Tomato juice is the perfect way to use some of your excess garden tomatoes. If you want to make and store plenty of extra tomato juice, you can do so safely by canning the juice using boiling water.
Preparing the Juice
Start with fresh tomatoes. Fresh, ripe tomatoes will produce fresh juice. Fresh tomato juice will last longer than overripe juice that has already begun to spoil. Moreover, overripe tomatoes may not have enough acid in them to be safely canned.
Quickly cut a portion of the tomatoes into quarters. Do not cut all your tomatoes before you begin working. Instead, cut about 1 lb (450 g) of tomatoes at a time. Working gradually helps prevent the juice from separating from cut tomatoes.
Heat the cut tomatoes. Immediately begin heating the tomatoes on medium-high to high heat, crushing them with a potato masher as you work. The juice that separates out should begin to boil before long.
Add more tomato quarters. Continue cutting the remainder of your tomatoes as you work, and add these quarters to the crushed tomatoes already in the pot. The mixture should be at a rolling boil throughout the entire process.
Reduce the heat. Once all the tomatoes have been added and crushed, reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and simmer for five additional minutes.
Filter the juice. Pour the pulpy juice through a sieve or food mill. Alternatively, you can pour the juice through a fine mesh strainer layered with cheesecloth or coffee filters. Any of these methods will be able to remove the skin and seeds.
Add lemon juice to the tomato juice. While tomatoes are naturally acidic, the addition of lemon juice makes the juice even safer to store. Add 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of lemon juice per pint (500 ml) of tomato juice.
You could also you straight, food-grade citric acid instead of lemon juice. Use 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) citric acid for every pint (500 ml) of tomato juice.
Boil the juice. Boil the tomato juice again, stirring it frequently to combine it with the lemon juice.
Add salt if desired. Salt does not impact how well tomato juice is preserved, so the addition of salt is purely optional. Add about 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt per pint (500 ml) of tomato juice.
Canning the Juice
Begin heating water inside your canner. You may also use a deep, heavy stockpot if you do not have a canner. Fill the canner halfway with water and gradually begin heating it over medium heat.
Fill canning jars with hot tomato juice. Do not wait for the juice to cool. Moreover, you must only use standard, food-grade glass canning jars, complete with new metal lids and clean metal screw bands. Place a funnel in each jar and ladle the hot juice through the funnel. Fill each jar, leaving only 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) of empty space in between the juice and the top of the jar.
Clean off any spilled juice. It is especially important that you clean off any juice that spilled onto the sealing edge or the threads of the jar.
Fix the lids onto the jars. Twist the metal lid onto the mouth of the jar. Secure the lid in place by tightly screwing the sealing ring over the lid and the jar.
Place the jars into the canner. Use canning tongs, also called a jar lifter, to lower the jars into the water. Place the jars into the hot water carefully, preventing them from touching. The glass jars could chip or break of allowed to clink together.
Add additional hot water. The jars should be covered by about 1 or 2 inches (2.5 or 5 cm) of water.
Boil the water and process the juice. Cover the pot and increase the heat to high. Once the water begins to boil, begin keeping track of the processing time.
For pint (500 ml) jars, allow the juice to sit in boiling water for 35 minutes.
For quart (1000 ml) jars, allow the juice to sit in boiling water for 40 minutes.
Add an additional 5 minutes onto the processing time if you live at an altitude between 1000 and 3000 ft (305 to 914 m), and extra 10 minutes for altitudes between 3000 and 6000 ft (914 m to 1.8 km), and an extra 15 minutes for altitudes above 6000 ft (1.8 km).
Remove jars immediately after the processing time concludes. Use canning tongs to avoid splashing yourself with hot water. Do not tighten the rings and do not allow the jars to strike one another.
Cool the jars for 12 to 24 hours. Keep them on folded towels at room temperature. Do not place them in a drafty area.
Test the seal. Gently press the center of the lid. If the dome does not pop up, the jar is sealed. If it does pop up, you will need to reheat and re-jar the juice.
Store the jars in a cool, dry, dark place. Remove the rings before storing them to prevent the rings from rusting.
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