When life hands you a plethora of tomatoes…make tomato juice. Or at least that’s the motto around Chez Grunert. This year, thanks to the addition of mushroom soil and the application of what I learned in my friend Liz’s class on growing tomatoes that I took last spring, we have an absolute bumper crop of tomatoes. We have so many tomatoes, in fact, that they are taking over the kitchen. You think I’m kidding? Check out this picture that I took last weekend. Underneath all the tomatoes is my kitchen island:
How to Make Tomato Juice without a Juicer
You can, of course, freeze tomatoes. It’s not difficult. They need to be peeled, which involves blanching them until the skin cracks, then peeling the skin off by hand, setting them on trays or in freezer bags, and then popping them into the freezer. The problem that I have with freezing tomatoes, however, is that we just don’t eat all that many frozen tomatoes. I’ll add a few to my chili, but that’s about it. The rest just hang out in the freezer, taking up valuable room that could be used to freeze more important things like ice cream and zucchini bread.
Last summer, my husband attempted to make tomato juice in the blender. It was a disaster. It tasted watery and unpleasant, like you squeezed a tomato too hard and licked the juice off your hand. While we shopped for a juicer this spring, we never made up our mind as to what to buy. We found ourselves at the height of the summer harvest sans juicer and sans plans.
That’s when I decided to pull out my trusty Ball Book of Home Preserving and figure out what to do with the tomatoes, which by this time had multiplied like the tribbles in Star Trek.
I spied a recipe for making tomato juice, remembered that I had quart jars gathering spiders and dust in the basement, and decided to go for it. My sister was visiting from New York, and she enjoys canning, so I had free kitchen help, too.
We set up an assembly line. Mary, my sister, cored and quartered tomatoes. Following the instructions in the book, I cooked down the tomatoes, using a potato masher to squash them up in the saucepan. I’d purchased a fine sieve last weekend and used that to strain the cooked puree into another large stock pot so that the seeds and skins were removed. The final mixture was then boiled, poured into canning jars with the addition of preserving salt and lemon juice, and pressure canned according to directions. We had about a pint’s worth left in the pot after filling every available space and jar, so my husband let it cool and poured everyone tomato juice shots so we could toast our success.
Imagine my surprise when I tasted it. IT WAS DELICIOUS! The recipe was PERFECT. Thick, rich, almost like tomato soup, with the addition of salt, lemon and a hint of fresh celery it tasted just like commercial vegetable juice. I was in heaven!
I decided to brew up a pitcher of just tomato juice and pop it into the fridge for snacks. It came out great. Here is the recipe and instructions on how to make tomato juice without a juicer. It really is easy, and if your garden is being as generous as mine is this summer, you can easily make your own tomato juice at home without any special equipment. All you need are two saucepans or stock pots, a metal potato masher, a knife and cutting board, a fine sieve, and a pitcher to pour it into after it cools. That’s it. You can freeze this juice too if you like for instant soup base later on.
Instructions: How to Make Tomato Juice without a Juicer
You will need…
- Several pounds of tomatoes. I used all kinds of tomatoes from my garden: Early Girl, Beefsteak, Brandywine and Cherry Tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes and Brandywines come out watery, while the Beefsteak and Early Girls were firmer. Use whatever you have handy.
- Sharp knife and cutting board
- Metal potato masher
- Two large stockpots
- Fine sieve
Rinse all the tomatoes, washing off dirt, leaves, etc. Use the knife and carefully core each tomato, and quarter the final tomatoes. Place them in a large bowl. (If you are using some cherry tomatoes, rinse them and pick off the stems. You don’t need to core and quarter them. Just be careful squashing them during cooking. Those things squirt hot juice at you!)
- Take about six tomatoes or 24 quarters and place them, cut side down, into a saucepan or stock pot. Heat on medium heat, stirring a few times to keep them from burning. As they heat, they soften. Take your potato masher and carefully squash them down. I say “carefully” because hot tomato juice can squirt up at you and burn you.
- After your first batch is squashed into a hot, boiling pulp, add more. Continue until most of your tomatoes are cooking away merrily in a hot, soupy mix. Make sure they’re good and squashed. Boil for 10 minutes after you’re finished adding them to the pot
- Turn off the heat, and take your second pot. Put that one on a burner on the stove and lay your fine sieve or strainer across the top.
- Using a soup ladle, ladle the hot tomato puree into the sieve and stir it with the bowl of the ladle so that the juice runs through. When the sieve becomes filled with pulp, clean it and discard the pulp.
- Continue until all the puree it sent through the sieve. Boil the remaining juice for another 10 minutes, and then set it aside to cool. When it is thoroughly cooled, pour it into a pitcher and refrigerate until using. Add salt and lemon juice to taste.
Canning Tomato Juice
To can the tomato juice:
- Heat a boiling water bath canner.
- Immerse and warm pint jars, clean lids and sealing lids.
- Drain jars and place on heat-proof surface.
- Place 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in each jar.
- Ladle hot juice into each jar leaving 1/2 inch of head space.
- Clean rims, place sealing lid and sealing ring on each finger tight.
- Place jars into hot water bath canner with 1 inch water covering each.
- Cover canning pot.
- Heat until boiling then time. Boil pint jars for 35 minutes. (if using quart jars, boil 40 minutes).
- After 35 minutes, remove lid and turn off the heat. Wait 5 minutes.
- Remove jars from canner and place on heat-proof surface.
- Check seals, date and store.