Updated: September 23, 2012 6:02AM
I love homemade tomato juice. In fact, I never buy the tomato juice sold in stores.
There’s a night-and-day difference between the taste and my homemade wins out every time.
In the winter, I like to have a hot cup of tomato juice. In order to do that, I need to preserve the juice now.
I have canned and preserved food my entire life.
Growing up on a farm, it was a way of life as produce started coming in spring, summer and fall. I found myself always helping my mother freeze, dehydrate, pickle, boiling water can, or pressure can our produce.
It helped that our backyard was a fruit orchard as produce at its very best was always available. Plus our garden was large enough to call us vegetable farmers alone.
One of the major changes in canning tomato products today is acidification. You must add an acid (bottled lemon juice, citric acid, or vinegar) to each jar to be sure the tomatoes have enough acid to be preserved safely.
Follow these instructions for safely preserving tomato juice:
Acidification: To ensure safe acidity in whole, crushed or juiced tomatoes, add 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid per quart of tomatoes. For pints, use 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid. Acid can be added directly to the jars before filling with product. Add sugar to offset acid taste, if desired. Four tablespoons of a 5 percent acidity vinegar per quart may be used instead of lemon juice or citric acid. However, vinegar may cause undesirable flavor changes. I like to use bottled lemon juice.
Quantity: An average of 23 pounds is needed per canner load of 7 quarts, or an average of 14 pounds per canner load of 9 pints. A bushel weighs 53 pounds and yields 15 to 18 quarts of juice — an average of 3¼ pounds per quart.
Procedure: Wash, remove stems and trim off bruised or discolored portions. To prevent juice from separating, quickly cut about 1 pound of fruit into quarters and put directly into saucepan. Heat immediately to boiling while crushing. Continue to slowly add and crush freshly cut tomato quarters to the boiling mixture. Make sure the mixture boils constantly and vigorously while you add the remaining tomatoes. Simmer 5 minutes after you add all pieces.
If you are not concerned about juice separation, simply slice or quarter tomatoes into a large saucepan. Crush, heat and simmer for 5 minutes before juicing.
Press both types of heated juice through a sieve or food mill to remove skins and seeds.
Add bottled lemon juice or citric acid to jars. Heat juice again to boiling. Add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart to the jars, if desired. Fill jars with hot tomato juice, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process following the instructions in Table 1, Table 2 according to the method of canning used. (Acidification is still required for the pressure-canning options; follow all steps in the procedures above for any of the processing options.)