Hey, Montana. Have You Tried this Unique Way to Store Tomatoes?
Many Montanans have huge gardens.
My mom is one of them. She spends countless summer hours watering, weeding, and tending to a wide variety of produce and her harvests are substantial. For gardeners like this, it usually makes the most sense to can or freeze as many of the vegetables and fruits as possible.
Then there are backyard gardeners like myself who might have just a few tomato plants. We obviously eat as many as we can when they're fresh. BLTs again for dinner? Sure! Another round of Caprese salad (made with fresh basil)? You betchya. But after a while, I find myself wondering what in the heck I should do with the tomatoes we can't consume fresh from the vine.
I don't have a large enough crop to justify the time and energy necessary to can them. Purchasing Mason jars, lids, a pressure cooker, etc. hardly seems worth it for a few quarts of tomatoes. Freezing them is a little easier, but you still have to blanche and peel them. A couple of ziplock bags worth of frozen tomatoes is hardly worth the time, in my scenario.
How about making tomato powder?
A local gardener mentioned they use their extra tomatoes to make tomato powder. How have I never heard about this before?! Basically, you cut tomatoes into paper-thin slices, then dehydrate them. You don't have to peel them first (huge bonus!) and you can either leave the seeds intact or try to remove what you can.
Once they're completely dry, simply run the crunchy little tomato slices through your blender or a clean coffee grinder, until they turn into powder. I imagine you could experiment a little and maybe throw a few dehydrated peppers in the mix for a spicier tomato powder. The University of Colorado offers this useful PDF on how to dehydrate many types of produce for longer-term storage.
Tons of uses for this potent tomato powder.
There are plenty of detailed directions online for making tomato powder, although the process is quite simple. Homestead and Chill has a nice write-up HERE. The main takeaway is to make sure your tomatoes are fully dehydrated before you turn them into powder. Pounds of tomatoes will condense into less than a cup of concentrated powder, which can be stored on a shelf for months if you add a little salt to the mixture, or in your freezer for longer periods. Fans of the method say the finished product is packed with flavor. Uses are limited by only your imagination.
- Sprinkle the powder in a Bloody Mary
- Incorporate the powder into your favorite homemade bbq rub.
- Add the powder to your soup or stew recipes.
- Use as a tomato flavor booster in salad dressing.
- Add to anything that could use a delicious tomato flavor kick.
Many air fryers have a dehydrate setting (mine does) and I'm definitely going to make a small batch of tomato powder. I'll update this story after we're done and let you know how it turns out!