Sunday, August 18, 2013

What to do with all those tomatoes...

 Are you shocked to see me posting about a recipe?  You should be.  After 44 years of marriage, I'm tired of cooking (and housework) but since we still need to eat every day I'm still at it.  I don't do a lot of canning but each year I like to make chili sauce.  It tastes wonderful with roast beef on those cold winter days and I like to add it to my chili too. 

Here is my "how to" on making the best chili sauce:

 Right after the last frost, early May here in Utah, plant your tomatoes.  My husband tends our little garden - just tomatoes and cucumbers.  This year he has a bumper crop of both. If you don't have a garden buy them at the grocery store or farmer's market.

Ingredient List:

Large paper grocery sack of tomatoes.  I don't know how many pounds, just a big sack.
6 large yellow onions
6 green bell peppers
2 red bell peppers
3 Tablespoons salt
3 cups white vinegar
7 cups brown sugar.  That's not a typo - use 7 cups
3 Tablespoons pickling spice tied in cheesecloth (I used a double layer of cheesecloth)

How to:
The tomato skins need to be removed and the easiest way to do this is to simmer them for a few minutes and then plunge into a sink of cold water.  Here you can see my big grocery sack right next to the stove.

While I start peeling the tomatoes my husband begins grinding the onions and peppers.  I'm certain you can do this in a food processor but I've always used my grinder as it cuts them just the right size - not the mush I end up with in the food processor.  I got the both the man and the grinder at my wedding and they've both been very reliable. What you can't see is a large bowl on the floor to catch the juices from the grinder.

As I peel the tomatoes I also cut them into a few big pieces and place them in the cook pot.  You want to choose a heavy bottomed pan so the sauce can cook at a low temperature without burning or constant stirring. This pan holds 3 gallons of liquid and is the bottom of a pressure cooker that belonged to my mother-in-law.  Many years ago she let me borrow the pan but I didn't get the lid until after she died.  She was convinced I would blow up the house if I tried to pressure cook anything. 

Add all the ingredients to the pan and don't forget to add the juice from the grinder.  It looks like swamp water but is full of flavor.
Here it is on the stove ready to cook.  Stir the pickling spice bundle down into the mix, turn on high and bring to a low boil, then turn on low to simmer and reduce by one-half. I don't need to worry about stirring or checking very often as I'm using a gas stove and the pan has a very heavy bottom.  It is important to stir and check the heat so you don't burn the sauce on the bottom.   Get ready for a wonderful aroma that always reminds me of fall.
Here's my chili sauce pot 11 hours later.  Yes, this is a project best started in the morning as it takes all day.  I will admit that I turned it off for about an hour to get lunch at my favorite Thai restaurant.

About 1 hour before this point, I wash the canning jars in my dishwasher with the heat-dry option so I know they are perfectly clean and still hot when I pour in the hot chili sauce.  Just before filling the jars I place the lids in a shallow pan of water and bring it to a simmer.

The chili sauce is hot, the bottles are hot, and the lids are hot.  Twist the rings on and place the jars upside-down for about 10 minutes then turn right-side-up.  All of my jars sealed and there is no need to process any further.

Right now I have a roast in the oven with potatoes and carrots to enjoy with my first jar of chili sauce this season.  It's not a cold winter day but I couldn't wait.

1 comment:

  1. Got them both at your wedding. Thanks for the laugh. Yesterday felt like a whole week in itself.


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