This recipe is one I was given by my dear cousin, Joan Bliss. I love the commercially made V8® product but this was/is an opportunity to use some of my crops, especially my tomatoes, and a few purchased vegetables to make a homemade version of V8® Vegetable Juice. The economics surely favor making it. Even better, the end product can be used like tomato juice in various recipes, like soups, even in a Bloody Mary. When I made my first batch of V-8 juice, what I learned really changed my original plan for making the juice. I experimented as I made the juice and modified my procedures based on the most obvious changes to my earlier expectations. In any event, you profit from my experiments, and the V-8 juice is no exception. I am exceptionally pleased with my results. The recipe provided below is one you can take to the bank! Your homemade V-8 juice will be very superior in taste and nutrition compared to the commercial V8® product, and you control the salt content. It has a slightly sweet taste.
Speaking of salt content, the recipe Joan provided had canning salt in it, but no potassium chloride, which is a valuable addition to provide potassium in your diet. I add both sodium chloride and potassium chloride (NoSalt®), limiting the sodium chloride to essentially half the sodium amount as used by the Campbell Soup Company® in the commercial V8® product. This simply means the consumer can add additional salt later if it is wanted, but he/she does not have to worry about excessive dietary salt/sodium chloride from this beverage.
I also added ascorbic acid powder, which is Vitamin C, to provide the advertised 170% of required daily intake for adults. Why? Well, the boiling of the tomato juice and other ingredients in making the V-8 juice destroys some of the natural vitamin C content, and there is a dilution effect relative to Vitamin C content from the addition of vegetables that are not high in Vitamin C content, like lettuce and celery.
I noted that the commercial V8® product contains an unspecified additive, "natural flavoring," and an unspecified amount of citric acid. Citric acid adds tartness, which keeps the product from having a flat taste. It also functions to some extent as a preservative by increasing the acidity of the beverage. I suspect, however, that the commercial purpose is to take advantage of the antioxidant effect of citric acid, thus retaining the color of the beverage by avoiding darkening due to oxidation when in contact with air. Fresh lemon juice can be substituted in small amounts with a roughly equivalent result (we all know that lemon juice in water keeps cut fruit from turning brown, which is nothing other than a result of exposure to air/oxidation). The key point is to get the tartness and anti-oxidant effect without making a lemony taste happen, which as it turns out was not a problem at all. As to the "natural flavoring" I recall the celery flavor being very evident in the commercial V8® product so I added two pounds of celery root, or, celeriac. I also added celery seed, which I grind/powder first using a small food processor.
You can find ingredients like pure citric acid powder and ascorbic acid powder online at sites like www.bulkfoods.com and typically purchase one pound quantities of the pure products at a very low price. This method of supplying your food pantry is something you do very infrequently for the products do not degrade if kept in sealed bags or other sealed containers, and you will have enough product for years of use in making many different foods. I refer to the commercial product, NoSalt® as a good source of potassium chloride and you will find it or an equivalent product in the spice section of any good supermarket. Some folks like to mix it 50:50 with table salt for table use in all foods, to reduce sodium consumption and enhance potassium intake.
Ingredients: (Makes about 16 pints [two gallons] of juice)
2 large cookie trays, each filled one layer deep with fresh, large, very ripe tomatoes
2 large red beets
4 large carrots
1 green bell pepper, diced - Note: This ingredient is not used in the commercial product but it is a great source of vitamin C
1/2 pound of fresh spinach
1 large head of lettuce
1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
1 large bunch of celery, chopped
2 pounds of celeriac (celery root)
1/4 cup of celery seeds, ground/powdered in a small high speed food processor
1 bunch of watercress
1/2 cup of sugar
Canning salt or Kosher salt - Amount to be determined based on the final volume of juice - Do not use iodized (table) salt as it will cause undesirable darkening of your vegetable juice.
Potassium Chloride (NoSalt®) - Amount to be determined based on the final volume of the juice
Citric acid powder or fresh lemon juice - Amount to be determined by taste preference
Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) powder - Amount to be determined based on the final volume of the juice
Koldkiss® concentrated sodium benzoate solution at the rate of one fluid ounce per gallon of juice (optional)
Quarter and then crush the tomatoes a few at at time in a large, 2 1/2 to 3 gallon pot (or you might process the quartered sections very briefly first, in a food processor, on low speed to avoid chopping the seeds). Note that the actual volume of juice you will get depends on the size of the tomatoes, but you are aiming to get at least one and one half gallons of tomato juice after cooking, not counting the skins and seeds, and preferably a bit more.
Here is an easy way to tell if you will have enough juice. Use a food processor to chop the tomatoes so there is no air space present when you put the processed tomatoes into the pot. After all the processed tomatoes have been added to the pot, measure the volume. If you have one and three-quarter gallons or more then proceed with the recipe. Otherwise, process additional tomatoes to get to the required pre-cooked volume.
Add 1/2 tsp. of citric acid powder to the pot, or, three tbsp. of fresh lemon juice.
Bring the tomato juice and solids to a boil on high heat, covered, stirring every few minutes, and then simmer on very low heat for 30 minutes, covered.
Process the juice and solids through a colander to remove the seeds and skins. Discard the skins and seeds.
Put the tomato juice back into the pot and measure the volume of the tomato juice. It should be a minimum of one and one half gallons. If not, you must process additional tomatoes to make enough juice for this recipe as given.
Add the powdered celery seeds and the sugar.
Wash and shred/grate the beets and carrots (but do not peel them or you will sacrifice vitamin content, e.g. vitamin A and vitamin C) using a food processor and add them to the pot.
Cut the celery roots into quarters and peel them with a high quality potato peeler. Then process the celery root quarters with the food processor, along with the celery. Add these vegetables to the pot.
Bring the mixture to a boil on high heat, covered, stirring every few minutes.
Simmer the mixture gently on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding the rest of the vegetables half way through the simmering period, per the next instruction.
Wash and chop the green pepper, parsley and lettuce. Add them and the spinach and watercress to the pot, mix well and simmer during the last 15 minutes of the previous simmering cycle, with the pot covered with a lid.
Remove the pot from the heat and keep it covered with a lid.
Allow the pot of vegetables/juice to cool to 150 degrees F or lower, covered with a lid.
Process the juice and solids in batches with a blender (very carefully as hot materials tend initially to blow out of the top of the blender) for about one or two minutes each to puree´ the vegetables.
You will notice that your V-8 juice is darker in color than the commercial V8® juice because you included all the green vegetables in the puree´ process. It was the smart thing to do, nutritionally and in taste. Your V-8 juice will be quite thick with lots of vegetable content, better than the commercial V8® product. If you insist on having a color closer to that of tomato juice then you can make an equivalent volume of tomato juice (two gallons) separately and combine the two juices, but if you do that then the chemical additions below have to be doubled.
Refrigerate the blended V-8 juice overnight, covered.
Measure the final volume of the juice (you should have essentially 2 gallons, plus or minus one pint) and add appropriate amounts of canning salt, potassium chloride (NoSalt®), ascorbic acid and some additional citric acid (or lemon juice), and mix well.
You must use a very high quality kitchen scale to accurately measure the acid and salt additions, that displays weights in both english and metric units and is sensitive/displays weight accurately to the tenth of a gram. Kitchen scales of that level of sensitivity are hard to find so you might instead use a very sensitive electronic scale that you can purchase from Cabela's® online for about $70, the model XT-1500 Reload Scale, that is sensitive down to 0.05 grams. It is a very wise purchase, and a product you will use often for many years for precise chemical additions for many recipes, which means the upfront cost should not be an issue for you at all.
Assume half of the original vitamin C (ascorbic acid) content was lost during boiling. Add that amount of ascorbic acid (roughly 150 mg per pint) to the juice and mix well. This should result in the V-8 juice providing about 170% of the currently recommended daily intake of vitamin C, which is about 200 mg. If you don't want to do the arithmetic simply add 2.5 grams of ascorbic acid to the two gallons of V-8 vegetable juice.
Assume the juice as processed has only 10% of the required amounts of sodium chloride and potassium chloride (Roughly 750 mg of each type of salt per pint is the required total amount, but reduce your addition by the 10% you have already in the original juice. Thus, the juice needs an additional 675 mg of sodium chloride per pint to match the commercial version of V8® juice). Per my comments earlier in this recipe I recommend adding only half that amount of sodium chloride initially so that the folks who drink the V-8 juice later can adjust the salt content to their liking. In other words, adding 337 mg per pint times 16 pints equals 5.4 grams of sodium chloride to be added now. Now add about 500 mg per pint of the potassium chloride (NoSalt®), or 8 grams total. Add the required amounts of both types of salt as indicated (unless you want very low sodium juice), mix well, and taste the juice. You should definitely notice the taste change.
Add additional citric acid, perhaps 1/4 tsp. at a time and mix well and then taste the juice and decide if additional citric acid is needed to increase tartness. But do not add a total of more than one additional teaspoon of citric acid powder. Alternatively, you may use fresh lemon juice instead of citric acid, perhaps two tablespoons at a time, mixing well and tasting the juice to decide if further addition of lemon juice is appropriate.
Add the sodium benzoate solution at the rate of one fluid ounce per gallon of juice (optional).
Be sure to mix the juice very well to assure all the added products are completely dissolved and evenly distributed within the juice.
Dispense the well mixed, seasoned chilled juice into one pint vacuum sealing bags and vacuum seal each bag. Alternatively, you may can the juice in pint or quart canning jars.
If you didn't use the sodium benzoate, store the vacuum sealed bags of the homemade V-8 juice in the the deep freeze flat, to minimize and make uniform the bag thickness.
To use the frozen V-8 juice, simply defrost a package of it in a microwave oven until it is still cold but not frozen.
Alternatively, if you used the optional sodium benzoate solution you can store vacuum sealed bags of the juice in your refrigerator and the juice will remain fresh for easily six months.