I hate to throw away flavor! That’s why I save chicken and meat bones, mushroom stems and the like.
Now that it’s heavy duty tomato season, tomato cores and skins just bursting with tomatoness demand a choice: toss, compost, do something. When I peel and core one or two tomatoes, I generally stuff the skins and core into a bag of bones in the freezer for use in the next stock.
On this day, I used five Early Girls to make a tomato base for soup. That seemed enough to make tomato water. What th’ hell is that?
That, my friend, is as much flavor as I can gather from those scraps. I use tomato water in addition to broth, as appropriate, when making a soup or stew, or even a pan sauce. It keeps pretty much forever in the fridge, although two cups won’t last longer than a week or so. Although last season, one jar got in the way-back of the fridge for two or three months, and ended up tasting just fine.
Take five or six skins and cores and put them in a saucepan. If you have some celery or onion or carrot trimmings, chuck those in, as well. Cover with a little more than two cups of water and simmer for about half an hour. Strain into your handy POM jar and refrigerate until you need a subtle blast of tomato.
Oh, full disclosure, it won’t always look this pretty. Bits of tomato suspended in the liquid will sink to the bottom. Just shake before using. The fab flavor doesn’t go away.
In Paul Bertolli’s book “Cooking By Hand” he describes another kind of tomato water, or essence, which is NOT made from scraps, however, but can provide another big hit of tomato flavor to anything it’s added to.
He rough chops super fresh tomatoes, then hangs them in cheesecloth (or a cloth bag, or even a colander lined with paper towels) and catches the drippings over at least 24 hours. The result is a super clear liquid tinted red (or green if you use only green colored tomatoes, etc.) that packs a serious tomato punch.