This article is Part 2 of our series about making and using your own homemade tomato juice. Part 1 is all about getting the equipment and ingredients you’ll need. So, if you haven’t read Part 1 or need to refer to the equipment list, jump over to that article here:
Ok, lets get down to business!
Tomato juice is one of the most versatile and delicious juices we make. Once you taste homemade tomato juice you will never go back to store bought juice. Before we started making our own, we really never bought tomato juice just to drink. Now an open quart doesn’t last a day in the refrigerator.
Besides drinking, we use it to make spaghetti sauces, truck stop chili, cream of tomato soup, minestrone, bloody marys, and vegetable beef soup. Ya know those green drink powders you try to choke down each morning because they are so good for you? Whisk the powder into homemade tomato juice with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a little pepper, voila! Now we actually like the taste.
We could go on and on about how to use homemade tomato juice. But the most important part is we could never make enough tomato juice to last the year without our trusty steam juicer!
Use A Steam Juicer – It’s Superior! In Fact It’s Magic!
By using a Stainless Steel Steam Juicer you can extract juice from fruits and vegetables easily and with less work than other juicing methods. We love it! It can be used for extracting juice for canning purposes, or simply refrigerate the juice for immediate use. You can also use it to make jellies or vegetable stock and is great for steaming vegetables like corn on the cob.
Here Is How A Steam Juicer Works
As the water boils in the bottom pot, the steam vapors rise heating and releasing the juice from the fruits or vegetables in the top section. The middle collection section with the attached siphon hose accumulates the juice for drinking or canning.
After forty five minutes to an hour of steaming the juice is ready to be siphoned through the connecting hose directly into clean hot canning jars. One batch produces six to seven jars of delicious, nutritious juice. Each jar of juice is a thing of beauty and a joy to drink and use in recipes.
Get Ready To Make The Best Homemade Tomato Juice You’ve Ever Had
Please note: Canning is not an exact science.
Depending on varieties of tomatoes used there will more or less juice per batch of tomatoes. We like to use all kinds of tomatoes: Red, Yellow, Orange, Plum and Slicing tomatoes. We really like the outcome because each variety adds depth to the flavor. Also this often allows your farmer to easier fill a large order. We get about 6 to 7 quarts of juice per batch which is about 10 pounds of tomatoes. We don’t weigh each load of tomatoes we just heap them into the top of the steamer.
Gather Your Flavorings
Here’s what you’ll need for each jar:
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1-2 Tablespoon Lemon Juice, fresh squeezed
- Optional: 1-2 Dried Hot Peppers to use in spicy recipes like Virgin Marys or chili or for that green drink each morning.
Prepare the Tomatoes
Sort through the tomatoes removing any that have developed mold during picking and transportation. Put the rest in the clean kitchen sink and if needed, gently wash with a cloth. Remove the stems and place the clean tomatoes in a colander to drain.
Using a sharp knife, cut the the first batch of clean tomatoes in to quarters or halves, depending on the size. Do not core or skin the tomatoes. Fill a large pot, like an enamel canning kettle with enough cut tomatoes to fill the steam juicer colander. While the first batch is steaming cut the tomatoes for the next batch so you can immediately re-fill the steamer.
Prepare Your Jars
Fill a large sauce pan with water for heating the lids and rings. When the lids and rings come to a boil turn them down but keep them hot, ready to seal each jar of hot juice.
While these items are heating, wash and quarter the tomatoes, juice the lemons and peel the garlic. It makes for an easier day if you peel garlic and juice lemons the day before and refrigerated until you’re ready.
Set Up Your Steam Juicer
Read the manufacturers directions for the Steam Juicer carefully. Wash and rinse the Steam Juicer parts thoroughly. Fill the bottom pot (the water reservoir) full up so you don’t run out of steam and place on a large burner to heat. Assemble the rest of the Steam Juicer on top of the water reservoir including the lid.
Very important: Before each batch check to make sure the siphon hose is securely attached according to the directions!
It’s rather disconcerting if the hose slips off while there is juice in the pot because the hot juice pours out with no way to stop it. That really gets your attention. We only did this once, screaming and dancing while trying to stay out of the way of the hot juice. We were so glad there was no one there to observe the chaos because it would have been another one of those “Mom and Auntie stories”.
If that happens the only solution is to quickly catch the hot juice in clean containers until it runs out and then re-attach the hose. You can put the juice back into the top of the steamer, allowing it to reheat before pouring into quart jars.
Set Up For Filling Your Jars
Before you begin jarring your homemade tomato juice, the canning jars need to be clean and HOT. Preheat your clean jars in the oven at 150 degrees. We use our jar lifter or hot pads to handle the hot jars.
Canning with hot jars, hot juice and hot lids is key to attaining a good vacuum seal.
You need a jar filling set up that makes it possible to pour juice from the siphon hose while the juicer sits on the stove. The jar being filled must be a little lower than the juicer in order to siphon out the juice.
We use a small tall table, placing it in front of the stove, covering it with a towel. It’s good to put a medium size bowl on the table in which to place your canning jar. This catches any spillage during the filling of the jar. Make sure the siphon hose can easily reach the top of the jar to be filled.
Place towels on the counter where you will be putting the hot jars of homemade tomato juice after they are filled. Have clean cotton tea towels ready for covering the top of the jars of juice which keeps them from cooling too quickly. This helps to ensure a good vacuum seal.
Ok, now you’re ready to go!
Steam Juicing Your Tomatoes!
- When the water in the Steam Juicer is boiling, pour your first batch of cut up tomatoes into the colander portion of the Steam Juicer and cover with the lid.
- In about 45 minutes check the progress of the steaming tomatoes and blend (see bellow). If you see that juice is collecting in the siphon hose check the juice kettle (the part that has the siphon hose attached) to see how full it is. It is important that the juice kettle doesn’t start overflowing into the water part of the pot, losing precious juice.
Filling the Jars
- When the juice in the collection pot is no more than 1 inch from the top of the cone in the middle of the kettle, it is time to start siphoning juice into your jars.
- The beginning juice is very thin. Siphon it into into a clean jar or 6 cup measuring cup and save it for adding back later. The last jars of the batch can get very pulpy. By adding that beginning thin juice back into the steamer colander toward the end, you maintain the consistency of the juice in each jar.
- After siphoning off the initial thin juice, take off the lid and blend the tomatoes using a handheld Immersion Blender to release more juice. After blending we stir the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. This encourages the juice to drain out of the colander pot and down into the collection portion of the juicer.
- Repeat this blending and stirring step a couple of times while filling the jars. The pulp will become thick and juice will stop running into the siphon hose. This left over pulp makes delicious tomato paste. (Stay tuned for our Tomato Paste recipe!)
- Place the salt, lemon juice, and garlic into the bottom of each jar (see ingredients above). If you are making some of your jars spicier (delicious!), also add 1-2 dried peppers.
- Place the prepared jar in the bowl on the table that you’ve placed in front of the juicer and stove. Using the siphon hose carefully fill to 1/4 inch of the top of the jar. Have a slightly damp cloth ready to wipe the rim of the jar.
- Now, using your magnetic lid lifter, lift the lid and rim out of the pot of hot water and place them on top of the jar filled with hot juice. Screw down the jar ring just until it stops.
If the lids are overly tight, it can prevent air from escaping which can keep you from attaining a good vacuum seal.
- Using a jar lifter, carefully place the hot jar of juice on the toweled area on the counter.
- Lightly cover over with a cotton tea towel so the jars cool down gradually. Eventually you will hear the lids suck down with a pinging sound. This sound will become music to your ears because it means the vacuum seal has been accomplished and you will hear this sound jar after jar sometimes far into the night!
- Continue filling jars with hot juice, occasionally blending and stirring the tomatoes until the juice stops. If the juice does not completely fill your last jar you can pour it into the next batch of tomatoes OR refrigerate it for drinking later.
- Don’t move the jars of juice until the next day when they have had plenty of time to cool and seal.
Don’t Waste The Pulp!
What do you do with the left over Pulp? Make Tomato Paste!
Scrape the pulp out of the Steam Juicer, spooning it into a large roasting pan or other large pan with deep sides after each batch. After it cools put the pulp in the refrigerator for later.
Don’t worry, Part 3 in this series is all about converting the pulp into the best tomato paste you have ever had. Seriously. One of our friends coined the term ‘tomato butter’ for this paste and spreads it directly on toasted bread. And it makes the most delectable sauces! We’re putting the finishing touches on Part 3 and will be publishing shortly.
Repeat! The Next Batch
Before starting your next batch of tomatoes, check and refill the bottom of the Juicer with water. You do not want to run out of water and scorch the juicer. After topping off the water, reassemble the juicer sections and get ready for round two. If you need to cut more tomatoes, this is a good time while your waiting for the water in the Juicer to come to a boil. Pour the next batch of tomatoes into the colander section of the Juicer and cover with the lid. That’s it!
The first day we make homemade tomato juice, the second day we make the most delicious tomato paste you’ll ever taste using the left over pulp. In two days we make enough to keep us in juice and paste for a full year. We even have enough to share with friends and family. The true meaning of abundance.