When we shared our daily updates about our 6-bushels of sauce, a lot of people wanted to know about our “Tomato Slayer” – also known as a tomato squeezer, tomato crusher and some even call a tomato press. We have an electric grinder that goes by the very beautiful name, “O.M.R.A. No. 3″:
It’s 0.50 horsepower of pure tomato crushing power (insert evil snicker here).
My parents used a food mill for many years before eventually upgrading to a hand-crank machine which they later McGuyvered by attaching a furnace motor to in order to save their arms. They bought this unit about 10 years ago, initially splitting it with a friend for $400.
The price is heavy; especially up-front. In retrospect, it’s lasted 10 years and is going strong and has produced roughly 1,500 jars of sauce (we do more than 150 jars every year). That’s about $0.26 cents a jar (assuming we stop here, which we have no plans to). It can also make apple sauce, pumpkin butters and an optional attachment can turn it into a meat grinder/ sausage maker.
The device is fairly simple. We wash and cut tomatoes (checking for rot, softness, black spots) before dropping them into the hopper on the top where an individual guides them down the tube. This guidance is gentle at first but can become a difficult push as the day goes on on the machine gets clogged (we stop to clean it to make things easier on the machine and the people using it).
The tomatoes hit an auger (it’s like a giant drill bit) which forces them down a tube that has many perforations in it (it’s covered in sauce in the picture). Tomato juice escapes through the holes and is funneled down a trough into a foodsafe bucket (not supplied) and becomes our sauce. The skin, seed and remaining pulp all exit the far end of the auger and into another bucket. We put them pulp through the machine 3 additional times which increases our yield (we have gone from 16 or 17 quarts per bushel to 20 or 21).
It takes about 30-45 minutes per bushel to process.
We then cook the sauce down and bottle it and dehydrate the skins and see to make tomato powder.
It’s an amazing piece of equipment that has paid for itself over time.
Any other questions on the tomato squeezer? Would love to answer them…