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Dry and pulverize tomatoes to store as a spice

Recipe: Try tomato flakes or powder on popcorn, veggies, salads

Flakes made from tomato skins add zip to popcorn.  (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

You've sliced, diced, sandwiched, roasted, cobbled, canned and crushed your tomato crop. Now, before those tomatoes fade away completely, here's your chance to powder them.

I'd never thought of doing this until earlier this summer when I was making salsa to can. The tomatoes needed to be peeled, but I was using my lovely meaty Juliet cherry tomatoes. No way was I going to dip hundreds of these in hot water and peel them. Instead, I sliced them in half,  put them cut side down on pans, and popped them under the broiler. Success! The skins slid right off.

Then I looked at the big pile of skins.

The dried tomato skins are ready to be crumbled.

Hmm, I wondered, could I turn those into tomato powder?

In this case, it was a pretty easy yes. I already had pans out that I could reuse after scraping the Juliets off them.

I spread the skins across the parchment paper on the pans and returned them to the oven, this time set at 200 degrees. I put them in there for an hour or so. Then, just to be sure they were completely dry, I turned off the oven and left them there overnight. (If you have a dehydrator, this will be even easier.)

The skins the next morning crumbled easily. I loaded them all into my food processor and whirred them to flakes. If you want powder, just keep whirring. The powder stores beautifully in a glass jar on the spice shelf.

Tomato flakes are delicious on green beans.

Tomato powder brightens up vegetables and salad dressings, but the most fun use is sprinkled over hot popcorn. Add some to the melting butter, then sprinkle on more. Game day snack, anyone?

Tomato powder

This is less of a recipe and more of a method. I used only skins, but you also could use leftover tomato pulp or even very thinly sliced tomatoes -- the drying will take longer, however.


Tomato skins, enough to thinly cover at least one quarter-sheet baking pan (though as long as you're doing this, why not do several pans' worth?)


Heat oven to 200 degrees. Cover baking pans with parchment paper (preferred) or lightly grease them. Spread skins thinly and evenly over the pans, and put pans in the oven. Check after 1 hour to judge how much longer to keep the heat on. Skins may be already dry, especially if they were cooked as part of being removed from the tomatoes.

When everything seems dry, turn off the oven, leaving the pans inside for several hours or overnight to completely dry and cool.

Remove the tomato skins from the oven, and check that the skins crumble easily. Put them in a blender, food processor or spice blender. Whir until you have the consistency of flakes or powder you want.

(If the tomato skins are sticking to the side of the blender, they're not dry enough and need to be put back in the oven for awhile.)

Tomato flakes ready to store and use. 

Store powder in a clean closed glass jar at room temperature. Probably best to use it in six months for best flavor.

(Note on drying tomato pulp or thin slices: Use the lowest setting available on your oven, or use a dehydrator. Drying the tomatoes thoroughly may take as long as 18 hours.)


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A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.


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For week of Oct. 1:

Make the most of this cooler weather. Get to work on your fall garden:

* October is the best month to plant trees, shrubs and perennials. Plants become established – sending down deep, strong roots – faster in warm soil.

* Divide and replant perennials. Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to the planting hole, but hold off on other fertilizers until spring. Keep the transplants well-watered (but not wet) for the first month as they become settled.

* Now is the time to plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden, including cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, portulaca, sweet pea and stock.

* Plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Set out cool-weather bedding plants, including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.

* Reseed and feed the lawn. Work on bare spots.

* Dig up corms and tubers of gladioli, dahlias and tuberous begonias after the foliage dies. Clean and store in a cool, dry place.

* Treat azaleas, gardenias and camellias with chelated iron if leaves are yellowing between the veins.

* Clean up the summer vegetable garden and compost disease-free foliage.

* Harvest pumpkins and winter squash.

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