Don't Drain Your Canned Tomatoes – And Thank Us Later

If you're tossing away the precious liquid that certain foods come floating in or cooked with, you're committing a grave culinary sin. The starchy water used to boil spaghetti, for example, is better used as an emulsifier in a pasta sauce rather than thrown down the drain. The water from soaked chickpeas, known as aquafaba, is an excellent substitute for egg whites. Even the brine that pickles come jarred in can be put to use and makes surprisingly zingy cocktails.

Similarly, if you've just opened a tin of canned tomatoes and are planning on draining the excess liquid down the sink, you're about to make a bigger mistake than you think. While the main reason why certain foods like fruits and vegetables are canned with liquid is to keep them safe from bacteria and contamination, the same liquid can have unexpectedly delicious benefits, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Not only is it safe to consume the juice from canned tomatoes, but this often overlooked liquid can be the secret ingredient in flavorful soups, spicy Bloody Marys, and rich pasta dishes. So even if a certain recipe requires you to use liquid-free strained tomatoes, don't throw the juice away. Instead, store the juice from canned tomatoes and add it to other preparations that could use the liquid's flavor.

The liquid in canned tomatoes has a lot of flavor

The juice from canned tomatoes can be used in a lot of different ways. It can be used to cook fragrant Spanish and Mexican rice or added to the water used to boil pasta. Leftover juice can be tossed in soups, salad dressings, and meaty preparations or even drank straight up. The leftover liquid from canned tomatoes when refrigerated, will stay fresh for about two days but it can also be frozen for longer use. Frozen cubes of canned tomato juice can be added to vegetable stocks and broths, blended into shakes and smoothies, or even popped into glasses of Bloody Marys for more flavor.

You could also always add the juice with the canned tomatoes for added flavor. Pamela Reed from Brooklyn Farm Girl told The Spruce Eats that in some cases, "There's no reason to drain stewed tomatoes if you're using them for a pasta dish. Pour the entire can in, tomatoes and juices, for the full taste." While All Recipes agrees, they suggest straining the liquid from the tomatoes first and then adding it back to the dish separately. Doing so will give you more control over how much tomato liquid you want in your dish. No matter how you choose to go about it, one thing is for certain — save that tomato juice.