If you are harvesting a bounty of fresh tomatoes from your garden, or even if you find a good sale at the market, you may be trying to figure out what to do with all those tomatoes. Canning tomatoes is a great way to preserve their freshness, and another great way is to make tomato juice.
Tomato juice can be used in soups, stews, or as a base for a homemade pasta sauce. Making and canning tomato juice takes a little bit of effort, but once you taste the robust, fresh flavor of homemade tomato juice, you’ll be glad you made the effort.
How to Can Tomato Juice
Pick tomatoes that are fresh, ripe and firm. You don’t want to use overly ripe tomatoes, because their acid levels may be too low, and unsafe for canning.
Start by washing, coring and removing any bruised or green spots from the tomatoes. Take a third of the tomatoes and cut into quarters.
Once the tomatoes are cut, they start to release pectinase enzymes, which will cause the tomato juice to separate. Heating kills the pectinase enzymes, so you want to put heat on the tomatoes as soon as they’re cut. Quickly add the quartered tomatoes to a pot over medium-high heat. Using a clean potato masher, gently crush the tomatoes until they start to break down.
Meanwhile, quarter another third of the tomatoes, and add those to the pot, crushing and stirring as you go. Quarter and add the remaining third of the tomatoes and continue crushing until the tomatoes are broken down.
Reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat. Using a sieve or food mill, separate the juice from the seeds and peels.
Return juice to the pot and bring to a boil. Remove immediately and ladle into sterilized jars, using a sterilized funnel, making sure to leave 1/2″ of headspace. To each jar, add 1 tbsp of bottled lemon juice or 1/2 tsp of citric acid. I also added 1 tsp of salt to each jar for taste, but that is optional.
Wipe the rims of cans with a clean paper towel and top with sterilized lid and rim and tighten until finger-tight. Fill your water bath canner with water and bring to a boil. Process in water bath canner for 35 minutes. Carefully remove, and allow to set undisturbed until the jars have properly sealed.
For this recipe, I used 12 pounds of mixed roma tomatoes and red round tomatoes. I extracted enough juice to fill 6 pint-sized jars. And now you know how to can tomato juice!
Please check with your local extension office for any changes on times/temps/high altitude.
Make sure you check out all the free Canning and Preserving Recipes we have on Little House Living! And don’t forget to check out The Canner’s Cookbook, it has recipes on how to use all your home canned goods!
Will you be canning any tomato juice this year? What tomato items do you can?