When you have lots of fresh tomatoes on hand, turn them into homemade tomato juice that can be frozen or canned. It's a perfect way to preserve tomatoes when they're in season, whether you find them at a reasonable price or because your garden yielded more than you can use right away. With jars of tomato juice ready, you'll be all set when soup season arrives. It can also be thawed for a cold glass of tomato juice or a bloody Mary.
By doubling or tripling the amounts in this recipe, you can keep a frozen stash in your freezer to use for recipes all year round. The basic juice needs any ripe tomatoes you can find and salt and pepper to enhance the flavor. You can add more seasonings to suit your taste as well.
- 10 pounds tomatoes (washed, quartered, core removed)
- Salt (to taste)
- Black pepper (to taste)
- Optional: 6 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Optional: Paprika
- Optional: Onion powder
- Optional: Celery salt
- Optional: Cayenne
- Optional: Chili powder
- Optional: Hot sauce
Gather the ingredients.
In a large saucepan, place the quartered tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes, or until tender.
Place a food mill, strainer, or sieve on top of a large bowl. Add the tomatoes and separate the juice from the fruit's chunks, skins, and seeds.
Return the resulting juice to a pan and turn on the heat.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and any seasonings you'd like. Start with small amounts (about 1/4 teaspoon) and check again once the juice is ready, making adjustments as desired.
Bring the juice to a boil to marry the flavors. If you added any additional seasonings, don't overcook the juice as the spices can't take too much heat.
After boiling for 5 minutes, turn off the heat and let the juice rest in the pot.
Allow the juice to cool, then can or freeze it. Alternatively, place jars in the refrigerator for immediate use.
If you're short on time there are other options to make tomato juice:
- Juicer: Place the quartered tomatoes in the juicer and process. The juicer will remove the skins and seeds, so you don't have to use a sieve unless you choose to do so. Cook the juice with salt, pepper, and chosen spices until it boils.
- Food Processor or Blender: Place the quartered tomatoes in a food processor or blender and process. Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove the skins and seeds. Cook the juice with salt, pepper, and chosen spices until it boils.
Can the Juice
If you want to can the tomato juice, you'll need to add lemon juice (or citric acid) to increase its acidity. Most modern tomato varieties aren't acidic enough on their own, and by adding lemon juice you're changing the pH of the mixture. This ensures there's no room for harmful bacteria to grow.
Sterilize the jars.
Pour lemon juice (2 tablespoons per 1 quart of tomato juice) directly into the jars while they're still hot. Add the tomato juice, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace for expansion.
Wipe the tops and threads of the jars clean, and seal them with the lids.
Place the jars in a water bath canner. Process pint jars for 10 minutes and quart jars for 15 minutes. Only full jars should be canned. Put any that are not completely full in the fridge for immediate use, or freeze them for later.
Once the processing time is up, remove the jars from the canner, and allow them to cool at room temperature overnight.
In the morning, check the jars for a good seal and reprocess any that aren't sealed properly.
Label the jars with the date and keep in a dark, cool place. Tomato juice keeps for up to one year when canned properly.
If you don't want to go through all the work of canning your tomato juice, you can also freeze it. Use bags if you have limited freezer space.
- Once the juice has cooled, pour it into freezer-safe containers, leaving at least 1 inch of headspace to allow for expansion as it freezes. Label the containers, and store them in the freezer. The tomato juice should keep well for up to one year.
- To create smaller servings, freeze the juice in ice cube trays. Once the cubes are completely frozen, transfer them into a freezer-safe plastic bag, and store in the freezer. When ready to use, remove only the cubes you need.