Most people love tomatoes! They are so versatile on the homestead! The problem is that most of us grow entirely too many! I needed to figure out how to preserve them other than canning and making sauce. When a friend told me I could dehydrate tomatoes, I knew I had the perfect answer.
I borrowed an Excalibur dehydrator from a friend of mine and set out to learn a new skill. I may not have done it like most people who know what they are doing, but the end result was perfect and I feel like I learned a few things on the way. So I am sharing with you how I dehydrated tomatoes on my homestead so you can try at yours.
How To Dehydrate Tomatoes On The Homestead
What You Should Know About Tomatoes
Before you just run and think you are going to dehydrate tomatoes, there are some things you should know first.
First of all, tomatoes are very juicy, some more than others. The process of dehydrating anything means you are removing all of the moisture. For tomatoes, that means the bigger and juicier they are, the longer they will take to dehydrate.
Secondly, depending on what you are going to do with them, you may need to prepare them differently. What I mean is this…I wanted to make tomato powder. Because I intended to grind up all the tomatoes when done, I used every part of the tomato.
If you are going to use them for sauce, you may want to quickly blanch them to remove the skins first. I may do a future post on the many ways to use dehydrated tomatoes, but for now, we are only going to discuss preparing them for powder.
Preparing to Dehydrate Tomatoes
Like anything else, you need to prepare your tomatoes for the dehydrator.
I simply washed the tomatoes really good first. I didn’t have much to worry about because I bought them from a local store and now they were grown without pesticides. I simply washed them off and laid them on a clean counter until dry.
Next, I cut out any blemishes or bad spots. Then I simply sliced the top end which is where the original stem was to remove that little hard piece. At that point, I sliced each of the tomatoes into about 1/4″ to 1/2″ slices. I placed those cut slices on the dehydrator tray with at least 1/8″ space around each one.
Starting the Dehydrator
Once you have all the tomatoes sliced and one the trays you are ready to place the lid on and start to dehydrate your tomatoes. I placed my temperature gauge at 145 degrees and let the dehydrator do its thing.
The instructions on the dehydrator I was using called for 145 degrees for 7 to 14 hours. I am not sure what kind of tomatoes they were talking about, but it took over 24 hours for mine to be dry enough that I would be able to make them into a powder with.
The lesson learned here refers to the note at the top of this post about how juicy your tomatoes are and how big they are also.
How To Limit the Time in the Dehydrator
I reached out to my friend Shelle from Rockin W Homestead. She said that because they were so large, I should have only used the skin and the “meatier” part of the tomato. I could have done it a lot quicker by removing the juice and seeds, Well, lesson learned I guess. Time wasn’t an issue but I will remember to do that a bit differently next time.
Preparing the Tomatoes to Become Powder
Once my tomatoes were dry enough that I could crumble them by hand, I was ready to turn them into powder. Some people use a food processor for this. I, however, happened to have a small coffee bean grinder that I chose to use instead. If you don’t have one then check out the Hamilton Beach Coffee Grinder on Amazon! It’s affordable and it didn’t take me long at all to process all 9 trays!
I simply dumped a handful of crushed dehydrated tomatoes into the top compartment and pushed the grind button until they were a powder. Then I simply poured the powder right into a glass jar. Voila! Tomato powder!
What to Do With Tomato Powder
Tomato powder can be used in so many ways. Here are a few to get you started.
- Sprinkled on baked chicken or pork
- Mixed in beef for grilled burgers
- Sprinkled in salads and sides
- Used in smoothies
- Added to grilled cheese sandwiches when served with tomato soup
Shelf Life of Tomato Powder
Tomato powder will last about a year or more if kept in a cool, dry, and dark place. I didn’t want to use the vacuum sealer on the jar because I use it so often. You can also add oxygen absorbers to each jar for added protection.
I have included a video of the whole process for you below.
I hope this post inspires you to start dehydrating tomatoes into powder on your homestead! You can learn about how to preserve herbs on the homestead too! And keep an eye out for all the posts that are part of the upcoming Preserving The Harvest Roundup coming June 3rd!
Do you have other ways of dehydrating tomatoes or other uses for tomato powder? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below!