how to make bloody mary mix | my farm-to-glass trip to red gold tomatoes

I’m sitting at my desk, looking at my weather app and realizing the sunny, sixty-five degree weather we’ve enjoyed over the past three days is about to disappear come Thursday. Just in time for Thanksgiving. And just in time for our heater to break down. My boyfriend’s been tweaking with our house’s antiquated electrical wiring, and I think something must have gone amok. I’ve got my space heater cranking, and I am wearing fingerless gloves, as I type.

I suppose worse things could happen, right?

Steve and I have been putting the finishing touches on our kitchen this past week, hence the electrical tweaking. We finally chose some lighting above the peninsula, and we just installed some recessed dimmer lights and a couple of spotlights above the sink, counters, and stove. I’m laughing because it’s taken us nearly two years to agree on the style of exposed shelves we wanted to span the white glass back-splash. My parents might say we are procrastinators, but I like to describe ourselves as “discerning and particular”. It just sounds better.

This little snap of warm weather enticingly brought me back summer in my mind, and I craved my summer treat staples, especially a juicy, ripe, red tomato. Not to be found. I even toyed around with the idea of making freezer pops. There’s one thing, however, I love to make in the dead of winter, and that’s a spicy Bloody Mary, made with tomatoes we preserved from our summer garden.

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This year’s tomato yield was rather lame, due to a cool, rainy spring. Nothing ripened until late August, and we ended up harvesting a lot of green tomatoes the following month. We puréed and froze the small haul of ripe heirlooms and placed them in freezer bags for a later and chillier date.

There’s nothing quite like cooking a batch of homemade tomato soup or enjoying a savory, spicy Bloody Mary, as the snow falls outside. Summer memories immediately come to mind with each spoonful or sip.

When we eventually run out of our packs of frozen, puréed tomatoes, the next best substitute is actually canned tomatoes. Unless you come across some organic, greenhouse-grown varieties {score!}, the ones found in the grocery during the winter months are usually tasteless, peaked, and bland.

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Two months ago, I got to see how tomatoes make it to the can, when I took a trip to Indiana for a farm and cannery tour of Red Gold. The trip was engaging and enlightening, and I coincidentally got to meet one of my favorite food bloggers, Sherrie Castellano, creator of the plant-based blog, With Food + Love. We still laugh about the memories we made on this trip. From sharing a farm dinner in a red barn during a rainstorm, to opening some Indiana wine with a Swiss Army knife borrowed from an EMT worker at a Luke Bryan show, to sampling the local specialty, chess pie, the stories don’t disappoint.

Red Gold Tomatoes is a family owned company that sources its tomatoes from over 40 independent tomato farmers. The scale of their production is staggering, as you can see from the above photos of one of their farms. They’ve even developed a non-GMO variety of tomatoes, which is quickly and easily removed from the ground, via a mechanical harvester. Their freshly picked tomatoes are transported directly to their canning facility, where they are washed multiple times, hand-inspected, and immediately processed, ensuring the utmost quality and freshness. And their cans are BPA-free, a solid move.

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While I think fresh, locally grown tomatoes are best for making homemade Bloody Mary mix, canned tomatoes, picked at their peak of ripeness, is the next best thing. Red Gold sent me a few of their canned tomatoes, and I knew exactly what I was going to make with them. I’m going to share a very loose recipe I use for my Bloody Mary mix; I’ll forgo the nitty-gritty specifics, so that you can improvise as you wish, making the recipe your own.

The texture flavor profile here? This is a richly textured Bloody Mary mix with herbal notes of parsley and reminiscent-of-summer juiced cucumber. It’s vibrant, spicy, zesty, and full of bright tomato flavor.

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homemade bloody mary mix


  • 2 15-ounce cans whole or diced tomatoes {preferably organic}
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/4 of a cucumber
  • 1 small handful of fresh parsley
  • 1 large, ripe lemon, juiced
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh horseradish {I use Bubbies}
  • a few dashes Worcestershire sauce, to taste {I use Annie’s Organic}
  • a few shakes hot sauce, to taste
  • celery salt, to taste
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
  • a dash or so of pickle brine for zest, to taste
  1. In a blender, combine the canned tomatoes, carrot, cucumber, parsley, and lemon juice. Blend until the components are thoroughly puréed and integrated. I use my Vitamix and start on the variable setting, progress until I reach the highest setting, and run it for 10 seconds.
  2. At this point, decide upon your texture. I prefer a thicker texture, but if you like your Bloody Mary mix a little less thick, add a little water, blending until you reach your desired consistency.
  3. Pour the mixture into a pitcher and add the horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, celery salt, sea salt, black pepper, and pickle brine, being sure to add a little of each, at first.
  4. Stir well, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to thoroughly chill.
  5. When you’re ready to enjoy, fill a glass with ice, add an ounce or so of good vodka, fill with the Bloody Mary mix, and top with your favorite garnishes.
  • Want to substitute fresh tomatoes and forego the can? Fresh heirlooms always taste the best, in my book. Simply substitute 5-6 whole tomatoes for a 15-ounce can’s worth. Want in on my little secret? I never, ever peel my tomatoes. The skins are so nutrient-dense, and keeping the skins on doesn’t change the flavor profile or the texture. I say, skip it!
  • Optionally rim your glasses with sea salt before adding ice. Get creative and add an herb-infused salt or a specialty salt, like I did with my new favorite: Briny Sea Dry Goods’ “Magic Unicorn Salt.” It’s a fantastic blend of smoked paprika, sea salt, rosemary, celery seed, and granulated garlic. Bloody Mary, meet the most perfect rim ever.
  • For a brighter, even more herbaceous Bloody Mary, look for Square One Organic Basil Vodka. I love adding it to a spicy Bloody Mary mix.
  • Go crazy with your garnishes. While I personally forego the likes of jumbo shrimp and bacon on my Bloodys, I’m all about the quick-pickled gherkins, dilly beans, celery, parsley, pickled carrots, capers, pickled garlic, and fancy olives.

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Have you ever made your own Bloody Mary mix? I find the homemade version far more delicious than anything I’ve purchased, and I’ve tasted some good ones. Do you have any tips you can share or flavorings to suggest?

Do you have any favorite bottled versions? The Real Dill’s Bloody Mary Mix is mad delicious. It’s a local Colorado product, so it might prove tricky to find. It’s so worth the search, though.

Cheers to a successful day-before-Thanksgiving! Hopefully, yours is filled with a little relaxation and, perhaps, a Bloody Mary to start off the cooking festivities and ward away the frenetic pulse of the crowded stores. I’ll be baking pies all day, after I grab a much-needed cup of tea before it all starts.

XO,

Jayme

Red Gold Farms sponsored my trip to Indiana this past September, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. {Thanks again, Red Gold Tomatoes, for letting a home gardener see what it’s like to grow and preserve tomatoes on such a grand scale!}

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I loved adding pickled carrots from the garden. These are actually last year’s carrots. Carrots take longer for the pickling brine to penetrate, much longer than any other vegetable I work with, so after a year, they are tasting perfect right now.

And I’m wishing you all the very happiest of Thanksgivings! It’s a pie-baking day for me today.

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10 thoughts on “how to make bloody mary mix | my farm-to-glass trip to red gold tomatoes

    1. Jayme Henderson Post author

      Jenny! Happy Thanksgiving to you! I’m sure you are enjoying your break! I’m away from work today, thankfully, and I’m just about to step into the kitchen to make some pies. I’m always trying to sneak in more vegetables. Plus, they always add such personality and depth to almost everything. I’m preheating the oven right now – I hadn’t quite yet made the connection that all of the baking would heat things up around here! 😉

      PS – I think of you often, since Kate now works with me! She is such a bright ray of sunshine. I know we’ve said it before, but we should do another {but smaller} get-together, maybe just the three of us! XO!

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  1. Gail Henderson

    I miss your beautiful header!!!  You can change it, but I hate to see you get rid of it.  I enjoyed reading all about the tomatoes, etc.; you write so well.   Love you, Jaymo!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Jayme Henderson Post author

      Marmy!!

      I miss YOU!! Good things are coming, and it felt dated to me. I love you, too, and I’m so happy you took the time to read the post. I so miss tomato season. The ground is all covered in white right now, and it is in the single digits. My weather reporter friend came by again tonight, and I let him know my thoughts on his inaccuracy regarding the last “blizzard” prediction. Hee hee. 😜 I told him that I want a seriously massive dumping of snow for Christmas this year.

      Thank you for the compliments. I hope you and Auntie had a great Thanksgiving!! XO!!

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  2. Ashlae

    Well, we have four radiant heaters that put off so much heat we HAVE to turn them off during the day. So if you’re place gets unbearably cold, know that we have an 86˚F spare room with your name on it. 😉 I think I’ve told you this at least half a dozen times before, but.. YOUR PHOTOS ARE MY FAVORITE. XO

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Jayme Henderson Post author

      Well, YOU’RE MY FAVORITE!! 💕 And thank you for the compliment! I’m still getting my head around the new cam. ❄️ It was pretty cold last night, but Steve is coming to the rescue tomorrow and fixing it for us. Old houses!! It’s just been super cozy with all of the extra afghans and blankets and quilts. Hope you’re cozied up this Saturday! I am feeling some pancakes coming on… XO!!

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    1. Jayme Henderson Post author

      Thanks, Lily! I really think you’d especially dig the smoothie-like aspect of a fresh Bloody Mary. It’s not always my first drink of choice, either – it has to be a Saturday or Sunday, the drink has to be spicy and rich, and brunch fare has to be involved. I suppose I’m kinda picky about my Bloody scenario. 😉 There’s a time and a place for a good one, though!

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  3. danielle is rooting the sun

    jayme i love this post up and down and left to right! you had me at farm to glass. it’s so beautiful to see highlights from your journey to red gold (and my goodness your tomatoes are gorgeous blushing beacons in my white snow horizon). absolutely adore the idea of paying homage to the summer efforts by way of bloody mary. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Jayme Henderson Post author

      Thanks, Danielle! 🙂 I’m staring out my window here by my computer, and all I see is white and brown, with a big splash of blue sky. No more tomatoes, sadly. But that’s why it’s so great to have some frozen tomatoes in the freezer and some sauce down in the basement. It can at least taste like summer, right? XOXO your way, too!

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