Meatballs in tomato juice are delicious, quick additions to pasta meals, or soups.
You can buy the tomato juice, or, use home-canned tomato juice.
The ground meats supported for this by the USDA are only the following: Bear, Beef, Lamb, Pork, Sausage, Veal, and Venison. To be clear, that means that ground poultry (chicken, duck, turkey, any fowl) is not supported, nor is squirrel.
Quantities of ingredients needed
On average, as a very rough guideline, expect to need about 500 g (1 lb) of ground meat per half-litre (US pint) jar of canned meatballs.
Expect to need about 1 cup (250 ml / 8 oz) of tomato juice per half-litre (US pint) jar. Thus, a 1 litre (1 quart) jar of home-canned tomato juice will do about 2 x 1 litre (US quart) jars of meatballs.
Jar size choices: Either half-litre (1 US pint) OR 1 litre (1 US quart)
Processing method: Pressure canning only
Headspace: 3 cm (1 inch)
Processing pressure: 10 lbs (69 kPa) weighted gauge, 11 lbs (76 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet)
Processing time: Half-litres (pints) 75 minutes; litres (quarts) 90 minutes
- Ground meat
- Herbs and seasonings
- Tomato Juice
- Mix ground meat with dried herbs and seasonings of your choice such as oregano, marjoram, parsley, ground black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt or salt sub, etc.
- Form into meatballs anywhere up to 7½ to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches) in size.
- Heat tomato juice and keep hot.
- Spray a skillet with cooking spray or heat a small amount of fat or oil in it.
- Brown the meatballs in the skillet in batches; transfer the browned meatballs to a covered bowl or pot to keep hot.
- Pack meatballs loosely into half-litre (1 US pint) OR 1 litre (1 US quart) jars.
- Leave 3 cm (1 inch) headspace.
- Top jars up with boiling hot tomato juice, maintaining 3 cm (1 inch) headspace.
- If you happen to be short of tomato juice, top up with hot boiling water from a kettle.
- Debubble; adjust headspace.
- Wipe jar rims.
- Put lids on.
- Processing pressure: 10 lbs (69 kPa) weighted gauge, 11 lbs (76 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet.)
- Processing time: half-litre (US pint) jars for 75 minutes OR 1 litre (US quart) jars for 90 minutes.
Processing guidelines below are for weighted-gauge pressure canners. See also if applicable: Dial-gauge pressures.
|Jar Size||Time||0 to 300 m (0 - 1000 feet) pressure||Above 300 m (1000 ft) pressure|
|1/2 litre (1 US pint)||75 mins||10 lbs||15 lb|
|1 litre (1 US quart)||90 mins||10 lbs||15 lb|
How to pressure can.
When pressure canning, you must adjust the pressure for your altitude.
More information on canning meat.
- Do not add any breadcrumbs, flour, cracker crumbs, or any starch, not even Clearjel, to the meatballs. Nor should you add any egg or cheese, or any dairy.
- You don’t need to thoroughly cook the meatballs in the skillet; just brown them so they won’t clump and form a huge solid dense mass in the jar that would interfere with safe heat transfer.
- You could also bake them in the oven until they are brown on the outside but still rare on the inside.
- You may use a microwave to bring the tomato juice to a boil — be aware of possible liquid surge when moving it from the microwave.
- In talking about seasoning for meat patties or balls, the Ball Blue Book says, “Spice it up three ways! For mild seasoning, add salt, pepper, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, and basil. Give it the Italian touch with basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. Add some heat for zesty, using garlic powder, paprika, anise seed, fennel seed, dried red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.”1.
- A mix of meats from the supported list mentioned at the start of this page (beef and pork, beef and lamb, etc), can be nice.
- No acidification is required of the tomato juice (as would be the case for the recipe for tomato juice as a product on its own) because the long processing times will deal with any safety worries.
You’ll get about 1 cup (250 ml / 8 oz) of liquid off of each jar when you open and drain it.
Creamy tomato sauce
You can turn the liquid from the jar into a creamy tomato sauce / gravy.
When opening jar, spoon out and discard any excess fat on top the jar.
Drain off and measure out the liquid from the jar. If you don’t get about 1 cup (250 ml / 8 oz), then top up with water or broth.
Add 1/3 cup of SOS Mix, whisk. Zap in microwave for 1 minute, remove, whisk again, zap for another 2 minutes, whisk and if not thick yet, zap for a final 2 minutes.
Optional: add some grated parmesan or other cheese to the sauce. A splash (or two) of white vermouth or vodka takes this sauce to the next level.
You can turn this all into a complete dish by tossing hot, cooked penne pasta in the sauce, and serving with the heated meatballs.
This recipe comes from the USDA Complete Guide (2015).
- Ground or Chopped Meat. In: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 5- 6.
Also referred to:
- Ground or Chopped Meat. In: Andress, Elizabeth L. and Judy A. Harrison. So Easy to Preserve. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Bulletin 989. Sixth Edition. 2014. Page 97.
- Chopped Meat, and, Pork Sausage. In: Ball Blue Book. Muncie, Indiana: Healthmark LLC / Jarden Home Brands. Edition 37. 2014. Pp 98-99.
We won’t give any nutritional information on this recipe, as it will vary by type of meat you choose: lamb, beef, pork, etc, as well as varying by brand of tomato juice for sugar and sodium content, etc.
Blue Book, 37th Edition, 2014, page 99 ↩