Canning is often the first method thought of when deciding to preserve tomatoes. Dehydrating and turning them into homemade tomato powder is another alternative that takes up less shelf space and retains freshness.
Fresh tomatoes are used in soup, stew, and salads and are perhaps the most versatile fruit you can store. Many people process tomatoes in a water bath canner each year and enjoy homemade sauce long after they can be picked fresh from the garden. There is another way to preserve them that is somewhat less time-consuming.
Tomatoes are easy to dehydrate, and tomato powder can replace most of your processing of paste, sauce, and juice. It will take 2 cups of fresh tomatoes to make 2/3 cup of tomato powder.
Dehydrate Tomato Pieces
You can dry tomato pieces with the skin on or off; it’s your preference. If you want to peel the tomatoes before preserving, submerge them in boiling water for 30 seconds, then plunge them into cold water and drain. The skin will slip right off.
To dehydrate without removing the skins, prepare the tomatoes by thoroughly cleaning them with mild dish soap and hot water, then cut them into slices. Remove the seeds. The thinner the slices, the quicker they will dry.
Dehydrate at 135°F. Drying time is between 8 and 12 hours depending on the thickness of the pieces. You’ll know they are thoroughly dry when they are brittle and click on the counter. NOTE: the pieces must be completely dry – even overly dry – to turn them into powder.
Be sure to go to our Dehydrating Page to learn how to dry other fruits and vegetables.
Process Dried Tomatoes into Powder
The process is fairly easy. It will take several times of grinding, sifting, and regrinding before the whole batch becomes powder. Don’t give up, it’s worth it! View pictures of how it’s done in our How to Preserve Greens post.
- Place the dried pieces into a blender or food processor and grind until mostly powder.
- Run these processed pieces of ground tomato powder through a sieve to separate the large pieces.
- Run those through the blender again – resifting – until the entire batch is complete.
Store the tomato powder in a canning jar with a tight lid, in a dark pantry cupboard. It will lose its vibrant color if exposed to the light. To prevent clumping, add a 100cc oxygen absorber to the jar. This will keep it from absorbing moisture. Don’t have oxygen absorbers? No problem! Stir the powder before using.
To Use Tomato Powder
Tomate powder is a versatile pantry staple and takes up a lot less space than the store-bought version. You can expect a shelf life of 1 year when stored in a dark cupboard, under typical pantry conditions.
To make the equivalent of a 6 ounce can tomato paste use 6 tablespoons tomato powder + ½ cup water + ½ tsp salt
To make a 15 ounce can of tomato sauce use ⅔ cup tomato powder + 1 3/4 cup water + ¾ tsp salt
To make a 64 oz bottle of tomato juice use 1 cup tomato powder + 8 cups water + 1 tsp salt
To make homemade ketchup use 6 Tablespoons tomato powder + 1 cup water + 1 ¼ tsp salt + ¼ tsp onion powder + ⅛ tsp garlic powder + ¼ cup honey + ⅓ cup white vinegar. Simmer for 20 minutes.