Too often seen as just a Bloody Mary mixer, a great tomato juice is its own reward. A lesser tomato juice can hide in a Bloody Mary with distractions like Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, lemon juice, garniture and the vodka. The rim of this beauty is dipped in Morton’s Hot Salt, which is seasoned with chipotle pepper. Photo courtesy of Morton Salt.
KAREN HOCHMAN is editorial director of THE NIBBLE.
BETH COLLINS is a contributing editor.
Updated September 2009
You Say “Tomato” [Juice]
All Tomato Juice Is Not Created Equal: We Rank The Best Tomato Juice
CAPSULE REPORT: In search of a great glass of tomato juice, we pulled everything off store shelves. The clear winner, from R.W. Knudsen, is so rich and tomato-y, it could start a renaissance in this beverage—which today is largely seen as a Bloody Mary mixer. But prior to World War II, many tony restaurants and homes would begin luncheon or dinner with a small glass of to-MAH-to juice. This is Page 1 of a three-page article. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.
One of the challenges of working at THE NIBBLE is finding a steady variety of low-calorie, tasty lunches to balance many of the high-calorie chocolates, cakes, cookies and ice creams we taste almost daily as part of our work. Vegetable juices can provide low-calorie variety; but if you don’t have a good juicer, you need to rely on a commercial concern to juice for you. Even finding that most ubiquitous of “vegetable” juices*—tomato juice—is a challenge when your palate is demanding.
*As a reminder, the tomato is a fruit, but it has been accorded vegetable status because it’s savory, not sweet. The avocado and even more surprising fruits—like zucchini and hot peppers—fall into this category. Click here for a detailed explanation.
We found ourselves adding combinations of lemon or lime juice, Worcestershire sauce and horseradish to enliven the tomato juices—practically creating Virgin Marys in order to have something tasty and low calorie. We were purchasing brands out of habit, so we decided to see if there were other juices out there that could stand on their own, unembellished. We rounded up a combination of supermarket, organic and specialty brands, and we started sipping.
Many servings of lycopene later, we had learned two things. First: for something that seems so straightforward—squeezed tomatoes, water and salt†—tomato juice can vary dramatically from brand to brand. Second: tomato juice isn’t just for Bloody Marys. The good ones, at least, are delicious drinks in their own right: substantial, full of flavor and refreshing. Healthful, too. While the exact nutritional breakdown can vary slightly from brand to brand, all good tomato juices are alike in that they are an excellent source of lycopene, the antioxidant linked to fighting certain kinds of cancer, heart disease and other diseases. They are also rich in potassium, folate and vitamins A and C. Generally, one 8-ounce glass of tomato juice provided a full serving of vegetables.
†Commercial tomato juice is generally reconstituted from concentrate.
So read on and drink up! There’s a history of the tomato and nutrition facts on the far side of this chart, as well as an explanation of why the tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable.
Continue To Page 2: Best Tomato Juices
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