Favorite Things: Tomato Powder

Fresh, fruit of the vine, the-moment-it’s-picked is always best when it comes to produce of any kind, especially tomatoes. But best isn’t always possible. In fact, up north, it’s only possible for a very short window of the year.

Besides, when it comes to something like tomatoes in the form of paste, we’re never using fresh anyway (though it’d be nice to try making a concentrated paste from scratch. To-do list.). The intensity of flavor and color imparted by tomato paste is a must-have, generally in addition to fresh tomatoes, for all kinds of sauces and dishes.

While powdered anything makes me think of an astronaut’s diet, The Spice House in my old Chicago neighborhood hang-out taught me something about the wonder of dehydration. The point is less that this is our ideal way to eat, say, a tomato, as it is that we can use concentrated tomato for super flavorful and colorful paste, with less waste and space, if we simply mix a bit of high-quality tomato powder with water.

This stuff is the bomb!! It stays fresh in the refrigerator, or even in the cupboard, indefinitely. I’ve had some for much more than a year before and it was still good. It may have formed a bit of clumpiness, but that’s easily remedied with the back of a spoon. No doubt there are good tomato pastes, like Rodolfi brand, that come in tubes rather than cans (no cans, can’t stand ‘em, and I always end up throwing ¾ away), but I’ve been ranking the powdered tomato for paste high on my favorite things list for some time. I just don’t ever have to think about tomato paste, and is it expired? Or do I have a can? Or what can I do with the rest before it spoils?

A little tomato paste is what we’ll need this week for our vegetarian grape leaf rolls. So get after it! Once you start shopping The Spice House, I have a feeling you’ll be enjoying many of their products, from cinnamon to vanilla beans to their array of extracts. If you ever hit Chicago, or live there, head to Wells Street for a great spice excursion. And while you’re at it, stop in across the street at La Fournette bakery, and/or at the Fudge Pot nearby for a bag of chocolate.

(Aren’t you impressed that I found a way to end a post on tomato paste with the word “chocolate”?)

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12 Comments

  1. TasteofBeirut on June 3, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    great find Maureen! it reminds me of the chocolate scent I saw on a French site; their pitch was “just smell it” it has no calories!

  2. Amanda on June 3, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    Good to know someone else out their has such issues with tomato paste! Looking forward to getting my hands on some of this tomato powder, and some of their Vietnamese cinnamon too. Any other wild recommendations?

    • Maureen Abood on June 3, 2013 at 12:02 PM

      Great Amanda!! I love their vanilla in all its forms–bean, paste, and extract! People love their powdered dip mixes too…worth a try…

  3. Kathy on June 3, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    I’ve been using a smoked tomato powder for a few years, and have made oven-dried tomato powder. The ease of use and intensity of flower is a real wow!

    Leftover tomato paste: spoon it using a tablespoon measure onto a plate, put the plate in the freezer, and when the little lumps of paste are frozen, put them in a zip back. Most of the time the tomato paste doesn’t need to be thawed before adding it to your recipe. And a tablespoon or two is what we usually need for a recipe…

  4. Andrew Brown on June 3, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Three of the best places in Old Town, especially La Fournette, which is just outright dangerous! Old Town has been my neighborhood for 30+ years… sorry never to have run into you on Wells Street! Spice House is always a fun stop, even if you don’t actually ‘need’ anything!

    • Maureen Abood on June 3, 2013 at 3:40 PM

      I’ll keep an eye out for you next time I’m hanging ’round there!

  5. Rosemary on June 3, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    The Spice House also has two locations in Milwaukee, and they are a favorite stop for me whenever we visit our son. Their CHAI blend is a favorite. Now I will look for the tomato powder as well. What a great find!

  6. Bill B. on June 3, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    Never heard of it but, will be ordering some. Sounds like a great find.

  7. Marci Duryea on June 4, 2013 at 5:43 AM

    The Spice House is wonderful. Just walking into the store and breathing is an olfactory adventure! I make sure to visit their location in Geneva, IL if I happen to be out that way. I will definitely buy some of that tomato powder, thanks Maureen!

  8. Lisa the Gourmet Wog on June 4, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    WOW look at that colour! It’s certainly so vibrant red. I’ve never heard of tomato powder, I’m certainly intruiged

  9. Parsley Cresswell on June 17, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    A pinch of Spice House’s Vulcan Fire Salt improves any dish.

  10. Parsley Cresswell on June 17, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    Nice site!

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