I guess it is only natural that I get some of my cooking skills from both my grandmothers, neither one used a recipe – they just cooked. That is how I usually work in the kitchen too. Something strikes me to try and I do. I might use a recipe as a guide, but I can’t tell you if I have EVER followed a recipe to the letter. (That’s probably why I don’t like baking so much – more specifics needed)
Thankfully, my aunt Faye lived with my Nana. Aunt Faye wrote down the ingredients and procedure for the family favorites as Nana went about the kitchen in order to preserve the memories. I use (as a guide of course) my recipe for Nana’s Chili-sauce written in my Aunt Faye’s hand. It makes it special.
The smells of chili-sauce simmering take me back to a time (a time that slips further and further into the past I might add!) of my childhood summers visiting with my Nana in her home in Levittown, Pa. Yes, 34 Graystone Lane was a magical place. It was a place filled with love, hugs, kisses, family, food, smells of the kitchen and laundry day. This is the place where “there is always room for more” came to be a part of my being.
Other than the weekly smells of Laundry Day (hot water and Clorox will always take me immediately back to 34 Graystone Lane) and Bread Baking Day (Nana did not buy bread in the store – she made it each week), a couple of times each summer was chili-sauce canning time.
Chili-sauce simmering on the stove for a couple hours will fill the entire house with a fragrant aroma for the entire day. It is a smell that will cause you to gnaw on the furniture if you don’t get a snack along the way…. Natalie kept coming into the kitchen as I worked asking, “WHAT IS THAT?? It’s making my mouth water!!!”. She liked it as a dip with chips.
Chili-sauce is served hot, cold, or anywhere in between. It is used straight out of the jar, on bread, on baked potatoes, on meat such as chicken or roast, it is very good warmed and served as a dip with corn chips too! It is just good!
Once canned it may be stored in the pantry for 6-8 months (hahahahahha if you think it will stay on the shelf that long) Once opened it needs to be refrigerated (if you don’t eat the entire pint at one sitting).
So here for all to enjoy and possibly use as a part of your own family traditions is my Nana’s recipe.
10 lbs. ripe tomatoes
4 celery stalks
4 med. Onions
3 large bell peppers (2 green 1 red)
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 ½ cups sugar (I now use half sugar half Splenda to reduce sugar)
¼ cup of Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon of red pepper
1 Tablespoon each of:
Peel tomatoes – Slice a small “X” on the bottom of the tomatoes. Bring large pot of water to a boil – dip in tomatoes – then peel and cut top out.
Cut all vegetables in fairly equal sizes. I use a food processor for the tomatoes and a chopper for the other veggies. (I like mine chopped fine as did Nana. Others like them chunkier. Your choice!)
Place veggies, tomatoes, spices, vinegar, and sugar in a large pot and mix. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for two hours and enjoy the aroma. (This gives you time to prepare the jars for canning!)
Follow the rules for hot canning methods for your jars. (they can vary) I use Ball brand pint size. In a separate pot from the sauce, boil to sterilize the jars and lids. (pot should be large enough to cover jar and lid for later)
When the two hours is up, put the sauce into hot jars (be careful to not get burned or drop a jar) fill to leave one inch of head space. (Ball brand has a line) Place lid on and screw down ring to finger tightness. Place back in the hot boiling water to cover lid for a few minutes. Remove setting on a cooling rack for twelve hours. Check the lids after the 12 hours to be sure they are tight and they don’t “bounce” or “pop” when pressed on the top. (If they do, you can reseal if it has only been twelve hours. If it still doesn’t take eat it now!)
Oh and each jar is only 190 calories for the whole jar!!