For the home gardener, summertime means tomatoes. We’ll make salsa and sauce. We will top sandwiches, make tomato pie or summer soups. Finally, we will get down to the business of preserving the harvest through canning, freezing or drying the favorite backyard crop. And then there’s juicing.
Juicing has always been a popular way to capture the great flavors found in the garden, but sometimes a simple squeezing just doesn’t get the job done. In the case of tomatoes, an enzyme in the fruit will cause the water to separate from the tomato when exposed to air, leaving a glass of juice with a thick layer of tomato pulp topped with nearly clear water. Juicing tomatoes at home requires a little cooking during the juicing process to get the consistency right, but whether you’re preparing to make the best Bloody Mary ever or just trying to use up that bumper crop, homemade tomato juice is worth the effort.
Fresh, flavorful tomato juice can go straight from pot to fridge, but may also be easily canned for long-term storage in the pantry by adding a little lemon juice to stave off the bacteria. Once responsibly canned, this often overlooked method for preserving a bountiful tomato harvest will be on hand until next year’s crop is ready for harvest.
Homemade Tomato juice
Yield: About 2 quarts
- 6 pounds tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¼ cup lemon juice (if canning)
Wash and quarter 6 pounds of tomatoes.
Place quartered tomatoes in a large, nonreactive pot over medium-high heat.
As juice begins to boil, use a potato masher to crush the tomatoes as they cook.
Reduce heat to simmer 15 minutes.
Pass through a food mill to remove skin and seeds and return to pot.
Stir in salt.
Return to boil, then remove from heat.
After this step, tomato juice may be refrigerated for short-term storage.
If canning for shelf-storage, stir in lemon juice.
Transfer tomato juice into sterile pint or quart jars, leaving about ½” of headspace.
Can with lids and bands.
Process in a boiling water bath for 35 minutes.
Canned tomato juice may be stored in a cool, dry location for up to one year without significant loss of flavor.