Home-Canned Bloody Mary Mix

When the garden’s bountiful tomato crop dove-tailed with one of our traditional Friday Afternoon Club gatherings, I decided to get creative in the kitchen. I skimmed through several recipes until I found one that met my requirements for a good home-canned Bloody Mary mix that included all my favorites:

  • Horseradish & hot sauce – if it ain’t spicy, I don’t want it!
  • Multiple types of veggies – I like the depth of flavor that the other veggies add.
  • Other spices – plain salt & pepper doesn’t do it for me either.

The winner was The Best Bloody Mary on Recipezaar and it lived up to its name, especially after a few tweaks:

  • I used home-made vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, also from Recipezaar, because I didn’t have any on hand.
  • In addition to the garlic that is cooked with the vegetables, I added a teaspoon of fresh garlic after cooking.
  • I at least quadrupled the hot sauce (I think I still added some to my finished sample drink before I canned it!)
  • I used Black Butte Porter instead of Guinness, because it’s what I had in my handon hand.
  • Also note that if you’re going to can this instead of drinking it right away, don’t add the booze or the lime juice–add that to taste when you crack the jar open in a few months on a cold winter morning!

Here I would like to digress from recipes to comment on something I’ve noticed as I’ve been canning this season. I’ve really enjoyed trying new recipes that I’ve found on the Internet, but I’m rather appalled at the number of recipes that call for some seriously dubious canning practices. Neither of the recipes I mentioned above are guilty of this, for the record, so I feel like I can point this out without naming any names.

For the record, I learned to can grape juice in a dishwasher close to 10 years ago, so I understand how family traditions can lead to some pretty off-the-wall food preservation techniques. However, if you’re going to post recipes on the Internet, I think there’s a little bit of obligation to provide a safe recipe. For example, turning jam or jelly cans upside down instead of heating them in a canning bath CAN create a seal, but does NOT create the vacuum that is necessary to keep air from coming in contact with your home-preserved food. Same with putting hot liquids & veggies into hot jars and then putting hot lids on those jars. It’s the vacuum, not just the seal, that keeps food from spoiling. For more information, check with your local Cooperative Extension, pick up one of the many excellent books that are available on canning, or check out my canning primer.

So if you’re out looking for recipes on the Internet and find one that you’d like to try that uses one of these dubious canning methods, there’s still hope of canning safely. Let’s use the Bloody Mary Mix as an example. The original author of the recipe had no intentions of canning it, so I needed to come up with instructions that would guarantee a safe result. I consulted my Ball Blue Book of canning and found a recipe for Tomato Garden Juice Blend.

The duration of canning and the need for the addition of acids like lemon juice or citric acid is determined by how acidic the food you’re canning is naturally. Tomatoes are pretty acidic, but I didn’t want to use a plain old tomato juice recipe because there were so many other things in the Bloody Mary Mix. The garden juice blend was ideal because it had carrots onion, parsley, and salt in addition to the tomatoes–similar to the mix I was canning.

In the case of the Bloody Mary Mix, that meant adding 1 T of lemon juice to each pint jar and processing in my canning bath for 50 minutes (note that due to the altitude here, I have to add 10 more minutes to the processing time). A double recipe of the mix easily made 7 pints, and perhaps would have done more if not for my friends and I having a few on Friday afternoon!