Making homemade tomato sauce can be a fun and rewarding experience. The flavor of sauce made from fresh, ripe tomatoes can’t be beat. However, the process of making sauce from scratch can also be time-consuming and labor intensive. This leads many home cooks to look for shortcuts to streamline sauce making without sacrificing flavor. One shortcut some cooks consider is using a juicer to extract juice from tomatoes to create an instant tomato sauce base. But is this really effective? Can you actually make good tomato sauce in a juicer? Let’s take a closer look.
How Juicers Work
Juicers are appliances designed to extract the liquid contents from fruits and vegetables. There are two main types of juicers:
- Centrifugal juicers: These juicers use a high speed spinning blade to grind up produce. The centrifugal force separates the juice from the pulp, which gets collected in a strainer basket.
- Masticating juicers: Also known as cold press or slow juicers, these models crush and press produce to “chew” out the juice. A spinning auger crushes the produce against a wall or screen.
Both types are effective for juicing hard, crisp fruits and veggies with high water content like apples, carrots, celery, etc. This makes them good tools for creating nutrient-rich drinks.
However, juicers are not designed to extract juice from soft, fleshy produce like tomatoes. Tomatoes have a delicate texture and will get shredded rather than juiced in most juicers.
Challenges of Juicing Tomatoes
There are a few reasons why juicers struggle to make tomato juice:
- Low juice yield – Tomatoes are actually not very juicy. About 94% of their weight comes from water, but only around 2.5% is extractable juice.
- Pulp and seeds – Tomato pulp and seeds can clog up juicer strains and screens.
- Oxidation – The spinning of centrifugal juicers introduces air which causes tomato juice to oxidize and lose flavor.
This makes tomatoes a less than ideal candidate for juicing. You’ll end up with a low yield of juice with a thinner, more watery consistency. The texture and depth of flavor will be lacking compared to sauce made by cooking and crushing the tomatoes.
Results of Juicing Tomatoes
If you do send tomatoes through a juicer, here is what you can expect:
- Watery, diluted juice rather than thick, rich sauce
- Loss of texture from skin and pulp
- Flat, lackluster flavor
- Rapid oxidation resulting in off colors and metallic taste
- Clogged juicer parts requiring extensive cleaning
The resulting juice may be drinkable, but it likely won’t have the rich, complex flavor or thick texture characteristic of great tomato sauce.
Juicing vs. Cooking Tomatoes for Sauce
Cooking tomatoes breaks down fibers and cell walls, releasing more juice and creating a sauce with better consistency. Heating also intensifies flavor compounds in tomatoes, leading to more complex, robust taste.
Here is a comparison of juicing tomatoes raw vs. cooking them down into sauce:
|Juicing Tomatoes||Cooking Tomatoes into Sauce|
|Low yields of extractable juice||Higher yields by crushing cooked tomatoes|
|Watery, thin consistency||Thick, rich consistency|
|Dull, flat taste||Full robust, complex flavor|
|Prone to oxidation||Reduced oxidation|
|Clogs juicer strainer||No equipment clogs|
As you can see, cooking and crushing tomatoes is superior to juicing them when making sauce.
How to Make Tomato Sauce from Scratch
To maximize flavor and texture, tomato sauce is best made by cooking and crushing whole tomatoes. Here is a simple sauce recipe:
- 3 lbs fresh tomatoes, cored and quartered
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook 2-3 minutes until translucent.
- Add garlic and continue cooking 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add tomatoes, basil, salt, and pepper. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.
- Once simmering, reduce heat to medium-low. Crush tomatoes using a potato masher or large spoon.
- Simmer uncovered for 45-60 minutes, stirring periodically, until tomatoes are completely broken down and sauce is thickened.
- For smooth sauce, purée briefly with an immersion blender. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
- Use sauce immediately or let cool before storing.
This easy method produces a flavorful, full-bodied sauce perfect for pasta, pizza, and more!
While it may seem expedient, making tomato sauce in a juicer results in a thin, watery juice lacking the texture and flavor of true tomato sauce. For the best flavor and mouthfeel, tomatoes need to be cooked and crushed. The heat breaks down fibers to release more juice, as well as intensifies the flavor. With a simple recipe like the one above, you can easily make delicious homemade tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes without the need for shortcuts. Your patience will be rewarded with a sauce that’s leagues better than any juice blend.