One more idea for the last loads of tomatoes...
A couple of weeks ago, while I was busy making marinara sauce, my piano teacher and friend, Sonja Bauer, gave me a jar of tomato-vegetable juice made from her mother's recipe. It was so wonderfully fresh and healthful! I had to have the recipe. In addition to drinking it, Sonja tells me that she uses it in making chili and as a base for Cream of Tomato soup.
My husband picked a huge basket of ripe plum tomatoes with some yellow pear tomatoes,too-- and I spent the morning making and canning 5 quarts of this drink --with some leftover to refrigerate for use in the next couple of days. I am delighted to share this recipe and hope you have the opportunity to try it.
Sonja's Recipe for Tomato Cocktail
1. Assemble the following in a large stock pot:
½ bushel of cleaned, cored, and quartered tomatoes
1 large onion, rough chopped
1 cup of chopped celery
1 cup of chopped green pepper
handful of fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
2. Bring to a full boil and then simmer with the lid on for an additional 30 minutes.
3. Working with a food mill, extract the pulpy juice and discard the waste seeds, skins, etc.
4. Measure the juice. For every 7 cups of juice, add:
2 Tbsp. Cane sugar
2Tbsp. Lemon juice
Pepper, if desired
5. Using a ladle and funnel, fill prepared quart canning jars with the hot liquid, to within ¼ inch of the top, apply lids and rings, avoiding overtightening.
6. Process in a prepared, boiling water bath for 30 minutes. Make sure jars are covered with 1-2 inches of water and judge the processing time from when the water boils again. Remove jars from water using the tool intended. Allow to cool and dry—and "Ping"-- before labeling and then storage in the pantry.
Because it's a solution of liquid and pulp solids, the tomato juice cocktail will separate with standing. Be sure to thoroughly chill and give the jar a good shake before serving.
I used mainly plum tomatoes at peak ripeness so they were pretty sweet and appropriately acidic. I adjusted down the sugar. However, one thing you can never adjust down is the lemon juice. Lemon juice will make the tomato preparation more acid which is what we want for food safety, in order to be able to process in the boiling water bath. Bottled lemon juice will not cause any adverse flavor change to the tomato juice so do NOT forget to add it. A little extra doesn't hurt, either. If you're unsure of the acidity of your tomatoes, then the current recommendation is to add 2 Tbsp of bottled lemon juice for every 1 quart of tomato juice.
I also substituted red bell peppers for the green pepper, simply because I happened to have one, not the other. I also added freshly ground black pepper, though I've seen recipes with a dash or two of hot pepper sauce and it could even be omitted--again your option.
I am also reminding you about the over-sized,measureable Rubbermaid containers, that make it so easy to process large volumes of liquid. See the above picture with the food mill. You can really cut down on the clean-up when you have the proper sized equipment.
The old-fashioned food mill really works easily with cooked tomatoes and vegetables. I actually bought my food mill at a hardware store.
Remember that tomtoes are high in antioxidants (more bioavailable when cooked!) and the Vitamins A and C. The acidity in tomatoes is mainly from ascorbic acid (aka-Vitamin C) but also from citric acid which is one reason why the bottled lemon juice (mainly citric acid) doesn't change the flavor profile.
If you love the taste of fresh tomatoes off the vine, then you will appreciate this tomato cocktail when the snow's flying in a couple of months!