The application of high hydrostatic pressure (HHP) (250 MPa, 35 degrees C for 15 min) and thermal treatment (80 degrees C for 1 min) reduced the microbial load of carrot and tomato juices to undetectable levels. Different combinations of HHP did not cause a significant change in the ascorbic acid content of either juice (P > 0.05). Both heat treatments (60 degrees C for 5-15 min and 80 degrees C for 1 min) resulted in a significant loss (P < 0.05) in the free-radical scavenging activity as compared to untreated samples. HHP-treated juices showed a small loss of antioxidants (below 10%) during storage. The ascorbic acid content of pressurized tomato and carrot juices remained over 70 and 45% after 30 days of storage, respectively. However, heat treatment caused a rapid decrease to 16-20%. Colour changes were minor (Delta E = 10) for pressurised juices but for heat-pasteurised samples it was more intense and higher as a result of insufficient antioxidant activity. HHP treatment (250 MPa, 35 degrees C for 15 min) led to a better product with regard to anti-radical scavenging capacity, ascorbic acid content and sensory properties (colour, pH) of the tomato and carrot juices compared to conventional pasteurisation. Therefore, HHP can be recommended not only for industrial production but also for safe storage of fresh juices, such as tomato and carrot, even at elevated storage temperatures (25 degrees C). (c) 2007 Society of Chemical Industry.