Monday, August 30, 2010

Freezing Tomato Juice

Doesn't it look 
like he's smiling?
Hello, all you happy canners out there! It's that time of year again for putting food by, as the old-timers used to say. Even with a nasty tomato blight, we still managed to get enough to make juice for the freezer. We use tomato juice on a regular basis for our winter chili, so this is a great investment in frugality.

Let me say from the outset this method is purely my own. It is a combination of techniques I learned in home economics, from experience with my mother and grandmother, and from reading county extension materials and cookbooks such as Putting Food By (an excellent resource). So, if you see something different from what you've heard or done, don't sweat it. Just do what works for you. Freezing is much more forgiving than canning in jars. Spoilage is very rare unless, of course, you lose power.

Also, you will notice I use an old-fashioned food strainer fitted with a wooden cone. These may be found at yard sales and thrift shops or may be purchased through my link on Amazon (see below). If you prefer a modern food strainer, of course, just use yours according to its instructions.

Equipment needed:
  • About 3 pounds of tomatoes (6-8 medium) per quart of juice (you may use a bath or postal scale to weigh)
  • 2 or 3 large pots
  • Slotted spoon
  • A pot or bowl for skins and trimmings
  • Food strainer 
  • Ladle 
  • Canning salt
  • Quart jars with caps/rings or freezer containers

  1. Wash all equipment and let air dry.
  2. Put a medium size pot of water on to boil and fill another medium pan with cool water.
  3. Have another pot or bowl ready to save skins and cores for the compost pile.
  4. Fill a clean sink with tomatoes and cover with water.
  5. Once the water is boiling, wash tomatoes thoroughly, gently rubbing off dead leaves and dirt. 
  6. Slip clean tomatoes individually into boiling water with a large, slotted spoon. Do not drop them in! They may splatter.
  7. Let the tomatoes sit in the boiling water for only a minute or two, then remove them with the slotted spoon to the pot of cool water. 
  8. Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins and remove cores and bad spots.  If you hold the tomatoes over the pot you will be cooking them in, you won't miss a drop. :)
  9. Cut tomatoes into halves or quarters and drop them in a large pot for cooking.
  10. Bring tomatoes to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up tomatoes.
  11. Set up a food strainer over a large bowl and ladle hot tomatoes in leaving enough room for the wooden cone (Fig. 1). Smash tomatoes against the side, moving the cone around in a circle and from side to side. Stop occasionally to scrape the sides down to the bottom (Fig. 2).
  12. Fill freezer containers to fill line, add one teaspoon canning salt per quart, and seal (Fig. 3). Freeze upright until completely frozen.
Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
 Aren't they beautiful?

If you have any questions, suggestions, or anything you'd like to add, please leave your comments in the Comment section below or on Facebook: I'd also love to hear what you are putting by this season. Do you have a blog post about it? Leave your link with your comments. 

Happy canning! :)

Suggested resources and equipment: