Tomato Powder: the super space-saving, nutrient dense method of preserving the tide of tomato abundance
I grow lots of tomatoes. Why? Because there is nothing like biting into a garden fresh, vine ripened tomato. You can’t buy that taste in any store. Okay that is part of it. The other reason? They are easy to grow. I have so many failed garden attempts withering in my garden beds, that I cover my blunders with gnarly unstoppable vines of tomatoes. If you think I am exaggerating, ask me how many I planted this last year. Go ahead, ask……28. Yes, twenty-eight plants for a family of six. Considering each plant yields roughly one bzillion toms, that left me with a few leftover to store.
I used to can tomatoes. They are perhaps the easiest fruit to can and can be used in so many ways; you can’t go wrong with a shelf of home canned tomatoes. Then I embarked on my raw food adventure. Though I am not close to a 100% raw foodist, it did wake me up to the nutrient value of raw foods. Suddenly I found myself unable to plunge my beautiful, fresh lovelies into boiling water. Processing, even on a home level, seemed so tragic. What’s a raw loving girl to do in a crimson tide of toms? After my first growing season on our “farm” I froze a lot of tomato puree. But let’s face it, how often do I plan a meal far enough in advance to thaw out a tub of tomato goop? Not often. Not to mention I only have a finite amount of freezer space.
You know what they say about necessity mothering invention? Well, I “invented” something amazing. Out of desperation, I began stuffing tomatoes into my dehydrator. Then to save space, I began powdering them in my blender. Turns out, almost a bushel of tomatoes will fit in one mason jar! I did it! I found the space saver secret to tomato storage! Evil laughter filled my kitchen. And what a bonus it was not to be stuck in a hot, steamy kitchen! But….what to do with powdered tomatoes?
- Tomato paste
- Tomato sauce
- Enchilada Sauce
Use it as a thickener. (I especially like this feature when making my raw marinara!)
Create illusions: a spoonful of tom powder in canned soup or sauce just brightens it up, making it taste fresher and, dare I say it, homemade! (I am all for easy dishes that get you homemade credit!!)
Summer-ize: during the sad winter season when tomatoes only come in pale pink frankenfruit varieties at the grocery store, use this powder to pack a REAL punch of summer into whatever you are serving. For a tasty twist of irony, sprinkle it on your winter-shipped-pathetic-store-bought-frankenmaters!
As for inventing it, I totally did. The people who market it in stores on the Internet surely gleaned it from my consciousness magically, you know, before I found it in there myself. Yes, you can buy it. But I figure I saved myself the cost of a new minivan by making it myself.
Note: it does clump a bit. You could add cornstarch or something like that to declump, but I would rather use a fork to break it up than defile my lovelies with additives. Shaking and patting the jar is usually enough to do the job. If you do live somewhere with humidity, try storing with a little pouch of dry rice. Rice is an excellent natural moisture absorber!
Store in a cool, dry place. You know, the usual food storage advice. How long you ask? Well, I had one pint jar leftover from my first season and, one full year later, it still tasted bright and tommy. I am sure you could add an oxygen absorber to extend its shelf life, but really it is so versatile, you will rotate through it quickly.
Did I mention it is easy?
Wash and de-core your tomatoes. Then, simply slice thin and arrange in your dehydrator. If you have a temperature control feature, keep the heat low, under 118 degrees to preserve the enzymes and “raw” quality. Dry overnight or until crisp. Then simply blend in your food processor or high powered blender until you have a fine powder. Fill your jars and there you go!
After my first 5 million tomatoes, I was so sick of slicing I moved to this method…puree. Wash and de-core your tomatoes. Then toss into your high powered blender and puree. Pour on teflex sheets (or whatever mats you use to make fruit leathers in your dehydrator). Dry until brittle…dryer than fruit leather but not burned! Then break off pieces and powder.
That is all there is to it!