When tomatoes are is season, or growing on my vines if I’m lucky, I preserve them in any way I can think of. I make sauce, tomato soup base and just plain old puree and stack them up in ziptop bags in the freezer. Sometimes I can whole tomatoes, but now I’ve learned you can freeze them whole for later cooking. This year, I’ve been looking for a new and different idea, and I set my mind on Bloody Mary mix. I know many people are very happy with, even prefer, the standard bottled mixes. But I think once you give a real, homemade version a try, you’ll be hooked. Packed with fresh, in season tomatoes and lots of flavorful vegetables, it’s a very special treat. A little warmth from the banana peppers and ginger set this blend apart.
I made a few adjustments to my standard recipe to make it suitable for canning, so a few lucky folks on my list will be getting some for Christmas (let the competition begin). And how much of treat will fresh tomato Bloody Marys be at a holiday brunch? You can also make this for serving as soon as it’s chilled, or pack it into ziptop bags or freezer jars to store.
Stick with the basic quantity of vegetables, sugar and lemon juice for storage, but feel free to add more hot sauce, Worcestershire, or stir in a spoonful of prepared horseradish. Remember, you can always add a dash of hot sauce when you’re mixing the drink. To make a Bloody Mary, fill a tall glass with ice, add vodka, top with the mix and stir. Pepper or lemon vodka add a nice twist if you are so inclined. After storage, the mix may get a bit thick, just thin it out with a little water, it can handle it. I like to garnish a good Bloody Mary with Pickled Asparagus or Dilly Beans, but the traditional celery beautifully complements this mix.
Homemade Bloody Mary Mix
After storage, the mix may be a bit thick. Just thin it with a bit of water, and of course, vodka.
8 pounds plum tomatoes, quartered
3 green peppers, seeds and ribs removed chopped
3 carrots, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch Italian parsley leaves, torn
1 –inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
3 small or 1 large banana peppers, seeds removed, chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
Generous grinds of black pepper to taste
½ Tablespoon hot sauce (I like Crystal)
1 tablespoon Worcestershiresauce
Place all the chopped vegetables in large Dutch oven. Add a splash of water, cover the pot, and cook until the vegetables are mushy, 30 – 40 minutes. Stir occasionally, breaking up the vegetables with the back of a spoon. When everything is mushy, leave to cool for a few minutes.
Working in batches, carefully puree the vegetables in a blender. Fill the blender half full, vent the top and hold it tight covered with a tea towel. When each batch is done, press it through a fine sieve, extracting as much liquid as possible. Discard the pulp left behind. If you have a food mill, this is a great time to use it. Return all the extracted liquid to the pot. Add the sugar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Bring the mix to a boil and boil for 3 minutes.
You can now cool the mix, pour it into a pitcher, chill it and use it right away, or can it in quart jars for long term storage. You can also cool it, pour it into ziptop freezer bags or freezer jars and freeze it for up to six months.
To can the mix, clean and sterilize the 3 (like to have an extra, just in case) quart jars. I do this in the dishwasher, timing it so the jars are still warm when I am ready to pour the mix in. While your Bloody Mary mix is cooking, get a boiling water canner or big stockpot of water going. Here are step-by step instructions for processing in a canner. When the mix is almost ready, pour some boiling water over the lids to your jars to soften the seals and set aside.
I like to ladle the hot mix into a large measuring jug for easy pouring. Fill each of your warm, cleaned jars with the hot mix, leaving a ½ inch head space. Dry the lids with a clean paper towel and place on the jars. Screw on the bands, then process the jars for 40 minutes in a boiling water bath. If you have a bit of extra mix, pour it into a refrigerator container and keep in the fridge for up to a week.
Makes 2 quarts (plus a little extra)
To make a Bloody Mary, fill a tall glass with ice, add 2 ounces vodka (or as much as you like) and top with Bloody Mary Mix and stir. If the mix is thick, add a bit of water to thin it out.