Introduction: Ginger-garlic-tomato Snack Base

The tomatoes are peeled, quartered, canned, and waiting for the water to boil. What do I do with that leftover juice/pulp? Here's a pretty good idea, and it will be done before the 40 minutes' processing time is over.

Step 1: Start With the Juice

After filling six pint jars with fresh tomatoes and topping them off with juice, I'm left with just less than a quart of beautiful, fresh tomato juice that I don't want to throw out. I put it on medium high heat and start to boil it. Maintain a simmer throughout the mixing of ingredients. 

Step 2: Add Ginger

Fresh ginger would be good, but I didn't have any. I did, however, have pickled ginger. Add about 2 tablespoons, chopped.

Step 3: Mmmmm Garlic

My favorite. Crush three or four (or five) fresh cloves and add to the mix. I just pound the cloves under a broad-bladed knife. Stir after every addition to infuse the flavors and prevent sticking.

Step 4: Vinegar, Dry Mustard, Sea Salt, and Brown Sugar

Two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and about a teaspoon of dry mustard. I wasn't going for barbecue sauce, so I went light on the mustard. A few crushes of sea salt are enough. I added two tablespoons of brown sugar. These measures are all negotiable. You know what you like.

Step 5: Cook It Down

Stirring all the while, cook the mixture until it thickens. It should be boiling gently. (That sauce is really painful if it bubbles on you--that's why I used that big ol' pan.)

Step 6: Blend It

Pour the mixture into the blender and process for about a minute on high.

Step 7: There's Your Base

That's the basic recipe. I ended up with just over a cup of puree. If you had enough, you could process it in a water bath, but I don't like to heat that much water for one half pint.

Step 8: Using the Base

Now you decide what you want to do with it. I poured a half pint into a jar for use later (I want to use it within two weeks of making it). The rest I put back into the blender with 4 ounces of cream cheese. I blended it for about 30 seconds on high for a really delicious dip. It's great with crackers.

Step 9: So What Else?

The puree can be used as a dipping sauce by itself (warmed up, thankyouverymuch) for chicken or meatballs. You can serve it on the side with fruit salad (it's really tasty with mango), sliced avocados, or cucumbers. You can toss it with pasta. Shoot, you can put it on ice cream! Enjoy! (And don't waste those leftover tomatoes.)

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