Tomato Skin Powder

The concept is so simple I wish I had thought of it: take the throw-away tomato skins that are left-over in the preserving process and make them into something useful. Something other than compost.

With over 80 lbs of tomatoes (and counting) harvested from my garden this year, it is safe to say that I have been knee deep in canning these last weeks. While I am experienced and adept at canning tomatoes in many forms, I had never heard of drying the skins into a powder until I came upon it a few weeks back in Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry by Liana Krissoff.

Drying the skins is easy. Simply lay the wet skins out onto a parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheet and slow dry in the oven at the lowest temperature setting until they are crisp. I recently ran out of parchment (and my Silpat is too big for our tiny oven. Long story) and used a paper bag cut open. That works in a pinch, too. You can do this in a dehydrator as well, but I put mine away recently and have been too lazy to lug it back out to test.

Once the skins are dry, grind them into a fine powder using a coffee grinder. I have one exactly like this that is reserved for grinding herbs and spices only. A food processor will work, but it will turn out something more like tomato flakes than powder.

The result is a colourful and tangy flavouring that you can sprinkle on top of your meals. So far I’ve used it on breakfast eggs and in ricotta cheese stuffed zucchini blossoms. I’m sure I’ll discover more applications in the coming weeks as the possibilities seem nearly endless.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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32 thoughts on “Tomato Skin Powder

  1. This sounds so delicious. Also, cut your silpat in half! Unless you’re getting a lot of non-baking use out of it as is. We have some full ones and some halved ones depending on what we need it for…

  2. Wow, I actually have that book and somehow hadn’t seen that. Granted, I haven’t had a chance to read it cover-to-cover yet…but thank you for writing about it! I hate wasting anything, and now I’ll definitely try doing this.

  3. I have done this for the past couple of years.
    One thing I do differently is I don’t grind the skins into powder till I need them. Once the skins are dried, I place in a mason jar and seal with the Foodsaver. I grind as needed therefore the powder never gets damp and clumps up. With it sealed in the mason jar, if it should get damp it’s very easy to put it back in the dehydrator. Not so when it’s all been powdered.

  4. this is SOo amazing – I love it – I bet grinding up the dried seeds would also be a good thing – I actually don’t take the skins or seeds out because I think they contain a lot of the vitamins (I said think not know) but just thinking it has caused me to not strain my sauces

  5. This is fascinating – I had no idea such a thing was possible, and I’m definitely going to try it with the tomato skins from this week’s tomato glut. Presumably this would work really well as a garnish for souffles and omelettes too.

  6. I have done this & it’s wonderful when you mix it with butter & garlic & spread it on hot bread. I used the coffee grinder for herbs, dried peppers, & chopping nuts.

  7. That’s a fantastic idea! I don’t tend to throw out a lot of tomato skins because I don’t mind them in my pasta sauces and the like, but this sounds like something worth trying. Plus it gives me an excuse to use my mortar and pestle ;-)

  8. Oh my! Never again will there be an excuse for not peeling tomatoes….. Actually, I now have an urge to find some to peel in order to try this powder! Any other such genius tricks in this book? If so, I’m running out the door to get it….
    ….sorry if I sound scary-eager! :)

  9. I wonder if this would be worth trying with the skins from peaches? Has anyone tried that? It might add a nice flavour to yogurt or oatmeal.

  10. Jen: It’s worth a try. I’m allergic, often even when the peaches are organic, but I will try it if I come across any more peaches this season.

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