Tomato Powder: Flavor Profile
Tomato powder is a handy ingredient that deserves space on more kitchen spice racks. Made from dried, ground tomatoes, the powder is a wonderful ingredient for bringing a robust fruity and tomatoey flavor to a wide range of dishes – from soup stock, to breads.
Tomato powder is also a useful ingredient for adding color. Try it in homemade pasta, for creating a reddish hue (as well as a savory flavor) or in quick breads. The powder’s vibrant tomato taste can also be used to enhance any red sauce.
Cooking with Tomato Powder
Tomato powder offers the tomatoey, acidic sweet flavor of concentrated tomatoes that you’d find in paste. Yet, the key difference is that tomato is the only ingredient. In fact, you can rehydrate the powder to make a close approximation of paste in pinch.
To rehydrate, just mix ½ cup water to 6 tablespoons of the powder. And voila! You have a 6-ounce can of tomato paste. The powder, though, is very versatile. It can be used to add tomato flavor to a wide range of dishes, including:
- Red sauces – Tomato powder can help to enhance the flavor of paste or puree, or it can be used to create a rehydrated paste. If you’re a couple of tablespoons short of paste, you can always throw in a dash of powder.
- Soups – The powder is great for making a nice, creamy tomato soup. Yet, a dash to vegetable stock is perfect for adding subtle fruity and tart-sweet notes, as well.
- Food coloring – Tomato paste provides color and loads to flavor to breads, pastas, and bagels. Use it for a unique reddish confection or for bringing sun-dried tomato flavor into a baked dish.
- Thickening agent – In sauces, gumbos and stews, tomato powder is an effective thickener (that brings in great flavor, as well).
History of Tomato Powder
Although the exact history of tomato powder is unknown, there’s a long historical record of dried tomatoes in culinary use. And the powder likely was created not to long after.
The first to use dried tomatoes in their food were the Aztecs. They used natural sun-drying, as well as salt to dehydrate tomatoes. Not only was the drying process used to keep tomatoes for longer, it was also provided a sustainable food source into non-growing seasons.
The Aztecs were also some of the first to popularize the fruit. In fact, the word “tomato” comes from the Aztec word “tomatl”. After landing in the New World, the Spanish grew fond of the tomato, and distributed the plant throughout Europe, especially in the 16th century. It was during this time that the tomato proliferated in Spanish and Italian cooking. Today, tomatoes are found all over the world.
Tomato powder, though, wasn’t popularized until the 19th century. Many Italian cooks preferred the powder to canned tomatoes (as they feared lead poisoning). And the use of powder as a flavor enhancer, and as a substitute for paste and puree became a widespread practice.
Traditionally, tomato powder was made from ground, sun-dried tomatoes. In late summer, the tomatoes were harvested and spread on long platters. And like the Aztecs, some growers used salt to draw water out of the fruit.
Today, sun drying tomatoes is still a common practice, but there’s a more efficient way to produce dried tomatoes called spray drying. In spray drying, fresh tomatoes are crushed, and then the crush tomatoes are sprayed over a high heat airstream. The process instantly dries the tomato, helping to preserve robust flavors.
Once spray-dried, the tomatoes are then ground and sifted, producing a coarse powder with a long shelf life.
About Our Tomato Powder
Our tomatoes are come from farms in our home state of Florida – the No. 2 producer in the U.S. Our tomatoes are grown on a small locally-owned farm near Lakeland, FL and they’re spray-dried on site. We receive the spray-dried tomatoes and grind them in our spice shop.