Your Tomato Guts Have a New Purpose In Life

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Two Yellow Pear tomato plants are awaiting a final burst of heat and sunshine in our garden. Every afternoon my daughter and I walk back to collect a small handful of ripe ones (and see how much havoc the chipmunks have wreaked). She’ll neatly bite the very top off of one, suck out its insides, and say, “Mmm. I needed a tomato drink Mama!” Most of the time, she’ll then eat the rest of the tomato, but every so often she hands the shell of the tomato to me for polishing off—she’s deemed the seeds and tomato water the best part.

At just barely five years old, she’s already learned how flavorful the insides of tomatoes are, yet all too often we discard them. Whether we’re draining slices for a BLT or tomato pie, that tomato water is left to run off cutting boards and pool on countertops, merely awaiting its fate of being swiped up into a sponge or paper towel.​

Photo by Mark Weinberg

With prime tomato season still in swing, make a pact with yourself not to waste another drop of tomato water. Today’s recipe comes from MrsWheelbarrow, and as an expert preserver, it’s no surprise that she’s using tomato water left after canning tomatoes for her sangrita (note the “T,” we're not talking about sangria). Her recipe instructions even correspond with the canning timing: “Chill one hour. Conveniently, about the time it takes to cook and process crushed tomatoes.”

Sangrita comes from Mexico, and during trips to visit a dear friend in Tepoztlan, MrsWheelbarrow says 2 P.M. lunches would begin with fresh guacamole, salsa, homemade tortilla chips, and drinks: “Special narrow, tall glasses of tequila are served with matching sips of icy cold sangrita, a tomato, orange, and chili beverage that balances the fire of tequila so well, you’ll be on your third, or fourth, before you know it.” The “matching sip” part is key—the sangrita is a companion sipper for the tequila, the two aren’t mixed together, and sangrita isn’t a chaser, either.

If you aren’t canning crushed tomatoes, you might not have enough tomato water for a full cup. Not to worry, just make a half batch—you’ll have enough sangrita to share with a friend (or enough for two​ rounds for yourself). Of course, if you are canning tomatoes, stick with the full batch: As MrsWheelbarrow says—it's a good way to congratulate yourself when the jars start pinging!

Tomato Water Sangrita

Tomato Water Sangrita

MrsWheelbarrow MrsWheelbarrow
Serves 4
  • 1 cup tomato water
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
Go to Recipe

Know of a great recipe hiding in the Food52 archives that uses an overlooked kitchen scrap (anything from commonly discarded produce parts to stale bread to bones and more)? Tell me about it in the comments: I want to know how you're turning what would otherwise be trash into a dish to treasure!

Tags: Cocktail, Tomato, Cooking with Scraps