When I have a big bowl of tomatoes – more than I can eat fresh – I love to turn them into a flavorful juice, seasoned with garlic, onion, and basil. Because tomatoes cook down (a lot!), this just makes a small amount (about a quart) which I use immediately in a soup or freeze to use in the winter. This is not the big “making mega-quarts of juice from bushel baskets full of tomatoes….” kind of thing. This is just a one-off batch from the latest harvest of a small backyard garden. Very manageable and easy to do, fragrant while cooking, a treat for the eyes during all the steps and of course, delicious!
Tomatoes – I had red, yellow and orange – I didn’t think to weigh them, so let’s just say it was probably about 15 average sized tomatoes. Wash them, core them, and seed them, but don’t get too picky about the seeds as the cooked tomatoes will go through a sieve to become “juice.”
Onion – pretty much whatever you have on hand – I have used yellow onion, sweet Vidalia onion, and even my pantry staple, the freeze-dried red onion from Litehouse Foods. I use a whole small onion or approximately half of a large or about 1 tablespoon of the freeze-dried.
Garlic – use a few cloves of fresh or about 1 teaspoon of freeze-dried garlic from Litehouse Foods.
Could you use onion powder and garlic powder? Probably… If I were going to do that, I would probably use only about 1 teaspoon of onion powder and ½ teaspoon of garlic powder.
Celery – optional – if I have some in the refrigerator, I put a few leafy celery tops in the pot
Fresh Basil – a generous handful – washed and stemmed, but again, don’t get too picky about having absolutely no stems as everything goes through a sieve at the end.
Combine all ingredients in a stainless pot with 1 to 2 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. I let it simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the tomatoes are not sticking to the bottom of the pot. I take the lid off the last 20 minutes or so to reduce the water content and concentrate the flavors. Cool.
Ladle the tomatoes and veggies into a large sieve, or food mill, over a large bowl. There are many names and styles of these gadgets – if your going to Google or Bing it, try “chinois” “mirro food press with wooden pestle” “food press” “food sieve” There are some fancy ones on the market now (my mother has one and she loves it), but I use my husband’s grandmother’s vintage food press – the one with the wooden pestle. Works fine! Press the tomatoes and veggies through the mill – it’s like magic – all the skins, pesky seeds, fibers from the onion, celery and basil stems, remain behind, and the juicy pulp of everything goes into the bowl. Repeat until all the juice and pulp is extracted. Discard the skins. Enjoy your juice!!