Aug 20, 2012

Tomato Paste from Tomato Skins

Those of you who've been around this blog for a while know I hate wasting food. Last year, in an attempt to use of more of the fruit I home can, I made fruit syrup from peach skins, which was a great hit. This year, rather than toss tomato skins in the compost bin after canning tomatoes, I decided to dehydrate them to use for tomato paste. (Sometimes people ask why you can't can tomatoes with their skins on. The reason is two-fold: The skins fall off during canning and float around in the jar; and, more importantly, canning fruit with the skin on is, with a few exceptions - like apricots, not recommended because it increases the risk of bacterial growth in the jar.)

The method for turning tomato skins to tomato paste is really simple and does not require canning. The process is explained over at My Earth Garden, which is where I first heard about this method. But here are the basics:

1. Place tomato skins in the dehydrator at 135 degrees F. (You could do this in the oven, too, at the temperature setting closest to 135 degrees F. Place the skins on a wire cooling rack, then lay the rack on a baking sheet.) I found the dried skins tended to stick to the dehydrator trays unless I sprayed them lightly with cooking oil before laying the skins on top.


2. Grind the peels until they turn to powder. For this step, you could use a food processor; I chose my handy dandy coffee mill.

Now you can store the powder in a glass jar with a tight lid (in a cool, dark, dry location), turning it into tomato paste just before you are ready to use it. Or you can immediately proceed with turning the powder into paste: Just combine equal amounts of water and powder. If desired, add some seasonings, like oregano and basil.

As you can see in the picture at the left, my paste is a bit lumpy because my skins aren't a fine powder. But once I cook with this paste, there is no noticeable difference in texture - and the taste is great!

You can portion out this paste and freeze it, if desired. If you tend to use small amounts of tomato paste, freeze it in an ice cube tray, then transfer to a freezer bag. Or, measure out an amount you typically use and put each into a freezer bag.

It's so easy!

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7 comments:

  1. I realy like this idea. Thanks for sharing it.

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  2. I hate to waste food too. I've been feeding the skins to my chickens, who love them...but this sounds like a better idea1

    Found you on the Barn Hop!
    Lisa at http://littlehomesteadonthehill.blogspot.com/

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  3. One question...I use tomato paste in canned salsa...would I be able to use this, or would it cause the salsa to spoil faster?

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  4. Amanda, there is no reason this would make the salsa spoil. So yes, feel free to use this type of tomato paste!

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  5. How long do you leave the tomato skins in the dehydrator? This is such a great way to cut down on waste!!!

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  6. Amanda, it depends on the type of tomato the skins come from. Instead of aiming for a certain number of minutes, I just check them now and then. When they are crispy, they are done!

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