Ladies and gentlemen, the day you’ve all been waiting for has come! Jess’ first blog post! I take full responsibility for the cheesy title. On today’s blog, Jess will explain how she makes and cans tomato juice which means bloody marys for everyone! (Her many times tested, many times improved Bloody Mary recipe to follow later this weekend)
How to Can Your Own Tomato Juice
Step 1: Place all jars, rings, lids, funnels, and spoons that you’ll be using in the dishwasher on high temp to sterilize them.
Step 2: Wash and core(optional) your tomatoes. We used about 15 decent sized tomatoes to make 4 quarts of juice.
An average of 23 pounds is needed per canner load of 7 quarts, or an average of 14 pounds per canner load of 9 pints. A bushel weighs about 53 pounds and yields 15 to 18 quarts of juice – an average of 3¼ pounds per quart. That’s some mad mathing skills done by someone on the Internet. Thanks Wikipedia… I always go by this rule: “you pick until the table is full ( an original farmhouse 7′ table built by my grandpa), and it usually makes 2-3 cases (12 quarts per case)” This is according to Master Juicer- Margaret Landrum (my grandmother). She has to hide her juice in the closet during family functions or we all clean her out of her stash! If I had a dollar for every time I heard, “just bring my jars back!” I’d have a lot of dollars. I remember freshman year I took a case back to college with me and subsequently moved around a case of empty jars for four years for fear of what might happen to me if I didn’t return them…
Tomatoes from my garden – they are so much better than anything from the grocery store. And if you don’t have enough, a pick-your-own farm is the pace to go!
Step 3: Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil as well as a small pot (to boil your lids when they are finished in the dishwasher).
Step 4: Set a large bowl of ice to the side.
Step 5: Once your equipment is finished in the dishwasher do not handle the jars with your hands, especially the necks of the jars or insides of the lids. I use a rubber coated pair of tongs. Jar tongs work even better.
Step 6: Flash boil 4-5 tomatoes at a time (until you see the skin split in places) usually takes about 1-2 minutes. Immediately dunk them in ice water to stop cooking. You don’t want them to cook you simply want the skin to pop so it peels off easier.
Note: Dump this water out when you’ve blanched all the tomatoes and refill the pot with clean water and bring it back to a boil. To water bath your finished jars with later…
Step 7: We use an industrial juicer for the actual juicing portion. After years of making juice with my grandmother the old fashioned way (an all day affair that I always looked forward to), I feel a little guilty that this process is relatively mess free and MUCH easier! This whole process took me less than 2 hours INCLUDING the hour long dishwasher cycle to sterilize my jars…
There are several ways to extract the juice from the tomatoes leaving the seeds and pulp out, some people use a strainer and mill or sieve type strainer and some people quarter their tomatoes and go straight to the pot using a potato masher to grind them into a purée.
No matter which method you use, the product needs to simmer for at least 5′ before going into the jars.
Step 8: After the juice has all been added to the pot and simmered for 5′, I line my jars up, add a 1/2 tsp of salt to the bottom of each, and grab my funnel.
Step 9: Fill each jar just to the first ring on the neck of the jars careful not to get anything on those sanitized necks of the jars. As you can see in my photo, my jars are short. I later finished filling them the rest of the way. Needless to say I don’t think I was ever trusted in my grandmothers kitchen with this task as I still spill everywhere. A funnel is no match for me…
If it happens, no big deal, get a dry paper towel and wipe it off carefully.
Step 10: Quickly fill, clean and gently lay a lid on each jar top. Stores sell a little magnetic wand that will prevent you from having to touch the lids, I’m not that fancy so I use a gloved hand…
Step 10: Add your rings- screw them down hand tight. Add jars to the water bath for about 30-40 minutes. This may be a process depending on how many quarts you are canning. My pot holds 5 quarts at a time. When they are done GENTLY remove them with tongs or a jar grabber and place them on a towel on your counter. Wrap a second towel around the cluster of jars to keep the heat in and DO NOT touch the lids! This is still hard for me because I’m dying to know if my hard work paid off or if I’m about to have to drink a lot of tomato juice in the coming days…
Give it a few hours in the towel and somewhere in that time frame you’ll hear those awesome “pops” of the lids taking to the jar. Don’t shake the jars if you notice separation, that’s normal, but you don’t want juice residue up there on the underside of that lid. At this time you can remove the rings if you’d like. I always just loosen mine but leave them on. Water can get in there and cause rust so you should at least loosen them.
They’re ready to store in a dark place until you’re ready for them.