Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Uncle Dick's Tomato Juice

Dangerous Kitchen Experiments, Family, Gardening

Last month I was at a birthday celebration that happened to include a generous cross section of my vast extended family.

During the course of the evening's festivities we got to talking about times-past and growing up in the old neighborhood.

We also talked at-length about uncle Dick.

Uncle Dick's family and mine grew-up at opposite ends of the block.

We were close.

Richard was my pop's little brother and my favorite uncle.  He's been gone thirty years now. And although I might have thought about him from time to time, ever since that gathering, uncle Dick has visited my memories way more than would be expected. 

Such is the way with favorite uncles following an opportunity to reminisce.

I've also been thinking about what to do with my stash of canned tomatoes.  For some peculiar reason I have a childhood recollection of uncle Dick making tomato juice.

How strange is that? 

Was it the confluence of two disparate notions - a bunch of cousins talking about their childhood days and the surplus of canned tomatoes?  Or was it simply a figment of a vivid childhood imagination?  Who knows.

There is no record of uncle Dick's tomato juice recipe.  Furthermore, I have never made tomato juice before.  One of my readers went to the trouble to email me her grandmother's recipe for tomato juice.  So, fortified with more inspiration than knowledge I was determined to do more than just think about it.  I would act upon it.

I fetched my Foley Food Mill.  I made multiple trips to the basement root cellar and hauled a bunch of jars of canned garden tomatoes to the scene of the applesauce incident.  I felt reasonably confident of my safety as no pressure cooker was involved in the juicing process.

And it turned out to be a marvelously simple process.

All I had to do is dump the contents of the jars into the mill and crank the stuff through the sieve.  The tomatoes had already been peeled and then cooked via the canning process so that time had already been expended in the previous fiscal year.

Do you have any idea how lip-smacking yummy canned homegrown tomatoes are when you pop the lid off? 

Wow!  It sends you right back to August and September.

My lovely wife commented - Boy, it sure smells nice and tomatoey in the house.  It stinks outside.  Someone's spreading manure today.

I will take that as a compliment.

The mill is really efficient.  By the time I had completed the task of cranking there was only about a big double handful of pulp and seeds left for the composter.

I filled my big stock pot almost to the brim with a nice thick juice that was almost perfectly balanced.  At least to my palate. I did add some additional sea salt and one dash each of garlic powder, onion powder and white pepper.

I slowly cooked it almost to a boil.

I filled some sterilized jars from the dishwasher, cranked-on the lids and processed them in a boiling water bath for 40 minutes.

The result was six and a half quarts of some of the best tomato juice I have ever indulged-in. (The odd pint can be explained by the cook's thorough sampling and quality control measures throughout).

I have dubbed this:  Uncle Dick's Tomato Juice.

There's plenty more raw material for another batch or two.  And I believe I will plant more tomatoes this growing season so I can make juice directly from the vine to the jar.

Anybody have a favorite Bloody Mary recipe?

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