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An A-peeling New Idea for Discarded Tomato Peels

It happened while we were in the throes of canning the first tomatoes of the season.  That part won’t surprise anyone who has ever had a completely kickass idea at the most inopportune time possible much like the funny quip you know you’re doomed to forget because you can’t find a pen.

tomato peelsWe looked at the compost bowl full of tomato skins that had just been liberated from their innards and wondered aloud if there was a way to make them useful rather than just tossing them into the compost tumbler

That’s when the wheels started turning and an idea was born. We were going to turn tomato peels into tomato paste!

The idea isn’t as crazy as you might think, but because genius is oft misunderstood, I ask only that you read on to see just how amazing it really is.

tomato peels 2

We started with a bowl full of tomato peels (see photo above) that had just been removed after a 60 second dunk in boiling water.

HINT: If you are canning tomatoes, use a sharp knife to cut an X through the skin on the base of the tomato. The skin will slide right off after blanching.

Then we placed the peels skin side down evenly on the trays of a dehydrator, turned it on and let the magic happen until the skins were completely dry.

tomato peels 3The dried tomato skins take on a beautiful hue that reminded me of the tissue paper flowers I made in grade school.  They are beautiful and quite fragile.

Thankfully I had no intention of keeping them intact so I peeled them away from the trays and collected the dehydrated tomato peel in a container to prepare for the next step in the process. What’s the next step, you ask? Don’t get ahead of me, I’m trying to tell a story here.

tomato peels 4

When I crumbled the dried peels, they started to resemble fish food flakes which doesn’t really mean anything other than I thought it was pretty cool. Don’t judge me.

When all of the tomato peels were collected from the dehydrator they were ready for the final stage of this journey in which I pulverized them into an aromatic and colorful powder using the trusty Magic Bullet. I could have used my beloved Vita-Mix, but there wasn’t enough to warrant getting out such a large piece of equipment.

A quick whirr in the Bullet was all it took to transform these tomato peels into something that you wouldn’t recognize at all.

tomato peels 6

From the looks of things, this experimental idea is going to do what we had hoped, but there is only one way to be absolutely sure.  I measured out a teaspoon of my tomato powder into a ramekin and added an equal amount of water. When I stirred the mixture together well, I was left with exactly what I’d thought I would have.

Now I have a secret weapon in my cupboard. I can make tomato paste on the fly in any amount I need without having to open a can that I might not be able to use all of. We have used the entire tomato and created something useful and money-saving in the process. For those curious about the flavor, it tastes exactly like tomato paste and because it is dehydrated, it is completely shelf stable.

tomato peels 7

In the future we plan to use the idea to make seasoning mixes as well.  We will follow the same process stopping short of creating a powder.  By leaving the dried tomato in tiny flakes we can then mix them with sea salt, basil, dehydrated onion, garlic, and a host of other goodies to create one of a kind flavor mixes that will be ready in a shake.

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{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Tiffany January 10, 2015, 8:23 pm

    I think this is one of the SMARTEST tips I have seen yet!~ Can not wait to try this with the tomato skins I usually throw in the compost bin!!! Thank you!~

    • Michael Nolan January 10, 2015, 11:40 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Tiffany! Don’t be a stranger.

  • Leslie July 2, 2015, 12:48 am

    Genius! I will be canning tomato sauce tomorrow and will put the peels in my dehydrator while canning! What temp did you use to dehydrate?

    • Michael Nolan July 2, 2015, 11:46 am

      My dehydrator at the time had just a low or high setting. I used low.

  • Linda July 17, 2015, 5:54 pm

    we feed them to our chickens. before chickens, they were composted. i would never have thought of this, though. fabulous idea!

  • Michelle July 25, 2015, 12:56 am

    This look pretty easy to me and I started canning tomatoes last year and everything else before that. So this is a new experience for me.

  • marlene July 29, 2015, 8:30 am

    i love this, canning tomato,s in the morning. I’m going to try this. thank you.

  • Lauren September 1, 2015, 3:08 am

    Great idea! I’m excited to try this, but I don’t have a dehydrator. Do you think it would work with a low oven setting?

    • Michael Nolan September 12, 2015, 7:55 pm

      Yes. Set your oven on the lowest setting possible, and rotate the trays often.

  • Ashley September 12, 2015, 5:00 pm

    This is such a great idea! Do you think the same results could be achieved by cooking the peels in the oven at a low temperature? I don’t have a dehydrator, but I’ve had success putting herbs in the oven.

    • Michael Nolan September 12, 2015, 7:55 pm

      Yes. Set your oven on the lowest setting possible, and rotate the trays often.

  • Ann September 30, 2015, 10:36 pm

    That is genius ! I just took out 2 – 5 gallon buckets of skins to my chickens & then saw this! You realize I whould be kicking myself in the butt for not looking here first but I’m to tired to ! Thanks for the tip. Do you have any for all the fresh juice from the tomatoes ,besides freezing or canning it!
    Thanks Plowgirl from the real nor- cal ( almost. Oregon)

    • Michael Nolan October 2, 2015, 11:40 am

      I add it to juices that I’m going to drink (I do a lot of juicing), or add it to cooking liquid for homemade stocks.

  • Brenda Hartten October 2, 2015, 4:04 am

    What a fantastic idea! Thank you for sharing this with us. This process could be used for making natural food colors too! Just tried it with purple carrot skins, outcome….Amazing!
    One question…Does it thicken home made sauce like regular tomato paste?

    • Michael Nolan October 2, 2015, 11:38 am

      Yes, it does. Great idea about the colorings!

  • Mary Jones August 9, 2016, 10:42 pm

    This is a wonderful and genus idea!!!!


  • Patricia Absec September 7, 2016, 1:01 am

    Oh my…you are somethin’ else!!!

  • Lizzy September 13, 2017, 9:05 pm

    so excited to try this! do you know how long it took to dehydrate the skins?

    • Michael Nolan December 23, 2017, 9:56 pm

      Dehydrating completely depends on the amount of liquid in the skins, so there’s no way to know for sure. No longer than a few hours; I want to say it took me about three on a low temperature. I have a better dehydrator now, and can do it in an hour and a half.

  • Jenifer December 23, 2017, 1:05 pm

    Thank you! I do prefer using the entire fruit rather than discarding any.
    We save the seeds, use the flesh, and now the skins, thanks to you.

  • Karen May 16, 2018, 1:23 pm

    I am trying this today with frozen skins from last fall. I just set the dehydrator up when it occurred to me that instead of dehydrating and reconstituting with water, I might just throw them all in the blender and freeze them that way in small jars instead?

    • Michael Nolan May 16, 2018, 2:14 pm

      With already frozen peels, I wouldn’t bother with dehydrating them either. I like your idea.

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