A step-by-step photo tutorial on how to make and can homemade tomato juice. It’s easy, plus if you grow your own tomatoes, it’s a big money saver too!
One of the ways that I stay within our $200/mo. grocery budget is by preserving lots of fruits and vegetables. Gardening is a great way to save money, but we live in the city so we don’t have room for much of a garden. However, we’re blessed to live in an area where we can get lots of beautiful, home grown produce for great prices. So instead of growing my own, I simply buy large amounts of produce from local growers and then preserve it for us to enjoy all year long.
One of the things that I enjoy making with tomatoes is homemade tomato juice. We love using it for homemade Cream of Tomato Soup and I also use it in various recipes too.
Want to try making your own? Let me walk you through the process!
HOW TO MAKE AND CAN TOMATO JUICE (a step-by-step tutorial)
THE SUPPLIES YOU’LL NEED:
- Tomatoes (obviously!)
- Salt (optional)
- Citric Acid or bottled lemon juice
- Dishpan or containers to put the tomatoes in
- Knife (this brand is my favorite)
- Large kettle
- Long spoon to stir tomatoes
- Ladel for transfering tomatoes and juice
- Food Mill or Victorio Strainer or blender and stainer
- Wide Funnel
- Damp rag to wipe tops of jars
- Small pan to boil jar lids in
- Fork or Lid Wand
- Canning jars with lids and bands
- Jar lifter
- Old towels or rags to set the hot jars on
(If you are new to canning and need to buy both the jar lifter and a funnel, it’s cheaper to get this Ball Canning Utensil Set.)
1. Wash tomatoes thoroughly. Cut out stem and any defects or blemishes, but there’s absolutely no need to peel them! Yay, for keeping things easy. 🙂
2. Cut tomatoes into chunks for quicker cooking. Dump into kettle and then use your hand (or a potato masher) to squish a few tomatoes in the bottom of the kettle to get enough juice to start cooking the tomatoes without having them stick to the bottom of the kettle. As the tomatoes cook, they will start to juice themselves and you’ll soon have more liquid. Cook on medium heat, stirring several times being sure to move the tomatoes on the bottom to the top for even cooking.
3. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes.
4. At this point you have several options for turning the cooked tomatoes into juice. I’m going to explain the process I use and then include details for other methods at the bottom of this post in the Notes.
Fill the “pan” part of the Food Mill with cooked tomatoes and then turn the the handle to juice them. Continue turning, occasionally reversing the direction to clean the tomatoes off the bottom.
5. Once there is basically no juice coming out anymore and you have very little peel and seeds left in the food mill pan (it should look something like what I show above), discard the scraps. I often pour the scraps into a cake pan and after it’s full, I’ll run them all through the food mill again. I like really thick, pulpy juice and I’ve found that by doing this, I get a pulpier juice. But it is definitely just personal preference and you definitely can toss the scraps immediately if you prefer!
6. Pour juice into clean canning jars- a wide funnel makes this super easy. The jars should be filled just to the base of the neck.
7. Add Citric Acid or bottled lemon juice to each jar (¼ tsp. citric acid or 1 Tbsp. lemon juice per pint / ½ tsp. citric acid or 2 Tbsp. lemon juice per quart) to create a safe level of acidity. If you are like me and prefer your juice salted, also add ½ tsp. salt per pint and 1 tsp. salt per quart.
Wipe rim of each jar with a clean, damp cloth to remove any tomato residue that may be there. (If there is even a slight bit of tomato juice on it, it may not allow it to seal properly.)
8. Once you have 7 jars filled, place 7 metal canning lids in a small pan. Cover with water; bring to a boil. Once water boils, use a fork to lift the jar lids out of the water- be careful not to burn yourself!- and place them on the jars. (You can also purchase a Lid Wand that uses a magnet to lift the lids more easily.) Secure each lid with a jar band/ring. (The reason for heating the lids is to soften the rubber, allowing for a better seal.)
I read recently that some of the newer lids actually recommend that you don’t boil them, so you probably should double check the instructions on the box of lids before doing this step.
9. Place 7 jars in canner. Fill with enough hot water to almost cover the jars. Turn burner on medium high heat. Once water starts to boil, reduce heat slightly and process: 35 minutes for pints and 40 minutes for quarts. Make sure the water is boiling gently and steadily the whole time. (You may need to adjust heat to keep the boil going nicely, but really, as long as it is boiling, you are fine.)
10. After processing is complete, turn burner off. Remove jars using jar lifter– you may want to have a dishrag in your other hand to catch any hot water that drips from the jars as you remove them- and place on an old towel, blanket or other padded surface. (The reason for doing this is to protect your counter top from the super hot jars.) Allow at least a little bit of air space around each jar, making sure not to have jars close enough to touch. Do not move jars again until they are completely cool.
Jars should seal as they cool and you will typically hear a snap or pinging sound as the vacuum seal is formed. Lids will be slightly concaved when sealed. To test the seal, lightly tap the center of the cooled jar lid. If it is firm and does not move, it should be sealed. If it pushes in, it didn’t seal properly. You can still use unsealed jars, just put them in the refrigerator and use them as soon as possible.
After jars are completely cool, you can remove the rings. Jars should be wiped clean before storing.
- You can also make juice by putting the cooked tomatoes through a Victorio Strainer (also makes great applesauce!). This is the method my mom used when I was a child and helped her make juice. It’s faster than using a Food Mill but it also splatters a lot and since the counter that I have to clamp it onto is white (as well as the cupboards surrounding it, I opted to not go this route.You can also use a blender and strainer method. To do this, simply blend about a quart of cooked tomatoes at a time until pureed and then pour through a strainer to remove seeds and remaining bits of peel. I have never tried this method, but would imagine it would work well, although it might be more time consuming and may possibly make a thinner juice.
- If for some reason you open a jar of juice and don’t need to use the full amount, simply put the remainder in a freezer safe container and freeze it to use later.
There are affiliate links in this post – please read my full disclosure policy.