Bloody Mary is a lot like Ragu: no two recipes are alike, yet each is especially, specifically crafted and adhered to by its maker.
I am teaching a class at the Pantry at Delancey in a few days, and one thing on the tomato-laden menu is bloody mary’s. I confess I am not a huge bloody mary drinker—but apparently A LOT of you out there love a good Bloody Mary. I took a poll with countless friends and neighbors: what ingredient MUST you have in your Bloody Mary? What’s the secret sauce? No two answers were the same. Take a look:
- candied bacon
- bacon vodka
- fresh horseradish (not jarred)
- fresh celery juice
- a splash of beer
- pickled okra
- celery bitters
- lots of pepper
- pickled garlic
- dilly beans
- lemon + lime juice
For a newbie to the realm of Bloody Marys, I figured: fresh is best. And why wouldn’t I use freshly strained yellow tomato juice? Then serve it up? I had all sorts of plans for adding fresh basil and muddled horseradish, Tabasco and Worcestershire. My celery bitters were on hand and I had pickled asparagus in the fridge. And though I enjoyed my versions (especially the candied bacon), I realized that your Bloody Mary is like an Italian Mother’s Ragu: customized to you, with all the love and trimmings, unlike any other and lets be honest: Italian children are loyal to their mother’s recipe.
My not-so-bloody Mary will have just-strained yellow tomato juice. For a Bloody Mary today, just strain juice from tomato peels and pulp. But you can also preserve summer’s tomato juice for year-round Bloody Marys (I just made your day, right?):
[yellow] Tomato JUICE.
Note: this is a hot pack recipe.
Seeds and peels from processing (yellow or red) tomatoes; put in strainer and use back of ladle to press as much juice into bowl as possible. Boil one minute—add citric acid and tomato juice to sterilized hot jars, wipe rims, add lids—and process in hot water bath for 35 minutes for pints, 40 minutes for quarts.*
OR process with dial gauge pressure canner at 11 LBS for 15 minutes, OR a weighted gauge at 10 LBS for 15 minutes.
You can also: wash tomatoes, remove stems, trim off bruises and roughly chop. Heat to boil in pot, crushing and stirring. Boil for 5 minutes, strain then bring juice back to a boil. Add citric acid and tomato juice to sterilized hot jars, wipe rims, add lids—and process in hot water bath: 35 minutes for pints, 40 minutes for quarts.**
A random note so I can talk more about tomatoes: tomatoes are a little persnickety.
Tomatoes/tomato juice/pulp may separate from water inside your processed jars. It looks like a cool chemistry experiment, yet remains natural and safe. There are ways to keep the tomatoes uniform: managing the temperature. For example: the Crushed Tomato Recipe (coming soon) doesn’t tend to separate since the tomatoes stay ‘hot’ the entire time they are processing. However, when I make whole canned tomatoes, I often remove skins and cores from a whole box of tomatoes—and the tomatoes cool off. Even though I add the tomatoes to hot jars with hot water or tomato juice (this is called a ‘cold pack’ since cold tomatoes get packed into hot jars/hot liquid), the temperature differential will likely cause that water/tomato separation. I don’t sweat it. But if you want your jarred tomatoes to be uniformly tomatoes: blanch tomatoes, take off skins and quickly get them into hot jars with hot liquid and straight into the water bath. Hot hot hot!
For non-separating tomato juice: get just a portion of the tomatoes in the pot and boiling, then cut and keep adding tomatoes while maintaining a boil. Once all the tomatoes are in the pot, boil for 5 extra minutes. Extract juice, bring juice back to a boil then process according to recipe, above.
Now THAT was a lot of Talk of Tomatoes.
*Recipe via Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff
** instructions via So Easy to Preserve, Cooperative Extension The University of Georgia