Tomato lovers: Looking for one more way to squeeze out every last drop of flavor from all that glorious peak-season fruit? Try tomato water.
Literally the flavorful juices that are left behind once you strain away all the pulp, tomato water is typically made from tomato scraps. Once you strain out all those red peels and remaining bits of fruit, you’re left with an almost-clear liquid (picture the drippings left on your plate after eating, say, a BLT). The light, delicate tomato water that’s left behind embodies the very essence of the fruit—basically, it tastes like summer, fans say.
Now, the underrated ingredient is showing up more frequently on restaurant menus, from drinks through to dessert: There’s a tomato soda and an “Off the Vine” tomato-water cocktail right now at The NoMad in New York City; and cubes of watermelon with tomato-water agar make up the bed for a tomato sorbet at the pop-up restaurant Longoven, in Richmond, Virginia.
Of course, you’ll find it in main dishes, too.
“Tomato water is definitely a treat enjoyed on its own, offering a clean, bright, yet savory tomato flavor. But many people don't realize how great it is as an ingredient too,” says chef Aaron Adams, owner of the restaurant Farm Spirit in Portland, Ore., where he’s been preparing a dish of tomato water, cherries, sungold tomatoes, herbs and leaves, served like a soup.
“I love it as a component in savory broths and sauces,” he adds. “That's where its fresh umami flavor can really shine.”
Best of all: Tomato water is easy to make, and a great way to use scraps leftover from canning or making sauces, says Sherri Brooks Vinton, author of the new book, “Eat It Up!: 150 Recipes to Use Every Bit and Enjoy Every Bite of the Food You Buy.”
Whenever you have leftover trimmings, like peels and cores, put them in the freezer, Brooks Vinton says. When you get to a quart’s worth, put the frozen trimmings over a fine-mesh colander over a large bowl and defrost. Once the trimmings defrost, you’ll have a bowl of tomato water.
Drink it up on its own, use it in cocktails or try it as a base for soups and creative desserts!