Cooking with Lou

Mom’s Chili Sauce

– Posted in: Vegetables

Chili sauce is sweet, tangy, and can have a little heat if you like.  Mother didn’t add the heat factor, but I do. So the recipe that follows has some added hot peppers that you can add…..or not. For the most part, this is the recipe that was published by The Ball Brothers Company (the people that make Ball Jars for canning).  The first edition was in 1913. The one I use was my mother’s, published in 1960.

Chili Sauce

  • 1 gallon of canned or fresh tomatoes diced. (I had canned several quarts of whole romas and really large grape tomatoes last summer, so that’s what I used) You can use canned diced tomatoes, packed in water.
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cups chopped mixed sweet red peppers (I used both red and yellow and some cubanelles (a sweet green pepper) Green bell peppers can be somewhat bitter and are not recommended
  • 1 chopped hot pepper of your choice (I used 2 more to get a little more heat)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons salt

This pot is just starting to simmer around the edges. A lot of juice that was in the jars of tomatoes. I had to let it cook down for quite a while.

chili saucePlace all of the above ingredients into a very large sauce pan (I used a 7 quart pan)  and bring to a boil. Boil for 45 minutes. (I would say, a light boil or simmer, not a rapid high boil.) Then add the remaining ingredients. Put the spices in a bag (cloth securely tied around the spices. Improvise if necessary. I keep a couple of feet of loosely woven muslin (available from any fabric store) to use for spice bags.

  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon celery seed
  • 3 tablespoons pickling spices: Pickling spice includes bay leaves, all spice, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, mustard seed,mace,and coriander. You can purchase pickling spice at any grocery store.  Since the spices are in chunks, make sure you tie them up securely to keep them together. Dunk them into the pot. Don’t forget to stir every few minutes. (Sugary mixtures will stick if you don’t).

Simmer until think. Remember there is a lot of sugar in the mix, so as the mixture gets thicker it will have a tendency to stick and scorch in the bottom of the pan. This is not good. Trust me…I learned the hard way, I didn’t stir often enough. Once it’s thick like a sauce, add the vinegar and simmer until you get the thickness you want.  I have added the vinegar at the same time as the spices. I didn’t notice any difference in the final taste. In fact….it cut the time by several minutes.

  • 2 and 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar (you can use white vinegar, that’s what was listed in the Ball Canning recipe book, but for me…white vinegar is what I use to clean my windows….once every year or so.)

Once it’s as thick as you want, while it is still bubbling, pour it into pint size jars or quart size if you like. The jars must be standard canning jars with unused jar lids (the part with the rubber seal) Pour the sauce into each jar one at a time, sealing each jar as you go. Screw down the lid with the screw ring band.

Because thiChili Sauces sauce is vinegar based, it is considered an “acid food”. Therefore, you do not need to process the jars in a boiling water bath. Yeah!!!!! Once the jars are sealed and the bands screwed on securely, let them cool on the counter top. Don’t cool by putting them in the refrigerator. Just let them sit. As they cool, you’ll hear the seal tighten and pop indicating that the jar is sealed properly.

After they have cooled, you should test the seal by pressing on the center of the lid. If it moves or makes a noise, it is not sealed properly. You should not feel any “give” when you press on the center. If they are not sealed properly, you can store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use the sauce. It’s not recommended to store for really long periods of time (over a month). So check to make sure there is no food mold before you use. Being vinegar based, the sauce is not prone to spoiling in the refrigerator. If the lids sealed properly, store them in a cool dry place.  eg.  a basement or a pantry. It is not necessary to refrigerate properly sealed jars.
One of my favorite uses for this sauce is to pour it over my father’s Hungarian sausage balls. A great appetizer any time of year. I also use it a a grilling sauce for pork chops, pork tenderloins, flank steak, even a white fish like cod or halibut.

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