Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Stop the Presses!

Or at least the strainers.  I made (with the assistance of my wonderful hubby) a major discovery this week. I'll let you in on it but first I need to do a bit of backgrounding.  You already know that I put up lots of tomatoes when I can and that I have a particular passion for sauce and ketchup.  This passion requires extensive use of a tomato strainer.  For years and years I have used my trusty old Victorio strainer. It removes all the skins and seeds and leaves you with just pulp and juice. I bought it new over twenty years ago, and other than loosing some of its enamel, it's still in great shape.

It has always done a great job for me, but I was becoming frustrated with the screen surround.  It goes all the way around the strainer screen and makes life difficult when I'm putting very large quantities of tomatoes through because that space between the screen and the surround gets clogged with tomato pulp. So, we started looking at other strainers.  My sweetheart found a Squeezo strainer on e-bay for a bizarrely low price so we got it.  The big difference between the Squeezo and the Victorio for my purposes is that the juice chute (surround) does not go around the screen, it just sits neatly below the screen catching all of the juice and pulp.

Here's where the exciting part begins!  While we were putting through a large batch of tomatoes my hubby observed that it seemed possible to fully separate the pulp from the juice instead of letting it all go into the pot together.  Unfortunately, when he noticed this we were almost finished straining that batch.  So, my set-up for the next batch (a much smaller batch) included something new.
Notice nothing surrounds the screen!
The addition of this simple, El-cheapo wire strainer has revolutionized my life!!!  You see, it allows me to catch most of the pulp coming out of the Squeezo while allowing the juice to pass on through.
Also, the open access to the strainer screen that the Squeezo allows lets me steadily scrape pulp away from the screen making it easier to crank through all those tomatoes.

You will remember, I'm sure, how in previous posts I wrote about the incredibly long boil down times for making sauce or ketchup.  Well, those times have vanished!  When we were through straining tomatoes yesterday, we yielded 13 pints of tomato pulp (which we canned as pizza sauce with NO extra boiling down) and 11 quarts of thin but delicious tomato juice (which previously would have simply boiled away).

This idea may not be new for a lot of you "pro" canners out there who have also been doing this for years, but it has changed my life, and hopefully it will be of help to some of you who are just getting into the food preservation habit.


  1. Have you ever made tomato jam? (or perhaps in the USA you call that jelly or preserves?) it is THE most divine jam I've ever tasted. My dad used to make it and as a child I helped him with the whole process (well, mostly watched!) and fortunately I had the ingredients and amounts scribbled down in an old recipe book so I'm still able to make it now, after he's gone. Would you like me to send you the recipe?

    1. I would love the recipe! We came across some Spanish tomato preserves this past winter and they were fantastic. I still need to publish that ketchup recipe for you, but right now my blog is disfunctional. :-(