Canning Tomato Juice

By Charlotte King

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!

How to Select the Best Tomatoes to Make Tomato Juice


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:

  • Avoid overripe, mushy tomatoes.
  • Don’t harvest tomatoes from dead or frost-killed vines because they’ll have lower acidity.
  • Green tomatoes are more acidic than ripened fruit.
  • Discard orbs that are damaged, bruised, or cracked due to insects.
  • If you’re harvesting your own tomatoes, start processing them within 2-3 hours of picking.
  • When buying tomatoes for canning, select fruits that are firm, with no black or soft spots.

Ingredients and Supplies

Here’s a list of all the ingredients you’re going to need to can tomato juice; luckily they’re just a few:

  • Tomatoes (obviously!). The number of tomatoes will depend on the canner load you choose. You should get about 3 lbs (1.3 kg) for every quart jar (1 l) and about 1.5 lbs (700 g) for every pint jar (500 ml).
  • Lemon juice or citric acid. When using bottled lemon juice, add 1 tablespoon (15 ml) per pint or 2 tablespoons (30 ml) per quart. For citric acid, you’re going to need ¼ teaspoon (4 ml) per pint or ½ teaspoon (7 ml) per quart.
  • Canning salt (optional, it does not affect keeping quality). Use ½ teaspoon of canning salt (8.5 mg) per pint or 1 teaspoon (17 mg) per quart.

Now, for the supplies, you’re going to need to gather a few things:

  • Pressure canner
  • Canning jars with their lids
  • Canning tools (wide funnel, lid lifter, jar lifter, canning ladle, funnel, bubble popper, and canning bands)
  • Large stockpot
  • Potato masher
  • Sieve or food mill
  • Spatula or spoon to stir the tomatoes
  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen towel

How to Make Tomato Juice Step-by-Step

Canning Tomato Juice

Prepare the Tomatoes

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!

Make Tomato Juice

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:

  1. Use a potato masher to squish the tomato pieces and release the juices as they cook over medium heat. The juice will keep the tomatoes from sticking to the bottom of the pot while they cook.
  2. Stir frequently with a long spatula or spoon so they don’t burn.
  3. Once the tomatoes start to boil lightly and become soft, cut and add the remaining fruits.
  4. Crush the pieces and continue stirring.
  5. When all the pieces become soft, let the contents of the pan simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Pour the tomatoes through a sieve or a food mill and press them to remove the seeds and skins. You might need to do this step in batches.
  7. Throw out the remaining pulp and place the strained juice back into the pot over medium-high heat. Bring it back to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Prepare the Canning Supplies

Canning Supplies

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:

  1. Wash both the canning jars and the lids with warm, soapy water and rinse them thoroughly afterward. Avoid boiling the lids because to preserve their ability to seal.
  2. Lower the jar rack into the pressure canner, place the jars into place, and fill the canner with water.
  3. Sterilize the jars (not the lids!) by boiling them over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  4. Keep both the jars and the lids warm until they’re ready to use. You can do so in a small pot with water over low heat, but be sure to check on them often so they don’t boil.
  5. When you’re ready to can your tomato juice, lay out a clean kitchen towel on your counter and line up your freshly washed jars and lids on top of it. The kitchen towel is essential to prevent the jars from cracking due to a sudden change in temperature.

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.

Can Your Tomato Juice

We’ve finally reached the fun part! Get your canning equipment ready to start filling those jars with sweet tomato juice.

  1. Add 1 tbsp of bottled lemon juice per pint (500 ml) or 2 tbsp (30 ml) per quart (1 l), or, if you’re using citric acid, add  ¼ teaspoon (4 ml) per pint or ½ teaspoon (7 ml) per quart to create a safe level of acidity. (Read the “Frequently Asked Questions” section if you want to learn why it’s important to regulate acidity when canning tomato juice.)
  2. Optionally, you can add canning salt to enhance the flavor of the tomato juice.
  3. Using a canning funnel, or any wide funnel for that matter, ladle the tomato juice from the pot, while it is still hot, directly into the jar. Make sure to leave ½ inch (1.5 cm) of headspace so the juice has enough room to expand while canning. The headspace is the unfilled space above the food and below the lid or the top of the jar
  4. Use a bubble popper, or, alternatively, a chopstick to release any trapped air bubbles. Run it gently between the glass and the juice.
  5. Use a kitchen or paper towel to wipe away any tomato juice on the rim of the jar. Food remains, even the smallest bit, can prevent a seal from forming.

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!

Process the Jars of Tomato Juice

Tomato Juice

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:

  1. Place each filled jar on the pressure canner’s rack using the jar lifter, and make sure they’re not touching each other.
  2. Add enough water to cover the canning jars completely, and then a few extra inches. If possible, it’s better to use already hot water. Don’t pour the water directly on top of the jars, but do it on the sides instead.
  3. Bring the canner to a boil.
  4. Adjust the processing time for your altitude. Typically, you should process pint jars for 35 minutes and quart jars for 40 minutes. Make sure the water is boiling gently and steadily the whole time, so adjust heat if necessary.
  5. Once the processing time is over, turn the heat off and let the canner cool completely for at least 1 hour before removing the lid. Be mindful of the steam coming out of the pressure canner, and don’t forget to let the jars adjust to the pressure change for a few minutes.
  6. Use the jar lifter to carefully transfer the jars to a kitchen towel on the counter. Don’t place the hot jars on the bare counter because they can crack.
  7. Let the jars cool off completely for between 12 and 24 hours. They will seal as they cool down, so leave them undisturbed.

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.

Store Your Canned Tomato Juice

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.

Frequently Asked Questions


Why do tomatoes need citric acid?

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.

Can I use fresh lemon juice?

Fresh lemon juice is not acidic enough to ensure safe pH levels for canning, so it’s best to stick to bottled lemon juice.

How can I use canned tomato 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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