Every year, when our tomatoes start to ripen in our garden, I know that it’s time to prepare to make some tomato juice and can it! We often have an abundant harvest that yields more tomatoes than we could possibly eat before they start to go bad, and one of the best ways to avoid wasting such a delicious treat is by canning tomato juice for later use!
To can tomato juice, you have to wash and core the tomatoes, make the juice, prepare the canning supplies, fill and process the jars of juice, and then store them.
Do you want to know how to can tomato juice at home? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the canning process to do it safely and ensure great results!
In theory, you can use any tomato you want to make juice, but the truth is that some varieties will yield better results than others. If you’re making tomato juice to eat the same day, you want to go for large, juicy orbs.
However, since canning involves cooking down the fruits first, you won’t get as much juice as you’d expect otherwise. Instead, we recommend that you go for fleshy, low moisture, and sparsely seeded tomatoes that will give you a thick juice.
Paste tomatoes are the best option for making tomato juice to can. As far as our favorite pick, we advise using the Roma variety because they make a fantastic juice. While paste tomatoes are known to have thick, meaty walls that would usually render them unsuitable for making juice, the canning process will soften those walls and give you dense juice.
There are other varieties you can consider, of course. Amish Paste, San Manzano, Oroma, Santa Maria, Rio Grande, Better Boy, and Granadero F1 are all great options. You can even try a 50-50 mix of paste tomatoes and other cultivars like heirloom tomatoes such as Brandywine and Purple Cherokee.
Whichever you choose, make sure to select mostly highly acidic fruits. The natural acid in tomatoes is what makes the juice safe to can, so if you use mostly low acid varieties, you’ll only be able to freeze the tomato juice.
Some other things to keep in mind and look for when selecting the best tomatoes to make tomato juice include:
Here’s a list of all the ingredients you’re going to need to can tomato juice; luckily they’re just a few:
Now, for the supplies, you’re going to need to gather a few things:
If you want, you can do this step and the net one the day before the actual canning so the whole process doesn’t take that long, and you don’t end up exhausted.
Wash the tomatoes thoroughly, pat them dry with a kitchen towel, and use a sharp knife to cut out the stem, the core, and any bruised or blemished portions.
For canning tomato juice, you don’t need to peel the fruits (yes, it’s that easy!). However, if you do wish to peel the tomatoes, you can simply cut a shallow “X” at the bottom of each orb, and drop them into a pot of boiling water for up to 1 minute- Then, quickly transfer them to a bowl of ice water. The peels should slide right off!
To make tomato juice, start by cutting half of your tomatoes into quarters or small chunks. To prevent wasting any juice, cut the pieces quickly and put them directly into a large stockpot. Keep in mind that the smaller the chunks, the faster the process of making tomato juice will go.
Then, follow these instructions:
While you wait for the tomato juice to finish cooking, you can start preparing your canning supplies. If you’ve never used a pressure canner before, then we suggest reading the manufacturer’s instructions first.
In most cases, this is what you have to do:
We like to take the jars out of the warm water as we need them, one at a time, so they don’t cool down. This is particularly useful if this is your first time canning, but if you’re already experienced and can do the process quickly, then you’re good.
Either way, make sure that the pressure canner is at least half-filled with simmering water until the final stage of the canning process.
We’ve finally reached the fun part! Get your canning equipment ready to start filling those jars with sweet tomato juice.
Lastly, attach each lid and canning band. The lid should fit snugly, but try not to overtighten it because this can prevent the vacuum seal from forming.
Now, we can move on to the final stage of the canning process!
Remember that your pressure canner should be at least half-filled with simmering water. If you’re ready, this is what you have to do to process the jars of tomato juice:
You will know your jars have sealed successfully when you hear a “pop,” but if you don’t, you can check for a seal by pressing down in the middle of the lid. If you notice that it has no give, it means the jar is properly sealed.
If you can otherwise press the lid in, and it pops, even if it’s just a little, your jars are not sealed. In such a case, refrigerate the jars and use them within one week.
Date and label your tomato juice jars, and store them in a cool, dark place for up to 12 months. Now you can simply pop a jar open and enjoy some delicious tomato juice whenever you want! Just remember that once opened, the jar should be kept in the fridge, and eaten within a week.
The pH level of the canned food is a crucial part of the preservation process because it directly impacts the safety of the end result. Higher pH levels ensure that the product will be safe to eat.
While it’s true that tomatoes are usually acidic in nature, their pH levels can actually vary depending on the variety and the place where they’re grown. For example, tomatoes grown in the shade, are less acidic than those grown under the sun.
By adding bottled lemon juice or citric acid to your tomato juice before canning, you can ensure that the pH is at a safe level and that no bacteria will grow.
Fresh lemon juice is not acidic enough to ensure safe pH levels for canning, so it’s best to stick to bottled lemon juice.
You can use homemade tomato juice in almost any recipe you want. Pour it straight from the can into a stew, or use it as the base for a homemade vegetable soup, over meats, and, of course, some delicious tomato soup.
Another good idea is to use tomato juice as the base of spaghetti sauce by mixing a little tomato sauce, tomato purée, and Italian spices like dried basil, oregano, and parsley flakes.
You can also drink it as a healthy alternative to store-bought juices!
Canning your own tomato juice can certainly take some time and a lot of effort, but trust me when I say there’s nothing better than homemade canned produce! There’s a noticeable difference in the quality, and the flavor is just unbelievably good.
If you’re patient and follow our instructions carefully, you can make your own juice and store it for months to come. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning how to can tomato juice!
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