Some people, yours truly included, tend to peel tomatoes before they can them. The peels can give the final product a strange texture for some, a bitterness for others, or maybe it’s just not as pretty to see all those pieces of peels floating around in the jar.
If any of you are canners, you’ve probably at some point peeled tomatoes and thrown out, or composted the peels. You may have blanched to tomatoes to get the peels off, maybe you roasted them in an oven for a few minutes, or maybe like me you froze them so the peels easily slide off during the thawing process.
However you peeled your tomatoes, the question becomes, what do I do with them now?
In the past I’ve thrown them out thinking I couldn’t use them for anything. Other times I’ve composted them to add nutrients back into my garden soil. But now, I save them and choose to turn them into something very useful in the kitchen….
Dehydrated tomato powder
Have you ever used tomato powder? If you have, then you know how convenient it can be to have on hand. Need a tablespoon of tomato paste? No problem. How about 10 oz of sauce? Easy peasy.
I’ve always felt a little guilty buying cans of tomato paste. Usually a recipe will call for a tablespoon or so of the paste and the rest of the can ends up wasted. I hate wasting food, it’s a huge pet peeve of mine.
Then I ran across someone that mentioned tomato powder and my curiosity was peaked. Now, I can’t remember where I originally saw that idea, but it certainly changed my kitchen for the better.
If you aren’t growing your own tomatoes or buying them locally, then Azure Standard is a great place to get quality tomato powder. I’ve bought it, and many other bulk items, from them for several years now. But since I grew so many tomatoes this year, I wanted to take those peels and turn them into delicious powder.
The first step is making sure the tomatoes are washed well before they are peeled. Regardless of the method you use to peel the tomatoes, getting them washed well, especially if they are conventionally grown, is very important.
You could also use a freeze dryer, but I don’t have one of those yet.
What if you don’t have a freeze dryer or dehydrator? You can use your oven on a low temperature. If you have an oven that will go down to 150ºF then that’s ideal. Most I’ve seen only go down to 170ºF which is fine. You won’t leave them in there as long, after about 10-12 hours keep checking on them to see if they are completely dry. One downside to this is you won’t be able to leave while the oven is on.
If it’s warm outside when you are trying to dry the peels, you could use a hot car or other hot place to dry them as well.
The tomato peels are finished drying when they are crunchy. You might get a little stickiness to them and that’s normal. If there’s still some meat on the peels the sugar in them can make it a little sticky even after drying. That might be different if using a freeze dryer but I don’t know. If you’ve done it, let everyone know in the comments how they turned out!
Once they are washed, peel them however you choose. You will then take those peels and dry them. I dried mine in the dehydrator at 150ºF (65ºC) for 18 hours. They came out beautifully.
Now it’s time to get out the blender, spice or coffee grinder, or other tool you use to powder things up. I use a Magic Bullet type blender since that’s what I have on hand. It powders really well. Add the peels and blend until it’s a fine powder.
The powder is now ready to use!
To make tomato paste mix 2-3 parts water with one part powder. Start with 2 parts water and add until you get the consistency you’d like.
For tomato sauce mix 4 parts water with one part powder.
For tomato juice mix 6 parts water with one part powder.
You can adjust these ratios to get the consistency of tomato product you’re looking for. There’s no hard and fast rules that say there’s only one right way to mix powder and water!