When I was in college and graduate school in Chicago, I managed to pull off some kind of a vegetable garden in vacant lots here and there. Gardening was good for my soul, and it seriously stretched our meager food budget.
One summer we were blessed with a bumper crop of Roma tomatoes and several dozen scrounged, bail-type glass-lid canning jars. After processing one batch of tomato sauce by hand with a cone-shaped colander, I figured there had to be a better way.
I was a subscriber to Mother Earth News at the time and was aware of many expensive, and therefore unobtainable, machines that would have made making tomato sauce and paste a piece of cake. One of the more affordable pieces of equipment advertised in Mother was the Squeezo Strainer. As luck would have it for us, we were regulars at the once famous Maxwell Street Market on Chicago’s near South Side, and before I spent the money on a new Squeezo, we found a used one at the market. It was all metal including the hopper, as I recall, and it looked like it hadn’t been worked hard at all. Using the Squeezo, we actually had fun processing that bushel of remaining Romas.
Our Squeezo Strainer processed hundreds of pounds … perhaps thousands of pounds … of tomatoes, grapes, apples and other fruit before it was retired many years later. We replaced it with a strainer attachment on our first KitchenAid Mixer … one of the last to wear the Hobart brand. I can tell you that we stripped the main drive gear in that mixer twice … we never stripped anything in the Squeezo. But for the life of me, I can’t remember what we did with it … perhaps it was a casualty of some yard sale or another.
Earlier this year, I learned that the Squeezo Strainer is still being produced … built in the U.S.A, in fact. The good folks at All Seasons Homestead Helpers, Inc. in Vermont have kept the Squeezo alive, and they were gracious enough to send me a new one. What I discovered about the Squeezo this year is that it is still every bit as hard core as that old model was. And even though our tomato harvest this year was pretty slim, running some of the fruit through the strainer was a delightful blast from the past.
If you are looking for a high-quality juicer/strainer that has relatively few moving parts, requires no electricity to operate, and will serve your children, and perhaps even your children’s children well, then I suggest you make the $250 investment in the deluxe model. It comes with three strainer screens (different perforation sizes), a 2-plus quart hopper, wooden plunger, brush and recipe/instructions booklet.
If you are looking for other useful low-impact stuff to help around the homestead, be sure to spend some time exploring the All Seasons Homestead Helpers website.
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.