One of the easiest and most efficient ways to preserve your tomato harvest is to make and can delicious homemade tomato juice!
It is hard to beat the incredible taste of homemade tomato juice. Especially when it’s made from the tomatoes straight from your garden, or from fresh tomatoes from a neighbor or local farmer’s market. Not only is it delicious, it is also one of the most useful canning items to store in your pantry for year round use.
Tomato juice is refreshing and nutritious to drink all by itself. But it also happens to be the perfect ingredient for all kinds of dishes, soups, drinks & more!
You can use tomato juice as a base for all types of soups – including chili, vegetable and plain old tomato soup! But it is also the ideal ingredient for adding flavor and moisture to casseroles, roasts, and more. And we certainly can’t forget it is the star of the show for an incredibly refreshing Bloody Mary!
The Simplicity & Ease Of Canning Tomato Juice
One of the best things of all about making and canning homemade tomato juice is just how easy the entire process can be.
Preserving your own delicious tomato juice is one of the most uncomplicated canning recipes of all – making it ideal for those who might not have a lot of experience with canning, or have never even attempted canning at all.
Canning fresh vegetables can be intimidating to first timers for sure. But as you will see below, making and preserving your own tomato juice is a breeze. By simply following a few tried and true steps, you can safely and quickly turn a large harvest of tomatoes into wondrous juice.
And speaking of large harvests, making and canning tomato juice also happens to be one of the best ways to use and store an overabundance of tomatoes before they go bad. Especially when it comes to turning those seemingly endless cherry tomatoes into something useful!
With that in mind, here is a classic, tried & true recipe for making and canning delicious tomato juice from fresh tomatoes:
How To Can Tomato Juice
So how many tomatoes do you need to can a batch of tomato juice? It will all depend on the variety of tomatoes you are canning, but a good rule of thumb is that 25 pounds of fresh tomatoes will make around 6 to 8 quarts of juice.
To start, begin by washing and cleaning your tomatoes. Select only firm, ripe tomatoes for processing. Remove any small spots or blemishes with a knife. Avoid using tomatoes that are past their prime, or have anything more than a small blemish.
Using tomatoes that are in poor shape or have started to decay can be harmful to your batch. They often can contain bacteria that can spoil a batch – and there is nothing worse than having to throw away all of your hard work because of trying to save a few bad tomatoes!
Once they are clean, dice your tomatoes into small chunks. This will make the process of cooking them down go much faster. As a best practice, one-half inch chunks work well, allowing the tomatoes to cook down at a quick pace.
Dice enough tomatoes to fill a six or eight quart stock pot. Heat the tomatoes on medium-low heat, allowing them to cook down slowly. Cooking down too fast or at too high of a temperature can risk burning the flesh of the tomatoes at the bottom of the pot.
Stir That Pot! How To Can Tomato Juice
It is extremely important once heating has begun to stir the pot every 5 to 10 minutes. This will also help keep the tomatoes from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. As the tomatoes begin to cook down, there will be a bit more room in the pot to add in additional chopped tomatoes.
As the tomatoes cook, the level of juice and pulp will go down. When this happens, add more chopped fresh tomatoes to the pot to refill it to the top. Do this until the pot is nearly full of tomatoes that are partially cooked down. This will give you enough juice to can six to eight quarts of juice.
Now it is time to cook the pot of tomatoes down completely. They need to heat and cook down until the tomato chunks fall apart completely. This process can take anywhere from a half hour to an hour depending on the variety and overall ripeness of the tomatoes.
How To Can Tomato Juice – Removing The Skins & Seeds
Once they have cooked down, it is time to remove the skins and seeds. If you have a tomato press / strainer or mill, it works wonders for removing and separating the seeds and skins quickly.
As another option, a food mill will do the job as well, just not as quickly. It is a bit slower than the tomato strainer, but certainly gets the job done. If you plan on making a lot of juice, the tomato press / strainer is a wise investment for sure. Product Link: CucinaPro Tomato Strainer
After separating the juice from the skins and seeds, place the juice back in a stock pot and heat on medium to medium high heat. Allow the tomato juice to heat to a slow, rolling boil. Once the tomato juice begins to roll, allow it to boil for a full 10 minutes. You are now you are ready to can!
Sterilizing & Filling Jars
You will need to sterilize your canning jars before canning. This keeps any bacteria out of the jars and keeps your tomato juice safe. Sterilize pint or quart jars by first running through your dishwasher. Next, heat the jars and lids in a separate pot on top of the stove.
Once heated, fill jars with the hot tomato juice, adding in one tablespoon of lemon juice per jar. The lemon juice helps to increase the acid level to a safe level. It will not affect the overall taste of your juice.
Fill each jar near the top, leaving 1/2″ of head space at the top of the jar. At this point, you can also add in a half teaspoon of salt per quart jar for taste. It is not needed for safety reasons, only for taste if desired. To finish, wipe the rim and seal with a warm ring and lid.
Canning Times – How To Can Tomato Juice
At elevations from 0 to 2000 feet, process quarts in a hot water bath for 45 to 50 minutes. Due to their smaller size, pints will need to process for 40 to 45 minutes. When pressure cooking, it will take 20 minutes for quarts, and 15 for pints with 6 lbs. of pressure.
If you live in a higher altitude than 2000 feet, you should consult with your local extension office or check with the Ball canning guide for proper times and pressure. When done, remove jars and place on a towel and let cool for 24 hours.
Check to make sure all jars are sealed by pushing on the lid. If the lid is down and won’t move it is sealed appropriately. If not, immediately place in your refrigerator and use within 2 weeks. The jars can then be safely stored and used as needed. At this point, the rings that held down the lids can be unscrewed and taken off.
For more of our garden fresh recipes – check out our RECIPE TAB on the website!
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