Monday, August 27, 2012

Homemade Tomato Juice, Tomato Sauce, and Tomato Chutney

It's tomato season! I love tomatoes - they're cheery and red, and come in every shape and size and color, from the perfectly round cherries that can be popped into a mouth and fill it with pungent juice to the knobby irregular heirlooms, like fleshy gnomes in the garden.

So I buy up boxes of farm tomatoes (the store kind now taste like cardboard to me). The price of an organic tomato drops by half when you buy 20 pounds of it. And what to do with all this red bounty? As much as possible, eat your tomatoes fresh, or in salads, or in soups and other dishes. And then you can...

  • Make a nearly-instant pasta sauce with a little olive oil, some herbs (basil or oregano work well, fresh or dried),salt, pepper and some halved cherry tomatoes all sauteed for exactly 1 minute.
  • Make some tomato sauce: cook down a potful of washed whole tomatoes and let them simmer, partly covered, lightly salted, and seasoned with herbs or whatever you like in your sauce. Pass through a food mill if you'd like to remove seeds and skins. Pour into glass jars and store in the freezer (or can, if you wish).
  • Make a tomato chutney: heat a dash of oil, add mustard seeds, turmeric, chili powder, salt, and chopped tomatoes. Stir stir stir until it is a thick, spicy chutney (Stir further until most of the water is gone, make it spicier, add a bit more oil, and it's hot tomato pickle). Pour into jars and store in the fridge or freezer.
  • Make tomato powder: dry extra tomato skins (say from a food mill) in the sun until fully brittle, then powder and use the highly flavored powder for seasoning and bright orange color. Store airtight at room temperature.
  • Make tomato jam: cook tomatoes with sugar and a tiny dash of chili powder for a bright, unusual jam that's phenomenal with things sweet or savory (or by the spoonful).
  • Make sun-dried tomatoes by drying halved tomatoes in the sun or on a baking sheet in the oven or in a dehydrator.
  • OR you can make tomato juice.

Most tomato juice recipes call for celery and carrots and other things I don't keep on hand. This is a very quick simple version, heavily modified from this one, and takes no time at all:

Speedy Tomato Juice

4 large heirloom tomatoes (about 2lbs)

1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

1-2 tbsp maple syrup, to taste

water (optional)

Chop the tomatoes and cook until they are all mushy and soupy. Pass through a food mill (if you don't have one, blend and then strain the juice through cheesecloth and press until all the liquid is through). Add salt and maple syrup to taste. Chill in refridgerator until cold. Dilute with water to desired strength (optional). Enjoy!

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