Well, we got the in-laws settled (sort of!) and now I am back to canning. I started doing tomatoes yesterday and am hoping to finish today.
I got approximately 2 bushels of tomatoes for $8 total yesterday! Can you believe it? That is one blessing of living here in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where there are all sorts of farms and produce stands. Anyway, so what am I doing with all those tomatoes? Well, I am making tomato juice and tomato sauce.
I use the tomato juice primarily in chili and my homemade Cream of Tomato Soup. Of course there are some other recipes here and there that I use it in too, but those are the ones that I make a lot during the winter.
And I am excited about making tomato sauce again. The last and only time I tried it, 2 years ago, I vowed I would never make it again! Iwas using clear jel to thicken it and didn't know that there were different kinds of clear jel. Well, here I accidently got the instant kind and lets just say I had a whole bunch, as in probably 25 quarts of tomato sauce, that was pretty much not worth eating.
But this year I am trying a recipe my sister loves and it looks so simple. I like the fact too that, unlike many tomato sauce recipes, it doesn't take tomato paste or any thing like that. My thoughts are why make your own pizza/spaghetti/tomato sauce if you are going to have to buy a bunch of stuff to put in it? I like knowing where my ingredients come from and I like that making my own is cheaper. So for me, this recipe looks like it should work. Oh, it is also supposed to taste like Pizza Hut's sauce...I can live with that! If I like the recipe or if enough of you want it, I'll share it on here later.
Here is a quick run-down of how I make tomato juice.
First, I wash the tomatoes and take out the stem end and any defective spots. Then I cut them into chunks and put them into the kettle I plan to cook them in. Once my kettle is full, I use my hand to squash down the tomatoes a bit to get some juice in the bottom so the tomatoes don't stick to the kettle.
Next, I cook the chunks on medium heat until they are soft, stirring several times. I've learned that if I let them cook till they start to foam a bit, they are usually good and soft and juice quite nicely.
Then I juice them. I use this contraption- I have no idea what it is called- or a Victorio Strainer. I actually prefer the Victorio Strainer, but my kitchen has no good place to attach it that is out of the reach of my dear son. So it was easier for me to use the "contraption" even though it meant that it took a bit longer.
Once I have enough juice I pour it into jars, add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart, and can it. Or else if I want to make tomato sauce I use it for that.
So there you have it. To me, this is such a cheap and easy way to make some healthy food. I like knowing just what all goes into my juice and sauce and of course I love that it is so cheap!