Readers Richard and Lorna Paschke of Centereach sent in a great idea for using up an overabundance of year-end tomatoes: Homemade tomato juice. "Yummy! WAY better than anything from a can," they wrote in an e-mail, which also included a recipe they found on simplyrecipes.com:
Homemade Tomato Juice Recipe
Some tomatoes are sweeter than others, depending on their ripeness and the variety of tomato. Use the ripest tomatoes you can. Added sugar will balance the natural acidity of the tomatoes, use more or less to taste. Tabasco hot sauce is also to taste, depending on your desired level of spiciness.
What to do with the leftover tomato pulp? Try frying it up with some eggs for a tasty scramble.
3 pounds very ripe garden tomatoes, cored, roughly chopped
1 1/4 cups chopped celery with leaves
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoon sugar (to taste)
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch black pepper
A couple shakes of Tabasco sauce, about 6 to 8 drops (to taste)
Put all ingredients into a large nonreactive pot (use stainless steel, not aluminum). Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until mixture is completely soupy, about 25 minutes.
Force mixture through a sieve, chinoise or food mill. Cool completely.
Store covered and chilled. Will last for about 1 week in the refrigerator. Makes about 1 quart.
And the Paschkes report "you haven't lived until you try the above in a bloody Mary (or Virgin Mary for a morning pick-me-up.)" I believe them. Here's the recipe they forwarded:
1 1/2 ounces vodka (optional)
3 ounces tomato juice
1 dash lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
2 to 3 drops Tabasco sauce
1 lime wedge
Shake all ingredients (except lime wedge) with ice and strain into an old-fashioned glass over ice cubes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the wedge of lime and serve.