Recipe: Basic Water Bath Canned Tomato Juice

It's finally tomato season! Use this recipe for a simple, delicious and versatile tomato juice that can be water bath canned to enjoy for months to come.

by Stephanie Thurow
PHOTO: Stephanie Thurow

It’s finally the time of year we have all been waiting for here in Minnesota: tomato season! Each day I collect armfuls of tomatoes from the gardens and, if I’m lucky, I’ll have some left over at the end of the day. My daughter is a tomato-eating-machine. I’ve had to cut her off multiple times and remind her that I actually want to be able to preserve some of them.  

Each summer we water bath can many tomato-based preserves such as Bloody Mary mix, pizza sauce, pasta sauce, salsa and tomato juice.  

The recipe I’m sharing today is a very basic recipe for tomato juice. It can be enjoyed as a beverage over ice, but I generally use it as a base for other recipes. It’s convenient to have on hand in a pinch. I often use this juice to make simmer sauces, chili, soups and of course, Bloody Mary mix (if I’m out of my actual canned mix).   

Yield: 3 pints 


  • 8 cups (5 lbs.) fresh ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered 
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped 
  • 1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped 
  • 1/4 cup carrots, finely chopped 
  • 1/4 cup peppers of your choice (bell pepper for mild flavor, jalapenos or hotter for spice) 
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped (optional) 

If water bath canning, you will also need: 

  • 3 tbsp. bottled lemon juice (before water bath canning) 
  • 3 tsp. canning salt per jar (optional)  


Wash tomatoes, remove stems and cores and any bruised or flawed areas. Prepare additional ingredients. In a large non-reactive pot, combine the first six ingredients. Use a potato masher to somewhat break down the tomatoes.  

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Bring ingredients to a simmer and cook until the tomatoes are more broken down and the vegetables have softened. Remove from heat and use a food mill to remove seeds and skins. If you do not have a food mill, use an immersion hand blender to puree the mixture.  

Next, working in batches, use a fine mesh strainer with a bowl or large measuring cup underneath to separate the juice from the solids. Pour the reserved tomato juice into a non-reactive saucepan and bring it to a boil. 

Once the juice is hot, ladle into warm prepared jars (canning jars that have been washed and kept warm prior to filling). Leave 1/2-inch headspace (room from the top of the jam to the rim of the jar).  

Add lemon juice and salt (optional) to each jar. Wipe the rims of the jars clean and place canning lids on the jars. Screw the rings on the jars until fingertip tight—just snug on the jar, not fully tightened.  

Carefully lower the jars into a hot water bath and cover with the lid. Turn the heat to high and, once the water begins a rolling boil, set the timer and process in the water bath for 35 minutes. Adjust cook time for altitude as needed. 

Once water bath processed, carefully remove the jars from the hot pot with canning tongs. Place the jars on a towel-lined surface for 24 hours without touching. After 24 hours, remove the jar rings and test to make sure that the lids have securely sealed onto the jars.

Label and date the jars. These preserved jars of food will keep for at least one year in the cupboard. Refrigerate after breaking the seal. 


If you decide to can this juice in a quart jar instead of pints, it is required that you adjust the recipe to include 2 tablespoons of lemon juice per quart jar and water bath process for 40 minutes (or longer depending on altitude).  

To enjoy this juice as a bloody Mary, mix in Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder and prepared horseradish when serving.  

This recipe has been developed based on the approved methods of the National Center for Home Food Preservation for canning tomatoes. For more information on safe home water bath canning, click here.  

For more food preservation recipes, check out Thurow’s books. 

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