How to Make Tomato Paste – and 10 Ways to Use It!

How to Make Tomato Paste with a Freeze Dryer or a Dehydrator

If you’ve ever canned tomato paste, you know how long it can take to cook down. If you do it on the stove, you constantly have to babysit it. If you do it in a roaster, it seems like it takes days. But having tomato paste on the shelf is super convenient for homemade pizza, soups, and more. 

In this blog post, we’ll talk about how to make tomato paste with a freeze dryer or dehydrator. This method saves so much space, and it definitely takes feels faster than waiting as you cook down tomatoes – and attempt not to burn them! 

How to Make Tomato Paste:
What freeze dryer should you use?

We LOVE our Harvest Right freeze dryer. There are a couple other manufacturers out there now for home freeze dryers, and commercial freeze drying has been around for many years – BUT, Harvest Right is super user friendly. (If you have questions about freeze drying, we are always happy to chat. Shoot us an email, or message us on social media!) Using a freeze dryer is a game changer when it comes to learning how to make tomato paste. 

Because we know everyone just wants the details, here are some quick facts about Harvest Right Freeze Dryers to help you understand why we LOVE freeze drying so much! 

1. Preservation Perfection: Harvest Right freeze dryers use cutting-edge technology to remove moisture from food while preserving its taste, texture, and nutritional value.

2. Home Convenience: With these freeze dryers, you can create your own stash of long-lasting, lightweight, and space-efficient freeze-dried foods right in the comfort of your home.

3. Versatile Options: They’re not just for fruits and veggies! Freeze dryers can handle a wide range of foods, from meats and dairy to complete meals and even desserts.

4. Extended Shelf Life: Freeze-dried foods can last up to 25 years when stored properly, making them ideal for emergency preparedness or simply reducing food waste.

5. Retain Nutrients: The low temperatures used in freeze drying help preserve vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that can be lost through traditional food preservation methods.

6. Easy Rehydration: When you’re ready to enjoy your freeze-dried goodies, simply add water, and they’ll quickly regain their original taste and appearance.

7. Commercial Quality at Home: Harvest Right freeze dryers are designed with the same technology used by commercial freeze dryers, bringing professional-grade results to your kitchen.

8. Cost-Efficient: Investing in a freeze dryer can be a cost-effective way to create your own supply of high-quality freeze-dried foods, eliminating the need for store-bought options.

9. Customized Creations: Tailor your freeze-drying adventures to your preferences, experimenting with unique combinations, flavors, and recipes.

10. Educational Experience: Using a Harvest Right freeze dryer provides a hands-on learning opportunity for understanding the science of food preservation and exploring culinary creativity.

How to Make Tomato Paste:
Which dehydrator is best?

Learning how to make tomato paste starts with drying the tomatoes. There are 2 dehydrators that we love most. Here are the details on them: 

1. Excalibur Dehydrator: 

Benefits:

1. Spacious Design: With multiple trays and a spacious interior, the Excalibur Dehydrator offers ample room to dehydrate a variety of foods simultaneously, making it perfect for large batches.

2. Consistent Drying: Equipped with a rear-mounted fan and adjustable thermostat, this dehydrator ensures even and consistent drying across all trays, preserving flavors and nutrients.

3. Versatility: From fruits and vegetables to jerky and herbs, the Excalibur excels at dehydrating a wide range of foods, allowing you to explore diverse culinary creations.

4. Time-Efficiency: The efficient air circulation system and powerful heating element enable faster drying times, helping you achieve your dehydrating goals with minimal waiting.

5. Easy Cleanup: Its removable trays and non-stick mesh sheets simplify the cleaning process, ensuring a hassle-free experience after every use.

Drawbacks:

1. Bulkiness: The Excalibur’s spacious design, while beneficial for large batches, can make it bulky and require significant counter or storage space.

2. Initial Investment: The high-quality features of the Excalibur Dehydrator are reflected in its price, making it a more substantial investment compared to basic models.

3. Noise Level: Like many dehydrators, the Excalibur can produce some noise due to its fan and heating element. However, this is a common trade-off for efficient drying.

4. Lack of Timer: Unlike some modern dehydrators, the Excalibur doesn’t come with a built-in timer, which means you need to manually monitor the drying time.

5. Energy Consumption: While efficient, its powerful drying capabilities can result in higher energy consumption compared to smaller, less powerful models.

2. Cosori Dehydrator

Benefits:

1. Compact Yet Spacious: The COSORI 6-Tray Dehydrator offers a space-efficient design with six trays, providing ample room to dehydrate a variety of foods without overwhelming your countertop.

2. Efficient Drying: With a rear-mounted fan and adjustable thermostat, this dehydrator ensures even air circulation and consistent drying, maintaining flavors, textures, and nutrients.

3. Versatile Creations: From fruits and veggies to jerky and yogurt, the COSORI excels at dehydrating various foods, allowing you to experiment with a wide range of recipes and flavors.

4. Time-Saving: Its efficient heating system and even airflow contribute to quicker drying times, enabling you to enjoy your homemade treats sooner.

5. User-Friendly Design: The clear door and removable trays simplify monitoring and access, while the digital control panel provides precise temperature adjustments for optimal results.

Drawbacks:

1. Limited Capacity: While suitable for moderate batches, the six trays may not accommodate large quantities of food, making it ideal for smaller households.

2. Basic Controls: The digital control panel is user-friendly, but some users might miss more advanced features like a timer or more precise temperature increments.

3. Noise Level: Like most dehydrators, the COSORI may produce some noise during operation due to its fan and heating element.

4. Energy Consumption: While efficient, the COSORI 6-Tray Dehydrator’s higher power may result in increased energy usage compared to smaller models.

5. Durability: While generally well-built, some users may find the durability of certain components, such as the door latch, could be improved.

Tomatoes neatly arranged on freeze dryer trays, poised for the transformation into tomato powder. The vibrant red tomatoes promise a burst of concentrated flavor and culinary possibilities once the freeze drying process is complete.

Now onto How to Make Tomato Paste

Tomato Paste is probably one of my favorite things to make with my freeze dryer. Before I had a freeze dryer, I made tomato powder in my dehydrator to make into tomato paste. Learning how to make tomato paste is a great kitchen skill. Keeping tomato powder on the shelf is a fast way to make tomato paste on the fly, and it’s one of our favorite adds to the shelf. 

Drying tomatoes to create a flavorful and convenient powder is a fantastic way to capture their essence and extend their shelf life. Whether you’re using a freeze dryer or a dehydrator, the process is relatively straightforward and yields a versatile ingredient that can enhance your culinary creations.

How to make tomato paste starts with selecting ripe and high-quality tomatoes, preferably plum or Roma varieties due to their lower moisture content and rich flavor. Wash and pat the tomatoes dry before slicing them into thin, uniform pieces. For a dehydrator, arrange the tomato slices on the trays, leaving enough space between each slice to allow for proper airflow. Set the temperature to around 135°F (57°C) and let them dry for 6 to 12 hours, or until they are fully dehydrated and brittle. Tomato times can really vary depending on their thickness and moisture content. 

If you’re using a freeze dryer, place the tomato slices on the trays in a single layer, ensuring they don’t overlap. We don’t always get picky about overlapping, but tomatoes can take quite a while – so overlapping can extend the dry time. Follow your freeze dryer’s instructions for the drying cycle. This method, while longer, helps retain the tomatoes’ color, flavor, and nutrients exceptionally well. Drying tomatoes, if pre-frozen will likely take 24-30 hours. If you don’t pre-freeze, they can take up to 60 hours. Your machine will do all the work. 

Once your tomato slices are fully dried, it’s time to grind them into a powder. Use a blender or a spice grinder to pulverize the dehydrated tomatoes into a fine consistency. We LOVE our Vitamix with pulverizing fruits and vegetables into powder. The resulting tomato powder is incredibly versatile and can be used to add a burst of tomato flavor to soups, sauces, stews, pasta dishes, and even marinades.

Storing the tomato powder is a breeze. Place it in an airtight container or a glass jar with a tight-sealing lid. Store the container in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Properly stored, your homemade tomato powder can remain flavorful and shelf-stable for up to a year. If you want to keep the tomato powder longer, store it in a Mylar bag with an oxygen absorber. This can last up to 25 years. 

Watch our video on mylar bags to learn more about this process. 

By drying and grinding your own tomatoes, you’re creating a valuable pantry staple that not only enhances your cooking but also helps reduce food waste. With the freeze dryer or dehydrator as your trusty kitchen companion, you’re taking a step toward a more sustainable and flavorful culinary journey.

How to Make Tomato Paste from Your Tomato Powder

Making tomato paste from tomato powder is a fantastic way to harness the concentrated flavor of tomatoes while ensuring a longer shelf life for your culinary creations. Tomato paste adds depth and richness to dishes, making it a versatile ingredient that can elevate a wide range of recipes.

To reconstitute tomato powder into tomato paste, simply mix the powder with water in a 1:2 ratio. For instance, if you’re using 1 tablespoon of tomato powder, add 2 tablespoons of water. Combine the two ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together until you achieve a smooth and paste-like consistency.

You can adjust the thickness of the tomato paste by adding more or less water, depending on your preferences and the specific recipe you’re using. Keep in mind that tomato paste is intended to be concentrated, so it should have a thicker consistency than tomato sauce.

Once you’ve reconstituted the tomato powder into tomato paste, you can use it immediately in your recipes or store it for later use. If you’re not using it right away, transfer the tomato paste to an airtight container and refrigerate it. Properly stored, reconstituted tomato paste can last in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Creating tomato paste from tomato powder is not only convenient but also allows you to enjoy the vibrant taste of tomatoes year-round. By having tomato powder on hand, you’re ready to whip up tomato paste whenever a recipe calls for it, adding that delightful burst of flavor to your favorite dishes. So, the next time you’re cooking up a storm in the kitchen, remember that homemade tomato paste is just a whisk away!

When you bring in a bucket of tomatoes from the garden like this from the garden, you’ll be so excited you know how to make tomato paste from scratch because it’s a great way to use up a huge tomato harvest! 

We'll teach you how to make tomato paste. A bucket filled with ripe, assorted tomatoes, showcasing a vibrant medley of colors, sizes, and shapes. The rich reds, yellows, and greens create a visual feast that represents the diversity of tomato varieties. The bounty of tomatoes promises a range of culinary delights and possibilities.

You Learned How to Make Tomato Paste...
Now Here are 10 Ways to Use Homemade Tomato Paste

Now that you’ve learned how to make tomato paste on your own, here are 10 ways to use your homemade tomato paste: 

1. Sauces and Gravies: Add depth and richness to pasta sauces, gravies, and marinara with a spoonful of tomato paste. It enhances the flavor and brings a beautiful color to your dishes.

2. Soups and Stews: Elevate your soups and stews by incorporating tomato paste. It imparts a robust tomato essence that enhances the overall taste and aroma.

3. Curries and Tagines: Tomato paste is a wonderful base for curries and tagines (spiced stew), contributing both flavor and body to these dishes.

4. Homemade Pizza: Spread tomato paste on pizza dough as a flavorful foundation before adding your favorite toppings. It intensifies the tomato flavor and keeps the crust from becoming soggy.

5. Stir-Fries: Mix tomato paste with soy sauce, garlic, and ginger for a delicious stir-fry sauce that adds a tangy and savory twist to your vegetables and proteins.

6. Bolognese Sauce: Create a rich and hearty Bolognese sauce by combining tomato paste with ground meat, aromatic vegetables, and herbs. It’s a perfect topping for pasta.

7. Rice and Grain Dishes: Enhance the taste and color of rice and grain dishes by stirring in a bit of tomato paste. It works particularly well in dishes like Spanish rice or paella.

8. Sandwich Spreads: Mix tomato paste with mayo or yogurt to create a flavorful spread for sandwiches, wraps, or pitas.

9. Homemade Burgers: Blend tomato paste with your favorite spices to create a tangy condiment that complements the flavors of a juicy burger.

10. Dips and Dressings: Combine tomato paste with ingredients like Greek yogurt, garlic, and herbs to make tangy dips or salad dressings.

Questions on How to Make Tomato Paste?

If you have questions about freeze dryers, dehydrators, how to make tomato paste, or any other food preservation questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are happy to chat about food preservation and help your family feel more prepared! 

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