How to Can Citrus Juice: An Easy Guide to Great Results

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Are your citrus trees loaded down with fresh fruit and you’re not sure how to make the most of your bounty?

Is there a fantastic sale at your local grocery stores of oranges, lemons, limes, or other citrus fruit?

Sure, you can preserve those citrus fruits in marmalades or by dehydrating them, but have you ever wondered if it’s possible to can orange juice yourself? Or wondered how to can lemon juice?

If you’re like me, more often you use citrus juices throughout the year in your everyday cooking. Knowing how to can citrus juice is another layer of self-sufficiency and a tasty one, too!

How To Can Citrus Juice

Canning citrus juice is very easy.

You don’t even need a pressure canner to do it. Citrus juice is a high acid food so the boiling water method is safe to use.

image: slices of citrus fruit

Here’s how to can citrus juice in just a few basic steps.

Before you begin

First, assemble the jars you wish to use. When I do this, I use 1/2 gallon (2-quart) jars for grapefruit juice, quart jars for orange, and half-pint for lemon or lime.

Next, wash and sterilize the jars by submerging them in a large pot of water that has been boiling for at least 10 minutes. Sterilize the lids by dipping them in a saucepan of hot, but not boiling water. Set the lids on a clean kitchen towel or leave them in the hot water for later use.

Start by juicing the fruit

Juice your citrus fruit by whatever method or tool you happen to have. You’ll use a lot of upper body strength if you have a juicer like this one, and it will be slow going if you have a mountain of fruit on hand. However, it’s the cheapest option.

If you have a bounty of citrus fruit, a manual juicer will keep you busy for hours. Invest in something like this instead. A professional citrus juicer is a big time saver, and if that pile of limes, lemons, or oranges is so daunting that you feel like you’ll never have time to juice it all, then a professional citrus juicer will give you a huge return on your investment.

A high-quality juicer will be of even more value if you have citrus trees of your own that provide a reliable harvest every year.

Do you want pulp or no pulp?

Whether or not you include the pulp in your juice depends on personal preference and how you’ll be using the juice in the future. I like to have the pulp in the juice that we’ll be drinking but don’t want it in the juice that I’ll use for cooking and baking.

At this point, you can add sugar, if desired. It’s best to start with a small amount of sugar and then add more to taste. When you get that just-right level of sweetness, jot it down so you’ll use the same measurements for future batches—x-amount of sugar with x-amount of juice.

Then, place the juice in a large stockpot and bring it to nearly boiling (190 degrees F) for about five minutes.

The canning process

  1. In your water bath canner or very large stockpot with trivet or rack on the bottom, fill half full of water and bring to a boil.
  2. Fill a heated and sterilized jar with juice, wipe the rim, top with a lid, and seal with the band.
  3. Place the filled jar into boiling water and repeat until all jars are full and in the canner. Jars must be covered by one to two inches of water. If there is not enough, add more BOILING water to the pot.
  4. Return the water to a full rolling boil and begin your timer.
  5. Process for fifteen minutes for one-quart or smaller size jars and twenty minutes for half-gallon jars.
  6. When finished, turn off the burner and allow the water to cool down enough so the boiling stops.
  7. Remove each jar and place them on a towel away from drafts and at least 2 inches apart. This allows some airflow between them but hopefully avoids any cracking due to temperature variations.

Allow the jars to cool to room temperature. When cool, test the lids for a sealed vacuum, label with contents and date, and store.  Any jars which did not seal can be placed in the refrigerator and used within about 4-7 days.

Over time, home-canned citrus juice may darken in color, but this won’t affect the flavor or freshness as other factors will.

Conclusion

Learning how to can your own citrus juice is an easy, tasty way to add to your food storage stockpile. The next time a recipe calls for fresh citrus juice, you’ll have it on hand and ready to go!

Have you ever canned citrus juice? What tips would you add?

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I'm the original Survival Mom and for more than 11 years, I've been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more with my commonsense prepping advice.

27 thoughts on “How to Can Citrus Juice: An Easy Guide to Great Results”

    1. Poke them in the center. If they bonk up and down at all, they're not sealed. And pry lightly at the edge with your thumbs. If thy open, eat it now. They shouldn't be able to open with your fingers.

  1. Yes, canning juice is easy and wonderful. But citrus doesn't grow here. Waahhh! I have to be satisfied with grape, wild berry, apple, cherry, oh my wait… I'm too busy now to miss the citrus. LOL These directions can be used to make juice from any fruit. Just be sure that if you add vegetable juice, it changes the acid level and may need pressure canning.

    1. Michelle in ID

      Yep…the one thing I do miss about living in CA…oranges! ;o) I did recently discover a food co-op that has good prices on produce. It's mostly available in the Western U.S. right now but is growing. http://www.bountifulbaskets.org . Picked up a case (36 pounds) of Minneola Tangelos for $15.50. I'm turning them into marmalade. Yum!

  2. Katy, If you push on the lid with your finger and it doesn't move it has a seal. If it wobbles up and down, it doesn't. Hope this helps.

  3. I have a juicer/steamer pan that is wonderful. Just wash your fruit, toss it in the top pan, it will probably hold about 3 gallons of fruit. you don't have to pit them. if you are doing grapes, you can leave them on the stems too. Don't know anything about citrus, but have done peaches, apricots, grapes in mine. The bottom pan holds the water. There is a hose attached to the pan where the juice goes into, and you can just drain it into your hot jars when it fills up. Then put into a water bath. Takes about an hour to get all the juice out of a full pan of fruit. They are kinda pricey, about $115.00 or so, but it is certainly easier than straining seeds and stuff out of the juice.

  4. The normal recommendation from the Department of Agriculture for most home canned goods is they are good for 5 yrs. After that point they BEGIN to loose color, texture, flavor and nutrition. What is in the can or jar is pathologically SAFE to eat so long as the container is not compromised (no dents, leaks, bulges, etc.) They may look and taste like crap in just a few years, especially if exposed to a lot of light.

    High acid foods, such as tomatoes and citrus may react with the can material, or metal lids, and loose their safety sooner.

    Carol– yes, you may home can nearly anything. Provided the store-bought juice has in no way begun to ferment, go for it.

  5. Okay, so I canned orange juice a while back and when I tried it a few weeks later it was HORRIBLE!! Yuck!! It was more like grapefruit juice. I've heard from many others who have said the same thing. I wonder what I did wrong?

  6. If you are using a juicer like the Brevil, that may be the problem. All the membrane makes the juice bitter.
    Try using a small juicer that you hold the fruit on and adjust for little or no pulp.. I tried this and the result was amazing.

    1. That is the conclusion I was arriving to..after freezing lemon juice successfully for about 9 years, I purchased a Breville..it’s a wonderful machine…but alas, the juice, after 3 months was horrible. Back to my old electric base and hand held fruit Krups.

  7. Pingback: Canning Lemon Juice

  8. Have you done lemon juice? I followed the instructions and I haven’t yet opened one of mine but the look like they are getting darker in color and I just canned them a couple of months ago. I was planning on using them for lemonade but I hope that the flavor will still be good. Any thoughts on why this is?

    1. Hi! I’m a gardener in San Diego that cans citrus. Yes, the citrus will change color, (darkens) but the taste should be unaffected. I canned up tangerine juice and lemons last year. I just finished 21 quarts of Valencia orange. We have found if you use a juicer that only takes the juice and NO membrane you will have the best results.

      1. hello, I’m a fellow san diego gal here. =) I would love you exact recipe if you could take the time to share. I just canned straight lime juice. One batch i forgot to take out the pulp. Our citrus press takes a lot our but there’s still some in. will my juice go bitter?
        I canned 2 cups brought to a boil for 5 min. followed a recipe online. I’ve got a few more batches to go, but want to make sure that i’m doing it correctly. Any tips are appreciated! Many thanks!

  9. I tried freezing my orange juice in regular glass canning jars leaving the lid lose until I was solid. I tried some months later and it was just as fresh as the day I froze it! But I think I will try caning, it would make transporting it a lot easier.

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