Autumn is in the air when the aromas of summer’s late tomato harvest commingle with fall’s first apple crop, simmering in sweetened and spiced vinegar, waft through my kitchen.
“One peck of ripe tomatoes, eight large onions, chopped fine with one pound of green pepper,” reads my great-grandmother’s neatly penned recipe for “Chilli Sauce.” I like to believe she acquired this receipt circa 1890 at the Point Sur Lighthouse, as the wife of the light station’s Capt. John F. Ingersoll.
I imagine her Danish ingenuity, ala Babette’s Feast, spiced up their self-sufficient daily fare with such as this gem of a condiment. Her daughter, my paternal grandmother Pawkie, recounted tales of tending a prolific garden growing up from toddlerhood to teenager 1890-1901 on the Pt. Sur promontory.
The original Chili Sauce has undergone creative editing probably by my mom. Apple, celery, brown sugar and favorite spices add a sweetly sour tang. I know Pawkie relished the additions contributed by her daughter-in-law. Pun intended! The new version is a marriage made in heaven.
12 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
4 large apples, peeled and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 cup brown sugar
2 sticks cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. ginger
Dash of nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 cup cider vinegar
In a large heavy pot, combine the prepared fruits and vegetables. Add the sugar and spices; mix well. Pour in vinegar; stir well. Bring to a gentle simmer. Cook slowly for 2 hours. Seal in sterilized glass jars according to manufacturer’s directions. Yields 2 quarts.
Cook’s note: I “put up” a double batch to savor through the winter on meatloaf. Unless I get too generous around the holidays, I’ll have enough to enjoy through the summer on grilled hamburgers, too. One son declared a July 4th Chili Sauce Cheeseburger, “The Best!”
Chili Sauce Cheeseburger
1 pound hamburger, preferably grass fed
Salt and pepper
4 slices cheddar cheese, preferably Tillamook
Leafy lettuce, such as curly leaf or romaine
4 good quality hamburger buns, preferably whole wheat, lightly toasted in oven
1 cup Chili Sauce
Mayonnaise, preferably homemade
In a bowl, lightly salt and pepper the hamburger; form into four patties. Grill over flame or on stovetop. After meat is flipped, top each patty with a slice of cheese. Lightly moisten bun with mayonnaise on both sides. Place lettuce leaf on bottom bun. Spoon on 2 tblsp. chili sauce and place burger atop. Dollop another tblsp. chili sauce on top. Carefully put on bun; gently push down. Eating this masterpiece is messy, but oh, so worth it!
1 egg yolk
A pinch of salt
A pinch of dried mustard
2 tsp.fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
With whisk attachment or hand mixer, beat first five ingredients until creamy. Slowly drip in oil while beating, to incorporate. Et viola! Refrigerate in a glass jar up to 10 days.