Don't let less-than-perfect tomatoes rot on the vine (or cucumbers, herbs, peppers, etc.). Use them up and put them up with this tasty and healthy garden tonic.
It was the agrarian and back-to-the-land writings of Louis Bromfield put into practice at his Malabar Farm outside of Mansfield, Ohio that prompted my grandparents to flee the New Jersey suburbs in post-war 1946 to a farm in New Hampshire.
His writings, such as Pleasant Valley, have likewise inspired us and we've made a few pilgrimages to Malabar Farm over the years.
In a recent browse through some favorite cookbooks I came upon this recipe for his famous "Dr. Bromfield's Special Vegetable Compound and Celery Tonic" in Heartland–The Best of the Old and The New from Midwest Kitchens, one of several cookbooks by the late Marcia Adams [Clarkson Potter: 1991].
She was one of the second wave of television foodies in the late 1980s with her PBS show, Cooking from Quilt Country. I have all of her cookbooks and they are beautifully photographed with excellent Midwestern fare and food history.
Given my growing surplus of late-summer vegetables, I decided to give this recipe a try.
The only thing I did differently was to add some spare lettuce leaves that I had kicking around the fridge, as well as the spinach. And, I doubled the recipe and got about 12 quarts.
A Victorio® Food Strainer is ideal for making tomato juice, sauce, catsup and other things: we will use the special pumpkin attachment to do butternut squash and pumpkin puree in October. You could use a Foley® Food Mill but it would take much longer.
My chickens enjoy all of the waste, which is minimal, that is forced out when you turn the crank.
We also made basic tomato juice by boiling down the tomatoes and putting them through the strainer.
My husband had requested it. However, I'm fairly certain he will want me to put more of this special juice up next year. At the very least I think he'll appreciate a Bloody Mary made with it!
You could probably also substitute fresh basil for parsley...or just about any vegetables that need to be cooked down. Perhaps even a bit of horseradish—or save that for your Bloody Mary.
Louis Bromfield's Tomato Juice (aka "V-9")
Adapted from "Dr. Bromfield's Special Vegetable Compound and Celery Tonic" in Heartland–The Best of the Old and The New from Midwest Kitchens
- 1 peck tomatoes (about 17 lbs.)
- 1 bunch celery (tops and all)
- 8 garlic cloves
- 4 medium onions
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 medium carrots
- 2 green or red bell peppers
- 1 large bunch fresh spinach
- 1 large bunch misc. lettuce greens
- 1 large bunch fresh parsley
- 2 Tablespoons mustard seed
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 Tablespoons salt
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I used a few shakes of Tabasco and also added fresh ground pepper)
- Wash, core and chop the tomatoes very coarsely. Clean and coarsely chop the rest of the vegetables.
- Divide all the vegetables and remaining ingredients between two large, deep kettles (this is especially important if you double the recipe). The recipes says it makes about 4-5 quarts but I got 13 when I doubled it.
- Cover and bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are completely softened. Stir once or twice, if needed.
- Let stand until just cool enough to handle, but still very hot.
- Force the mixture through a sieve or food mill then return the juice to the kettles and reheat if necessary.
- Pour the hot juice into hot, sterilized pint or quart jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.
- Seal and process in a hot-water bath for 40 minutes for pints and 45 minutes for quarts. [I did this for 15 minutes only at a boil, then another 15 minutes sitting in the hot water with the lid on; it may be that with the added low-acid vegetables the cookbook writers were advised to err on the side of caution––after all, I was canning with my Mennonite friend Anna who has been doing this all of her life.]
Enjoy all fall and winter long!