Tomatoes! Tomatoes! That is what is in season and that is what we are canning! As we were canning bean & bacon soup the other day we realized that we had no leftover veggie juice, so that quickly made it to our to-can list and that is what we did today. Veggie juice and tomato/spaghetti sauce are made in the same day at our house because of the process we take it through.
First we cut the bad spots and stems out of our tomatoes and toss them whole and unpeeled in a large pot. Because the whole mixture goes through a Victoria Strainer, the peelings and seeds just go along with the tomatoes and aren't separated from the juice and pulp until the very end. I really like this part because it's pretty low maintenance.
Same with the peppers -- get rid of the stems but not the seeds or the peelings. The pepper to tomato ratio is about a 1/7 so there are a lot more tomatoes that go into this than peppers.
Add it to the pot with the tomatoes ...
Then add the onions.
Just like the peppers, the onion to tomato ratio is about 1/7 so, not too many.
Then cook it down until the onions are soft -- not sloppy or falling apart -- just soft. It will probably look like the photo above. It's best to put it through the strainer while it's still hot rather than cold. We've tried refrigerating this mixture and straining it the next day, but the straining to twice as long because the vegetables were cold.
Now the real work begins -- this is an intense operation complete with a lots of splatters and dripping thus a floor to mop and dozens of dishes to wash. We keep our set up in the greenhouse because it's easier to clean the floors and tables out there becuase we just use the hose.
At this point we take the vegetables through 5 steps and they become both juice and sauce.
Step 1: Use a strainer to get most of the juice.
This ginormous strainer was really a mistake. Mom thought she was ordering a small strainer and when it came it wasn't small at all. But it has sure been useful. We dump cupfuls of the mixture into the strainer and stir and smash it around until most of the juice has leaked out into the bowl.
The strainer has two layers so it's hard to clean but really efficient when it comes to straining.
Step 2: Bottle the Juice
Simple, just ladle the juice into jars and prepare it for the pressure canner
Step 3: Put the Veggies Through the Victoria Strainer
Here's a picture of it before its messy. This machine is very useful for not only tomatoes, but also pear and apple sauce too. The veggies go into the top funnel-ish part and then the handle is turned to force the veggies through the strainer making the sauce drip into the baking dish and the compost to slide into the bowl.
Here's the strainer in action!
This is the messy job since the sauce often spurts and spits all over the place so an apron is absolutely necessary, and a strong arm because there is lots and lots of turning involved. My sister was such a trouper.
There's a closer look at the end product. We know going into this that we won't get a while lot of sauce. The juice to sauce ration has got to be about 5/1 and it feels like the number of dirty dishes is double the number of jars -- juice and sause-- but of course it only eels like that.
After adding 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp lemon juice to all of the jars they go into the pressure caner. And after that, they get washed, labeled, put into boxes and taken to the basement for future days. This process is long and messy, but it sure us fun to do with family and it's easy to forget the slippery floor and dirty dishes when I'm eating the sauce on my spaghetti of drinking the hot juice in the wintertime.