Tomato Sauce Leather

Use tomato sauce leather to make Italian-style backpacking meals such as Unstuffed Peppers, Seafood Raminara, and Pasta & Cheesy Tomato Sauce. Those recipes are featured on this page.

Dehydrating Tomato Sauce Leather Before and After.

How to Make Tomato Sauce Leather

Run Sauce Through a Blender

Start with Chef Glenn's homemade tomato sauce recipe or buy a jar of marinara sauce. Run the tomato sauce through a blender to a smoothie-like consistency. Blending any chunks of tomatoes or other vegetables in the sauce thickens the sauce so it will make better tomato sauce leather. You will add back more dehydrated vegetables to these recipes later.

Not too Cheesy!

A little olive oil in the ingredients won't cause early spoilage, but avoid drying cheesy sauces like Vodka Sauce or Three-Cheese Sauce. The cheese adds fat which may shorten the shelf life of the leather. Cheesy sauces can be dried for short term use. The end product will feel greasier and more crumbly than cheese-less dried marinara sauce. A safer bet is to add cheddar cheese powder or parmesan cheese to the meal rather than to the leather.

Spread Thinly

Spread the sauce thinly on dehydrator trays covered with non-stick Paraflexx® sheets, parchment paper, or the fruit-roll sheets that came with your dehydrator. Don't use wax paper because the wax melts. I pour about eight fluid ounces onto each Excalibur Dehydrator tray and spread uniformly to the edges.

Dry It

Dehydrate at 135° for six to eight hours or you may dry at 125° for eight to ten hours with equally good results. Dehydrating times may vary depending on dehydrator model and humidity.

Flip It

After about five hours, the sauce should be solidified enough for you to peel it off the trays and flip it over for the duration on the drying time. Remove the non-stick sheets during the latter drying stage so both sides of the leather are exposed to the hot air. If you start the drying process before going to bed or work, the tomato sauce leather will turn out fine if you don’t flip it. It just may take a little longer to dry and you can always flip and dry it for an hour or so to finish the job when you get to it. The finished product will be leathery and dry to the touch, not sticky.

Pack It

Allow the leather to cool and then tear it into pieces. Don't let tomato sauce leather sit out because it will quickly reabsorb moisture from the air. Store leather in an airtight jar until you are ready to pack it in plastic bags for a backpacking trip. I have packed tomato sauce leather in mail drops - vacuum sealed with daily rations - for month-long hikes, and it retained its full flavor and quality. Leather which I have stored at home in airtight jars was still in great shape when I ate it after six months. The color turns a little darker over time.

When combined with an equal part of hot water, leather will turn back into tomato sauce.

Salsa Leather

Blend and dry salsa the same way as tomato sauce. Create a tasty Mexican-style meal with rice, chicken and/or black beans, vegetables such as bell peppers and corn, and salsa leather.

Recipes with Tomato Sauce Leather

Recipes with Tomato Sauce Leather: Macaroni Cheesy Tomato Sauce, Seafood Raminara, and Unstuffed Peppers.

Photos above (left to right): Pasta & Cheesy Tomato Sauce, Seafood Raminara, and Unstuffed Peppers.

Unstuffed Peppers

Serves 1

Ingredients:

At Home:

Pack parmesan cheese and tomato sauce leather separately in small plastic bags. Enclose in a larger plastic bag with rice, ground beef, and peppers.

On the Trail:

Combine all ingredients except parmesan cheese in pot with water and soak for five minutes. Light stove, bring to a boil, and continue cooking with the lid on for one minute. Remove pot from stove and wait ten minutes. Insulate pot and wait ten minutes. Stir in parmesan cheese before serving.

Vegetarian Unstuffed Peppers

Photo: Dehydrated green-lentil chili is substituted for ground beef. Since the chili already has some tomato in it, use 2 Tbsp. of tomato sauce leather or 1 Tbsp. of tomato sauce powder.

Vegetarian Unstuffed Peppers Recipe


Seafood Raminara

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup ramen noodles (half package)
  • ¼ cup dried shrimp and/or crabmeat
  • ¼ cup dried vegetables; try a mix of bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce leather, tightly packed
  • 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup water to rehydrate

At Home:

Break noodles into small pieces. Pack parmesan cheese and tomato sauce leather separately in small plastic bags. Enclose in a larger plastic bag with noodles, seafood, and vegetables.

On the Trail:

Combine all ingredients except parmesan cheese with water in pot and soak for five minutes. Light stove, bring to a boil, and continue cooking with the lid on for one minute. Remove pot from stove and wait ten minutes. Insulate pot and wait ten minutes. Stir in parmesan cheese before serving.

Recipes for Adventure includes larger serving sizes and lists calories for all backpacking recipes.

Pasta & Cheesy Tomato Sauce

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup dried macaroni
  • ¼ cup dried ground beef
  • ¼ cup dried vegetables; try a mix of bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce leather, tightly packed
  • 1⅓ Tbsp cheddar cheese powder
  • 1 Tbsp powdered milk
  • 1½ cup water to rehydrate

At Home:

Combine and pack cheese and milk powders in a small plastic bag. Pack tomato sauce leather in a small plastic bag. Enclose with other ingredients in plastic bag.

On the Trail:

Combine all ingredients except cheese and milk powders with water in pot and soak five minutes. Light stove, bring to boil, and cook for two more minutes. Remove from stove, stir in cheese and milk powders. Insulate pot and wait ten minutes.


Books to Help You Dehydrate Better Backpacking Meals


How to Make Tomato Powder from Tomato Sauce Leather

How to make tomato powder from tomato sauce leather.
See: Tomato Powder

Learn how to make Chef Glenn's homemade tomato sauce and dry it into tomato powder.