Can you use a juicer on tomatoes?

Tomatoes are a versatile fruit that can be used in many dishes, from soups and salads to sauces and juices. Their rich, sweet flavor makes them a delicious addition to any meal. Many people wonder if tomatoes can be juiced using a typical fruit and vegetable juicer. The short answer is yes, you can use a juicer on tomatoes! However, there are some things to keep in mind when juicing tomatoes to get the best results.

How Juicers Work on Tomatoes

Juicers extract liquid from fruits and vegetables by crushing and squeezing the produce. This separates the juice from the pulp and skin. There are two main types of juicers – centrifugal juicers and masticating juicers.

Centrifugal juicers grind produce using a high-speed spinning metal blade. The fast spinning motion separates the juice from the pulp via centrifugal force. These types of juicers work best for juicy fruits and veggies with high water content, like oranges, apples, celery, etc. Centrifugal juicers tend to work less efficiently for drier produce.

Masticating juicers (also called slow or cold-press juicers) crush and press produce through gears or augers. They operate at slower speeds compared to centrifugal models. The slower crushing motion allows masticating juicers to more thoroughly extract juice from produce with higher fiber content. This makes them more suitable for juicing leafy greens, wheatgrass, and tomatoes.

Benefits of Juicing Tomatoes

There are several potential benefits to making tomato juice with a juicer:

  • Concentrates the nutrients – Juicing separates liquid nutrients from the pulp and skin. This allows you to consume more tomatoes in liquid form and absorb more lycopene and other nutrients.
  • Easier to digest – Some people find drinking vegetable juices gentler on the digestive system than eating whole produce.
  • Versatile – Fresh tomato juice can be enjoyed on its own or used to make soups, sauces, cocktails, and more.
  • More bioavailable – Some studies suggest the lycopene in tomato juice is more bioavailable than lycopene from raw tomatoes.
  • Longer shelf life – Tomato juice lasts longer in the fridge than fresh tomatoes.

Considerations When Juicing Tomatoes

While tomatoes can certainly be juiced, there are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Seeds – Tomato seeds contain small amounts of toxic compounds called glycoalkaloids. Be sure to remove seeds before juicing to avoid ingesting these.
  • Texture – Tomatoes have a gelatinous texture when juiced. Using a masticating juicer can help mitigate separation and yield a smoother juice.
  • Pulp – Tomato skin and pulp can lead to bitterness. Be sure to strain the juice through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth to remove excess pulp.
  • Acidity – As a highly acidic fruit, tomatoes may contribute to acid reflux symptoms when consumed in excess. Combining tomato juice with less acidic ingredients can help.
  • Sugar content – Tomato juice made only from tomatoes contains around 4 grams of sugar per cup. Those watching sugar intake may want to dilute it.

Best Tomatoes for Juicing

The variety of tomato makes a difference when it comes to juicing. The best tomatoes for juicing are meaty, thick, and low in moisture. Some top options include:

Tomato Variety Characteristics
Roma Meaty, few seeds, less moisture
Beefsteak Thick, juicy walls, robust flavor
San Marzano Low acidity, firm flesh, concentrated taste
Amish Paste Meaty, low moisture, good pectin content
Cherokee Purple Rich, complex flavor, less juice and seeds

Avoid juicing tomatoes like cherry, grape, or heirloom varieties, which have higher water content and may yield a more diluted juice.

How to Juice Tomatoes

Follow these steps for how to juice tomatoes properly:

  1. Wash tomatoes and remove stems.
  2. Cut tomatoes into quarters or eighths to fit produce chute.
  3. Remove seeds and juice tomato pieces through your juicer.
  4. Strain the tomato juice through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth to remove excess pulp.
  5. Store the fresh tomato juice in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

For the highest juice yields, alternate tomato pieces with pieces of carrots, celery, apples, lemons, ginger, etc. The higher water content helps push the tomato juice through.

Tomato Juice Recipes

Tomato juice on its own has a bold, earthy flavor. It can be mellowed out and enhanced by combining it with additional fruits and vegetables. Here are some tasty tomato juice blend ideas:

  • Tomato-Carrot Juice – For a nutritious duo, combine 2 parts tomato juice with 1 part carrot juice. Carrots add sweetness and cut the acidity.
  • Tomato-Celery Juice – Celery juice balances out the tomato flavor. Mix equal parts tomato and celery juice.
  • Bloody Mary Juice – For a virgin Bloody Mary, mix 4 parts tomato juice with 1 part lemon juice and dash of hot sauce.
  • Gazpacho Juice – Blend tomato juice with cucumber, bell pepper, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings for a drinkable gazpacho.
  • Green Tomato Juice – For a veggie-packed juice, combine tomato, spinach, kale, cucumber, celery, lemon, ginger, and apple.

Tomato juice also shines when used as a base for soups, sauces, and cocktails. Add tomato juice to any recipe in place of plain tomato puree or paste for extra flavor.

Storing Tomato Juice

Fresh tomato juice only lasts about 2-3 days when properly stored. To get the longest shelf life:

  • Store tomato juice in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Mason jars or sealed glass bottles work well.
  • Never leave tomato juice at room temperature, as this will cause it to spoil quickly.
  • For longer storage, freeze tomato juice in ice cube trays or muffin tins. Frozen cubes can be popped out and thawed later on when needed.
  • Canning tomato juice in Mason jars allows it to be shelf-stable for up to a year when prepared properly.
  • Add a squeeze of lemon juice to help prevent oxidation and preserve color.

Properly stored, homemade tomato juice retains its fresh flavor and vitamin content. Discard any juice that smells, tastes funky, or appears moldy.

Potential Downsides of Tomato Juice

While tomato juice has some benefits, there are also a few potential downsides to consider:

  • High acidity – Can provoke reflux and interact with certain medications
  • Blood sugar spike – Tomato juice spikes blood sugar quickly due to natural sugars
  • Limited nutrients – Juicing removes beneficial fiber and protein from the tomato
  • Bitter taste – Some tomato juices have a bitterness from compounds in the skin and seeds
  • High sodium – Canned tomato juices tend to be very high in added sodium

Those with chronic health conditions should be mindful of portion sizes and moderate intake of tomato juice. Combining it with non-acidic ingredients can help mitigate acidity issues.

Conclusion

Juicing tomatoes using a quality masticating juicer can yield a tasty and nutritious beverage. Choose meaty tomato varieties, remove the seeds, and strain excess pulp for the best results. Tomato juice is more perishable than other vegetable juices, so enjoy fresh juice within a couple days and store any leftovers in the fridge or freezer. With its rich umami flavor and vibrant color, homemade tomato juice makes a great inclusion to a healthy diet when consumed in moderation.

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