This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read our full disclosure for more information.
If you are lucky enough to live in an area where citrus can be grown, you understand how truely prolific citrus trees can be. During the citrus season, we eat as much fruit fresh as possible. No matter what, the handful of trees my parents have is more than enough for her house and mine. If you have your own citrus tree, you may also be trying to figure out what to do with the abundance of citrus. Our favorite way to preserve the harvest is by canning citrus juice!
Canning citrus juice is not challenging. I have personally done this with lemon, grapefruit, and orange juice, but it would work with any type of citrus. It is our favorite way to preserve citrus because it is easy to make and versatile to use! Do not worry if you are a beginner canner, or have never canned before, this recipe is as simple as it gets!
In order to can citrus juice, there are some tools and equipment that you will need. If you have canned food in the past, you most likely have the majority of these tools at your house already.
For Making the Juice You Will Need:
- Citrus of Choice
- A Juicer – We use this juicer. We got a fantastic deal on it from Goodwill. I do recommend using a citrus juicer. Other types of juicers will require you to peel the citrus before juicing.
- A Ladle – To help skim the foam off the top and transfer the juice to jars
- A Pitcher – To hold all that juice!
- A Large Pot – You will need a large pot to heat up the citrus juice in before putting it into the jars
- A Fine Mesh Strainer – You will be using this to strain your juice to ensure there are not seeds in your finished product.
- Canning Jars – You can pick the size of jar for this recipe. We use half pint jars for lemon juice and quart jars for orange and grapefruit juice. I also want to add that canning citrus in half gallon jars is not approved by the FDA. Therefore, I do not recommend it. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the government agency that regulates home canning here in the United States.
- Lids and Rings – You will need enough lids and rings to cover all of your mason jars. The lids must be new, but you can reuse rings from previous canning projects.
There are a handful of tools you need when canning citrus juice. If you are familiar with waterbath canning, none of these tools will be a surprise.
For Canning Citrus Juice You Will Need:
- A Waterbath Canner – This can be any pot that is large enough to cover your jars by 1-2 inches of water without boiling over. I often just use my pressure canner without the weight as a waterbath canner.
- A Canning Rack – A rack will keep your jars off the bottom of your pot, and help prevent jars from breaking in the canner. If you do not have a canning rack, you can simply put a layer of old canning rings in the bottom of your pot. If you want, you can either tie them together or lay a small towel over them to make it more stable. Although this is non-ideal, I have done this many times and it works well.
- Jar Lifters – You will never regret purchasing a jar lifter if you can food. Seriously, they are definitely worth the money, and are quite affordable. You can try using tongs in a pinch (I have done this), just be prepared to burn yourself and possibly drop your jars!
- Canning Funnel – This is a lifesaver when canning! If you are prone to making a mess like I am, you NEED this to help keep your kitchen (semi) clean during canning projects.
- Bubble Remover – They make a tool for this specifically, but there are quite a few things you can use instead. If you do not have one try using a small silicone spatula or even a plastic butter knife.
- A Towel – I highly recommend having a towel to set your hot jars on both when filling the jars and when pulling them out of the canner. This helps minimize the mess and prevents your hot jars from cracking from the temperature difference of your (possibly) cool kitchen counter.
This process is simple, but I want to break it down for you to make sure you feel confident enough to tackle this project! Please keep in mind that I am not a canning expert, nor does this blog post state everything a first time canner should know. If you are unsure about the process, please refer to a canning book for more details. My favorite canning books to reference are The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving and The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.
- Clean all of your jars. Check the jars for cracks and nicks in the rim. If it has any flaws, do not use that jar
- Place your jars into the waterbath canner and fill it up with water until it covers the jars. Add a splash of white vinegar to prevent mineral buildup on your jars. Heat your jars in the water. The jars do not need to come to a boil. There is no need to sterilize the jars before use. They will be sterilized during the canning process. The reason we are heating up the jars is to prevent them from cracking when we add warm juice.
- While your jars are heating up, it is time to get juicing! Strain your juice through the fine mesh strainer into a large pot.
- Heat the juice for 5 minutes. Try to avoid boiling the juice because it will create a lot of foam on top. As you heat the juice, be sure to skim and foam off the top and discard.
- Pack your jars! If you are unfamiliar with canning terminology, “pack your jars” is the same thing as saying “fill your jars.” Empty your hot jars and pull them out of the canner. Place them on a towel. Using the canning funnel, fill your jars to 1/4 inch headspace.
- Go through and remove the bubbles from your jars by going along the edges with your bubble remover.
- With a small bowl of vinegar and a clean cloth, wipe the rim of each of your jars. This is essential in ensuring a good seal.
- Lastly, add the lids and rings. Tighten to “fingertip tight”. Do not tighten the lid as tight as you can. Just screw the lid on comfortably.
- Now using your jar tongs, place your filled jars back into the waterbath canner. Bring the canner up to a rolling boil, then process for 15 minutes at less than 1,000 feet of elevation. If you are above 1,000 feet of elevation, you will need to adjust your processing time. You will need to process at 15 minutes no matter what size the jar is.
- Once the processing time is up, turn of the stove and allow the canner to cool with the lid off for 5 to 10 minutes. This allows the jars to cool more gradually, which helps prevent the juice from siphoning out of the jars.
- Take the jars out of the canner and place on a clean towel. Leave the jars out to fully cool for 12 – 24 hours. Then, check the seal. If it has not sealed properly, you will need to store it in the fridge and use it first!
How We Use Our Juice
We use our juice in many ways. I use lemon juice when cooking on a regular basis in sauces, dressings, or just to brighten a dish. We also use it to make lemonade. The orange and grapefruit juice can be drunk as it is or turned into a delicious mocktail or cocktail. Orange juice also goes lovely in a steak marinade! If you have any ideas to add, leave them in the comments below! I love to learn from you all!