I’m trying another of the many Chili Sauce recipes in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book. This one was contributed by Mrs. J. Brandt. I selected this recipe for two reasons: I had the ingredients and it’s an opportunity to talk about measurements.
This recipe calls for a peck of tomatoes. Perhaps you have tried that tongue twister Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers. Well just how big is a peck of peppers or tomatoes? A peck is an measure of volume and is part of the continuam of pints, quarts, pecks and bushels — measures that were commonly used in the past to measure produce. A peck is 32 cups. I purchased a quart basket of tomatoes and there are eight quarts in a peck. So I need to cut this recipe by about an eighth.
I peeled my quart of tomatoes and roughly chopped them into a large pot. Next I finely chopped one onion and most of a red pepper. I left them to boil and then added 1/2 cup of vinegar (1 quart = 2 pints= 4 cups); 1/16th of a cup of salt; 1 tablespoon of sugar. Finally I needed to prepare the spices. I made up a cheese cloth bag by adding half a teaspoon each of the following whole spices; cloves, mustard seed, cinamon and mixed pickle spice. Before tying up the bag I added a bit of mace and celery seed. I added the spice bag to the chili sauce and left it to boil for several hours before canning Mrs. Brandt’s Chili Sauce.
Mace is the outside covering of nutmeg. The pictures I’ve seen show it looking a bit like a net around the more familiar nut shape of nutmeg. This outside covering is peeled off and can be sold as blades or ground. The ground version is available in most grocery stores. It is a little tougher to find blades of mace (whole mace) but it is available in some stores selling spices in bulk.
Mrs. J Brandt could be one of two women both married to men named Jacob. Louisa C. Brandt lives in Berlin while Rosa lives in Waterloo. Jacob and Louisa live at 26 Frances St North with their son. Jacob works as a foreman in a tannery.
This chili sauce is more what I like in a chili sauce. It is basic but has some spice and flavour. It isn’t too sweet but has a bit to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. I accidentally overdid the salt which was very disappointing. I can still use it for making other things but it can’t be eaten on it’s own. This is always the hazzard when cutting back on a recipe or cooking late at night as I am tonight. It is easy to miscalculate the amount or forget to reduce. And of course sometimes I just make a mistake … I know, hard to believe but it happens all the time. Sometime I’ll tell you about the time I made something using salt instead of sugar!
1 peck peeled ripe tomatoes, 8 large onions, 6 medium sized red peppers cut in small pieces, boil until tender, then add 1 quart vinegar, 1/2 cup salt, 8 tablespoons sugar. Put in a bag 1 tablespoon each of all spice, cloves, mustard seed, cinnamon and mixed pickle spice, 1 teaspoon mace and celery see, boil until thick enough.