"Market" Mary: Freshly Made Tomato Juice & Homemade Dill Pickles

It's 5 o'clock somewhere!

This Bloody Mary is a farmers market-inspired version of the beloved brunch beverage(/hangover cure). The ingredients are fresh and have that little kiss of Summer left in them, ideal for deck lounging, weekend brunching, and waking up early for Game Day!

I went a little tomato crazy during my last trip to the farmers market, actually buying a basket of heirloom cherry and grape tomatoes for the sole purpose of turning them into a Bloody Mary mix. My hope was that their natural, sweet flavor would make a tasty cocktail. While shopping, I also saw baskets and baskets of lemon cucumbers. I only found out about this variety a couple of months ago (while shopping for poke ingredients!), but I'm already in love with how crisp and refreshing they are. For this recipe, I turned them into a batch of dill pickles, a salty briny bite to go with my Market Mary!

Refrigerator pickles are incredibly easy to make. No boiling...no canning...and you only need to wait 24 hours before you can start crunching away! For those weekends when you expect the Marys to flow or even to make plenty of sandwiches (remember, Game Day!), this is a super simple recipe to keep in mind.

Start by slicing up a sweet onion, peeling a couple of garlic cloves, and cutting the cucumbers into spears. (I used lemon cucumbers, but you can use the more common pickling varieties instead. I did love how the lemon cucumber spears turned out to be the perfect "cocktail size"!)

After packing the cucumbers, garlic, and onions into jars, it's time to choose the pickling spices!

The simplest combination is a couple teaspoons of dill seed and a teaspoon of mustard seed. The dill seed brings that classic pickle flavor, and the mustard seed adds another pungent bite. For some kick, you could also add red chili flakes or black pepper.

In a separate bowl or measuring cup, combine vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and the spices. Whisk everything together to dissolve the salt and sugar. 

Then, just pour the brine into the jars until the cucumbers are completely submerged. Chill for at least 24 hours! That's it! Since these are just refrigerator-pickled and a small batch, we don't need to worry about sanitizing or sealing to prevent spoilage. (In my house, these pickles will probably be gone after a couple of days anyway!)

Another homemade ingredient in this Bloody Mary is the tomato juice! I bought a couple of baskets from the Natural Trading Company, my go-to farm stand for tomatoes. These end-of-Summer beauties are still sweet, plump, and juicy!

Remove any stems and leaves from your tomatoes, then spread them into an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, until the skins blister and the juices bubble.

Pour the tomatoes into a blender. (Make sure to add any pan juices as well!) For a bit of seasoning, add a pinch each of kosher salt and white sugar. You can also squeeze a wedge of lemon, if you like. It all depends on the tomatoes that you bought, so always feel free to pop one in your mouth and see what needs to be added!

After pureeing the tomatoes until smooth, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a separate bowl.
The fine mesh will catch the seeds and the skins, so that the "juice" doesn't look too much like spaghetti sauce! Set it aside to cool.

Our last farm/garden-fresh ingredient is the nice, big bunch of basil, which I also bought from the Natural Trading Company! (What better way to try and hold on to Summer than having your kitchen smell like tomatoes and basil?!) I wanted to use this herb for its subtle sweet flavor and delicate peppery notes.

As soon as you come home from the market, trim the stems and place the bundle in a cup or jar of water. Cover the whole thing with a plastic bag, like the thin ones that you use for produce at the grocery store, and keep the basil at room temperature and away from direct sunlight. (Do not put it in the refrigerator!) By doing this, your basil will stay green and "perky" for a few days...no limp, sad basil.

To finish the Bloody Mary mix, I like to muddle a few basil leaves with lime/lemon juice at the bottom of a pitcher or carafe. Then, I pour in the tomato juice! I usually season my mix with some pickle brine, prepared horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. But, Confession Time: I don't like celery salt in my Bloody Marys. (Gasp!)  Of course, you can add all of your favorites and make this customized to your tastes. All that's left to do is to add vodka and ice, and to garnish!

Half the fun in drinking a Bloody Mary is...eating all of the tasty garnishes! For a "Market" Mary, skewer fresh cherry tomatoes and the homemade dill pickles onto cocktail picks, add a lime or lemon wedge, and top off with a sprig of basil. Serve it all up in a mason jar, and you've got a fresh Summer garden to drink up and snack on!

Feeling like "al fresco" for your next meal? Serve the Market Mary for any outdoor meals this weekend, whether its for a classic brunch on the patio or grilling outside while you wait for the ball game to start.

Many farmers markets also open on the weekend, so grab your trusty reusable bag and go hunting for those gorgeous late-season tomatoes! Making pickles are also a great way to savor the last of Summer's cucumbers. Mix up this Market Mary while you still can! :)

Refrigerator Dill Pickles (makes 1 16-oz jar/2 8-oz jars)

Print Recipe
4 Lemon Cucumbers or 3-4 Pickling Cucumbers
1/4 Small Sweet Onion, sliced
2 Garlic Cloves, peeled
2 tbsp Distilled White Vinegar
2 tbsp Rice Vinegar
1 tbsp Fine Sea Salt
1 tbsp Sugar
2 tsp Dill Seed
1 tsp Mustard Seed
3/4 cup Water
  1. Wash and dry the cucumbers, then trim the ends. Slice the cucumbers into spears. Then, pack the cucumbers into the jar(s), mixing in slices of onion and the whole garlic cloves.
  2. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, combine the vinegar, salt, sugar, dill, mustard, and water. Whisk to combine and to dissolve the salt and sugar. Pour the brine into the jar(s), completely submerging the cucumbers. Seal with the jar lid(s). (If needed, gently shake the jar to evenly distribute the dill and mustard seeds.)
  3. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
"Market" Mary (serves 4)

Print Recipe
2-3 pint baskets Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, stems removed
4 Basil Leaves
Juice of 1 Lime
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 tbsp Dill Pickle Juice (brine in jar)
1/2 tbsp Prepared Horseradish
A Few Dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
Hot Sauce (optional)
Lime or Lemon Wedges, for garnish
Fresh Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, for garnish
Dill Pickles, for garnish
Basil Sprigs, for garnish
  1. Wash and dry the tomatoes, then spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, until the skins blister and the juices bubble. After removing the pan from the oven, add the tomatoes to a blender. (Make sure to pour any pan juices into the blender as well.) Season with a pinch each of fine sea salt and white sugar. Puree the tomatoes until smooth, then strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a separate bowl. Set aside to cool.
  2. Rip the basil leaves, and place in the bottom of a small pitcher or a carafe. Add the citrus juices, then muddle slightly with a wooden spoon. Next, pour in the pickle juice and cooled tomato juice. Add the horseradish, Worcestershire sauce,and as much hot sauce as desired. Stir to combine. Season with freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Chill this Bloody Mary mix in the refrigerator.
  3. *If serving an alcoholic version, chill a small pitcher or a carafe of vodka as well. (About 1.5 oz. per person)
  4. When ready to serve, divide the vodka into ice-filled glasses. Top each glass off with Bloody Mary mix, and garnish with lime or lemon wedges, tomatoes, pickles, and basil. Enjoy!