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Storing and Preserving Extracted Fruit and Vegetable Juice

Excerpt from the Popular Kitchen Series magabook Canning & Preserving with permission from its publisher, I-5 Publishing magazines, a division of I-5 Publishing, LLC Purchase Canning & Preserving here.

You’ve extracted the juice from your fruits and vegetables; now what? Here are some ways to keep your delectable fruit and vegetable juice fresh and flavorful.

REFRIGERATION: Fresh, homemade fruit and/or vegetable juice keeps in the refrigerator for up to three days but loses its nutritional qualities and taste the longer that it’s kept. Store fruit and/or vegetable juice in a tightly sealed, dark-colored container to minimize exposure to oxygen and light.

FREEZING: For long-term storage, use your freezer. Raw fruit and/or vegetable juice will keep well in your freezer for two to three months. For extended shelf life, pasteurization is recommended. To pasteurize juice at home, work in small batches to quickly heat the juice to a simmer (185 degrees Fahrenheit), but not a boil. Cool the juice by transferring it to a shallow container and placing the container in ice-cold water. Pasteurized juice should keep well in your freezer for six months or longer.

Whether you’re freezing raw or pasteurized juice, use glass canning jars or other freezer-safe containers for storage, leaving at least 1 inch of headspace to allow for expansion. Thaw your juice in the refrigerator.

Try freezing juices, such as lemon or lime juice, in ice cube trays. Pop out the frozen juice cubes, and store in a plastic freezer bag.

Some juices freeze better than others. In general, fruit juices taste better than vegetable juices when they are thawed. Apple and grape juice are sure bets for great tasting thawed juice. If your frozen juice doesn’t taste good enough to drink after it’s thawed, all is not lost; try using the juice in a smoothie, salad dressing or soup.

CANNING: For the longest storage time, process your homemade fruit and/or vegetable juice via the canning method. Acidic juices, such as those made from fruits and tomatoes, can be safely processed in a boiling-water canner. A pressure canner must be used for juices containing vegetables. Canned juice keeps well for at least one year.

Canning instructions are specific to the type of juice you wish to preserve. To process juices other than the types mentioned here, find a tested recipe, such as those from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

To can fresh apple or grape juice, allow the juice to settle in the refrigerator for up to two days. Pour the juice into a large stockpot, leaving any sediment behind. Heat the juice to just boiling, then pour into sterilized pint or quart jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Process pints and quarts for five minutes in a boiling-water canner at elevation 1,000 feet or less.

Canned tomato juice tastes great. Make tomato juice using a steam juicer or the stovetop simmer method. Add lemon juice to each canning jar to acidify the juice and ensure safety during storage. Use 2 tablespoons lemon juice per quart of tomato juice or 1 tablespoon per pint. If desired, add salt to each jar at the rate of 1 teaspoon per quart or ½ inch teaspoon per pint. Bring the juice to a boil, add to hot jars leaving ½ inch of head space, and process in a boiling-water canner. Process jars for 35 minutes for pints or 40 minutes for quarts (at elevation 1,000 feet or less).

Once you’ve tried juicing as a way to preserve your summer harvest, your taste buds will thank you. Homemade fruit and/or vegetable juice makes a tasty and versatile addition to your annual "stocking up” routine. Whether you freeze your fresh juice, can it or craft it into tasty jellies or alcoholic beverages, you surely will enjoy your juice throughout the year.

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