Sweet tomato juice

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I must admit that I love autumn, but with it rapidly approaching, I must reminisce about the hot summer days and the delicious produce that it yields. One of the products of summer that I typically look forward to the most are tomatoes. After going through six months of dull, flavorless tomatoes, when the first tomatoes of summer show up with their bright red color and sweet, juicy interior, Sarah and I typically go crazy buying as many tomatoes as we can. We enjoy BLTs, tomato sandwiches (two slices of buttered toast, sliced tomatoes, salt, and pepper), fresh marinara, salsa, and the list could go on and on. But we know that this bounty will not last, so we also can several different tomato products.

The recipe that we are sharing today is for the tomato juice that I grew up with. It is a recipe that was passed down to me from my dad, who got it from his mom. Now, this isn’t your typical tomato juice, so if you are looking for a more traditional version you should keep looking. This tomato juice is significantly sweeter with several added flavors. I think this recipe is great as an ingredient in chili, drinking straight, or spicing up a bit for bloody marys. This will produce 5-7 quart jars.

1/2 bushel ripe tomatoes (about three quarters of a 5 gallon bucket), stemmed and quartered (don’t worry about peeling them since they’re going through a strainer anyway)

1 bunch celery, chopped

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

2 green peppers, chopped

6 whole cloves

2 cups sugar

shy 1/2 cup salt

lemon juice

Prepare your canner and jars. In a very large stock pot, combine tomatoes, onions, celery, green peppers, and cloves. (Note: I will typically use two large stock pots and just put half the ingredients in one and half in the other. That works better for me than using one big pot.) Cook the veggies over medium heat until they are all soft. This will take 30-45 minutes depending on if you use one or two pots. Once the veggies are cooked, put the mixture through a food mill or victorio strainer. Return the juice to medium low heat to keep warm and add the sugar and salt.

Now it is time to fill the jars. Remove the jars one at time from the canner to fill. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the jar and then fill the jar with the tomato juice and leave approximately 1/2 inch of head space. Add the lid and band. Return the filled jar to the canner and repeat until all the jars are full or you run out of juice. Put the lid on the canner and lock into place. Bring the canner up to 10 lbs of pressure. Once you have reached 10 lbs of pressure, maintain and process the juice for 15 minutes. If you are at higher altitudes you will need to adjust your processing time. Turn off the heat and let the pressure reduce to 0. Once the pressure has subsided, remove the lid and extract the jars from the canner. Let the jars cool naturally and undisturbed for approximately 24 hours.





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