• Yield: Makes about 8 cups

This is hardly a recipe! But this beautifully flavored elixir is well worth the trouble. If you are making the aspic variation, use the ratio of 1 packet gelatin to 3 cups tomato-cucumber water. It will be soft and delicate, cool and refreshing with the flavor of an ethereal gazpacho.


  • 4 pounds tomatoes, stemmed, cored, and quartered

  • 1 large english cucumber, peeled and cut into large pieces

  • 2 tablespoons salt

  • Finely minced chives

  • Finely minced fresh or preserved lemon rind


Purée the tomatoes and cucumbers with the salt in a food processor. Line a large bowl with a large piece of cheesecloth or a very thin, clean muslin kitchen towel. Pour the puréed tomatoes and cucumbers into the towel-lined bowl. Gather the ends of the towel and tie them into knots. Slip a long- handled wooden spoon or dowel through and under the knots and suspend the towel over the bowl so the tomato-cucumber water can slowly drip into the bowl. Resist the urge to squeeze the pulp in the towel, it will make the tomato-cucumber water cloudy. Allow the tomatoes to drip for 4-8 hours, then discard the pulp and refrigerate the tomato-cucumber water. Serve cold in chilled bowls or glasses with the chives and lemon rind.

Variation (makes 3 cups): To make Tomato-Cucumber Water Aspic, soften 1 packet unflavored gelatin in 2 tablespoons cool water in a medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup hot tomato-cucumber water and stir until the gelatin has dissolved. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of cool tomato-cucumber water. Cover and refrigerate until it sets. It will be a soft gelatin. Spoon into chilled glasses or bowls and serve garnished with minced chives and lemon rind, and the chopped flesh of a seeded, peeled, ripe tomato. 

Excerpted with permission from Canal House Cooking by Christopher Hirsheimer & Melissa Hamilton. © 2010.

Melissa Hamilton is the cofounder of the Canal House cooking series. She cofounded the restaurant Hamilton's Grill Room in Lambertville, N.J., where she served as executive chef. She has worked at Martha Stewart Living, Cook's Illustrated and at Saveur as the food editor.
Christopher Hirsheimer is the cofounder of the Canal House cooking series, a writer and photographer. She served as food and design editor for Metropolitan Home magazine, and was one of the founders of Saveur magazine, where she was executive editor.