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When it comes to canning and preservation, each one of us has to pick and choose what works best for us. The reason to can, primarily how it will be used, defines what makes sense to put away for the upcoming year.
For my family, tomato juice has always been a necessity. I actually think the use of the word “juice” does not explain its best use. We never drank tomato juice. Instead, when canned at home the consistency is much closer to a purée. It’s thick with texture and possesses so much flavor!
How do you use tomato juice?
The idea of tomato juice sounds like something straight from the 1950s when people drank tomato juice for vitamins. This recipe can be consumed like a drink but is so useful around the kitchen. Here are my favorite ways to use it:
- Soup. This tomato juice can easily become the foundation of any tomato-based soup.
- Sauce. The juice can become a sauce and seasoned to taste.
- Main dishes. My meatloaf recipe always includes some tomato juice. I find myself grabbing a jar or two of juice for any number of recipes during the colder months.
Why do tomatoes need citric acid?
An important part of canning is the pH level because it directly impacts the safety of the end result. When recipes use a high ratio of vinegar, like pickles, the pH level is easily within safe limits. While tomatoes are known to be acidic in nature, their pH levels vary with each variety. Since no vinegar is added to plain tomatoes, including this juice, citric acid is needed to ensure the pH is safe and no bacteria will grow.
Note: Bottled lemon juice includes citric acid, so it can be a good substitute. Fresh lemon juice is not a substitute.
Watch how to can this tomato juice
How to Can Tomato Juice
- 18 lb tomatoes cored
- ½ tsp citric acid per quart jar (see note below)
- Run the cored tomatoes through a juicer/sauce maker or food mill. For a thicker juice, run the discarded skins through a second time.
- Once the tomatoes are juiced, bring the juice to a boil over medium heat. Continue to boil for 10 minutes. The juice can be cooked as long as desired to condense and cook off any excess water.
- Once cooked, remove from the heat and pour into sterilized jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Add the citric acid or bottled lemon juice to each jar. Fit with lids and rings prepared according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Place in a boiling water bath fitted with a rack to lift the jars off the bottom of the kettle. Return to a boil and process for 40 minutes. Adjust for elevation using the USDA recommendation.
- After processing, remove from the water bath and cool at room temperature for 12 hours. Once cooled, remove the rings and check for a good seal. Store at room temperature.
- If using bottled lemon juice instead of citric, use 2 tbsp per quart jar.