I ♥ Bloody Mary's. I ♥ Tomatoes. So, naturally, I make tomato juice so that I can drink Bloody Mary's, using my own juice, all winter long.
Some truths about Tomato Juice:
● It's a terrific way to use up stuff in the cooler like celery, dill, zucchini, carrots, beet greens etc.
● The saddest day of early spring is the day I open my last jar of tomato juice.
● If I didn't make tomato juice, I'd drown in ancient jars of marinara. Hey, I like spaghetti as much as the next gal but I drink more Bloody Mary's than I eat marinara so.... I make juice.
● If you've been to my apartment for bloodies, you are special to me.
But what is the path to Tomato Juice Nirvana?
I could write a recipe but I don't want to stifle anyone's muse. I want everyone to create their own tomato juice. But if I had to write guidelines, they would be:
Gather a lot of tomatoes. The batch I'm making was about 10 pounds. Any tomatoes. Overripe, split, u-g-l-y it doesn't matter. Just not rotten. Add onions, (one or two), carrots and celery. Use whatever you have in the way of fresh veggies. Avoid things that are bitter like arugula, red onions or scallions.
This batch has -- in addition to tomatoes -- dill, yellow beet greens, zucchini, onions, and garlic.
Cook them till they're totally soft and mushy. About four hours.
Puree them with a hand blender (also called an immersion blender or a stick blender). Adjust seasoning. Process in a food mill.
Or, use a spoon to force the juice through a mesh strainer, discarding the leftover skin, seeds, etc.
Adjust seasoning, going light on the salt. There will be plenty of time to correct any deficiencies.
Check the juice by refrigerating some of it and checking it for consistency and flavor. Adjust seasoning.
Keeping the juice hot, sterilize jars. Hot pack the juice by putting hot juice into hot, sterile jars topped with hot, sterile lids. Lightly tighten the rings and allow to cool, undisturbed. The jars should all 'pop,' the lids will snap into a concave position. If they don't, put the dud jars in the cooler and drink within a week.
Last year, I made about six quarts of juice -- most in pint-sized jars. I cracked the last jar a few months ago. I wish I could remember who I drank those BM's with, as it was probably significant (at least for me).
After today's batch was processed, I have 13 pints of Tomato Bliss.
One last word of advice. Occasionally the juice gets too thick. If that happens, Add more vodka!