This isn’t the first time I’ve reduced an unwitting fruit or vegetable to powder. I have form. As long as I’m on the loose, no chili is safe – and now, no tomato, either.
I have experimented with oven dried tomatoes before – like sun dried, only you can make them in countries where you don’t get much sun. This time, I went a step further and completely dried out some cherry tomatoes, before making them into powder.
STEP ONE: The tomatoes don’t know what’s coming. Quarter them, but don’t slice right through, leaving them slightly connected at the centre. This makes them a little easier to move around, plus looks pretty cool. Sprinkle with salt and, if you like, a little sugar.
STEP TWO: Put the tomatoes in a low oven – about 70C – until dried out. I think it took me four hours in the end. They look kind of creepy now.
STEP THREE: Put the now-dry tomatoes in a spice grinder and process as finely as possible. For me, this is where I found that they weren’t as completely dry as I’d have liked. You can tell by the way the powder clumps up in the spice grinder. So, on to…
STEP FOUR: Take the not-quite-powder and spread on a baking sheet again. Put back into oven for half an hour or so, to remove more moisture.
STEP FIVE: Spread the powder out on absorbent paper towels, and leave to sit overnight. This will remove yet more moisture and oil from the powder.
STEP SIX: After resting over night, return the powder to the spice grinder and process once more. You will find the resulting powder finer and drier. There was still a certain amount of moisture, but I judged it to be acceptable.
Some thoughts on the uses of tomato powder, now that you have some:
- Flavour popcorn or possibly even homemade Doritos (a challenge I intend to take on).
- Add to humus or other dips.
- Thicken sauces – it’s just like a really extreme form of tomato puree, right?
- Use to give colour to rice dishes.
- Mix with salt and pepper for a quick seasoning blend.
Will all that said, sometimes it’s really more about the process than the end result. Some people like to climb Everest. I like to dehydrate stuff.
Mine’s an easier hobby.