Thursday, August 19, 2010

WWII Chili Sauce

August is undeniably tomato month.  Although I think the heat and variable amount of rain has crippled our crop a bit, there are still enough tomatoes to put up a few of our favorites.  One of these is affectionately known as "WWII Chili Sauce."

This recipe derives its name from its origins in Grandma's Wartime Kitchen by Joanne Lamb Hayes.  Although Hayes has devised a way to make this sauce in about a half hour of cook time, I am going against the "Fast" of "Fast, Cheap, and Good" by reverse engineering it to cook longer, making for a thicker sauce and deeper flavors.  It is worth the investment of time.

DH loves this sauce.  On a cold winter night that he is cooking for himself, I can assist by thawing a pound of hamburger and letting him use this like sloppy joe sauce.  It makes a great topping for bread, noodles, or potatoes, and it makes about 4-5 servings of sloppy joe-style chili.

3 lb tomatoes
½ cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped pepper (I uses salsa delight and bananarama chiles, but the recipe calls for green bell peppers)
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
½ t. salt
¼ t. ground cloves
¼ t. ground allspice

Wash and stem the tomatoes, cutting into reasonable size chunks and cutting out bad spots. Place in large pot and cook until the tomatoes are juicy and boiling. The longer you cook, the more juice and pulp will be available to you.

When the tomatoes have released their juice, pass the juice and pulp through a ricer (also called a food mill) to remove the skins and seeds. Return the tomato pulp to the pan, and add the remaining ingredients. Return to a gentle boil, and cook until the sauce is as thick as you would like – depending on the tomatoes you have used and the size of the batch, this could take up to 2 hours.

Refrigerate for use within a week, or spoon into a sterilized pint jar, leaving 1/4-1/2 inch headspace, and process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes (25 minutes for quarts). Makes one pint.

The Analysis

Fast:  Well, I did make the cook time longer on this by virtue of cooking the pulp down, sending it through a ricer, and then cooking again.  I think it is worth it.

Cheap:  Depending on your garden, this could be quite cheap indeed, with the cost coming mostly or entirely from pantry supplies (like cider vinegar and spices).  I always have to buy onion, which are 75 cents each  at my farmer's market.  I grow tomatoes and peppers.

Good:  Once you've had this, I promise the sticky, HFCS-laden sloppy joe sauce in a can will hold very little appeal for you.  And, as a bonus, the house smells wonderful while you cook it!

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  1. Sorry to be The Fact-Picky Person, but "HFCS-laden sloppy joe sauce" isn't exactly accurate. Manwich, for example, is sweetened with sugar, as are all ConAgra products now:

  2. @gezelliggirl: That's really good to hear; thanks for sharing. And plus one for ConAgra! The last time we bought sloppy joe sauce, there was, in fact, HFCS in it. However, I will admit that we haven't done so in quite some time, because I put up enough of this to last the winter. Still, good to know that some of the Big Boys are responding to market forces.