September 23, 2011

Tomato Feast Tomato Famine

 Tomato Water Mocktails

By mid-September, most of Oregon has entered a definite early autumn. Usually. But not this year.
For the longest time, summer refused to come. I took the flannel sheets off of the beds in early June, and it was a month too soon. The flowers took their sweet time coming into robust bloom. The vegetable garden languored to the point that we anticipated our gardening efforts would be a bust. Let me add here that we had planted somewhere in the neighborhood of a dozen tomato plants, and there are only two of us. I'm sure you can see where this is going.

Now it's mid-September, when typically our Oregon days reach the mid-seventies for a high, and we're still popping up to the high eighties. The tomatoes have decided to ripen. All at once.

I'm not complaining. Last summer, we ended up at this time with tiny hard, green tomatoes, and you can only fry up so many of those.

All summer we've made lovely "mocktails" with a squeeze of lemon or lime, ice, a glassful of mineral water and a shake or two of any number of delicious bitters as the mood strikes. Fee Brothers makes a huge variety of bitters, and I couldn't help but to stock the pantry with lemon, West Indies orange, plum, cranberry, mint, cherry, peach, rhubarb and celery flavors. (My local liquor store only stocks a few flavors, but happily ordered in the rest on request.) This again, for two people, amounts to what I'm sure is a lifetime supply of bitters.

As I pondered a pile of very ripe tomato orbs of multiple varieties, this variation of a little afternoon refresher came to mind.

Tomato Water Mocktails
makes one

1 large or 2 small very ripe tomatoes
one small sprig basil
1 small wedge lemon
ice to fill glass
mineral water, chilled
celery bitters
  • Chop tomatoes roughly. Place a few pieces at a time in a wire mesh strainer and crush with the back of a spoon over a small bowl.
  • Tear off several basil leaves. Muddle in bottom of glass with the back of a spoon. 
  • Squeeze in the lemon wedge and toss the remains into the glass. 
  • Pour tomato water back through the strainer into the glass. 
  • Fill glass with ice. 
  • Fill glass with mineral water. 
  • Top with two or three shakes of celery bitters. 
  • Gently push down just a little on the top ice cube, not enough to disturb the lovely red tomato water layer on the bottom. 
  • Garnish with a sprig of basil flowers. Serve with dispatch.
If you want to fancy this up for company or a special occasion, I'd go to the trouble of straining, without squeezing, the tomato pulp through several layers of cheesecloth or a dish towel. Otherwise, the tomato water does separate, creating a more rustic appearance.

I invite you to share your ideas for quick, easy ways to quickly capitalize on highly anticipated fresh tomatoes while they are available and abundant. Of course there's nothing wrong with eating them out of hand for a snack or sliced for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and we've been doing a lot of that, too.

10 comments:

  1. I was just thinking the other day that I wanted to stock up on interesting varieties of bitters. The Fee Brothers brand has such interesting variations! Anyway, this mocktail sounds perfect and summery and refreshing. I've got tomatoes coming out my ears right now, so any new use for them is always welcomed. :)

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  2. I'm truly jealous of your surplus of tomatoes! Stuffed tomatoes, tacos, caprese salads...so many delicious options!

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  3. Such beautiful tomatoes - I love them fresh any way I can get them. I am finally looking forward to the fall, but having a hard time letting go of summer....lovely pictures as always!

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  4. Congratulations on making Top 9 with this! Way to go! :)

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  5. This is so interesting! Congrats on the Top 9!

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  6. I was instantly drawn to the photo, and the mocktail looks wonderful. Will be trying this tonight! We are just coming up to our tomatoe growing season in the desert and I can't wait!

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  7. I've never heard of making mocktails with tomato water before. What a great idea. Our summer came late this year too and it left in a rainy mess. What a creative use for tomatoes!

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  8. Gorgeous tomatoes. Congrats on top 9!

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  9. Great to find a fellow Oregon blogger. I totally understand your sentiment about the garden. Pictures look lovely and sound so refreshing.
    Congratulations on top 9!

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