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Friday, August 19, 2011

How to Make Homemade Garden Tomato Juice

I had a good year with tomatoes and they are still producing. I guess when you plant 35 or so plants, you need to do something with the tomatoes. I added to my options by learning how to make tomato juice and the base for either ketchup or barbecue sauce. Here is how I did it for the tomato juice. And keep in mind, you can season your recipe how you wish. My goal was just to figure out how to make it! I will blog the ketchup and barbecue sauce process too.

The first step was getting lots of tomatoes. I don't have exact measurements for the number of cups of tomatoes I used. Just eyeball it. You can't really go wrong. I used a mix of tomato varieties and collected the seeds of the tomatoes as I prepared them. 

To make tomato juice and the barbecue/ketchup sauce you need to de-seed your tomatoes.  Nothing went to waste in this process. Which is pretty cool.

Using 100% of Your Tomatoes: Gary Pilarchik

These are 'Black Plums' and the above picture shows you how I processed them. The tomatoes were halved and the seeds were collected. The de-seeded tomatoes were placed in a bowl, along with the liquid, and the seeds were put in a mason jar. I did this with several varieties of tomatoes including the 'Baxter Bush Cherry' tomatoes below.

'Baxter Bush Cherry' Ready to Become Tomato Juice: Gary Pilarchik

It is important that you remove all the seeds from your tomatoes. They should look like something below. Not perfect but most of the seeds are gone. The liquid is also poured out of the bowl. You just want the meat of the tomatoes. You will be straining you tomato juice after boiling. The seeds will block up the sieve and possibly add bitterness to your juice.

De-seeded 'Black Plum' Tomatoes for Tomato Juice: Gary Pilarchik
De-seeded 'Baxter Bush Cherry' Tomatoes: Gary Pilarchik

The first part of this process will make you your tomato juice. What remains, after the tomato juice is put aside, will become your ketchup or barbecue sauce. That process will be in another blog.

Put your de-seeded tomatoes into a pot and bring them to a boil. Turn it down to simmer. You will add some more things and the whole mix will simmer for about 45 minutes. DO NOT add water. You de-seeded the tomatoes and removed the liquid. All the liquid and seeds went into a different bowl. You aren't really reducing this down like when you make spaghetti sauce. You are extracting the juice from the meat of the tomatoes. Good stuff!

Boiling Tomatoes for Tomato Juice: Gary Pilarchik

At this point, you can add a large onion and a full stalk of celery. You can use more or less as you see fit. Chop them up coarsely and put them into the pot. You can add some salt, pepper, and garlic powder or use garlic cloves. DO NOT season to taste. Lightly season it at this point. Even though you aren't making a full reduction, the liquid will reduce and you don't want to end up with an overly salted or seasoned glass of tomato juice. You can doctor the juice up after it is made.

Coarsely Chopped Onions: Gary Pilarchik
About 2/3 of a Stalk of Celery: Gary Pilarchik

The onions, celery and garlic cloves (if you wish) get thrown into the pot and the whole batch should simmer 45 minutes or a bit longer. The onions and celery should be cooked through so they will mash easily with a wooden spoon. All the contents will get lightly pressed against a sieve to release the juice. For tomato juice it is more of a press then a total mashing. You get to mash the remains for the ketchup/barbecue sauce process.

Once the contents are simmered and soft, strain the contents of the pot and press the contents of the vegetable chunks against the sieve. I use a wooden spoon. You can see the tomato juice in pot. You of course will need a second pot for the straining process

How to Make Tomato Juice: Gary Pilarchik

Gently press the vegetable chunks against the sieve until they gently mash and roll. Once they looked juiced, dump the remains in the sieve into a large bowl and repeat the process until the new pot is filled with tomato juice from the old pot.

Remaining Tomato Juice Mash: Gary Pilarchik

Bring the new pot of fresh tomato juice to a boil again. You can season it to nearly taste. You need to let it come to a gentle rolling boil for about 15 minutes. It will reduce a bit. Use your eye at this point. You can let this process go until it is a thickness you prefer. If you want a bit thicker, let it roll for more time. Again add some seasoning but not to full taste yet.

My First Batch of Tomato Juice: Gary Pilarchik

You can strain this a second time if you want. Notice how it is thinner then sauce and really does look like tomato juice. Now you can season it to taste. I recommend the following basic seasonings

  • Coarse Black Pepper
  • Seas Salt
  • Powder Garlic at the end
  • Fresh Garlic at the beginning
  • Onions and Celery through the boil
  • Hot Peppers in the boil
  • Cayenne Pepper (powder) at the end
  • Sugar
This is the basic process for making tomato juice. You can season during the process and can add other vegetables during the boil for taste. Season slowly, taste, season, taste, and stop when you like it. The only tricky ingredient is sugar. Add a rounded tablespoon and mix it in. Add 1 table spoon at a time till you like the taste.

After you get the right taste, let it sit until it gets to room temperature. After that, chill it, and make something like this...

Bloody Mary's

Bloody Marys with Homemade Tomato Juice: Gary Pilarchik
logo with tomatoes - $20 Off Purchases $40 Or More!Spring Hill


  1. Nice way to use up all those tomatoes Mr "P" I can't believe you planted 35 plants for personal use. That's one heck of alot of tomatoes : )

  2. And now the tomatoes are gone, I am into the frozen quarts of sauce. Though next year, I think I am taming back to 20 plants and will plant exzotic vegetables from around the globe.


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