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Preserve Your Harvest,  Recipes

How to Make Tomato Powder (Fresh Tomatoes or Skins)

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.


An image with a basket of fresh tomatoes, a metal bowl of quartered tomatoes, and a smaller bowl containing tomato skins are huddled together.
Canning tomatoes? Save those skins!


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. 


A wooden bowl with metal handles is full of freshly harvest cherry tomatoes. Surround the bowl are tomatoes of differing varieties, a couple Roma types, a few larger red slicing tomatoes, along with a few Pink Boar type which are dark red with hints of dark green.
Let’s turn these cherry tomatoes into powder


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.


A close up image of a dehydrator try full of freshly sliced larger tomatoes and halved cherry tomatoes.


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. 


Three dehydrator trays with sliced tomatoes, halved cherry tomatoes, and one try that contains both sliced and halved cherry tomatoes. Make tomato powder from a variety of tomatoes to preserve that tomato flavor for use during the winter.
An Excalibur food dehydrator has three trays full of freshly sliced tomatoes and halved cherry tomatoes. The tray with cherry tomatoes has been pulled out of the dehydrator somewhat to show the rest of the tray full of tomatoes. Make tomato powder from dried tomatoes for a variety of uses.
We absolutely love our Excalibur food dehydrators and use them almost nonstop! They’re large capacity, dry things evenly, made in the USA, efficient, quiet, and BPA-free.
Two drying racks full of dried tomatoes, one tray is full of halved cherry tomatoes and the other partial tray is mostly made up of larger sliced tomatoes.
All crisp and dry.


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. 


A Vitamix blender that is 1/3rd of the way full of freshly dried tomatoes of various sizes and shapes.
A silver spoon is poised above full of tomato powder. Below there is a white ramekin full of tomato powder, along with some sun dried tomatoes and a few fresh tomatoes as well. Make tomato powder for adding tomato flavor to dishes throughout winter.


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!


A half pint mason jar with a label on it that reads "Tomatoe Powder '22" is full of freshly made tomato powder. Various fresh and dried tomatoes garnish the area around the jar. Make tomato powder when you have a surplus of tomatoes.


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.   


A white ceramic ramekin with bright red tomato paste in the bottom. A spoon is inside the bowl with a dollop of tomato paste on it.


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)

Learn how to make homemade tomato powder using fresh tomatoes or tomato skins in a dehydrator or oven, plus how to turn tomato powder into tomato paste.
Course: Preserved Food, Seasoning
Keyword: Dehyrated Tomatoes, Dry tomato paste, Preserving Tomatoes, Tomato Powder, Tomato Recipe

Equipment

  • Food Dehydrator, or Oven
  • Blender, food processor or coffee grinder
  • Airtight storage container

Ingredients

  • Tomatoes or tomato skins (cherry tomatoes make super flavorful tomato powder!)

Instructions

  • 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.


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2 Comments

  • Dennis J. Kennedy

    Great article (as usual)!

    We’ve been making tomato powder for a few years (with our Excalibur dehydrator) just as you described. The whole process is so much easier using a strainer like the Vitorio which automatically separates the juice and pulp for sauce from the seeds and skins which are squeezed relatively dry.

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