How to preserve tomato juice

With the right equipment and method, canning tomato juice at home is a simple and safe process.

Tomato juice in jars.
Photo: Laurie Messing/MSU Extension.

Canning tomato juice is a simple process with the right equipment and a research-based recipe to follow. Tomato juice can be processed in either a water bath canner or a pressure canner, but the biggest concern related to canning tomato products is the acidification process. Regardless of the canning process, it is recommended to acidify tomato juice when canning.

It is critical when home canning tomato juice, to acidify them during the canning process. The acidity of a tomato is considered borderline between high and low acid foods. Michigan State University Extension recommends ensuring the safe acidity by adding two tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or ½ teaspoon of citric acid per quart of tomatoes or tomato juice. For pints, use one tablespoon of bottled lemon juice or ¼ teaspoon of citric acid. The lemon juice or acid can be added directly to the jars before filling with the tomato juice.

Follow these steps for canning tomato juice:

  1. Wash tomatoes and remove.
  2. Cut tomatoes into quarters and put directly into saucepan and bring to boil while crushing the tomatoes.
  3. Continue to slowly add and crush the cut tomato quarters to the boiling mixture, and make sure the mixture boils constantly and vigorously while you add the remaining tomatoes.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes after adding all tomatoes.
  5. Press heated juice through a sieve or food mill to remove skins and seeds.
  6. Add bottled lemon juice or citric acid to jars to acidify, as described in the previous paragraph.
  7. Heat juice again to boiling.
  8. Add one teaspoon of salt per quart to the jars, if desired.
  9. Fill hot jars with hot tomato juice, leaving ½-inch headspace.

Adjust lids and process in a water bath canner, pints for 35 minutes and quarts for 40 minutes, at altitudes below 1,000 feet. Using a dial-gauge pressure canner, process pints or quarts for 20 minutes at six pounds of pressure or 15 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure at altitudes below 2,000 feet. For altitude adjustments click here and follow altitude processing recommendations in your area.

Tomato juice can also be frozen by following recommendations from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Michigan State University Extension also reminds home food preservers to always use current, research-based recipes when canning tomatoes and other produce. Recommendations and preservation methods have changed over the years, and it is critical to use current methods to have a safely preserved product for you to consume. Resources that are recommended include: MSU Extension Michigan Fresh, the USDA Guide to Complete Home Canning, National Center for Home Food Preservation, So Easy to Preserve book, or a current Ball Blue Book.

For more information on home food preservation, enroll in MSU Extension’s online Home Food Preservation course or join a free, online Preserving MI Harvest class. You can also follow us on Think Food Safety for food preservation tips and information and easy access to our online classes, and watch our library of new food preservation videos.

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