Some people tell me that cooked foods are “dead” foods. Their claim is that there is very little nutritive value in cooked food. I have always been dubious of this claim, after all, haven’t humans been surviving on cooked foods as part of their diet for millennia? I won’t go into this argument but I will offer this interesting article from Scientific American and a recipe that the article inspired me to post:
The parts of the article that caught my attention were the discussions of tomatoes and lycopene, and cooked carrots and increased beta carotene. My father used to make delicious tomato-vegetable juice when I was a kid. It was very similar to V8 juice and I loved to drink it very cold on a summer day. Here is a simple recipe for tomato-vegetable juice:
Tomato-Vegetable juice and paste
12 lbs fresh tomatoes quartered skin on (or frozen, no need to thaw)
1 -2 small bunches of carrots scrubbed and diced, no need to peel
4 medium onions chopped coarsely
1 bunch of celery (1.5 – 2 lbs) chopped coarsely
3 green peppers (or chilies like poblano) chopped coarsely, no need to core
1 – 3 tsp salt to taste
1 -3 tsp sugar to taste
(1/2 tsp black pepper, cayenne, or smoked pepper flakes or a combination)
Layer the chopped veggies into the steamer basket with the spices intermixed. Steam over steady boil (not furious) for 40 – 50 minutes. Check water and juice levels at 30 minutes. A digital timer is an excellent tool for monitoring your processing and helping to avoid burnt water pans.
Drain off the juice (the juice will be quite clear, surprisingly) into sanitized quart mason jars and seal. Process using USDA recommendations for low acid vegetable juice. Alternatively, drain juice into large stock pot, scoop out pulp and run it through a food mill and turn the paste into the juice. Mix thoroughly, adjust seasonings, bottle, and process as before. The juice will settle in storage so just give it a shake before opening. Commercial tomato juices use additives and stabilizers to keep their juice pulp suspended.
Also, the milled pulp by itself is a wonderful product to add to stocks, sauces, and soups. Again, bottle (1/2, or 1 cup jars) and process according to USDA recommendations.
So, get some of your frozen tomatoes out of storage and make some delicious (and spicey if you like) tomato juice to drink as is or as part of a Bloody Mary at Sunday Brunch!
Here’s to lycopene and beta carotene!