Crops, Lifestyle

Tomato value added products

With the low price of tomatoes, most are going to waste. Should this really be happening? If you’re not looking for ways to make money off this wastage, it’s time you started. The tomato processing industry is huge. A large part of the world tomato crop is processed into tomato paste, which is subsequently used as an ingredient in many food products, sauces, mainly soups and ketchup.

This article is not a detailed manual about tomato process. It is an article meant to help you look at creating tomato value added products. The price is low now but won’t stay low. So, take a look at a description of how some of the value added tomato products are made. You could consider researching more on the processing and make yourself some money.

Tomato powder

Tomato powder doesn’t take up very much room at all. If stored it in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it can last indefinitely. That is, of course, if you did a good job of dehydrating the tomatoes well from the beginning, which is also important for easy grinding into a powder.

Rinse the tomatoes well and remove the stems. Slice the tomatoes thinly and place the tomato slices on baking sheets or dehydrator trays, spreading the tomatoes out so that they are not touching or on top of each other. If using an oven, bake the tomatoes at the lowest temperature, using the oven fan if you have one. If using a dehydrator, dry on a low setting. either way, continue to dry the tomatoes until they are dry and brittle. You want the tomatoes to be brittle because that’s a good sign that you have thoroughly removed the moisture from the tomatoes. Successful dehydration is dependent on air circulation and temperature. Too low a temperature the tomatoes will dry too slowly, giving bacteria or mold a chance to grow. While high temp. above 77 degree tomatoes cook and harden from outside. Properly dried tomatoes have a dark red color and feel dry and leathery, but not hard or brittle.

If they are still flexible, they likely have a tiny bit of moisture still. It’s a good idea to flip the tomatoes partway through the process, especially if using the oven. Once the tomatoes are completely dry, you can grind them into a powder.

You might also like: Tips for growing tomatoes in your backyard

Tomato Juice

Wash, trim, steam and cut fully ripe well developed colour tomatoes. Heat the cut pieces in the steam jacketed boiler till they become quite soften. The heated tomatoes are then passed through the pulping machine using a fine mesh sieve to separate juice from seeds and the skin. 1% sugar and salt at is added and heated to 85-90ºC. The hot juice is then filled in bottles, sealed immediately and processed sterilised in boiling water for about 30 minutes and cooled.

Tomato Paste

The juice processed as above is concentrated under vacuum to about 9% to 12% total solids so as to get tomato puree.
It is then filled in bottles, crown corked and processed in boiling water for 30 min. and cooled.

Tomato Sauce/Ketchup

The juice obtained as above is concentrated with spices, salt, sugar, etc. The spices like cloves, cardamom, pepper, cinnamon and other ingredients etc. are tied loosely in a muslin cloth and placed in boiling juice in steam Jacketed Kettle. The sugar, salt and vinegar or acetic acid, etc. are added later on. Generally concentration is done threefold. It is concentrated to 28 to 30% solids in which 12% are tomato solids. The final product could be preserved by addition of sodium benzoate at 750 ppm. The tomato ketchup/sauce is filled hot into clean, dry bottles, crown corked and processed in boiling water for 30 minutes and cooled at room temperature.

In conclusion, value addition products can only be limited  by your imagination. You could decide to come up with a single product or a whole range. You could even throw caution to the wind and produce a little bit of everything. Don’t forget about exporting. Tomatoes are expensive beyond our borders. Always keep your business plan in mind which includes your target the market, how you will advertise and if you’ll sell directly to consumers or to wholesalers or retail establishments. All the best!

References:

Profitable Small Scale Industries by NPCS Board of Consultants & Engineers
The production and quality of tomato concentrates by Hayes, Smith and Morris

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