What to do with the "tomato juice"
I finally finished canning today..lots of tomatoes.
After I blanched them, peeled them, etc. I ended up with lots of the juice from the tomatoes.
Any ideas on what to do with it? It's too watery to be real tomato juice.
Also...my jars are cooling and as they cool the tomatoes rise to the top leaving lots of water at the bottom of the jar. I don't recall this happening before. Maybe I just forgot?
Many years ago I helped my late in-laws (of Italian heritage) preserve about 100 quarts of tomato sauce.
The tomatoes were first cored and sliced, placed in old pillow cases, and placed over buckets overnight to drain. The drained liquid was discarded because it was mostly water.
The drained tomatoes were then put in a large stockpot and cooked down until the solids fell apart. Then the tomato mash was put through a sieve to retain the skins while the solids (puree) were caught in another large stockpot.
Finally, sterile jars were filled with the resulting puree. No seasonings were added. The tomato puree was seasoned when used as a condimento for pasta. I use the term 'condimento' because there is a 46-year-old raging debate in our household about whether it should be called 'gravy' or 'sauce.' I'm not of Italian heritage, and to me 'salsa' is the Italian word for 'sauce.' Of course, my wife refers to salsa di pomodori as 'gravy.'
That is my favorite part of preparing fresh tomatoes--just keep it, chill it, and drink it! It's not thick, like canned tomato "juice" and that's what's wonderful about it; it's the fresh, essential tomato taste, very refreshing. As far as I'm concerned, "real" tomato juice is nothing but weak tomato puree; this is the real stuff.
Today my wife cooked slices (about 1/2 inch thick) of peeled sweet potato in tomato water. She used a fairly thin layer in the pan, cooked covered and reduced down to a lovely glaze. Sort of candied sweet potatoes without the sickening sugar or corn syrup.
We also use tomato water in vegetable stocks. The pectin and acid add a richness more often associated with a meat-based stock.
If you taste it, it's very "tomato-y".
Add it to soup, pasta sauce, or drink it (can add vodka.. :).