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Juice fresh tomatoes, then make Bloody Mary with a twist

Recipe: Cocktail features just-squeezed tomato juice

The Fresh Bloody Mary has a lighter, more refreshing texture than the classic cocktail, which uses canned juice.

The Fresh Bloody Mary has a lighter, more refreshing texture than the classic cocktail, which uses canned juice. Debbie Arrington

Making fresh tomato juice is easy; all it takes is a blender and really ripe tomatoes.

Eight tomatoes on a plate
Use ripe round tomatoes to get the juice.

With this recent heat wave, tomatoes are nearly exploding with juice. Besides “juice tomatoes” bred specifically for their high water content, several common fast-maturing varieties work well for juice, too. That includes Early Girl, Ace, Celebrity and Better Boy. Round tomatoes tend to yield more juice than beefsteaks.

Some cooks suggest adding a few plum tomatoes for added body and thicker texture. Beloved for sauces, plum tomatoes such as Roma have fewer seeds and less water than other varieties.

Fresh tomato juice tastes and looks a little different than store-bought processed canned tomato juice. Fresh “squeezed” is not exposed to heat, so it stays a brighter, lighter, pinkish color, depending on variety. It also contains no added sugar or preservatives. Tomato juice can be frozen or used in tomato-based sauces, soups and other recipes.

Peeling the tomatoes is optional; the peel adds more color and fiber. The same goes for straining the juice for seeds.

What to do with that fresh juice? Try it in a Fresh Bloody Mary.

Cheers to ripe tomatoes!

Fresh tomato juice

Tomato juice in a blender
Just-blended juice in the blender.

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients:

1 pound very ripe tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Wash and core tomatoes. Chop tomatoes into quarters or eighths, depending on size. Put chopped tomatoes in blender or food processor. With the back of a wooden spoon, mash some of the tomatoes to release some juice. Process until tomatoes become liquified. Add salt and pepper to taste; pulse a few times to blend.

Use immediately or store in refrigerator.

Fresh Bloody Mary

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh tomato juice

3 ounces vodka

Juice of ½ lime

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce or to taste

Tomato juice in a clear glass with a celery stalk; tomato at left
Summer's top flavor in a cocktail.

1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish

¼ teaspoon celery salt

Celery stalks for garnish

Instructions:

In an ice-filled shaker, add all ingredients. Shake until blended.

Pour into tall ice-filled glasses. Add celery for garnish. Enjoy!

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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