Making a Bloody Mary from fresh tomatoes

I’m not a big fan of commercially canned tomato juice. In fact, I only learned to tolerate it so I could drink Bloody Marys. And if you read my post How to Make a Bloody Mary Even If You Hate Tomato Juice, you’ll see that I usually tinker around with the store bought juice to make it more palatable.

Given the high volume of traffic that post takes, I can tell I’m not alone in my distaste for tomato juice. Speaking of hating tomato juice, that post includes some great suggestions for making a Bloody Mary without tomato juice if you really can’t stand tomatoes at all).

While I find the canned stuff unappealing, I enjoy fresh tomato juice. In summer, I make my Bloody Mary with fresh tomatoes. That is, I turn fresh tomatoes into fresh tomato juice and turn the juice into Bloody Mary mix. But I also can a big batch Bloody Mary mix from fresh tomato juice of it so I have plenty to get me through the year.

This posts starts with three methods for making tomato juice from fresh tomatoes. If you already have that step covered, you can skip right to how to make a Bloody Mary with fresh tomato juice. The end of the post covers how to can Bloody Mary mix.

Here’s how to make Bloody Mary mix from fresh tomatoes and how to can Bloody Mary mix.

How to make tomato juice from fresh tomatoes

In order to make a Bloody Mary with fresh tomatoes, you need to turn those tomatoes into juice.

Use fully ripe, or even slightly overripe, tomatoes. Avoid paste tomatoes, like Romas, as they tend to be fleshier and will yield less juice. Save those for making tomato sauce or canning tomatoes.

Don’t use tomatoes that have soft spots or any signs of rot.

The best part about making tomato juice is you don’t have to peel or core tomatoes, though you can if you want to.

Making tomato juice with a blender or food processor

This is the fastest and easiest way to make tomato juice.

  • Cut tomatoes into quarters, if they’re large.
  • Put them into the blender or processor bowl per manufacturer’s directions.
  • Process on high (food processor) or ‘juice’ or ‘puree’ setting until the tomatoes are sludgy.
  • Place the tomato puree in a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Allow the juice to drain. You may need to gently press the puree or stir it to keep the juice flowing.
Making tomato juice with a food mill

If you’re serious about using fresh tomatoes for juice and beyond, a food mill is a great investment. It’s the most efficient way to get very fine tomato pulp or juice without any seeds or skin.

  • Cut tomatoes into quarters, then feed into the food mill
  • Process the tomatoes, separating the peels and seeds from the juice and pulp
  • Place the tomato puree in a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Allow the juice to drain. You may need to gently press the puree or stir it to keep the juice flowing.

Learn more about processing tomatoes with less waste.

Making tomato juice with a juicer

If you happen to have a juicer, this is the time to use it! It will do the work of both processor and strainer, leaving you with fresh, pulpless juice. There’s not much to say on this, regarding method. Just feed the tomatoes into the juicer and wait.

Bloody Mary mix from fresh tomatoes

Making tomato juice without a  juicer, blender, food processor or other appliances

You can make perfectly good tomato juice without a food mill, or even without an appliance, though it will take longer.  Cut the tomatoes into small chunks. Place the tomatoes in a large colander (not a fine mesh strainer). Put the colander over a big bowl or pot. Then lay a clean plate over the tomatoes. Add weight to the plate with more tomatoes or a bag of sugar or anything else that will put a little pressure on the situation.

Allow the tomatoes to sit and the juice to press out. This can take an entire day, depending on the size and ripeness. Once the juice is extracted, Place the tomato puree in a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Allow the juice to drain. You may need to gently press the puree or stir it to keep the juice flowing.

How many tomatoes do you need to make tomato juice?

The answer, of course, depends on how much tomato juice you want. But assume you’ll need around 3.5 pounds of fresh tomatoes for every quart of tomato juice. A quart is 32 ounces, enough juice to make four ‘standard’ sized Bloody Marys. Obviously you can make your drinks bigger or smaller than that, but my Bloody Mary recipe assumes 8 ounces of juice per individual drink, with those drinks filling a 16 ounce pint glass (including ice cubes)

The overall ripeness or juiciness of the tomatoes will also determine how much juice you end up with. A softer, riper tomato will have more juice.

In the summer growing season, tomatoes are often easy to find in 25 pound boxes. One of those boxes would give you around 7 quarts of juice and tomatoes are pretty easy to process in bulk.

What about using heat to juice tomatoes?

A common way to render tomato juice from whole, fresh tomatoes is by simmering and crushing them in a stock pot. The heat helps to break down the tissue so the juice releases. While this is a great way to extract juice, it also cooks the juice. One of the joys of a Bloody Mary made from fresh tomato juice is….the freshness, which is lost by cooking. Having said that, feel free to simmer and crush your tomatoes if you don’t mind the flavor change or want to speed the process up.

One benefit to simmer-and-crush is that your juice will likely have a more consistent texture. Fresh pressed tomato juice (as described above) can separate into watery juice and heavier juice given enough time. If this happens, just shake the juice up to recombine. Since the goal of making this tomato juice is to use it in a Bloody Mary, which gets shaken, some separation really isn’t an issue.

Bloody Mary Recipe with Fresh Tomato Juice

Now that we’ve covered how to turn those fresh tomatoes into juice, let’s turn that juice into  Bloody Mary Mix!

Fresh squeezed tomato juice will be thinner and lighter than the canned stuff. The flavor will be different, too – much lighter and fruitier. And the finished drink will be a little bit foamy, which is quite nice.

Recipe for Bloody Mary Mix with fresh tomato juice

Serves 4

  • 32 ounces of fresh tomato juice (one quart)
  • 4 ounces of lemon juice, preferably fresh-squeezed
  • several dashes of Worcestershire sauce– link goes to Lee & Perrin’s, the best Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • horseradish (see below)
  • vodka (see below)

How many ounces of vodka in a Bloody Mary?

This Bloody Mary recipe makes four 8-10 ounce drinks. Use up to 2 ounces of vodka per serving. Unless you make infused vodka, it’s not really developing the flavor of the drink. Since this is usually intended a low-proof brunch drink, there’s no reason to get heavy handed.

Can you make a Bloody Mary without vodka?

Absolutely! Like I said, unless you infuse the vodka, it’s not there for flavor. You can skip it completely

Optional – Horseradish for a Bloody Mary

A big pinch of ground horseradish –  one of the hallmarks of a great Bloody Mary (in my opinion), is also totally optional! If you like spice but not horseradish, sub in cayenne pepper, Tabasco or other hot sauce. Or use some combination of the three

This recipe is intended to enjoy fresh but it can also be frozen. It’s also very easy to can Bloody Mary mix, this post will show you how.

Disclosure: I’m an affiliate for Lehman’s Hardware, Azure Standard, Bookshop,, Le Creuset,  other companies. Clicking on links in my articles and purchasing products may result in the seller offering me compensation. I only share products I believe in and I only provide links when I believe doing so will benefit my readers.

Affiliate relationships help me cover the cost of producing content for Hey Big Splendor. If you use any of my affiliate links or codes, thank you very much.

Every Friday, I send out an email with my latest posts, helpful hints or news. If you’d like to hear from me, enter your email below.

As a bonus, you’ll receive Splendor on a Shoestring, my guide to sourcing china, linens & silver on a budget.

    Storing homemade Bloody Mary mix

    You can either store the plain tomato juice and add the Bloody Mary ingredients when you use it or you can add the ingredients and store the mix ready to use. I don’t use tomato juice for anything except Bloody Marys, so I  add in everything but the horseradish before I put the mix away.

    Either way, it will store for 2-3 days in the fridge and for 6-8 months in the freezer. If you can Bloody Mary mix, it will be shelf-stable for at least 18 months.

    Freezing Bloody Mary Mix

    It’s best to freeze the mix in the quantity you’ll need at a time. A freezer safe canning quart canning jar holds 32 ounces, enough for four standard drinks. Fill the quart jar, observing the ‘freezer line’ around the top of the jar. Seal, freeze and thaw to enjoy. If you don’t want to use a canning jar, there are plenty of freezer safe storage options, including these stackable rectangular containers. They’re my favorite freezer storage since they’re very space efficient.

    Whether you use a jar or a plastic bin, write the contents and the date on the container with a dry erase marker.