Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to Transform Tomato Peels into a Tasty "Sun-Dried" Tomato Spice by Cleo Coyle

My pop, Tony Alfonsi, was born November 29, 1929, exactly one month after Black Tuesday, the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States. Needless to say, Dad was a Depression era baby. He never had to preach principles of economy to me. He lived them—which meant I learned them by osmosis. Consequently, "waste not" has been a part of my philosophy for a very long time. (It’s also the basis for a whole range of global cuisines, but that’s another post.)

As for this post…

It's one I promised you last week when I showed you how to make Meatless Italian Tomato Sauce from fresh tomatoes. If you missed that post, you can jump to it now by clicking here.

Peeling and de-seeding fresh tomatoes takes your sauce up a level in quality. It also leaves you with a big ol' pile of tomato skins and peels, but you don't have to discard them. Today's recipe will show you how to make tasty use of them...

Cleo Coyle's
Tomato Flakes

To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Sun-dried tomatoes bring great flavor to so many dishes. That bright, tangy taste is concentrated beautifully in these easy-to-make tomato flakes.

Cleo Coyle, veggie
dehydrator, is author of The
Coffeehouse Mysteries 
You can toss the flakes onto sandwiches and wraps, stir them into soups, stews, and veggie dips; add a few tablespoons to a meatloaf (in place of tomato paste); or flavor boost your salads, pastas, burgers, omelets, and pizza. Best of all, it's a great use for tomato skins and peels that you might otherwise discard. The insanely easy instructions are below. So waste not and...eat with joy! ~ Cleo

Step 1: Start with the tomato peels (or skins) that you have left over from cooking sauce from scratch or other uses. (For instructions on how to easily remove tomato skins, see my recipe post from last week by clicking here.) Place parchment paper on a half-sheet pan and brush the paper with olive oil. Spread out the tomato peels in a single layer. 

Step 2: Bake in an oven preheated to 225 degrees. F. After 30 minutes flip the peels over. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes for a total cooking time of about 1 hour. The peels are done when they turn crisp like potato chips—but you don’t want them to turn dark brown so check them near the end of the cooking time.

Step 3: When they’re done dehydrating in the oven, place the dried peels in a food processor, blender, or spice grinder (a coffee grinder with a blade) and run the machine in short bursts or pulses until they form flakes. (Do not over-process.) Store the tomato flakes in a sealed plastic bag or airtight container. For longer life (about 2 months), I keep mine in the refrigerator.

Eat with joy!

~ Alice Alfonsi
(Cleo Coyle)

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Learn about my mysteries here.

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 
To learn more, click here. 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.


  1. This recipe never would have occurred to me Cleo, but it's so simple, it's brilliant!

    1. Aw, thanks, Lucy/Roberta. Hopefully it's simple enough to entice people to make us of it instead of tossing out all those good tomato peels. Thx for dropping by and have a tasty week...

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  2. That is a great recipe! Thanks! I never would have thought you could really use the peels.

    1. There's nothing like a fresh garden tomato with a little olive oil and sea salt--that flavor is so delicious sprinkled on a sandwich, which is why this recipe was fun to share. Thanks so much for stopping by today, Elaine, I appreciate it!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  3. I cannot believe this! I make "sugar plums"! Using plum tomatoes..and your technique is REAL close to what I do with the plums! WOW! We have a garden, so my skins go to compost..but not the next batch! I never thought of this! I would gladly give you my recipe for the "sugarplums" if you want......they are great to put in the freezer after they have dried and cooled..then on a long winter's night...I pull some out, thaw, and add to salads, sandwiches, soups.....a real treat!

  4. SueAnn - You are so nice to offer your recipe. I'll try to drop you a note. In the meantime, I'm sure you're busy this summer with getting those plum tomatoes all ready for winter. Have a great week and I hope you're enjoying the summer...so many fresh fruits and veggies, it's a sweet time of year for enjoying nature!

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  5. Cleo, they look so easy it's scary. Nice tribute again to your dad. So special.

    Thanks for sharing. Always wondered what to do with these things. :)



  6. This would never have occurred to me, Cleo. Brilliant idea! We picked our first tomatoes today. But at this point, we're so excited that we're eating them plain.


  7. The things you know, Cleo! What a great idea and technique. Summer taste long after summer's gone.


  8. My tomato peels are in the oven as I write this....my tomato sauce is on the stove cooking away. I usually use my strainer device to peel and seed my tomatoes for sauce - I really love using it, but decided to try your way. What a fun and different use of stuff I usually throw away!!!! Thanks.