Tomato Water Is A Flavor Bomb For Any Recipe

A perfectly ripe, beautiful summer tomato can be an explosion of flavor in your mouth. They are tender and juicy, with the perfect balance of a hint of sweetness and a touch of acidity. If you've ever bitten into a whole cherry tomato, for instance, you've likely experienced a burst of flavorful tomato liquid. Similarly, whenever you slice a fresh tomato, its liquid contents immediately pour out onto your cutting board.

As it turns out, the liquid hiding beneath the flesh of a ripe tomato is a precious commodity. It can be captured and transformed into an ingredient that serves as a flavor bomb for any recipe. All you'll need are fresh tomatoes, a bit of coarse salt, and some cheesecloth. This ingredient is called tomato water, and once you realize how easy it is to prepare, you'll soon find countless ways to incorporate it into some of your favorite recipes. It works well as a base for soup, or as a pop of acid to brighten up a dish.

How to make tomato water

Fresh tomato water differs from canned tomato products found on grocery store shelves. In its most basic form, tomato water involves capturing and straining the precious, flavorful liquid released from a cut tomato, without any solids. To obtain the most tomato water from a batch of fresh tomatoes, you can puree them with coarse salt and allow them to strain through cheesecloth into a non-reactive container. The liquid captured below is the tomato water. 

It's important to note that you should never squeeze the cheesecloth or press on the pureed tomatoes as they're being strained. While it might seem that doing so would yield a higher volume of tomato water and expedite the process, it actually results in cloudy tomato water. Simply let gravity do the work for you. If you place the cheesecloth filled with tomato puree and the container in the refrigerator overnight, you'll be delighted to find clear tomato water eight to 12 hours later.

How to use tomato water

Once you've captured the exquisite and fragrant tomato water, it can be used in a wide variety of ways. Tomato water is a great addition to cocktails and can infuse your favorite Bloody Mary with straight-from-the-garden flavor. It can also be used in refreshing non-alcoholic beverages, such as classic lemonade with a fresh tomato twist.

The acidity in tomatoes makes tomato water an ideal addition to a vinaigrette, replacing some of the vinegar or citrus in the recipe. Along the same lines, a dash of tomato water can be an intriguing substitute for lemon juice in any dish that could use a bit more zing.

Tomato water can also serve as a substitute for stock in various recipes. It provides a more colorful and flavorful alternative to vegetable stock, and can replace chicken stock to make a dish vegetarian or vegan. You can even highlight the sweetness of tomato water by using it to create a refreshing tomato sorbet.