Category Archives: Cooking with Herbs

Grandma Guillan’s Chili Sauce Recipe

Steve’s grandmother’s maiden name is Ghilain,  a spelling that was probably mangled by US census takers because it changes as you go back generations.  Her grandfather was a John Guillan who lived near Dundee around 1827. We don’t know much more about the family except that John was a farmer/butcher known for his skill in curing pork.

Anyway,  I love the woman dearly, but since she’s not much of a cook.  (Seriously, she’s famous for spaghetti ala Grandma which entails adding hamburger and onions to FrancoAmerican spaghetti.)So I assume that this recipe is probably  great-grandmother’s.

I doubt it goes further back than that, because I don’t think it’s a particularly UK-ish type sauce.  Although  chili sauce and A1 sauce are similar to the brown sauce  they use in the UK as a condiment.  In Edinburgh, they thin it down with malt vinegar and serve it on fish and chips. Basically you use any of them way you would ketchup.

I don’t like ketchup, but I do like this because its tangier.  Steve really likes it on the black-eyed peas we make for New Year’s Eve.

I have tweaked it ever so slightly (I can’t help myself) because I use fresh ginger and cayenne, but other than that I’ve left it alone.

1 peck of tomatoes (around 13 lbs of tomatoes)
2 cups ground onions
1 cup bell peppers
2 cups brown sugar
3 cups apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup salt
2 teaspoons chopped ginger
1 teaspoon cayenne flakes (I use a bit of freshly chopped)
1 tsp allspice
3 teaspoons cinnamon chips
1 teaspoon  cloves

I begin this recipe by processing the peck of tomatoes the same way I would for plain tomato sauce, I cut off the stems and any bad spots.  I weigh mine after I do this, so I only used 12 pounds.

Then I put them in a stainless-steel pot with 2 cups of water and I heat them over medium heat until they are quite liquid.   Then I put them through our food mill.

I still don’t know about this contraption, I think I like my food mill better. I only get it out for large batches. If you use one of these things, run the pulp it spits out as waste through a few times to make sure you are getting everything.

Once I have the proto-sauce made,  I put it in my stainless-steel brew pot with a thick bottom.  Grandma’s recipe called for tying the herbs up in a bundle, so I grind them up just a bit and put them in a muslin hops bag and tie it to the handle like this.

One benefit of being married to a homebrewer is that I have dozens of these bags.

Then you just simmer this until it has reduced to about half. I am not going to mislead you, this takes a long time.  Think of it as a tomato decoction, and while simmering them for this long does vitamin C content, it raises the amount of bio-available lycopene and other antioxidants, substantially.

Ladle the sauce into sterilized pint jars.  Process with hot water bath method for 10 minutes. This should boil down to about 7 pints of sauce.