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Stories and Stovies
Pickles and Sauces

When Jack’s a very good boy
He shall have cakes and custard.
But when he does nothing but cry
He shall have nothing but mustard.

Culinary Arts Tomato Catchup

Yes, indeed, boys and girls, I did make ketchup once. This was in 1976, the first year we were living in Paradise, Ca. The field workers went on strike that year and then farmers opened their fields to anyone who wanted the tomatoes. Oh, boy, I had so many tomatoes. And in those days we ate a lot of chili, spaghetti, lasagna, meat loaf, etc. Would you believe I canned enough tomatoes to last a whole year! On top of that, I got ambitious and became even more hyper domesticated and decided to make ketchup and used this recipe. It took forever to boil down into a thick sauce, but it was well worth it. Now I stick to Heinz.

1 peck (which means a lot) ripe tomatoes -- there are four pecks in a bushel, so either multiply your recipe x 4 or divide your bushel by 4 to make this work!

5 sliced onions
1 small clove garlic
2 red peppers, seeded
1:1/2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 inches stick cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups vinegar

Boil first 6 ingredients until soft. Strain through sieve. Add spices in a spice container or bag. Add sugar to tomato mixture and boil rapidly stirring occasionally until thick or quantity is reduced by half.

Remove spices, add vinegar and boil 10 minutes longer. Pour into sterile jars and seal. Makes about 6 quarts.

I made pickles once, too – but all I can remember is that I had to go out and find "alum" to add the crispness, and now I believe that might have been some sort of "aluminum" – so even if our food was organic, there was still something added.

I thought I’d better look up "alum" for this web edition – can’t be leading more people astray, can I? So, according to the huge Websters compendium (which came with the Encyclopedia Britannica set we bought in Germany in 1969 – yes, truly from a traveling salesman) here’s what goes into your pickles: either of two colorless or white isomorphic crystalline or double sulfates of aluminum having a sweetish sourish astringent taste and used chiefly in medicine internally as emetics and locally as astringents and styptics. Well, well, well!

My brother used a styptic pencil when cut himself shaving. The description of alum cake is definitely not for an edible product. And Webster also defines alum leather. This truly gives new meaning to being pickled, doesn’t it? I wonder if Peter Piper knew this?

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper;
A peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where’s the peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked?

How rapidly and how many times can you repeat that little tongue-twister?

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