Grandma Gert’s winter chili sauce

When I promised the kids we could have red beans and rice for supper one day last week, I knew I would have to make another batch of chili sauce, as I had used the last of it for sloppy joes a month or more ago. And this time I remembered to take a few photos so I could post about it! (Don’t get your hopes up about the photos, though.)

I inherited this recipe from Gertrude Sorenson, my father-in-law’s mother. My copy is written in her own hand, and occupies the place of honor in the lid of my fabulous see-through recipe box.


According to the notes on the back of the card, Grandma Gert got this recipe from her dear friend Marge Hintz in 1983; she copied it for me on April 7, 1993.

In keeping with my long-standing view of recipes as texts to be interpreted, I have adapted this recipe to fit the circumstances of my own life, though I did follow the recipe faithfully several times first; one must have a good grasp of the text before one can do it justice in translation. Grandma used fresh peppers and onions, for example, and a hand-cranked grinder (the kind that fastens to a counter or table top with a screw) to process the vegetables. I own one of these, thanks to the Goodwill, but usually opt for the immersible blender  as quicker and with less clean up. Next time, I’ll see if the food processor gives it a  chunkier texture, more like Grandma’s.

Here’s what it looked like before cooking:

chili sauce 1That’s still a bit too chunky. Here’s what it looked like after cooking and blending (a little too pureed):

chili sauce 3

I also use less sugar (no doubt violating some essential laws of canning) and diced tomatoes instead of plum tomatoes with basil (maybe I should add a little basil to account for this). Here is my adapted recipe; Grandma Gert’s original is below.

chili sauce 421st Century Winter Chili Sauce

4 c canned petite diced tomatoes
3 c frozen chopped green pepper
2-1/2 c frozen chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c cider vinegar
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine ingredients in large pot. (If desired, pulse in food processor first to desired consistency.) Bring to low boil and simmer one hour. (If using immersible blender, blend to desired consistency.) Pour into sterilized jars and cover with sterilized lids, as for jam or preserves. (Follow recommended food safety regimen du jour.) Makes approx. one gallon total.

chili sauce 6

Part of this batch went directly into the red beans and rice, so I didn’t have enough for four quart jars. If I remember to take pictures next time, I’ll update this post, assuming also that the batch turns out well.

Here’s the original recipe:

Winter Chili Sauce

1 large (35 oz.) can Italian (plum) tomatoes (with basil)
3 peppers
5 onions
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cloves1 cup sugar
3/4 cut vinegar
1 tsp cinnamon

Remove basil from tomatoes. Grind vegetables, add other ingredients. Boil slowly one hour. Pour into sterilized jars.

2 responses to “Grandma Gert’s winter chili sauce

  1. I used to have a collection of my mother’s recipe cards. So cool! I lost them somewhere during one of my many moves from one state to another. You have stirred the memories, Jennifer. Great post and recipe! Blessings to you…

    • I’m sorry to hear that you lost those recipe cards — moving can be so chaotic, and you’ve done quite a bit of it. But I’m glad that this post stirred some fond memories for you. Blessings to you as well, my friend!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s