Welcome to an installment in Food in Jars' Drink Week 2012, wherein a few of us in the preserving blog community break out our bar sets and share our favorite DIY cocktail recipes. Previously: Jamgrìa by What Julia Ate and Grow and Resist's Carolina Paradigm Shift.
At this time of year, I am always amazed at the ebb and flow of preserved goods in our pantry. I was just beginning to worry that we had far too few jars with things in them, and then boom! Thirty pounds of fruit fell in my lap last week. I've already kicked out a batch of canned peaches and some spicy peach jam with tequila (uh, yum!) and about 8.5 pounds of plums are still macerating in the fridge, destined for some jammy greatness today.
But what I anticipate most every year is our annual tomato canathon. And this year, it can't come soon enough. We're down to our last unopened quart of tomato puree, and have just two quarts of tomato water.
Tomato water, which we can as a by-product of our tomatopalooza, is a wonderfully versatile pantry item. It makes a great base for soups and braises, adding depth and subtle acidity. And, as I discovered last year, it makes a great cocktail.
You see, last year I had been asked to do a seminar on the Bloody Mary, to which I agreed. Except, you know, I sort of hate them. No hangover is bad enough to compel me to order one. I find the taste and -- most especially -- texture of canned tomato juice utterly repellant. Which is why I chose to de- and reconstruct it.
Subtracting the mealy-mouth texture of tomato juice opened windows of opportunity. Tomato water is light and thin; suddenly the whole complexion of the cocktail changed. I chose to pair it with my beloved cucumber-infused vodka, which I rather frequently have on hand as well, and added a hint of salt and spice on the rim. And voilà, a Bloody Mary without the blood. Because of its pale yellow hue, I dubbed it the Plasma Mary.
To make tomato water without going through the rigors of canning 100 pounds of tomatoes, simply blitz a few tomatoes in a food processor just enough to break them down, then strain through a few layers of cheesecloth.
2 oz tomato water
1 oz cucumber-infused vodka (see below)
1/4 oz (1-1/2 tsp) lemon juice
Spicy salted rim (see below)
For the rim, combine roughly equal portions of kosher salt, chili powder and ground cumin. (If you want a finer texture, use table salt or give the kosher salt a whir in a food processor for a second or two.) Dip the rim of the glass in water or vodka, lift directly out, hold the glass (still inverted) in the air for a couple seconds, then rest it into the spice mix.
Mix the remaining ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Stir aggressively to chill. (Stirring gives it a thicker consistency and doesn't introduce air bubbles into the cocktail.) Strain into the rimmed cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon wheel or cucumber round.
For the purposes of this cocktail, you could just as easily try any number of other options. In lieu of cucumber, you could sub in a few stalks of celery, some cherry tomatoes, a couple black peppercorns, or all of the above. Whatever your favorite flavors are in a Bloody Mary, go for it.
1 medium cucumber
750 ml 80-proof vodka
Peel the cucumber. Cut it in half, and scoop the seeds out with a spoon. Discard the seeds and skins. Cut the cucumber into chunks, and put in a glass or other non-reactive container (about 1.5 liter). Pour the vodka over. Seal, and give it a shake. Store in a cool, dark place, shaking daily, for 3-7 days, until it reaches the flavor you want. Strain through a coffee filter. Keep well chilled.
Wow -- we had 31 comments, five tweets and 21 pins. And the lucky winner is Wendy Gay with her pin, which was #39. Thanks, Wendy; I'll be getting the book out to you right away!
Hey wait, there's more! I have one copy of Making Wine, Liqueurs and Cordials by Beshlie Grimes to give away. In the comments on this post, tell us what infusions, liqueurs or cordials you like or would like to make. (Pro tip: For greatest ease of leaving comments, be a logged in member of the site by clicking "Join/Log In" in the upper right so you don't have to wrestle with the CAPTCHA code.)
And here's a way to get more chances to win: Click here to tweet about this post, or pin this post on Pinterest (make sure the above image gets pinned so we can find it). All comments, tweets and pins must be logged by midnight PDT, Monday, July 30 to qualify for entry.