Tomato Juice: Preserving The Taste Of Summer

 

I love tomato juice.  It's so refreshing.

 

The summer of 2011 has not been ideal for growing tomatoes, but most gardeners are still harvesting quite a few luscious fruits from the beds. Preserving the excess is a mandatory September activity at our house. We dehydrate them, can diced tomatoes, make and can tomato sauce and salsa, and roast and then freeze whole tomatoes.  However, our very favorite preservation activity is juice-making.

 

Though we love tomato juice and prefer to drink it daily with breakfast, we find store-bought is not only too expensive, it is far too salty for our palates. Consequently, we started making our own juice 25 years ago and have never produced less than 100 quarts per year.

 

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Some years our garden’s tomato yield is inadequate for large quantities of juice. In those years we buy bulk tomatoes from a local grower. (Check with the farmers at your local farmer’s market to find out where you can source the tomatoes you need.)

 

Buying tomatoes DOES increase the cost per jar, but the superior quality of homemade juice makes it all worthwhile.

 

Everything You Need To Make Your Own

 

Here is what you will need to make approximately 21 quarts:

 

Mixing types of tomatoes adds to the flavor.

We used these for this year's batch.

20 pounds of Roma-style tomatoes (normally best for paste and sauce)

 

20 pounds of large slicing type tomatoes

 

Several large stainless steel stockpots (I use one 4 gallon, two 3 gallon, and one 2 gallon pot).

The new pot cleans well, but Grandma's still works.

The old one on the left was my grandmother’s, early 20th century vintage. The new stainless steel model is larger, more efficient, and easily cleaned.

 

A Foley food mill or similar pressing device (see picture on left).

 

Morton's makes canning salt.

I prefer the non-iodized version of canning salt.

Canning /Pickling salt (non-iodized).

 

Optional, but wise: A special canning burner (see immediately below).

 

A canning burner keeps a heavy pot off the burner.

The burner on the left allows more air flow.

If you have a gas range, you can place heavy stockpots or canning kettles right on the burner.

 

However, if you have a standard electric range with burners,  you will cause damage to the element when using large kettles on it.

 

For best results, invest in a special canning burner such as the one pictured above. The kettle rests on the raised steel ring, so that there is sufficient air flow beneath the element AND the weight is not directly on the element.

 

Appliance stores sell these burners, or they can be ordered  from such sites as ApplianceZone.com.

 

Let’s Juice!

 

1. Wash and de-stem 10 pounds each of the slicers and Romas. Do NOT core.

 

2. Cut Romas in half length-wise, quarter the slicers.

 

3. Load cut tomatoes into large stockpot. Tomatoes should be no deeper than 2” below rim. If space allows, add more tomatoes in equal ratios.

 

*** 4. Load remaining tomatoes into second stockpot, or reserve until the first batch is finished cooking.

 

Add enough water so you can see it about halfway up the pot.

 

Cover and place on your special raised burner. Turn on low or one notch higher and go about your life for the next 24 hours.

(Note: you can turn the burner to medium-low IF you are willing to monitor the pot and stir it every 20 minutes.)

 

I'm sure glad we're making an exta big batch.

Cooking does take awhile, but it's well worth the effort.

Cook for 24-36 hours or until the tomatoes are very soft and squishy.

 

Place kettle in the sink and put an empty kettle in the sink next to it (or on the counter adjacent). Hook your food mill over the top rim of the empty kettle.

 

My food mill makes juicing a snap.

Here's my Foley food mill in action. As I turn the juice flows into the pot below.

Using a large heatproof measuring device, such as a 2 Cup Pyrex, ladle cooked tomatoes into the mill halfway to the top and start turning.

 

When the remaining pulp is quite dry, scoop  it into your compost receptacle and repeat the process with a new amount of cooked tomatoes.  Repeat until all are juiced.

 

Adding salt to the warm juice is strictly up to the person making it.  Add 1 tablespoon, stir, taste, and if  necessary add more until your palate is satisfied. If you are on a restricted salt diet, this juice is excellent with no additional salt added.

 

These were boiled in a canning bath for sealing.

These jars are ready to store in the pantry.

Pour juice into sterilized canning jars, seal, and process in a hot water bath canner for 15 minutes at a full rolling boil.

 

Check that all jars have sealed.

 

I like my tomato juice cold.

Pour yourself a tall refreshing glass of tomato juice. You've earned it.

Allow to cool fully before labeling and storing.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

If you enjoyed this piece by Connie you may want to read
her other posts by clicking here.

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