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opinionated-alchemist [at] MxMo LXXXIII, March 24, 2014: Preserves - the little bit different Bloody Mary

So folks, a lot of time past, since I participated the last time a Mixology Monday. And honestly - even this time, I am impossible late with my contribution.

Well - rest assured, it will be an unique one!

Let's first of all get to the topic. Craig over at A World of Drinks is hosting this MxMo - please follow his explanation:
For this month’s challenge I would like to take us back to the humble beginnings of the cocktail bar, the days when bartenders didn’t have the luxury of daily deliveries of ingredients from around the world. In these times bartenders would have been uncertain when they would again have the privilege to work with special ingredients so would naturally try to make the most of them… Such methods of preservation such as syrups and preserves have been staple ingredients behind the bar ever since, while others such as shrubs and sherbets were relatively short lived. The aim of the challenge is to go back to the days of the preserve, pick an ingredient, seasonal or not and treat it as if you won’t be seeing it again for quite some time. Syrups, sorbets, jam, shrubs and the like are all fair game, anything that will preserve the integral character of your favourite ingredient.
 So- here we are; thank you Craig for hosting this Mixology Monday! What a great, inventive challenge.

So what is mine? Aging clarified milk punch? Nope. Done already. What about a Breakfast Martini? Despite, that I am still questioning Calabrese's sanity to call this drink a Martini [it is not bad at all - but equally not at all a Martini]... he has mastered it. No need for tinkering it [except obviously the name].
Shrubs, gastriques or home made preserves? Well... I have to be more creative...

Ok, ok, don't pressurise me - yes, I will say it now: it is a Bloody Mary.
What? You are not impressed? Be patient and read on!

I am currently obsessed with house fermented stuff. Mostly lacto-ferments, but also some SCOBY and TIBICOS madness. Fermentation is maybe the most ancient way of preserving things and it can be found in all cultures. While kombucha and water kefir is not to bad [in fact, I plan to do something like a kombucha shrub], I had very little success with fermenting juices - OMG - I remember my lactofermented OJ - disgusting!
But some things are turning out great [e.g. apple juice=cider] - especially vegetables.
Which brings us finally to the Bloody Mary. Yeah - I know, tomatoes are basically fruits as well... but they quite work, if you are fermenting them.

Wild Fermented Probiotic Bloody Mary

Why wild fermented? Because I don't use any culture - I just trust, that enough bacterias are in the medium to jump start the fermentation [you could also add a bit whey of a yogurt with living cultures - however you will have only one [or max a couple of] specific microorganism - and I like natures surprises!
This is what you need:
  • Tomatoes [you could use canned ones, however they should have no preservatives and you would need a starting culture then]!
  • Chile peppers [I used both - mashed fresno chiles, which I prepared yesterday and kept them for fermenting and one fresh green serrano chile]
  • Salt [I use organic sea salt, without anti caking agents or fluorine, which makes fermentation harder]
  • Pepper and any other imaginable spice / herbs, you would like to taste in your Bloody - juniper and coriander would remind you on a Red Snapper, star anise makes the mix taste more meatier [but be carefully, you don't want that it taste like anisette]... long pepper, cubeb berries, sumac, rosemary or thyme? Do what ever you like.
  • Fresh celery [it is optional but nice and makes it safer!]
  • Garlic [absolutely optional - but it will be delicious].
  • I didn't had fresh horseradish - but grated horseradish would be absolutely amazing - and would make the Bloody even more delicious.
  • A jar [either way a kilner jar, if you have a foodsaver jar attachment or just a normal air tight jar, a piece of scotch tape and a balloon]
  • Any vacuum pump and adapter [hand pumps like the pumpnseal is fine - or you can use a foodsaver - which is amazing for so many things e.g. to do Oleo Saccharum].
  • A knife [duh]
  • A muddler
  • A cutting board
  • A bit patience... ok - a lot of patience!
  • Other veggies, if you like - bell peppers are working great. Other chiles, onions... even beetroot is possible [however you will get a really "bloody" mary, if you are using it].
  • I use a bit lemon juice as well - also optional.
  • A food mill or other straining device.
Basically it is straight forward:
    Almost everything together...

    The tomatoes & celery cut & mashed up.
  • You cut your veggies up and through it into the jar. 
  • You add your spices, chiles and the salt and mash it with your muddler.
  • There should be enough liquid, to cover the mess.
  • Then you are preparing the lid - and tinker yourself a valve [a strip scotch or electric tape - in the middle you add a small piece of balloon rubber] - use a small nail and punch a very small hole into the lid. Put your bandaid looking valve over the hole. 
  • Add the prepped lid on the glass
  • Vacuum the hell out of it.
  • You feel the vacuum, when the lid doesn't crackle anymore, if you push on it.
  • Keep the jar for minimum 4 to 7 days at room temperature [up to... well up to years]. 
  • Then you could refrigerate it or not, until you are using it - add vodka, if you like and vacuum it again. 
    The serrano waiting to be mashed up.
  • Or you are adding vodka at the end, if you are preparing your Bloody. 
  • Or you are using gin, which is anyway more delicious. Or tequila. Or rum. Or Akvavit...
My unique vacuum fermentation! Wow new word!

Craziness? Yes - but delicious craziness!

Look - the most delicious things are fermented: cheese, bread, beer, wine, marmite [for some of us, it is delicious], soya sauce, miso, tabasco, Worchestershire sauce, Sriracha and so on.
And your fermented Bloody, will be definitely a big contender to one of the most delicious drinks!

So - yes this is definitely a window into the past - and hopefully into the future. Fermenting the tomato mixture, certainly makes it shelf-stable. Personally I would wait until the fermentation is really more or less finished - otherwise you would have a somewhat fizzy Bloody.
And you can wait, until tomatoes are cheap and ripe. So it taste even better [except if you are living in the Middle East like me, where no fruits are really ripe, to do crazy shippings and crazy temperatures in which it is not easy to locally grow anything].

No my genius [or madness - you will decide], is my valve. No - it wasn't my idea, to build this [however the use of a balloon, is definitely mine - and you can see, that my foodsaver attachment is definitely also my very own diy solution]. You can find these valves, if you are looking for pumpnseal. But until now, I have seen only the pumpnseal valves solution in context for just vacuum seal jars. But fermentation is the next step. The genius is, that air cannot get it, but CO2 can get out [we don't really want, that you are ending up with an explosive Bloody Mary if you are using jars without valve - do we?]!
Yeah you could buy an air lock. But how many air locks [inclusive jar] do you want to buy [especially if you are planning to offer a drink like that in a commercial setting].

A word to safety: anaerobe microorganisms are usually beneficial [e.g. lacto bacteria]. They thrive and create acid, which is another environment condition, which spoilage and dangerous microorganisms don't like, but beneficial MO like even more. Obviously a normal clean environment is important - though sterilisation/pasteurisation is not at all necessary!

Adding the celery is not only tasty, but also smart, as it contains quite a lot of compounds, related to sodium nitrate, which would "kill" botulinus [the thriving of the dangerous fungus botulinus is not realistic anyway, because it would need much "more anaerobe conditions].
Adding lemon creates a slightly acidic environment, which also benefits "good" microorganisms and make it hard for "bad" microorganisms to multiply. And guess what salt is: another thing, which nice bacillus like, but the bad bugs hate - but salting should be done in moderation - cause the good bugs also don't like too salty environments [you can trust your taste buds - salt it - but don't make it "salty"].

This having said, common sense is also important. If the mixture smells foul or in any way spoiled [other than fizzy] throw it. Some hardcore fermenters are just scratching mould from their ferments. I am rather pragmatic and throw the batch, if mould grows. After few days, if you would like to use the mixture, it supposed to be quite sour [even if you are not using lemon juice]. If not, don't trust it!
But also don't be a pussy and be oversensitive. People fermented several thousand of years - probably in less hygienic environments than your kitchen. And usually ferments make things more nutritious and saver to eat/drink!

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Uhoh.... how could I forget; you could "pulverise" everything [it is better to fish out whole spices out of the mixture] in a powerful blender [it makes the mixture thicker and a bit grainy] - but it is even better to use a food mill, to separate the soft and mushy matter from the harder parts. If you are doing that, you end up with some seeds, but also quite a lot of tomato and chile skin.

Don't throw this away! You will dry this [food dehydrator for those of us, who have these kinds of devices; for the rest of us an oven on the lowest possible temperature will do] and afterwards coarsely grind this [spice grinder or pestle and mortar].

This is the most amazing "rim-spice" for a Bloody [even if you are not intending to always ferment your hangover cures] - its slightly salty, nice and red, spicy, tomat'ey goodness. You could either way use it like it is, or mix it with black pepper, celery salt, table salt and or cayenne.

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  • I have to admit, that I overdid it a bit with the chiles! When the fermentation started, it wasn't really that spicy but now, it is a little spicier bloody mary - I like it, but it could be for some a bit too spicy!
  • Also you could leave out the Worcestersauce! Throughout the fermentation the bloody mary becomes pretty funky - no need for extra funkiness.
  • Also I would ferment it a bit shorter. Yeah - I am talking to you funkiness. It is still great - but the next time I will strain and refrigerate the bloody mary, after it stops to bubble - after couple of days. It will taste fresher, more tomatey and less funky - hence would have a higher overall appeal!


  1. Whoa. I can't believe you fermented a bloody mary. Bloody genius, that is!

    I only wish I could come try a sip...

    1. Thanks Chad. But you really have to try it yourself - it is pretty simple. The most difficult thing of it, is to bring up the patience to wait!

  2. Great Job on the MXMO post, and what a great idea with the probiotic angle. Cheers


    1. Hi Chris, thanks so much. It takes a bit more preparation - however I think, that probiotic ingredients could be just a completely new [or revival'ish] technique.
      "Over-fermented" kombucha, can be used instead of vinegar in shrubs, sodas can be made with ginger-bug, kombucha scoby or water grains [tibicos].
      Off course, you have your lactofermented bloodies [and other drinks] as well! Would be worth a youtube video :)


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