In My Life, I've Loved Them All

Save The Tomato Juice… Make Tomato Water?

I’m not crazy.  I just can’t stand wasting things.

This summer, I’ve been lucky enough to peel and chop up a lot of tomatoes from Dad’s garden.  Most have been made into bruschetta, where I seed (remove seeds and goo) before I chop.  The whole cutting process leaves a lot of juice on the board… and it would be such a shame to just wash it down the drain.  So the peels/seeds/goo goes into a strainer along with the cutting board juice.  The juice that leaves the strainer goes into ice cube tray and frozen for later.  What’s left in the strainer goes in the compost bucket.

IF you really want to take preservation a step further… you can dehydrate the skins and then grind them into a powder to use in recipes.  I have not gotten to that level of thriftiness.

Luckily, this summer I read an article in Bon Appetit about “Tomato Water”... thus proving I am not crazy for wanting to save the juice!

Bon Appétit suggested taking it a step further. Using the juice and some additional flavors, you can essentially make a “stock” to use in a variety of dishes.

Tomato Water
By Michael Anthony, Bon Appétit

Makes about 2 cups

1 1/2 pounds beefsteak tomatoes (about 3)
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 medium shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. kosher salt

Line a fine-mesh sieve with cheesecloth; set over a large bowl. Pulse tomatoes, shallots, garlic, basil, cilantro, parsley, vinegar, and salt in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
Transfer mixture to prepared sieve. Cover and chill at least 12 hours. (Do not stir or press on solids, or tomato water will be cloudy). Discard solids; cover tomato water and chill.

DO AHEAD: Tomato water can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.

BA’s ideas for your Tomato Water

  • Use in place of chicken stock in risotto

  • Toss into panzanella

  • Add to a Bloody Mary

  • Spoon over Oysters on the half shell

  • Use as a poaching liquid for Fish

  • Stir into gazpacho

I will probably go a little less fancy, and add some to some jarred pasta sauce to give it a little fresh flavor.  It’s go great in my next pot of chili too!

Saveur magazine has a version of Tomato Water as well.  It’s the more literal approach… which is what I (unknowingly) did.

Tomato Water
By Saveur magazine


5 lbs. very ripe quartered, cored tomatoes

1. Working in batches, put 5 lbs. very ripe quartered, cored tomatoes into bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle. Mix on low speed until tomatoes break down and release juices (or mash in a large bowl with a potato masher).

2. Rinse two clean, large, thin cotton kitchen towels in hot water. Spread one towel over a large glass beaker or nonreactive bowl and ladle half the mashed tomatoes onto towel. Gather opposite ends of towel and tie securely to make a sack. Hang sack from a yardstick or broom handle suspended above beaker or bowl.

3. Repeat with other towel and remaining tomatoes. Sacks will drip clear tomato water for about 4 hours; if red liquid begins to appear, discontinue dripping. (Do not squeeze cloths, or water will cloud.) Transfer tomato water to a nonreactive container, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use. Discard solids.

Both magazines recommend a slow drip to get all of the tomato’s water… the same method you’d use to get fruit juices for jelly! Can you make a savory tomato water jelly? I am sure someone has thought this though before. At any rate, the drip bag process is very easy with these simple tools:

Looking forward to some fresh tomato pick-me-up with the saved juice, especially once tomato season is over!

Playing in the Kitchen: My 1st Beer Jelly

So I’ve recently taken an interest in canning.  And when you 1st start out, Jams and Jellies are the way to go.  So far I’ve been able to can a Triple Berry Jam and a Peach Jam… so Beer Jelly is the next logical step.  Well, at least for me it is!

I decided to use one of my favorite Seasonal Beers, Saint Arnold Oktoberfest, for the experiment.  After scouring the Internet, I couldn’t really find an “official recipe.”  Beer Jelly is not too traditional.  But I did come across a lot of helpful tips.  Like “Use flat beer” and “Use a BIG pot.”  I was also reminded to add some acid so the jelly would set and not just make a thick syrup.  I decided to use apple cider vinegar (because apples remind me of Fall).

Beer Jelly ingredients

I poured 2 bottles of beer in a pitcher and left it in the fridge over night.  This seemingly flat beer still boiled up like CRAZY… something that I am sure home brewers are accustomed to.  But after the hard boil and some stirring, I was able to reduce almost all of the foam away.  The remaining jelly-foam was skimmed off and put in a tupperware for me to enjoy later!

Sadly, in my haste to get the jars in the canner pot (aka the stock pot usually just used for spaghetti),  I don’t think I screwed all of the rings on tight enough.  I should have burnt my hands just a little to make sure the were all on tight.  Oh dear.  The waterbath looks a little like one may have leaked a bit.  But looking at the jars, I cannot tell which one did.

Also, even after the jars came out of the waterbath, a couple still looked like they were releasing carbonation bubbles.  Is that right?  I don’t know.  There are no hard and fast Beer Jelly rules.  I need to wait 24 hrs to see if the jars will stay sealed properly.  At any rate, I don’t know if I’d give a jar to anyone as a gift… unless they are prepared for it to be a prototype/beta version of what I think could be something really great.

LUCKILY there was enough extra jelly at the bottom of the pot to taste test!  Paula Deen used to say “The profits are in the corners.”  Taking a heatproof spatula and scraping the sides of the pot (and the ladle) actually turned up quite a bit of jelly.   Not enough for a whole jar, but enough to save in the fridge for later!  I had several samples.

Oktoberfest Beer Jelly

Verdict:  The jelly is sweet, and still tastes like beer.  Totally edible!  I bet it would go great with pretzels, or as a glaze for chicken wings.

And I am fairly certain all of the alcohol didn’t burn off.  An adults only snack?

Be warned, making Jam and Jelly makes a stick mess all over your kitchen.  But, I think it’s all worth it.

Beer Jelly UPDATE here


My Beer Jelly Proportions:
2 12oz Bottles of Beer (flat)
1 Tbl Apple Cider Vinegar
1 box Pectin
3 1/2 Cups Sugar
Follow traditional jelly making instructions, process in waterbath for 10 minutes.

These are the webpages I found helpful/convinced me to try a beer jelly: (basic Recipe) (advice for using a flat beer and a WARNING that making jam from a carbonated beverage may be tricky) (advice for adding lemon juice or cider vinegar)
Darcie gave me some good Beer Jelly Advice via Facebook. (answer to the bubble & loss of liquid question (another answer to the loss of liquid question)

It’s National Can-It-Forward Day! (Schedule of LIVE webcast)

Happy National Can-It-Forward Day!
When I made and canned some Jam this last week, I had no idea National Can-It-Forward Day was right around a corner… honestly I didn’t know there was such a day. But it is the perfect time of year to celebrate caning. Summer is coming to a close, and we want to save/preserve all of season’s berries and vegetables. My Great-Grandma lived in Oregon and canned Blackberry Jam. I can remember bring home mason jars by the case full when we went to visit…and I love the thought of carrying on family traditions.

Triple Berry JamBall says celebrate by hosting a Canning Party! I’m too late to throw one together… but the suggested recipe to use their Mixed Berry Jam recipe. That, coincidently, is the recipe I used for my Jam! It is also the 1st time I’ve ever made jam and canned anything by myself. So I know I “know what to do” when making this jam for a Canning Party… or what NOT to do. Oh dear.

Even more exciting is the Event this morning in Union Square Green Market (Manhattan). It’s an event to share the joy of preserving food, with special guest Ted Allen!! If I still lived in the NYC area, I would definitely be there.

Luckily, there is a live Broadcast of the event available via the Ball® caning website!
Here is the schedule of events to watch… starting at 10am Eastern.

10:00am-10:45am: Jam making and water bath canning demo by Jessica Piper
10:45am-11:00am: Craft Corner with Jordan DeFrank
11:00am-11:45am: Pickles Demo by Rick Fields
11:45am-12:00pm: Craft Corner with Jordan DeFrank
12:00pm-1:00pm: Special Guest Host Ted Allen canning and cooking demo
1:00pm-1:15pm: Cocktails in Ball Jars hosted by Mason Jar NYC Restaurant
1:15pm-2:00pm: Jam making and water bath canning demo by Jessica Piper (repeated)

I work odd hours and am usually asleep during this time… but maybe I’ll just lie in bed and watch on my little Tablet :D I hope they record the broadcast… just in case I fall asleep. And I’m sure that there are many more canners/food preservers that would love to see the re-runs too.

If you are going to a canning party today, I hope you have loads of fun! Or try making a simple recipe at home… once you start canning, you may never want to stop.

Playing in the Kitchen: Sage & Rosemary QUICK Pickles

It’s Left-Handers Day! Who knew?
In honor of Left-Handers everywhere, I though it more than appropriate to share my Quick Pickle recipe. Namely because when I photographed them, I didn’t realize me recent left-handedness was glaringly obvious. Can’t you tell?

house pickles
Holding a Pyrex measuring cup with your left hand means reading the metric measurements. Such is the plight of left-handers.

Luckily I was not using the Pyrex measuring cup to measure anything… just to hold my cucumbers and herbs to make yummuy pickles!

I had always thought that pickles were something that HAD sit in a brine in a jar for a long time in order to “pickle”. But after watching episodes of Chopped, and hearing many constant chefs make “a quick pickle” out of the veggies in their basket, I realized there is another way!

So, these pickles came out of a need to use up a cucumber while it was still edible. I had also recently rescued a little sage plant from the clearance table at the grocery store. And we have a monster of a rosemary plant growing in the backyard.

The original recipe I found at Mother Earth Living called for a thinly sliced onion. I did not have an onion. I persevered.

The results were pretty tasty as a snack on their own. I also diced a handful and used the resulting “relish” on a burger. THAT was very good.

Thanks Chopped! You’ve made a Quick Pickle believer out of me. :D

Sage and Rosemary Quick Pickles

2 cups cucumber, sliced
2 to 4 sprigs rosemary
4 to 8 sage leaves
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup cold water

Slice cucumber into ¼-inch rounds. Stack cucumbers and herbs in a container of your choice.

Combine vinegar and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and gently stir until salt dissolves. Remove from heat.

Add cold water to this mixture and let cool. Pour cooled liquid in jar to cover cucumbers and herbs. Add more cold water if necessary. Leave room at the top. Refrigerate for about an hour until chilled.

Playing in the Kitchen: My Favorite Bruschetta

If you’re lucky, summertime means fresh tomatoes from the garden!  If you don’t have a garden/green thumb, maybe you have family or neighbors who do.  Your local Farmers Market is probably bursting at the seams with tomatoes, too.

I’m a little finicky and don’t really like biting into a tomato like and apple… I like to peel and remove the inside seeds/gook first.  But after that… oh the possibilities!  Chunks of fresh tomato are great for sauces, soups, and pico de gallo.  But the snack that truely turned me into a fresh-tomato fan: Bruschetta!


Tomato Bruchetta made with Sweet Aussie Basil

I love making this because
1. It’s delicious
2. I already own the other ingredients needed
3. I love toast too
4.  You make it in advance, and just pull it out of the fridge when needed.  Grab-And-Go!
5. It’s “fancy” enough to serve to guests, and particularly great for parties because of reason #4

Each time I’ve made this, I’ve used a different type of basil.  Mainly because it was the basil my family had growing at that particular moment.  Sweet Italian is the basil most people think of when cooking (thanks to Food TV).  But I’ve had just as much success with Sweet Aussie Basil (developed in Austin, TX) and Cinnamon Basil (don’t let the name deter you; it works great!).

There are no hard and fast rules for bruschetta, but here’s the recipe I’ve has the greatest success with.  It tastes good on little toasts (recipe at the end of this post).  But if you don’t have a baguette handy, it’s delicious on Triscut Crackers or grilled chicken!


Tomato Basil Bruschetta

2 cups of chopped tomatoes (how many tomatoes is that?!)
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
Pinch of sugar
1-2 teaspoons of Balsamic (or red wine) vinegar
Koser Salt
Black Pepper

Combine above ingredients in a re-sealable container.  If not eating right away, put the mixture in the refrigerator. I make some in the morning, and pull it out of the fridge for dinner time, and it looks/tastes just fine. Making a batch 2-3 days ahead is just fine too (mare time to marinate & flavors will combine)

Crostini (Little Toasts)
1 baguette (Long skinny loaf of french bread)
olive oil
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Cut the bread at an angle into slices about ½-inch-thick. You don’t have to be exact, just make sure the slices are roughly the same size.
Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil.
Spread out on a baking sheet and sprinkle each slice with salt. (Salt on toast- something I picked up from the chefs at work)
Bake for about 10 minutes, until lightly toasted.
Congratulations, you have essentially just made a really big crouton.


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