September is tomato season here.
I spend much of the year dreaming of fresh tomatoes. But when September rolls around all of my tomato dreams come true and I end up with more tomatoes than I can stand.
No preserved tomato beats the taste of a fresh homegrown tomato. But regardless of that, I feel compelled to put tomatoes up in every way possible. I am determined to enjoy that tomato bounty, in one form or another, all year long. Hello, Tomato Juice!
A food mill makes it easy to make tomato juice.First, pick, wash, and quarter your tomatoes. Put some in a single layer in the bottom of a large cooking pot. Turn on the heat and start crushing them with a potato masher. Continue adding tomatoes, a few at a time, crushing them with the others in the simmering pot.When all the tomatoes have been crushed continue to simmer them for a few minutes. Then, carefully (because this is hot) pour batches into a food mill fitted with a small holed screen and crank handle to separate the tomato juice and fine pulp from the skins and seeds.Sometimes you have to set up quite a contraption to collect all that juice in one place and the discarded skins and seeds in another. I would be lying if I said this doesn't get messy. (It can get very messy.)
When all tomatoes have been processed, heat the juice. Fill prepared (hot) jars one at a time, pouring the hot juice into the hot jars. Also add some lemon juice and salt to each jar. Sometimes people make an herbed tomato juice by adding herbs to the jars, too.
Process jars in a boiling water canner for the proper amount of time for your altitude. (My altitude is a little over 1000 feet so I process quarts of juice for 45 minutes).Please refer to the National Center for Home Food Preservation for complete canning instructions, including a chart of processing times for different altitudes.