder. Our Vitamix grinds tomatoes into fine powder like a champ! Do this immediately after drying for the best results, as the tomatoes may reabsorb moisture from the air and soften if left out.
If it seems lumpy or isn’t blending evenly, use a fine-mesh strainer to sift out the finished powder and re-blend any leftover chunks.
4) Store and Enjoy
Finally, store your homemade tomato powder in an airtight container with a lid in a cool dark location. Folks in humid climates may benefit from adding a food-grade silica packet inside the jar to absorb extra moisture and prevent clumping. Even if it does clump a little, it’s still safe to eat – and delicious!
Homemade tomato powder should last up to a year (or longer) when dried and stored properly. Discard if mold develops. Otherwise, enjoy!
How to Use Tomato Powder
It’s more versatile than you may imagine! Use tomato powder to add a pop of flavor and color to soups, stews, sauces, and chili, or incorporate it into spice blends or dry rubs. It’s a fantastic addition to homemade vegetable broth! We like to add a little to the pot when cooking brown rice, quinoa, dry beans or lentils.
Tomato powder is also delicious sprinkled over avocado toast, in guacamole and egg dishes (including scrambled eggs), used to season roasted or sautéed veggies, and incorporated into homemade sourdough bread or sourdough crackers. A friend recently told me they even like it on their popcorn! Really, the options are endless… The other day we turned some of our tomato powder into sweet cherry tomato paste, and used it in place of ketchup with pan-fried homegrown potatoes. Yum!
How to turn tomato powder into tomato paste
I love that tomato powder doubles as dry tomato paste! Personally, I use tomato powder more often than paste, but now I have both on hand without creating two separate things or the fuss of canning. They’re very similar since both are highly concentrated.
To turn tomato powder into tomato paste, simply mix 1 to 2 parts water with 1 part tomato powder. For instance, combine 1 to 2 tablespoons of water for 1 tablespoon of powder. Start with a 1-to-1 ratio and then gradually add more water to adjust the consistency of the tomato paste to your liking.
That’s all folks!
Looking for even more ideas to use tomatoes? Check out this round-up of 13 ways to preserve tomatoes, including recipes for freezing, canning, dehydrating, pickling and more. Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments below. Otherwise, thank you for tuning in today!
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Homemade Tomato Powder (skins or fresh tomatoes)
- Food Dehydrator, or Oven
- Blender, food processor or coffee grinder
- Airtight storage container
- Tomatoes or tomato skins (cherry tomatoes make super flavorful tomato powder!)
- To make tomato powder using tomato skins only, skip to step 4.
- Using whole fresh tomatoes, start by washing and cutting the tomatoes. Cut cherry tomatoes in half, small tomatoes into quarters, and larger tomatoes into thin even slices. (It’s important to try to keep all your tomato pieces roughly the same size and thickness so they’ll dry evenly)
- Squeeze or scoop out the seeds and guts to expedite drying time.
- Place cut tomatoes skin side down on dehydrator drying racks (or on oven baking sheet) in a single layer, not overlapping.
- Using a food dehydrator, dry the tomatoes on 135-145 degrees F (OR in an oven on the lowest temperature possible) until they're completely dry and crisp. This will take several hours to a couple days, depending on your machine and how large your tomato pieces area. (Skins will dry MUCH faster)
- The tomatoes are “done” drying when they’re crispy and no longer soft or chewy. They’ll be a lot more firm than sun-dried tomatoes, and should snap in half rather than bend.
- As soon as they're finished drying, use a blender, food processor, or coffee grinder to pulverize and grind the dry tomatoes into a fine powder.
- Store tomato powder in an airtight container with a lid in a cool dark location.
- Homemade tomato powder should last up to a year (or longer) when dried and stored properly. Discard if mold develops. Otherwise, enjoy!
How to Turn Tomato Powder into Tomato Paste
- Mix 1 to 2 parts water with 1 part tomato powder. For instance, combine 1 to 2 tablespoons of water for 1 tablespoon of tomato powder. Start with a 1-to-1 ratio and then gradually add more water to adjust the consistency of the tomato paste to your liking.