Today I spent the morning making a batch of my Grandmother's chili sauce recipe. I know that most people use their fresh tomatoes for making Mexican type salsa, and I have made several batches of fresh salsa this summer, but DH and I love this chili sauce even better. It's sweeter and is spiced with cloves and ginger and nutmeg rather than hot peppers. It's wonderful with meatloaf or roast beef, and I have a favorite meatball recipe that combines the chili sauce with grape or cherry jelly for a wonderful sauce to serve over rice. It's also great just spooned into your favorite dish of chili, canned or homemade. I took a jar up to my Dear Dad tonight and he told me that he and his sisters used to take roast beef and chili sauce sandwiches to school for their lunch. (This is made from his mother's recipe.)
We've been blessed with a fairly good crop of tomatoes this year, not overly abundant, but enough to keep us supplied for salads and sandwiches, a few batches of fresh salsa, and even a few to share with family members who aren't able to grow many tomatoes in their mountain valley climate. The Roma tomatoes pictured above are perfect for making sauces and salsas as they are more meaty and take less time to cook down and have less juice for a less runny salsa. They are also smaller than other tomatoes, so I used at least twice as many as the recipe below calls for. Our Romas have taken longer to ripen, and this is the first large bunch that I have picked this year. We also had a few small onions and one small green bell pepper ready, so I added them to the bunch. I did buy three other bell peppers earlier this week when they were on sale, so I had plenty for the recipe. Also, because it uses plenty of vinegar, I feel comfortable canning it with the hot water bath canning process.* If you still have some tomatoes that need to be used up, you just may want to try it out:
GRANDMA'S CHILI SAUCE
12 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 large bell peppers, chopped fine
1 large onion chopped fine (or several small onions like mine)
2 cups white vinegar (you could probably use cider vinegar)
1 Tbs salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp ginger
To easily peel tomatoes, blanch in very hot (almost boiling) water, then quickly cool in a bowl of cold water. Slip off skins and chop. I'm sure that my grandmother chopped everything by hand, but I am blessed to have and use a food processor. If you use the food processor, pulse the tomatoes for only a few seconds at a time. You want to have some nice tomato chunks in the sauce. Combine the tomatoes, vinegar, and spices in a large heavy pot and bring to a boil while chopping the onions and peppers. These can be chopped finer than the tomatoes. Add onions and peppers to the tomato mixture. Once it reaches a boil reduce heat and boil until thick, stirring often to avoid sticking and burning of the sauce. Makes three to four pints of sauce, depending on your desired consistency. Ladle into clean, hot pint canning jars and process for 45 minutes in hot water bath canner.
* Please refer to the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, guide 3, for more information on canning of tomatoes and tomato products.