Gardening is a dance between you and nature. And as the old adage goes when life gives you lemons make lemonade. In this post, I will share with you how to turn what could have been a devastating experience into homemade tomato juice.
This year I was growing tomatoes not only for out of hand eating and for pizza topping but also for making salsa. It was just a matter of time until there were enough ripe tomatoes to make the project worthwhile.
That is until the tomato hornworm decided they were going to get to the tomatoes before me. While I was waiting until the tomatoes turned red, they were having a feast eating the green ones.
The hornworm is huge and green and totally creeps me out. It blends in with the stems of the plant and devours the leaves. Once present they work quickly and thoroughly.
Working into the darkness we picked boxes of tomatoes, over 100 tomatoes in total. We pulled out the plants and cleaned up the ground to leave no traces of this creature and to prevent further damage to other garden veggies. The tomato hornworm also favors the sweet pepper.
Once enough tomatoes were ripe the grandkids went from window to window gathering them for our project. Sadly, I couldn’t find a recipe canning or fresh that I was thoroughly happy with. Unable to spend time creating my own, I decided to use my Victorio food strainer and make tomato juice instead. And boy I’m glad I did.
This project is quick and doesn’t heat up the house during the hot summer days. It is great for allowing the little ones to help out too. This machine accommodates fresh raw tomatoes so they are being processed at their peak freshness. There is no need to peel or seed them either, this machine does that too.
The Victorio food strainer is a manual machine so no electricity is required. It clamps onto the table and once the hopper/bowl is full you simply turn the handle for the action to begin.
STEP BY STEP DIRECTIONS TO MAKE HOMEMADE TOMATO JUICE TO FREEZE
•Put Victorio food strainer together per manufacturers directions (it is simple).
•Attach to table
•Put a bowl or pan whichever fits beneath the two shoots. One will give you the juice and one will give you skins and seeds.
•Thoroughly wash and dry canning jars, lids and rings. You can also use one-piece lids. They do not have to be hot. The mixture will be room temperature and once jars are filled and capped they will be frozen.
How to Make Fresh Tomato Juice to Freeze:
•Select firm, ripe tomatoes with deep red color.
•Wash and dry tomatoes.
•Cut any spoilage out and quarter them.
•Place in large stock pot.
•Scoop out tomatoes and place in strainer bowl until full. Squish down with mallet then turn handle.
•When pan is full of juice and pulp or you are out of tomatoes ladle juice in jars leaving 1-inch headspace for wide mouth jars and 1 ½- inch headspace for narrow mouth jars. This allows for expansion when frozen and will prevent glass from breaking.
•Wipe rim of jars with a clean damp cloth or paper towel before applying rings and lids.
•Mark jars with item and date before placing in freezer.
Tomato juice should last up to 8 months when freezer temperature is at least zero degrees Fahrenheit. To maintain quality longer it is best to set temperature between -10 to -20F.
*Do not season before freezing as the freezer can destroy the taste.
To thaw, remove desired amount. Place jar in a bowl and place in refrigerator overnight.
I just love using fresh homemade tomato juice from my freezer to make tomato soup. You can find the recipe here for homemade cream of tomato soup.