Are you overrun with tomatoes in your garden this year? Would you like to know what to do with all of them?
Have you considered turning your tomatoes into juice? Tomato juice is a great way to get your vitamins without having to eat them.
Plus, it’s also a great ingredient to keep on hand for the winter months when a variety of soups can be made.
If you’ve decided tomato juice sounds like a great thing to make yourself, tune in because I’m going to share with you how to make tomato juice and two ways to preserve it for long-term use. All of these recipes originated and can be found in Ball: Blue Book Guide to Preserving.
Here’s what you need to know to make tomato juice:
How to Make and Can Tomato Juice
- 3 pounds of tomatoes per quart of juice desired
- Lemon juice
1. Prep Tomatoes
The process begins by prepping the tomatoes. Be sure to wash the tomatoes and remove any stems. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and be sure to remove the cores as well.
When the tomatoes have been washed and prepped, pull out a large stock pot, and move forward with the juice making process.
2. Put The Tomatoes in a Pot
Toss all of the tomato quarters into a large stockpot. Place the stockpot on the stove over medium heat.
It’s important to continuously stir the tomatoes and watch the heat under the pot to make sure the tomatoes don’t stick and scorch.
When the tomatoes have softened up, remove the pot from the heat, and move forward with the process.
3. Run Them Through the Wringer
This step can be done in three different ways. If you have an automatic juicer, run the tomatoes through the juicer.
You can also run the softened tomatoes through a food processor to crush the tomatoes and extract the juice inside them.
Finally, you can run the softened tomatoes through a food mill. If choosing this option, place a food mill over a large pot, and run the tomatoes through the food mill in batches. I have all three of these tools in my kitchen, and I prefer the food mill.
Although the food mill requires more elbow grease, it does a great job, and I can’t seem to get away from it. When the tomatoes have been juiced, run them through a strainer to be sure any larger parts of the tomato is removed.
4. Heat it Up
Next, place the pot of juice back on the stove. Place the heat setting to medium and be sure to stir the juice continuously.
The idea is to heat the juice until right before boiling. You don’t want to boil the juice. When the juice has been heated thoroughly, turn off the stove.
5. Give it a Little Lemon Juice
After the juice is heated, it’s time to add lemon juice. The lemon juice works as a preservative in this method. Lemon juice helps certain vegetables and fruits keep their coloring, which is important for canning.
When canned items become discolored, it’s not a good idea to eat them. Be sure you don’t miss this step in the process.
Add one tablespoon of lemon juice to each pint and two tablespoons of lemon juice to each quart. You may choose to wait until you have the jars filled before adding the lemon juice.
6. Prep the Jars
Before canning tomato juice, be sure your jars have been prepped properly. The jars should be washed with warm, soapy water. Dry the jars thoroughly and place them in the oven to be sanitized.
If you have a dishwasher, you can wash the jars in the dishwasher and then place them in the oven to be sanitized.
However, if your dishwasher has a sanitize setting, it could complete the entire process for you.
Once your jars are sanitized, it’s time to work on the lids and rings. Place a small pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil.
When the water boils, turn off the stove, and add the new lids to the water. Leave them in for approximately one minute and remove them with tongs.
After the lids have been sanitized, add the rings to the water for a minute or two. Be sure to remove them with tongs.
Place the freshly sanitized lids and rings on a clean towel to dry or in a dish drainer until you’re ready to use them.
7. Process the Juice
When the tomato juice is heated, and the jars have been sanitized, it’s time to begin processing the tomato juice.
Begin by using a soup ladle to place the juice in the jars. Be sure to use a funnel to make sure the juice makes its way into the jar and not all over your workspace.
Also, make sure you leave ¼ inch headspace in the top of the jar to allow the lids enough room to seal properly.
When the jars are filled, place the lids and rings on them securely. Place the jars in a boiling water canner.
Fill the canner with water until the tops of the jars are covered. Place the canner on the stove over high heat but don’t begin timing until the water has reached a boil.
When the water begins to boil, process the jars based on jar size. Pints should be processed for 35 minutes and quarts should be processed for 40 minutes.
As the timer completes, turn off the stove. Using tongs, carefully remove the jars from the canner, and place them on a counter where they can cool down.
8. Wait and Store
The final step is a simple one. You wait for 24 hours to ensure the jars have had time to seal. During this time you’ll hear a ‘ping’ sound. This is the sound the lids make as they suction to the jars.
When the 24-hour period is up, run your finger over the tops of each lid. If the lid is flat, the jar has sealed properly.
But if you run your finger over the lid and feel a button sticking up in the middle of the jar or accidentally push it down with your finger when checking, the jar didn’t seal properly.
Place that jar of juice in the fridge to be consumed immediately or place a new lid on the jar and reprocess.
However, for the jars which sealed properly, you only need to label them with the date and contents of the jar and store in a cool, dry location.
How to Make and Freeze Tomato Juice
If you aren’t into canning your food, you’ll be glad to know you can also make tomato juice and freeze it as well. Here’s how:
1. Prep the Tomatoes
This process begins much like the other. Be sure to wash the tomatoes before juicing them. Remove the cores of the tomatoes and cut them into quarters. If the tomatoes have defined seeds, remove those as well.
When the tomatoes have been prepped, you can move forward with the process of freezing them.
2. Soften Them
The next task at hand is to soften the tomatoes. Softening makes juicing them much easier. Place the tomatoes in a stock pot and turn the stove on medium heat.
Be sure to stir the tomatoes to make sure they don’t stick or scorch. When the tomatoes are soft, you can move to the next step.
3. Process the Tomatoes
This step has multiple ways to achieve the same result. You can juice the tomatoes in a food processor, juicer, or food mill.
As I stated above, I have all three tools in my kitchen, yet I still prefer a food mill. It does a great job at pulling every bit of juice from the tomatoes.
I also go back and juice the cores at times because I don’t like to waste. I’ve been known to run the tomato peels through a food processor as well to remove the juice from them.
If you’re frugal and like to utilize everything, a food mill is a wonderful way to accomplish this. But use any method you’re most comfortable with.
4. Let Them Sit
For this method, you don’t heat the tomato juice. Instead, you do the exact opposite. Allow the tomato juice to rest for a while to cool off.
When the juice is cool enough it can go into plastic containers.
5. Pack’em Up
The final step to this process is to package the tomato juice for freezing. You can pour the juice into plastic jars meant for freezing. You can also package the tomato juice into freezer safe containers.
My preferred method for cooking is to freeze the tomato juice in ice cube trays. When they’re frozen, place the cubes in a plastic freezer bag for easy storage.
When you want tomato juice for vegetable soup, plop a few cubes in the pot for a tasty dish.
Making juice from your tomato harvest this summer ensures you can enjoy it all year long.
Hopefully, you’ll find many delicious recipes and methods to put your tomato juice to work for you and your menu.