Tomato Water? If you haven’t heard of it, I don’t blame you. But once you try it, you’ll wonder why you’ve gone this long without it.
That is, assuming you like the flavor of fresh tomatoes. Which I do.
So, what is Tomato Water exactly? It’s the flavorful, fragrant liquid that releases from ripe tomatoes when they’re cut. So, the stuff that ends up all over your cutting board when you’re slicing tomatoes. Which is such a waste really, because it has SO much flavor. So, I save it, and I make a ton of delicious things with it. It takes a little time sitting in the fridge, but other than the waiting, it’s completely easy.
You need: a fine mesh (or similar) strainer & a large bowl it can sit on, plus either cheesecloth or a clean flour sack towel. I use cheesecloth for this because I always have it, but a single layer of a flour sack towel works just about the same. You also need a spot in your fridge that the bowl will fit in.
Here’s what you do: pop 4 large tomatoes (or 5-7 medium ones) in your blender or food processor. You don’t have to core them or anything, just make sure they are clean. (Unless you need to cut them in half to get them close enough to the blade.) I add one cucumber too, because I it think it really enhances the flavor. If you don’t have a cucumber or don’t like them, skip it and add another tomato. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sea salt in there too, for flavor and to help the tomatoes release their juice. Process until you’re somewhere between finely chopped and pulp. Position the strainer over the bowl, line the strainer with the cheesecloth or towel, and pour the tomato mixture in the strainer. Then put the whole thing in the fridge overnight. Resist the urge to mess with it.
The next day, you’ll have a bowl of lovely Tomato Water. You’ll also have a strainer full of remaining tomato + cucumber solids that are still usable and delicious. I add them to soups, stews, make salsa, or toss them on the stove with some olive oil, garlic & fresh basil for a fabulous quick pasta sauce.
Carefully pour the Tomato Water into a glass jar or lidded container, and store covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. The color of the finished product will depend on what variety of tomatoes you use.
Now you’re ready to use it: my favorite application for Tomato Water is, by far, the Farmers Market cocktail. It’s like a wine-based Bloody Mary, and it might be my favorite libation ever. You can also use the water to make a more traditional Bloody Mary with vodka, use it in vinaigrette + salad dressing for knockout flavor, or use it in place of vegetable stock. You can make Tomato Sorbet. You can even drink it by itself, which is what I often do. Sometimes with a little ice and a squeeze of lemon or a splash of club soda. Sometimes straight – no chaser.
You can double this recipe if you have a bowl + strainer big enough. You can add fresh herbs or peppers or even an onion. It’s your Tomato Water, after all. Once you try it, I’m pretty sure you’ll be making it again.
Summer Tomato Water
- strainer, cheesecloth or flour sack towels and large bowl
- 4 large fresh tomatoes or 5-7 medium
- 1 cucumber
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl, and line the strainer with cheesecloth (or a clean flour sack towel). Add the tomato water ingredients to a blender or food processor, and pulse until pulpy or finely chopped. (You may need to cut the tomatoes or cucumber in large chunks to get it next to the blade. If you do, make sure to pour any extra juice in with them!)
- Pour the mixture into the prepared strainer, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or up to a day.
- Tip: for clear tomato water, don’t press or stir the pulp.
- Discard the solids, and keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Photos: Meg van der Kruik
OK, you made the water. Now it’s on to the Farmers Market. You’re gonna love this one.