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Pressure canning and/or water bath canning tomato juice cocktail

Posts: 1508
Location: Virginia (zone 7)
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I've been canning tomato juice cocktail for two years now and I think I have finally perfected the recipe to suit my taste. I've never liked store bought tomato juice but this blend, I do like. I hope you will also.
If you have never tried canning before, I hope you will try this recipe as your first recipe. I have made it very detailed to help you learn.
This recipe makes 7 quarts to can and some extra for immediate enjoyment and taste testing.
I've included directions for both pressure canners and boiling water bath canners. And for using either a juicer, food mill or sieve to extract the juice.

The Equipment You Will Need (much of these things you'll probably have already):

*a juicer, a food mill or sieve
*a large stainless steel or enamel pot (10 qt. or larger)
*a long handle spoon
*a 2-cup measuring cup (must be heat safe)
*a set of measuring spoons
*a small bowl
*a whisk or fork
*egg timer or clock/pen/paper
*a pressure canner (with a 15 pound regulator) or a large boiling water bath canner (either canner must have a rack in the bottom to keep the jars from touching the bottom of the pot)
*7 qt. jars with lids and rings
* a small saucepan to heat the lids in
*ruler or measuring tape
*potholders, hot pads and several dishtowels
*canning jar funnel
*jar lifter
*magnet tool (for getting the lids out of the hot water)
The last three things listed are not necessary but they make things so much easier. I made do without them for years but found them to be well worth the money to buy them.


*80-85 medium tomatoes (about 28 lbs.) That should equal about 33 cups of juice. ( Wash, core, remove any blemishes and cut tomatoes into pieces.) I use a mix of red, pink, purple and yellow tomatoes. One kind is fine too.
*8 celery stalks with leaf tops (chopped if using food mill or sieve, cut in thirds if using a juicer)
*3 medium onions (chopped if using a food mill or sieve, quartered if using a juicer)
*1 1/2 cups bottled lemon juice
*5 teaspoons salt
*1 Tablespoon sugar
*3 scant Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
*7 teaspoons prepared horseradish
*2 teaspoons bottled hot sauce

STEP 1. Extract your juice

IF USING A JUICER: (see below for instructions on using food mill or sieve)

I don't always have the amount of tomatoes needed for this recipe all at once. I usually juice them as I get ripe tomatoes from the garden and freeze the juice, 4 cups per quart freezer bag, until I have enough for the recipe. You will need at least 35 cups of tomato/celery/onion juices combined for this recipe.
(32 cups would only be enough to can 7 quarts. 35 cups makes enough to have a taste today.)

Juice the onions and celery, this should amount to 2 1/2 - 3 cups of juice. (Put this in a freezer bag too if you are juicing in batches to can later.)
Juice the tomatoes. They will be frothy but don't worry about that, the froth settles later after boiling. (Save the remaining tomato pulp to use in other recipes.)
If you have the full amount of tomatoes for the recipe, put the tomato juice and celery/onion juice into a large pot. If you have been freezing your juice, put the frozen blocks into the pot and thaw on a med to low heat, stirring often, until fully thawed.

If Using A Food Mill Or Sieve:

Put cut up tomatoes, chopped celery and chopped onions into a large pot. Bring to a boil over a low heat, stirring often. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. Stir often. Press the mixture through a food mill or sieve to extract the juice. (The remaining pulp may be used in other  delicious recipes.) Measure your juice. You will need at least 35 cups for this recipe. (32 cups would only be enough to can 7 quarts. 35 cups makes enough to have a taste today.)

Now that you have your juice...

STEP 2. Boil juice and get jars/canner ready

Bring juice to a boil. Set timer for 20 minutes. Boil gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
During this 20 minute time is a good time to wash your canning jars, lids and rings. If using a PRESSURE CANNER, put 3 quarts of water into the canner and add your clean jars half full of water onto the rack in the canner. If using a BOILING WATER BATH CANNER, add your clean jars *full* of water to the rack in canner and fill canner with water to the necks of the jars. Put the lid on the canner. (DO NOT twist the top of the PRESSURE CANNER into the closed position.) Heat water to just below a simmer.

STEP 3. Add additional ingredients and get lids hot

Pour lemon juice into the measuring cup. Measure all the remaining ingredients and add to the small bowl. Using a whisk or fork, mix well to get any lumps out of the horseradish and to dissolve the salt and sugar. Thin this mixture with the lemon juice and add to pot after the 20 minutes are up.
Return mixture to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Set timer.
During this 10 minutes, heat a saucepan of water to just under a simmer. Add your lids to it. Do NOT allow the water to boil. Wash and dry your rings and set aside.

STEP 4. Fill the jars

After the 10 minutes, it's time to fill your hot, sterile jars with juice. I make sure there is no air drafts in the kitchen before removing a jar from the water. Canning jars can be very sensitive to sudden temperature changes and may crack.
Using a jar lifter, remove a jar from the canner. If you are using a PRESSURE CANNER, pour the water out elsewhere. If you are using the BOILING WATER BATH CANNER, pour the water back into the canner.
Set jar on a hot pad. Place funnel on jar and using your heat safe measuring cup (or ladle) fill the hot jar with hot juice, leaving a half inch space from top of juice to the rim of the jar ("headspace"). Use your ruler to measure headspace. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean, damp cloth. Set hot lid on jar, add ring and tighten only fingertip tight. (This is important for a proper seal. If you could still go a quarter to a half inch further, then that is tight enough.) Place filled jar on rack in canner. Fill all 7 jars this way. There should be some juice left in the pot to chill and enjoy later today.

STEP 5. Process the juice

Put lid on canner and turn handles to the closed position. Turn heat to high. When you see steam escaping from the vent pipe on top of the canner, set timer for 10 minutes. Reduce heat slightly, just so that steam steadily escapes. After 10 minutes, place 15 pound regulator on the vent pipe. Turn heat back up to high. When the pressure builds up, the safety valve on top of the canner will pop up from the down position to the up position and the regulator will start rocking back and forth. Now, set timer for 15 minutes and reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a steady rocking motion of the regulator.
After 15 minutes, turn off the heat. Let canner sit in place until the safety valve drops back down. This (on my canner) takes 60+ minutes, so go read a book or something for awhile. When safety valve drops (finally), remove regulator and set timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove canner lid with potholders. Lift lid tilted away from you to avoid getting burned by the steam.

After all filled jars have been added to the canner, make sure you have 1-2 inches of water covering the tops of the jars. If you don't have enough, pour the hot water from the saucepan (that you heated your lids in) into the canner. NEVER add cold water, that could cause jar breakage. Put the lid on and turn the heat to high. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, set the timer for 45 minutes. Turn down the heat, as needed, to keep a low, steady, rolling boil.
After the 45 minutes, turn off the heat. Remove lid. Set timer for 5 minutes.

Then, having processed by either method....

STEP 6. Remove jars to cool

Make sure there's no air drafts in the kitchen. Using your jar lifters, move each jar to sit on a folded dish towel with space between the jars. Once they are all out, cover them with a clean, dry dish towel. While still in the canner, you may hear their lids sealing (POP! sound as the center of the lid goes down). My jars all seem to seal pretty quickly after removing them from the canner, usually in the first 15 minutes.
You may notice that the liquid and solids in the jar have separated in two. This is normal and does not mean you messed up. This occurs when the tomatoes are exposed to air before heating them. A natural enzyme that breaks down pectin is activated.  You can avoid this using the food mill or sieve method by adding only a few cut up tomatoes into the pot, crush them and start them boiling, then add the rest of tomatoes to the pot as you cut them. Don't let them stick! If you're not bothered by the separation, just shake well before serving.

STEP 7. Check seals, store jars

After 24 hours, check to see if they have all sealed by pressing on the center of each lid. It shouldn't pop up or down. If you have one that didn't seal, move it to the refrigerator.

Remove the rings. Rinse, dry and label your jars. Store in a cool, dry place.

(Note: I have mentioned twice here about saving your leftover tomato pulp to use in other recipes. You may like my ketchup recipe.)

Disclaimer: I am not an expert. I came up with this recipe after trying several other similar, but crappy recipes and disgusting store bought juices. This recipe has not been approved by the USDA, FBI, AARP or any other letters of the alphabet. This recipe has not been tested on animals other than my H and myself - we both give it a thumbs up. I am not responsible for over-indulgence, nor for injury resulting from jumping up and down with excitement. I am not responsible for misspellings, grammatical errors, measuring/math or other things I didn't excel at in school. Nor am I responsible for vision impairment from reading this far down the page. Drink responsibly and enjoy.
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Thawed juice
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Boil juice/heat jars
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Additional ingredients
Karen Donnachaidh
Posts: 1508
Location: Virginia (zone 7)
hugelkultur dog forest garden fish hunting trees books food preservation solar
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More pics
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Filling jars
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One down 6 to go
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All filled and ready to process
Karen Donnachaidh
Posts: 1508
Location: Virginia (zone 7)
hugelkultur dog forest garden fish hunting trees books food preservation solar
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
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3 piece regulator, each piece equals 5 pounds
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Safety valve up
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Finished product
So it takes a day for light to pass through this glass? So this was yesterday's tiny ad?
Harvesting Rainwater for your Homestead in 9 Days or Less by Renee Dang
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