Tomato powder is a product made from ground, dried tomatoes that can be used as a spice, seasoning, and garnish, as well as a base from which to make liquid tomato preparations like tomato paste and tomato sauce.
What Is Tomato Powder?
Tomato powder started out as a convenience product that was essentially an instant tomato sauce or tomato paste. Simply add water and voila! But it's gaining popularity as a spice or seasoning that can be added to everything from sauces to veggies, rice, meats, and fish.
When used in its powdered form without rehydrating it, tomato powder is a spice. A spice is any dried plant part, other than the leaf, including seeds, stems, bark, roots, and fruits, that is dried and used for flavoring. And since tomatoes are a fruit, the dried fruits of a tomato plant definitely count as a spice.
Tomato powder is made by drying tomatoes and then grinding them into a fine powder. Typically it's the tomato skins, without the pulpy interior sections with the seeds, that are used for making tomato powder. Think sun-dried tomatoes, only drier, and finely pulverized.
What Does It Taste Like?
In its powdered form, tomato powder delivers a hit of pure tomato flavor, with all the bright, complex acidity you expect from tomatoes but concentrated in a powdered form. It's like the essence of tomato. When reconstituted, it's every bit a flavorful as tomato paste or tomato sauce. You can cook this down to concentrate the flavors and caramelize the sugars, and you may want to add salt and other seasonings.
Cooking With Tomato Powder
There are two main ways to cook with tomato powder. Probably the most exciting way to use it is as a spice or seasoning. You can incorporate it into spice rubs, sprinkle it over chicken and fish before roasting, or over roasted potatoes and other root veggies, in bread doughs, or as a seasoning or garnish atop cooked rice, pasta, vegetables, or eggs. Added to soups, it imparts a deep, intense tomato flavor. It's marvelous sprinkled over popcorn or corn on the cob. And for a real treat, sprinkle it over thick slabs of fresh summer tomatoes.
You can also use tomato powder as an instant tomato paste, which definitely comes in handy when a recipe calls for a small amount of tomato paste, like 1 tablespoon, leaving you with most of a can, which inevitably gets moldy in the fridge. Instead, just combine equal parts tomato powder and hot water to equal the amount of tomato paste you need. So for example, to make 1/4 cup of tomato paste, you'd combine 2 tablespoons of tomato powder and 2 tablespoons of hot water. You can adjust the proportions to make your paste thicker or thinner. You can even make tomato sauce, tomato juice, or tomato soup in the same way.
Recipes With Tomato Powder
Try adding tomato powder to the recipes listed here.
If you're using tomato powder as a spice, your best substitutes will be dried tomato soup powder or powdered spaghetti sauce. Note that both of these products contain tomato powder, as well as other herbs, spices, and seasonings, including salt. Therefore, you may need to adjust the salt and other seasonings in your dish.
On the other hand, if you're reconstituting your tomato powder to make tomato paste, tomato sauce, or tomato soup, the canned equivalent of that product will be your best substitute. You can also buy tubes of tomato paste, which are more concentrated than the canned versions.
Where to Buy Tomato Powder
Tomato powder can be purchased from specialty food and grocery stores such as Whole Foods, spice shops, as well as stores that specialize in backpacking supplies and disaster prep. It can also be purchased from a variety of online merchants. The kinds that are sold by spice shops and specialty foods outlets may be fresher and have better flavor and aroma since they are meant to be used as a spice, and are made from higher-end tomatoes. Larger containers that are intended for use as a dehydrated tomato sauce will be more generic but still packed with legit tomato flavor.
The best storage method for tomato powder is to store it alongside your dried herbs and spices. Keep the container sealed and store it in a cool dry place. Tomato powder tends to absorb moisture, so if your container is large enough, you can place a small amount of uncooked rice in a mesh bag or packet and store that in the tomato powder packet. Like all dried spices, tomato powder will start to lose some of its flavor after six months or so, but it will still function. Refrigerating will extend its shelf life almost indefinitely.
Benefits of Tomato Powder
One tablespoon (around .75 grams) of tomato powder provides 2 calories, along with insignificant amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fat, and fiber. It also provides small amounts of potassium, beta carotene, lycopene, and vitamin A.
Tomato Powder. Fooddata central, United States Department of Agriculture