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Canning -- Tomatoes

Why does home canned tomato juice separate?

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Home canned tomato juice may separate after it has been stored on the shelf for several days. The top layer will be a clear amber-colored liquid. The bottom layer is a pulp containing red liquid. If the consumer does not mind that the juice separates, there is no problem with it. Just shake the jar to blend the layers before using. If you want a tomato juice that does not separate, the key is heating the tomatoes quickly and not letting them sit unheated after they are cut into pieces. If allowed to sit, enzymes, pectinases, begin to break down cell structures. These enzymes are not inactivated until the product reaches about 180 degrees F. So as soon as you begin quartering the tomatoes in preparation to juicing them, place a layer in your cooking pot and start heating them. Add other tomatoes as soon as they are cut. Stir to distribute the heat throughout.

PREPARED BY: Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Food Safety Specialist, and Carolyn J. Lackey, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N., Professor/Food and Nutrition Specialist, North Carolina State University (August 2004)

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