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You Say Tomato…I Say Bloody Mary

February 27, 2010

One summer back in Georgia when I was about twelve years old, my Mom had made up some Red Kool-Aid and put it in a recycled half-gallon milk jug.  I had been outside playing for most of the afternoon in the hot humid Southern weather.  When I came inside for a drink, I opened the chill chest to find not one but two jugs of red juice inside.  Tired thirsty ( and keep in mind I have pretty bad eyesight), I grabbed one of the jugs, unscrewed the cap, nad chugged it back.  Unfortunately this was NOT the Kool-Aid I expected but a half-gallon jug of Bloody Marys.  AAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!!!!!! I yelled as the mouthful sprayed into the back of the fridge and drenched everything in its path.  Ever since then I have had a love/hate relationship with Bloody Marys.

That being said, the Bloody Mary is a quintessential drink and is as individual as the martini.  Ask any home or pro bartender and they will regail you with a story that starts with, “In MMYYY Bloody Mary I like to use……..” and the story will spark a conversation that can last through a pitcher of these things, and the recipe get more elaborate and more intense with ingredient after ingredient being laid upon.  

I am not opposed to this, mind you, and I do find the stories and the imagination that goes into selecting ingredients quite fun.  But I want to suggest going back to the basics for a minute, because there is one item that I have never heard anyone mention in the hundreds of chats that I have been privy to, and that is homemade tomato juice.  Canned, Bottled, Brand, and flavor enhancers have all been there, but homemade tomato juice has been the quiet ingredient for too long. 

So I offer to you a recipe for a great homemade tomato juice that you can start with, build on or even claim as your own.

  • 3 pounds ripe or slightly over-ripe tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup chopped onions
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Place all ingredients in a large stockpot, and simmer for about 30 minutes until soupy.  Strain through and fine mesh strainer pushing the ingredients through with the back of a  spoon.  This will separate the seeds and skins of the tomatoes.  Place uncovered in an ice bath or the fridge until cool.  Your new juice should be good for about a week.  yield about 1 quart.

Now, here are some cool things to think about and tinker with.  There are hundreds of tomato varieties.  There are hundreds of species of onions, each  of which you can play with and decide which is YOUR favorite.  Bet that will make your next Sunday Bruch chat a winner.  I’ll give you a good place to start:  Heirlooms  Tomatoes and Vidalia Onions (BTW it is pronounced with a long “I” and long “A”, (vi-DALE-yuh), unlike what you hear some say.  Trust me I grew up 60 miles form there).

No matter what your “adds” are to the lovely Bloody Mary, always make sure you are using fresh ingredients, and start with your own tomato juice.

BTW: here are some of my Top 10 favorite “adds” to the Bloody Mary I have heard over the years…..(see the inspiration for the post?)

  • A-1
  • Barbeque Sauce
  • Olive Brine
  • Bacon Fat
  • Lettuce
  • Sardine/Anchovie juice
  • Salsa
  • Oysters and Shrimp
  • pickle brine
  • Ketchup


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