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Efficiency tricks for tomato canning

 
master steward
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Hopefully this can be a thread with all sorts of tricks and tips to make canning go more efficiently, especially in the tomato department.

Tip #1:  My main trick is to use a food strainer (Victorio or equivalent) to turn raw tomatoes into juice/sauce.  Put chunks of tomatoes in the top, turn the handle and juice/pulp comes out the side and the seeds, skin and stem attachment part come out the end.  It's a wonderful way to go from raw tomato to juice.


Problem #1:  What I'd love to do is find an efficient way to separate the juice from the pulp.  I've put it in a fine mesh strainer and been able to get much of the juice and pulp separated but it's time consuming.  The advantage is that the pulp can go sauce and the juice can go into tomato soup.  Less boiling to get the pulp thick enough.  Any ideas for a way to separate them efficiently?

Tip #2:  When the tomatoes are starting to come on but I don't have enough to can, I'll Victorio them into pulp and store that in the fridge (or freezer) until the next batch of tomatoes are ready.  Then I get to do all the canning in one event instead of two.  The slurry does separate into juice (on top) and pulp (on the bottom) so that is one way to get them to separate.

Problem #2:  Is there a way to process tomatoes for salsa and then store them for 4 to 8 days until there are enough to bother canning up a few batches?  I want to say I've just used the pulp to make salsa before but I can't remember any more.  I don't want to do the boil, ice bath, peel and core circus if I can avoid it.  If the tomatoes are chunked up instead of juiced I think they'd just cook down to mush in the canner anyway, right?  I think the texture comes from the peppers and maybe onions but maybe I'm misremembering...
 
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A quick way I make tomato sauce:

I put diced tomatoes, bell peppers, and onion into a blender and blend them into a sauce. There is no need to peel the tomatoes.


I found this thread for making tomato sauce in the oven when you have lots of tomatoes:

https://permies.com/t/50330/kitchen/Lazy-tomato-sauce

Though I used the crockpot instead of the oven.  The sauce turned out great. Like the title said lazy and also easy!

I didn't peel my tomatoes so before pouring the sauce into the jars, I picked out what was left of the peels.

I was very happy with the results.

 
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I suspect that I'm a super-taster. To me, tomatoes that are pureed with the skins on are nigh inedible. I sure know that the skins are there!

My efficiency tool for tomatoes would be a gadget that would sit over a stainless steel kettle to stir the juice for hours until it boiled down to a sauce.

 
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I chop and cook my tomatoes, cool then put them through my veggie ricer's fine screen which gets most of the skin and seeds out (which my chickens are happy to dispose of). Then I pour everything that went through the ricer into shallow pans and put them in the oven at 115 F (my oven has a fan in it) to dehydrate the mixture, stirring every 1-2 hours, until it's as thick as needed. I've wondered it that could be done in a solar dehydrator, but we're soooo... humid it's hard to move that project higher on the to-do list.

I usually can it without adding any spices so I can use it for whatever recipe I want when the time comes.

I have a friend who does the roasted tomato sauce, so I may try some of that this year, but she freezes it, so we've not experienced canning it.

I have used a friend's slow cooker to thicken tomato sauce in the past - helpful if we get a Sept heat wave and we don't want the heat or humidity in the house.
 
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I like my salsa without tomato skins.  A very easy way to skin tomatoes is to freeze them whole. Then plunge each frozen tomato into a pot of boiling water. The skin will slip right off.  

Also tomatoes are easier to dice when they are partly frozen, no juice running every where.

As a result we freeze all the tomatoes that are to be preserved.  Which also means that we don't have to bother with canning tomatoes products in the middle of summer when we are busy with other things.
 
pollinator
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Mike Haasl wrote:

Problem #1:  What I'd love to do is find an efficient way to separate the juice from the pulp.  I've put it in a fine mesh strainer and been able to get much of the juice and pulp separated but it's time consuming.  The advantage is that the pulp can go sauce and the juice can go into tomato soup.  Less boiling to get the pulp thick enough.  Any ideas for a way to separate them efficiently?



By this do you mean that you want a more refined liquid completely separated from the remaining solids?  (like the "tomato water" popular in restaurants a decade back)

Seems like aside from additional straining a few options come to mind:

1. Let it sit and settle into a relatively refined liquid on top, and thicker pulp sludge on bottom.  (Energy efficient but slow)
2. Freeze it, possible after letting it settle a bit, and you should end up with watery tomato ice on top and fiberous pulp on bottom.  Thaw in a strainer.
3. Rig up some kind of centrifuge, if you are mechanically inclined
 
Mike Haasl
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Thanks MK!  Yes I want to get the pulp separated so I can use that for the salsa and use the thinner juice for soup.  I'm currently planning on doing #2 with the juice/pulp freezing in a big stock pot that I can add to every few days.  Then when I'm ready to make a bunch of salsa, I'll take it out to defrost a day or two ahead of time.  Once thawed (in fridge) I'll siphon off the juice and hopefully be left with the pulpy stuff.

An centrifuge would be cool but I don't want to invest the time into that for something I hope to only do a couple times a year.

One idea I had was a disk made from mesh that the pulp could drop onto (straight from the Victorio).  Then let it spin so the pulp stays on the disk and the juice drips through into a bowl.  As the disk slowly rotates and gets nearly around to where it started, have a scraper that peels off the pulp into another bowl.  

My strainer did do the job, it just plugged with pulp and took too long to do by hand.
 
pollinator
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Use a steam juicer first to take off the bulk of the juice. This can be bottled right out of the juicer into wire bail type beer bottles with no further processing. Then you can run the remaining cooked pulp through your Victorio for canning or leave the skins and seeds in if you prefer. If you don't have a steam juicer, you can cook the cut up toms in a stock pot and use a colander or strainer to separate the juice and proceed as above.
 
Mike Haasl
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I just talked to an experienced homesteader and she has a cool way to process tomatoes.  She put the whole tomatoes in a stock pot with the least amount of water she can get away with.  Then she brings it up to a simmer.  The tomatoes turn into sacks of goo and the watery juice rises to the top.  She then ladles off the juice and is left with pulpy sacks of tomatoes that she runs through a foley food mill to remove the seeds and skins.

I think I'll try a variation of that where I freeze the whole tomatoes as I get them.  Then once the freezer is full enough, I'll let them thaw in a big stock pot.  They may do the sacks of skin and juice thing right away, if not I can simmer them a bit.  

That should fix both of my problems in my initial post.  I hope...
 
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I grow Upstate Oxheart tomatoes for my sauce.  They are a large meaty tomato with very few seeds and a skin that I do not mind in my sauce. The skin isn't as bitter as most paste tomatoes and is thinner and softer so they don't store well.  I will freeze them till I have enough to cook a large batch.  The tomatoes average between 1 and 3 pounds and are a pretty rose color. They are amazing for fresh eating too.

Using this type of tomato I make sauce by chunking them up and toss them all in a pot to simmer. When they start to cook down I use an immersion blender to puree them.  I simmer them till I like the thickness and the can it. Super easy and very little waste.

I also wind up with too many Sungold cherry tomatoes every year. This is my husband's favorite tomato so not growing at least 10 plants of them is not an option. Inevitably we wind up with a bumper crop of them and I wind up using a bunch in sauce. For these tomatoes I use  the fruit and veggie strainer attachment to my Kitchenaid mixer.  You need both the food grinder and the fruit and veggie strainer attachments on the mixer. This is a huge time and hand saver over the hand crank style strainers.  I also use this set up to remove the seeds from Autumn berries to make ketchup which is just tedious without power tools.  
 
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As I don't make tomato sauce for canning, I just cut tomatoes in half and put the cut side down on a cookie sheet with edges. Roast them in an oven at 450 degrees for about forty minutes. Let them cool a little and pinch the skins right off. Because they are roasted there is less liquid and more flavor concentrated in the pulp.

I can them, adding a little lemon juice and salt. More tomato in the jars, very little liquid at the bottom. Later I use them in tomato soup, vegetable soup, taco soup, spaghetti sauce... . The slow cooker tomato sauce looks like fun so I may try that, maybe add a little soy sauce?

This has been a difficult tomato season in northwest Montana. A long, cool, wet spring delayed everything. My tomatoes are just beginning to come on and I'm looking at a lot of pre/post frost green tomatoes. If I can talk a neighbor into trading something for a couple of cabbages we will have Chow Chow. As usual, it's all about next year.
Staff note (Jay Angler) :

Roberta added a note lower down:"With regard to roasting tomatoes I heat the oven to 400 to 425 degrees. 450 is a little too hot for the poor little fruits."

 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I suspect that I'm a super-taster. To me, tomatoes that are pureed with the skins on are nigh inedible. I sure know that the skins are there!



I'm that way with apple peels. No can swallow. Body is sure they're toxic waste. (I'm waaaaaay out the far side of supertaster....) Don't like tomato skins either, but have found if I process tomatoes in the food dehydrator instead of cooking them down for sauce, the skins are less of a problem and I can usually eat them.

So I slice them fairly thin, season them liberally (garlic, rosemary, or whatever sounds good) and put 'em in the dry heat until they're somewhat shrunken but not yet stiff... at this stage they're cooked but still juicy, tho most of the water is gone. Then shovel 'em into quart freezer bags, press 'em flat for good packing, and into the freezer they go. Five gallons of fresh tomatoes reduces to less than a quart of thick but ready-to-use sauce, with minimal effort.

Well, at least the ones I manage not to eat straight out of the dehydrator. :D

I have a ridiculously excessive number of tomatoes coming this year... must figure out how to adapt this for the cherry tomatoes; rough count on four VT100 vines was over 2000 fruits in progress. I don't know how you even pick that many, other than whack 'em with a stick so they fall into a basket.
 
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To remove most of the seeds, we cut the tomatoes in half and then give them a squeeze to get the seeds out.  You can use the back of a spoon as well to push them out.

Then I boil them until they turn to mush.  Toss them into a blender to puree them, and then through an old fashioned cone strainer/food mill.  That catches whatever seeds may have snuck through as well as the skins.  

The seeds get tossed randomly around the orchard -- there will be volunteer plants coming up everywhere next spring.  We weed them out like . . . well . . . weeds, keeping only those that are growing in good spots.  Roma and Cherry tend to volunteer the best.
 
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We pressure can tomatoes. In 10 minutes in the canner they've done.  Small amounts, we dehydrate.  I am beginning to like dehydrated tomatoes better in sauces.
 
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We tend to sheetpan roast our tomatoes, cut-side down. We typically use them fresh out of the oven, seasoning and immersion blending. I notice neither skin nor seed when done this way, which makes it easy, and more nutritious, as there are phytonutrients in the skins that we need. Thickening involves pouring the juices off the sheetpan before blending.

Canning, when we do it, involves the hot preparation of the mason jars (I usually stick them in the oven to come up to temperature), and then dropping the unblended roasted tomatoes into the jar. We can blend before sealing, or not.

As to straining, if you don't use my roast-first-and-pour-off-the-liquid-periodically method, I would consider cheesecloth, like one layer or two, lining your strainer. You could let it relax, and the liquid will drip down the outside of the pulp better than when the pulp clogs the metal mesh. You could then give it a squeeze and then hang it over a bowl, like hanging fresh cheese, to let the excess liquid drip out.

I think that before you get to the hanging dripping stage, you'll have removed all the liquid you want, unless you're going for a paste, especially if you're aggressive with the squeezing.

But let us know what works for you, and good luck.

-CK
 
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My mistake. With regard to roasting tomatoes I heat the oven to 400 to 425 degrees,. 450 is a little too hot for the poor little fruits.
 
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Rez Zircon wrote:

So I slice them fairly thin, season them liberally (garlic, rosemary, or whatever sounds good) and put 'em in the dry heat until they're somewhat shrunken but not yet stiff... at this stage they're cooked but still juicy, tho most of the water is gone. Then shovel 'em into quart freezer bags, press 'em flat for good packing, and into the freezer they go. Five gallons of fresh tomatoes reduces to less than a quart of thick but ready-to-use sauce, with minimal effort..



When you're ready to make sauce, what steps do you do next?
 
Mike Haasl
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On a related topic I found a Nesco roasting pan/oven at a thrift shop today and got it for $6.  Should be an easy way to cook down sauce without heating up the kitchen.  Assuming I do it outside...
 
Rez Zircon
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Mike Haasl wrote:On a related topic I found a Nesco roasting pan/oven at a thrift shop today and got it for $6.  Should be an easy way to cook down sauce without heating up the kitchen.  Assuming I do it outside...



I have one of those... I use it all the time. (Throw in random meat and veggies, go away for an hour or two, and it's food.)

Brush the inner pan with olive oil and nothing will stick to it. Otherwise it can get kinda crusty, even tho it's a nonstick surface.
 
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Joylynn Hardesty wrote:

Rez Zircon wrote:

So I slice them fairly thin, season them liberally (garlic, rosemary, or whatever sounds good) and put 'em in the dry heat until they're somewhat shrunken but not yet stiff... at this stage they're cooked but still juicy, tho most of the water is gone. Then shovel 'em into quart freezer bags, press 'em flat for good packing, and into the freezer they go. Five gallons of fresh tomatoes reduces to less than a quart of thick but ready-to-use sauce, with minimal effort..



When you're ready to make sauce, what steps do you do next?



Nothing -- so far I've just used 'em straight out of the bag!
 
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If you don't like seeds and skins, this won't help you. I just put the tomatoes into the blender, then into canning jars, then into a warm canner. Bring up to temp and process. I do cherry tomatoes whole, just smushing them down into the jar until it's full.

I like adding chopped up dehydrated tomatoes or pureed roasted veg during cooking to thicken a sauce.

I must have been raised by trogs cause I had no idea until well into my twenties there were people who separated out skins and seeds! :D
 
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Jan White wrote:
I must have been raised by trogs cause I had no idea until well into my twenties there were people who separated out skins and seeds! :D



Haha, me too!!

I have never minded seeds and skins, so I used to chop them up, cook them down on the stove top, and then can in boiling water bath.

Then a few years ago, a seller at the farmer's market in Massachusetts suggested the roasting method, so we did that, and love it. I usually make a batch for my sister who lives in Boston when I am there every August (but not going home for a visit this year, boohoo).

I don't have notes what temperature, but we roasted halves, cut side up, for an hour or two, until they were getting visibly roasted around the edges. The skins just come right off. Then we stuff them into jars and process in boiling water bath. They shrink so much that it uses much fewer jars, so I guess it serves the purpose of thickening it up. And they have a wonderful flavor! Wow. It does use a lot of oven time, though, and that too in the heat of summer and early autumn. I don't grow enough for all the tomatoes I want to dry and can for a year's supply, so I buy local tomatoes, which are mostly unfortunate tasteless paste tomatoes, but the roasting makes them much, much tastier.
 
Rez Zircon
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Jan White wrote:I don't grow enough for all the tomatoes I want to dry and can for a year's supply



How many tomatoes is normal production? I get 10 to 20 pounds per plant (sometimes more), which is way more than I need, but I couldn't resist planting 'em anyway.

Saw somewhere that 3 pounds of tomatoes makes 2 cups of sauce. I'd say it's about half that if they're dry-roasted instead of boiled down.


 
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Mike Haasl wrote:I just talked to an experienced homesteader and she has a cool way to process tomatoes..... ladles off the juice


I just saw this recently on a youtube video, with a person using a Nesco. I use a crockpot to make my sauce (for use, not canning) and this watery "passata" sauce that has to cook forever has always been a problem.
I tried it yesterday and it worked brilliantly. The water doesn't come to the top, it stays in the bottom, you may need to dig with the ladle. When the tomatoes are done (maybe 2 or 3 hours on low) I run them through my Omega juicer to take out seeds and skins. At the end of the process for one normal-sized crockpot, not filled entirely full (not a big Nesco) I had 2 quart jars of sauce and 2 quart jars of "juice". It isn't exactly V8 juice, it's more watery, but once you add some salt the taste is bang-on. Highly recommended!

Freezing your tomatoes as you go sounds great. If I were you I would wash, core, and cut them into whatever your preferred size is before freezing, then you can just throw them in and get moving. (I don`t bother with coring but sometimes there are nasty spots that need to be cut off).
 
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I hate the boiling water/ice bath method of skinning tomatoes; it's messy and too fussy for not enough benefit for my taste. I'm usually making both sauce and diced tomatoes or salsa at the same time, so here's my process:
1. Blend the everloving crap out of cored, trimmed, but unpeeled tomatoes in the Vitamix. (We bought a new one two years ago after my mom's 1963 avocado-green model died.) Start simmering that down for sauce. Can when it's about 2/3 of the original volume.
2. Cut tomatoes in half, lay them cut-side down on a cookie sheet, and broil for 5-7 minutes. Let cool for a few. The skins slip right off. Those also get blended up and added to the sauce. The tomatoes are then either diced (for canning) or tossed in the food processor (for salsa).
3. Collapse in a heap after canning all day.
I've found that I used diced tomatoes more often than sauce, so I do more of the crop in that form. My marinaras and other tomato-based sauces all usually cook for quite some time, so having them cook down a bit more isn't really a problem.
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I suspect that I'm a super-taster. To me, tomatoes that are pureed with the skins on are nigh inedible. I sure know that the skins are there!

My efficiency tool for tomatoes would be a gadget that would sit over a stainless steel kettle to stir the juice for hours until it boiled down to a sauce.



like this ?

or this ?
https://www.destillatio.eu/en/polenta-mixing-bowl-26-cm-copper/a-101/

It's for polenta but it might work
 
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My own hack for tomato processing involves sun-drying the first few harvests, which are often too small to want to bother with the whole process of canning.  In my current climate this just means putting slices out on a screen in the sun, and covering them at night, but it is possible in more humid climates, sometimes with the use of an enclosure (such as a parked car in the sun!).  I take these dried tomatoes and store them in bags, buckets, etc. When I'm making something that needs thickening like sauce, paste, or salsa I powder dried tomatoes in the blender and stir this into the simmering sauce until it is the desired thickness, bring this to a boil, and can away!  So essentially I'm replacing gas heat for prolonged boiling to thicken with solar energy drying the tomatoes I'm using for thickener!  A large sauce or salsa canning project now easily fits into a day, since the stuff just has to come to a boil before being ready to can!
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:


My efficiency tool for tomatoes would be a gadget that would sit over a stainless steel kettle to stir the juice for hours until it boiled down to a sauce.



Something like that exists, but not in kitchenware. Look for laboratory equipment! Find a hotplate with a magnetic stirring mechanism, and a magnetic stirring bar. For the "kettle", use any heat-proof dish that is not made of metal. Pyrex is probably your best option. You'll also want some kind of screen over the top to prevent splatters.

If there's a university near you, you can probably find used lab equipment pretty cheap. I think I paid $5 for my hotplate/stirrer. It actually cost more to get the stirring bar, because I wanted that to be new.


 
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RE: problem #1

Rather than separate the juice and pulp, add about a cup or two of shredded carrot to about a gallon of tomato. The carrot will 'disappear' taste-wise, but it will thicken the tomato, so it doesn't need to be cooked down.

I always shred a carrot into my spaghetti sauce. It thickens better than tomato paste & adds a little natural sugar to balance the acid of the tomatoes.

I discovered this trick when I was making smoothies. One day I added half a carrot & the smoothie turned out gloppy.
 
Mike Haasl
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Cool tip Tammy!  I'm canning the stuff so I'd be worried about affecting the acidity level for tomato sauce.  Enough carrots may make it so you need to pressure can it.  But I don't know for sure...
 
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My brother and I used to process and can 200 qt of tomato juice, pizza sauce, etc per day, using a 35-gallon cast-iron kettle, a 45-gallon cast-iron kettle, and a victoria strainer.

Our process got refined each year as we focused on becoming more efficient with less energy input.

I don't have the available bandwidth to write a detailed post, so will keep it in bullet point format. Here is our process.

1. All tomatoes washed in advance and still whole in clean containers.
2. Start wood fire underneath both kettles.
3. Add tomatoes to each kettle, toss each tomato in the air above the kettle and slash with a sharp butcher knife.
4. Stir tomatoes the first 5-10 minutes until enough liquid accumulates at the bottom that they don't burn to the kettle.
5. As the tomatoes liquify, use a large ladle or small bowl to skim the water off the top. The water will rise to the top, and the whole tomatoes with the pulp remain beneath the surface. using this method, you can remove 10-12 gallons of water from 35 gals of tomatoes.
6. Keep adding tomatoes, and removing water until the kettle is filled with paste. Should take 15-30 minutes.
7. The kettle should be at a rolling boil at this point.
8. Add onions, garlic, hot peppers, spices, everything else desired to the kettle.
9. Boil until all tomatoes and other ingredients are soft. 30 minutes - 45 minutes
10. Cooldown the fire to very low
11. Ladle all the tomatoes and liquid out of the kettle into stockpots, and begin running them through the victoria strainer. They go through quickly because everything is soft at this point.
12. The kettle will still be hot when all the liquid tomatoes are taken out. Immediately add 5 gallons of water and rinse clean.
13. Partially fill kettle with water.
14. Build fire back up and bring water to boil
15. Pack all the juice/paste/puree in jars, (while still hot) add back into kettle of water.
16. Boil until cold packed.

We could do one batch in each kettle in the morning and afternoon, spending about 8 hours total, and ending the day with 200 qts of canned tomatoes and a deep sense of satisfaction.


 
Mike Haasl
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Awesome system John!  When you slashed the tomatoes, was the goal to just break the skin in one spot or to cut them deeply or in half?
 
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Problem #1:  What I'd love to do is find an efficient way to separate the juice from the pulp.  I've put it in a fine mesh strainer and been able to get much of the juice and pulp separated but it's time consuming.  The advantage is that the pulp can go sauce and the juice can go into tomato soup.  Less boiling to get the pulp thick enough.  Any ideas for a way to separate them efficiently?


My tomato canning task has evolved into a few simple tasks:
1. Process them through a Squeezo ( looks like the photo in the initial post) that separates pulp/juice from skin and seeds,
2. Run the latter through again to extract the last bit of good stuff,
3. While bringing a large pot of the juice/pulp to a boil, add chopped basil, garlic and oregano and let boil for 10 minutes, then cool for twenty minutes, or so: boiling bubbles force too much pulp into the soup stock but if you want some in, do wile boiling,
4. Insert a colander or other vessel with lots of small holes in the pot and ladle out the clear liquid that flows into the vessel,
5. Fill quart jars with this "soup stock",
6. When the vessel no longer sinks into the thick sauce, remove it and ladle the sauce into their own jars,
7. Use a steam canner to process all of the above (I process seven or eight jars at a time throughout the above steps).
I illustrated most steps in: https://sunsavingfossils.blogspot.com/2017/09/processing-tomatoes.html
 
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When I was a kid in the late 40's and through the 50's we canned a LOT of Stewed Tomatoes. That was all that was in the jars too, just tomatoes. I hated them, although in the winter they seemed to be more tolerable.

After retiring and moving back to Indiana I decided to DIY some of my "prepper" foods and took up canning again. I found a new recipe for Stewed Tomatoes that is really great! You all need to try at least one batch of this recipe below and check it out for yourselves. I've pumped up the quantity of the added ingredients to make it more adaptable to a variety of meal-time uses. Serve these "as is" or with rice, maybe a piece of steak, or any other meal that needs something to help with bland or dry foods. Maybe serve as a side even with mashed potatoes. So, who's worried about the seeds, or the juice? Neither of those will harm you and the juice definitely would come in handy in any preparation of emergency foods - if nothing else just for the flavoring.

One hint about prepping the tomatoes - getting rid of the skins - is to cool your tomatoes in a fridge first, then cut a thinly cut cross on the bottom of the tomatoes and toss them into a pot of gently boiling water for one minute or 1 1/2 minutes. I found this method with having leftover tomatoes from my morning batch which I stuck in the fridge to use in my afternoon batch. The cooling, then the boiling water dunk, after which you dunk them in ice water gives you almost perfect quarters of skin to peel off. Core the tomato then and cut into whatever sizes you like and use the recipe I've added below.

So, here is the simple, quick recipe below.

STEWED  TOMATOES
From the Ball Blue Book guide to preserving  -  with slight modification
Yield: about 7 pints or 3 quart
Ingredients:
4 quarts chopped, peeled, cored tomatoes (about 24 large)
1 1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh or bottled Lemon juice
Instructions:
1. Sanitize jars and lids per Ball Blue Book instructions
2. Clean and peel tomatoes then chop at least into quarters
3. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepot. Cover; cook 10 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking
4. Ladle hot vegetables into hot jars, leaving 1 inch headspace.
5. Remove air bubbles
6. Adjust two-piece caps.
7. Process pints 20 minutes, quarts 25 minutes, at 10 pounds pressure in a pressure canner.
8. Label
 
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I used to cook the tomatoes on the stove until the one time I burned the bottom. Ruined a lot of quarts of tomatoes. Since then I take the tomatoes, wash and cut in half then put them in a large oven roaster pan and cook uncovered until they are squishy bags. Then they are cooled slightly and put through a food mill to take out the skins and seeds. It goes quick if the tomatoes are warm. The juice and pulp go back into the roaster and cooked until it's the consistency I want. I've never burned a batch this way, although you get roasted tomato residue on the edges of the pan which add to the flavor. I don't spend hours stirring, just once every 30-60 minutes.

Near the end of the harvest when I'm tired of canning, I'll take any ripe, perfect tomatoes and put them on a baking sheet and freeze them solid as individual fruits, then they all go into a bag in the freezer. This way I can pull out as many as I want for a recipe. When they start to thaw, the skins slip off easily, the partially frozen innards cut into pieces easily, and the flavor stays good even after months of freezing.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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This year I reduced the juice in an oven at 350 F. It was wonderful. I rarely stirred. The black ring around the bowl washed right off. Thanks for the suggestions.

tomato-reduction.jpg
Reducing tomato juice in the oven
Reducing tomato juice in the oven
 
John Kempf
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Mike Haasl wrote:Awesome system John!  When you slashed the tomatoes, was the goal to just break the skin in one spot or to cut them deeply or in half?



The intent was to slice them in half, to allow the juice to flow out more quickly.
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