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The Secrets To Making Tomato Juice – How To Make Great Tomato Juice!

If you are looking for ways to use up all those delicious ripe tomatoes, consider making your own homemade tomato juice. It’s simple, fast and can be used for so many recipes!

Having a couple of tomatoes on hand is great for eating fresh in salads and on sandwiches, but what happens when you have a ton of ripe tomatoes all at once? One thing is for sure, you sure don’t want all of that amazing produce to just go to waste. 

At the most, ripe tomatoes stay fresh for about two weeks under ideal conditions. That’s about one week on the kitchen counter and then up to one week in the refrigerator. But putting tomatoes in the fridge will cause them to quickly lose their flavor, and that’s something you definitely want to avoid!

A jar of homemade tomato juice
There’s just something special about a jar of homemade tomato juice!

That’s where canning tomato juice comes into play. You are able to use up a huge harvest of ripe tomatoes while preserving that fresh, sharp tomato flavors to enjoy all winter long! 

Canning homemade tomato juice is really easy and requires very little equipment. With a few simple secrets, you will be creating the best homemade tomato juice you’ve ever tasted – right in your very own kitchen!   

Best Tomato Varieties To Use – The Secrets To Making Tomato Juice

To be honest, any tomato variety can be used to make tomato juice. Even cherry tomatoes work great for juicing because they are so sweet and juicy. However, some tomato types are a little better than others. In general, the larger the tomato is, the more juice it will have.

Large heirloom tomatoes or those that are listed as slicing tomatoes go a long way to creating amazing tomato juice. Not only can you get a lot of juice out of a single tomato, but they are extremely flavorful as well.

A large red ripe beefsteak tomato
Big beefsteak tomatoes are a great choice due to their high content of juice.

Heirlooms like Brandywine, Beefsteak and Purple Cherokee all fit in this class and are perfect for creating rich and flavorful tomato juices. The only type of tomato that doesn’t really work the best is paste tomatoes. This is because they are meatier and don’t have a lot of juice inside. These types of tomatoes work better for thick sauces, diced tomatoes and salsas. 

Also, be aware of acid level of the tomato you are using. The natural acids in tomatoes are what allow you to be able to can them without a lot of preservatives or additions. If you do choose low-acid tomatoes, it is best to just freeze your tomato juice as opposed to canning it. 

Making Tomato Juice

* Complete recipe instructions including specific measurements, cook temperatures and times are located in a printable recipe card at the bottom of this article. However, be sure to read the entire article for helpful tips and tricks when making this recipe.

Ingredients & Equipment

  • Tomatoes
  • Bottled lemon juice
  • Salt (optional)
  • Non-reactive stockpot
  • Potato masher
  • Large spoon
  • Food mill or strainer
  • Canning Jars, lids, and flats  
  • Water bath canner or pressure canner

Instructions – The Secrets To Making Tomato Juice

In general, you can get about 6 to 7 quarts of tomato juice out of an 8-quart stockpot full of small, cubed and cored tomatoes.

A person cutting a tomato with a large knife.
Smaller pieces will cook down a lot quicker than leaving tomatoes quartered or halved.
Prep Work – The Secrets To Making Tomato Juice

First, you need to prep your tomatoes. Wash each one thoroughly and remove any blemished ones. Cut out the core of larger tomatoes, but you can leave cherry tomatoes whole. 

Cut larger tomatoes into small chunks, about 1 to 2 inches in diameter. The smaller you make the cuts, the quicker the tomatoes will cook down. Just keep each one fairly uniform in size if possible. This will allow the batch to cook down evenly.

Cooking Down The Tomatoes – The Secrets To Making Tomato Juice

Add the tomato chunks to a large, non-reactive stockpot until it is about a sixth of the way full. Reserve the rest for later. Set the pot over medium heat. As the tomatoes start to cook, use a potato masher to help release the juices.

Stir the pot frequently to prevent any tomatoes from sticking to the bottom and burning. Bring the tomatoes and their juice to a light boil. Once the pot starts to boil, add the rest of the tomatoes. Again, stir frequently to prevent any sticking and boiling.

You can continue to add more tomatoes as the ones in the pot start to break down and reduce if you need to work in batches. When all of your tomatoes are in the pot, bring it back to a boil and simmer lightly for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the tomatoes can be mashed easily. 

A big pot of tomatoes cooking down on a stove.
Continue to cook down the tomatoes. They will start to release their juices as they break down.
Using A Food Mill Or Strainer – The Secrets To Making Tomato Juice

After the tomatoes have been cooked down nicely, it is time to remove the skins and seeds. To do this, you need to use a food mill or a strainer. Work the tomatoes through the strainer or food mill in small batches. (Affiliate Link: OXO Good Grips Food Mill)

Add the strained juice back into the stockpot. Once all the seeds and peels have been removed, bring the pot back to a boil and cook for 10 minutes over medium-high heat. 

Processing The Jars – The Secrets To Making Tomato Juice

It’s now time to prepare your sterilized jars. Add 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice to each pint jar or 2 tablespoons to each quart jar. You can also add ¼ teaspoon of salt to pint jars or ½ teaspoon to quart jars for added flavor. Fill the jars with the hot tomato juice, leaving half an inch of headspace at the top. 

Remove any bubbles from the jars and wipe the rim with a clean damp cloth. Add a canning lid and finger-tighten the band on each jar. (Note: Check to see if your lid brand requires you to heat the lids prior to adding to jars and do so if needed.)

Processing times listed are based on 1,000 feet and below sea level elevation. You will need to adjust your processing time based on your specific altitude. (See: Altitude Adjustment Guidelines)

Jars sitting in a water bath canner.
Since tomatoes are highly acidic, it’s safe to use a water bath canner for processing tomato juice.

Water Bath Canner – 35 minutes for pint jars, 40 minutes for quart jars
Pressure Canner – 10 lbs of pressure for 15 minutes for both pint and quart jars

Helpful Hint: Whichever method you use, you can prevent the appearance of water spots by adding 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar right into the water of the canner before adding the jars.

Word Of Caution – The Secrets To Making Tomato Juice

It is not considered safe to use an open kettle canning process when processing tomato juice. This process is where you heat the tomato juice until boiling, add it to sterilized jars, and apply the lids and rings like you would with regular processing.

However, the heat of the juice is what seals the jars in this method. Even though past generations have used this canning practice, it is not an approved method for safe canning and is best if avoided. Instead, stick to water bath canning or pressure canning.  

Storage – Making Tomato Juice

After the jars have been processed depending on whatever method you are using, allow the jars to sit in the canner for about 5 minutes. This time starts either after the processing time is up for a water bath canner or after the pressure has dropped to zero and the release valve had dropped for pressure canning.

Then, carefully remove each jar and set it on a thick towel on your countertop. Allow them to cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. After 24 hours is up, check each lid to see whether or not it has sealed properly. You can easily do this by pressing on the center of the lid.

If it gives or moves, then the lid was not sealed; If there is no movement, the jar is good to do. Put any jars that didn’t seal into your refrigerator and consume them within two weeks. Or, freeze the juice in a freezer-safe container. 

Label each sealed jar and place it in a cool, dark place. Before using the product in the future, check for a tight lid seal when opening. By creating your own canned tomato juice, you will be able to enjoy the fresh from-the-garden flavors all year long!

For more great ways to save tomatoes, be sure to check out our article on How To Freeze Tomatoes – Preserving Tomatoes Without Canning.

A jar of homemade tomato juice

The Secrets To Creating Tomato Juice

Yield: 6-8 quarts

Create your own homemade tomato juice to use for drinking or in recipes all year long with this simple recipe.


  • Tomatoes
  • Bottled lemon juice
  • Salt (optional)


  1. Wash tomatoes and remove any bad spots. Discard any rotten or overly ripe tomatoes.
  2. Cut up enough tomatoes into 1/2" to 1" chunks to fill a 6 or 8-quart non-reactive stockpot.
  3. Fill the stockpot about 1/6 of the way up with tomatoes. Place over medium-low heat and allow to cook down. Stir frequently to prevent sticking and burning.
  4. Once tomatoes soften, use a potato masher to mash tomatoes.
  5. When the tomatoes begin to boil, add the remaining tomatoes. Continue to stir frequently. Bring back to a boil and cook for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Pour tomatoes into a food mill or strainer to remove skins and seeds. Return liquid back to the stockpot.
  7. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil for 10 minutes.
  8. In warm sterilized canning jars, add 1 Tbsp bottled lemon juice to each pint or 2 Tbsp for each quart. Optional, add 1/2 tsp of salt to each jar.
  9. Fill jars will hot tomato juice, leaving 1/2" headspace. Wipe jars to clean and add lids and bands.
  10. Process in a hot bath canner for 35 minutes for pint jars or 40 minutes for quart jars. Alternatively, process in a pressure canner with 10 lbs of pressure for 15 minutes for both sizes.
  11. Allow jars to sit for 5 minutes after the processing time is up. Carefully, remove jars from the canner and place them on a thick towel. Leave them undisturbed for 24 hours.
  12. After 24 hours, check each jar to ensure the lid has properly sealed by pressing on the middle. If it moves, immediately place it in your refrigerator and use it within two weeks. If it doesn't, the jars are not shelf stable.


*Processing time is based on 1000 and below elevation; Be sure to change times to account for your elevation.

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