The following is a guest blog post from You Grow Girl: Gayla Trail, a Canadian gardener, blogger, author, and photographer.
Both spring and summer have been unseasonably cool in my neck of the woods, and unfortunately the tomatoes have suffered. I lost a few straight out of the gate and fear that some of the late season indeterminate varieties will not ripen in time for the fall frost. Fortunately, I tend to over-plant so there will be tomatoes regardless. A few indeterminate plants are filling up with fruit and many of the fruit in my patch of dwarf and determinate varieties are starting to show their colour.
One way I like to use up the bounty is in making homemade tomato juice. I know it sounds like a chore when you can just buy tomato juice in a can, but wait until you try it. The difference between the store-bought product and this one made with seasonal ingredients is incomparable, and I mean that without an ounce of sentimentality or exaggeration. It’s a scientific fact!
The following recipe is the one I use at home, reprinted from my book, “Drinking the Summer Garden: Homegrown Thirst Quenchers, Concoctions, Sips, and Nibbles.”
Homegrown Tomato Juice
- 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1⁄2 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1⁄2 cup fresh parsley (stems and leaves), roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 1⁄2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
- Pickled green tomatoes, for garnish (found on page 17 of Drinking the Summer Garden)
- Place the tomatoes, onion, celery, bell pepper, parsley, oregano, and salt in a large pot and simmer on medium-low heat until the vegetables are cooked through and soft, about 20 minutes. Stir regularly to prevent sticking.
- Press through a food mill or old-fashioned chinois and discard solids.
- Stir in the honey and lemon juice and season with black pepper and/or more sea salt to taste.
- Serve in a frosty glass on ice, garnished with skewered cherry tomatoes, pickled onion, or sliced cucumber.
- Store the juice in the fridge for a couple of days.
Variations: There are countless ways to turn this healthy drink into a fun afternoon mocktail. Before serving, wet the rim of each glass with a slice of lemon and dip into celery or lovage salt (instructions for how to make these are included in my book, Drinking the Summer Garden.” Shake or stir in a dash of Worcestershire sauce or balsamic vinegar to taste. Season with dried or finely chopped fresh herbs such as basil, marjoram, or thyme. Spice it up with a hot pickled pepper. Drink it through a hollow lovage stem made into an edible straw.
GAYLA TRAIL is the creator of YouGrowGirl.com, where she has been sharing her experiences gardening in difficult urban spaces for 13 years. Gayla is the author/photographer of four books on urban gardening: You Grow Girl: The Groundbreaking Guide to Gardening, Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces (translated into three additional languages), Easy Growing: Organic Herbs and Edible Flowers from Small Spaces and Drinking the Summer Garden: Homegrown Thirst Quenchers, Concoctions, Sips, and Nibbles.” She lives, cooks, and gardens in Toronto with her partner Davin and their sweet pup Molly.