Zesty Chili Sauce

I planted tomatoes from seed this spring. Many of my indoor seed starting projects were less successful, but the tomatoes……… I will do again. I grew SOOO MANY plants. I bought 2 seed packets each of beefsteak tomatoes, and two types of plum tomatoes.

My tomatoes
Sliced plum tomatoes

The plum tomatoes are wonderful for sauce and have more “meat” to them, while the beefsteaks give me volume. My tomatoes are maturing a few at a time, and so I am canning batches of tomatoes as I harvest just the right quantity.

My old Better Homes and Gardens “You Can Can” book has a recipe for “Hot-style Chili Sauce” – which is like a zesty ketchup – a sauce that we can pair with meatloaf, burgers, etc. It’s zippy for sure, but I wouldn’t call it hot – it has chili powder, dry mustard and cayenne pepper as it’s “spicy” ingredients, but it’s not over the top.

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The recipe calls for 2 hours of light boiling – so do this on a day that’s not too hot and when you have the time. I spent the 2 hours in my kitchen, organizing and sorting and cleaning my refrigerator. If I were to head to another room while the sauce was boiling, I would easily get distracted and forget my boiling sauce – so do this when you are happy to putter in the kitchen.

The recipe calls for 6 pounds of washed tomatoes. This is always the hard part with canning/preserving. I have a few broken fruit scales that I’ve acquired over the years – but I can never make any sense of them. I read that 1 pound of tomatoes is equal to 2.3 U.S. cups – so I cut up my tomatoes, until I had about 3 four and a half cup measuring cups full of tomatoes. (2.3 times 6 = 13.8 cups divided by my 4.5 cup container = 3 – phew……).

The recipe calls for peeled, cored tomatoes, but I just removed the centre stemmy bits and chopped the tomatoes into 3/4 inch or less pieces, removing any blemished pieces. I like a chunky sauce, and I don’t mind bits of tomato skin. You could definitely take out the tomato skin if you like – as some people don’t like the little bits in their sauce. If you don’t remove the skin, you will get little rolled up pieces of tomato skin, but they cook down for 2 hours, so they are soft enough!

Chopped tomatoes

I didn’t have quite enough fully ripe tomatoes, so I tossed in a few green tomatoes. These are just tomatoes that haven’t ripened yet, and they are a little tangier, but a few are OK in my zippy sauce, and my growing season is ending, so I need to start using these ones up too!

Chopped red and green tomatoes

The recipe calls for one cup finely diced onion – I used one cooking onion, and I wouldn’t say it was finely diced, but as close as I could manage.

Add 1 cup chopped onion

In a large stainless steel pot, add chopped tomatoes, onion, 2 cups apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup chili powder, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp dry mustard and 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I used a heaping 1/2 tsp of cayenne).

Add sugar, spices and apple cider vinegar

Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce heat and boil gently uncovered, stirring regularly for about 2 hours – or until mixture thickens to a ketchup-like consistency.

Boil mixture gently for about 2 hours
My reduced chili sauce – with little tomato skin bits

In the meantime, sterilize jars and rims for canning by boiling for 10 minutes. This recipe calls for 5 500ml jars. but my tomatoes produced 2 650ml jars, plus another 250ml, that went straight to the refrigerator. I always prepare more jars than I need in the hopes that I will produce extra – but this time I produced less!

Ladle the sauce into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch of space from the rim of the jar. Wipe down the tops of the jars. Heat sealing discs in hot water. Apply sealing discs to the jars and screw on rings to finger tight. Return the sealed jars to the hot water, making sure they are covered by at least one inch of water. Bring to a full boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat. After 5 minutes, remove jars from water and set aside to cool. As they cool, the tops should retract and curve inward, making a popping noise, indicating that a vacuum seal has occurred.

Boil sealed jars to “can” – for 10 minutes

This recipe produced a nice zesty fairly smooth sauce. I still have more tomatoes to bring in – I hope they ripen before it gets too cold here! I think I will make some more pasta sauce, and then some salsa! Happy October.

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