Canning tomato juice at home is a great way to preserve the fresh flavor of summer tomatoes for enjoyment all year round. While many recipes call for the use of a food mill to separate the seeds and skins from the juice, it is possible to make delicious homemade canned tomato juice even if you don’t have this kitchen tool. With a few simple techniques, you can extract smooth, pulp-free tomato juice ready for canning using just a knife, pan, and strainer.
Selecting and Preparing Tomatoes
The first step in canning tomato juice without a food mill is choosing ripe, juicy tomatoes. Beefsteak, Roma, and paste tomato varieties all work well. You’ll need about 16-20 pounds of fresh tomatoes to yield 10-12 pints of juice. Avoid tomatoes that are overripe or damaged, as they will spoil the flavor of the juice. Wash the tomatoes and remove the stems.
To help the skins separate, blanch the tomatoes by placing them in boiling water for 1-2 minutes until the skins start to split. Immediately transfer them to an ice water bath to stop the cooking. Drain, then pinch the skins off each tomato. Now prep your canning equipment by sterilizing the jars and lids.
Extracting the Tomato Juice
With the tomatoes prepped, it’s time to extract the delicious juice. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and add them to a large pot. Crush them lightly with a potato masher or wooden spoon to help release their juices. Bring the tomatoes to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently.
Once boiling, remove the pot from heat. Let the tomatoes cool slightly for about 10 minutes. Strain the solids from the juices by setting a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Press the tomatoes gently to push the juices out without forcing the seeds and pulp through. Discard the skins and solids.
Clarifying and Seasoning the Juice
For smooth, pulp-free juice, there is one more straining step. Place a coffee filter, cheesecloth, or jelly bag over a clean bowl. Carefully pour the extracted tomato juice through to filter out any remaining solids. Let the juice drip through fully to clarify it.
Now season the tomato juice to taste. Add salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, or other spices as desired. Bottled lemon juice is also a nice addition to brighten up the flavor.
Canning the Tomato Juice
With pure, seasoned juice ready to go, it’s time to get canning! Fill the sterilized jars with the tomato juice leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Apply the lids and rings finger tight. Process the filled jars in a water bath canner for 40 minutes at a rolling boil to seal them.
Allow the jars to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours. Check the lids to ensure they have sealed properly, then store the canned tomato juice in a cool, dark place where it will keep for up to a year. Enjoy your homemade tomato juice on its own or in cocktails, soups, and stews!
Tips for the Best Results
Follow these tips when canning tomato juice without a food mill for the highest quality homemade juice:
- Use fully ripe tomatoes at the peak of freshness
- Remove skins and seeds fully before canning
- Work in small batches while extracting and straining juice
- Avoid overcooking tomatoes, just boil briefly to release juices
- Ensure jars are fully sealed before storing
Homemade canned tomato juice is low in calories and carbs and provides an excellent source of vitamin C and lycopene. One cup contains:
|Vitamin C||27% DV|
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use crushed tomatoes instead of juice tomatoes?
Yes, you can use crushed tomatoes or even tomato sauce. You will just need to strain the solids out thoroughly after cooking to extract a smooth juice.
Is a steam juicer better than boiling and straining?
A steam juicer can efficiently extract tomato juice without boiling. However, boiling helps break down the tomatoes and release more juices. Straining also removes more solids than a steam juicer.
How long does homemade canned tomato juice last?
Properly canned tomato juice stored in a cool, dark place will maintain optimal flavor and quality for 12-18 months. After this time, the color, taste, and nutrition may start to degrade but the juice will remain safe to consume.
Can I customize the flavors of my canned juice?
Absolutely! Get creative with spices and seasonings when making your tomato juice. basil, oregano, garlic, celery seed, onion, and bell peppers are all tasty additions.
Enjoy Homemade Tomato Juice All Year Long
With a simple boiling and straining process, you can easily can tomato juice for home storage even without using a food mill. Now you can have shelf-stable homemade tomato juice on hand anytime to add nutritious flavor to your cooking and beverages. Experiment with different tomato varieties and spice blends to find your favorite juicing recipes.