Amish Series - Part 3

Amish Series - Part 1

Amish Series - Part 2

 

Preserving Food

One of my favorite things about growing up Amish is that I learned how to preserve food and it has been a way I can hand the culture I grew up in down to my children.  

The gardens here in Amish Country are often a work of art. I know one Amish lady whose family doesn't like vegetables and she doesn't have much to put in her garden, but she still has a garden and fills it full of flowers. She has the most beautiful garden around most years. Most Amish ladies, though, fill their gardens full of vegetables, first growing "early lettuce," onions and radishes. Next come the peas, soon after follow the green beans and all of a sudden there is an abundance of vegetables growing in the gardens and canning season becomes the focus for many households as they prepare for winter. 

Both Old and New Order Amish ladies have freezers they can fill, renting freezer space from English neighbors or even the English neighbor will provide a little bit of land so the Amish folks in the neighborhood can place a small shed on to store freezers inside. This is allowed as long as the Amish person isn't the owner of the land and the electric bill can't be in the Amish people's name. They have to pay rent to the English neighbor and then it is allowed. Some of the New Order Amish have electricity so they have their own freezers, while other districts of the New Order Amish are not allowed to have electricity. It is all in what sect of Amish you are and what the Bishop allows for his congregation. The Swartzentruber Amish sect has to can all their fruit, vegetables and meats. They are not allowed to rent freezer space from anyone. 

I have many memories of my mom and sisters in the kitchen canning and freezing mounds and mounds of fruits and vegetables. Mom taught us how to prepare each vegetable properly, how to blanch them, cut them, even how to properly stuff them into the jars just right so that the jars would look nice on the shelves after they were processed in their hot bath water. 

Over the years our stash of recipes grew to include delicacies like canned banana peppers and pizza sauce. Pizza started to get really popular in the 70's for the Amish but most of us made a version of pizza that was far removed from anything we can get delivered to our house these days. Chef Boyardee was our friend back then but then one day it seemed everyone had their own pizza sauce recipe and a better crust recipe than the one that came in the box. Many of the Amish ladies use their pizza sauce as a pasta sauce as well. Pizza casserole is always a popular main dish when they are serving a crowd and their homemade pizza sauce goes well in this dish. 

If one can find a good recipe it almost becomes an heirloom, handed down generation after generation. I'm hoping some of my recipes will be handed down to my grandchildren and beyond. 

My Favorite Recipes

Canned Banana Peppers
1/2 bushels of banana peppers (seeded and sliced)
1 gallon white vinegar
3 quarts cold water
6 cups white sugar
1 cup salt
Stir for a couple of minutes and pour cold brine over the peppers which have been packed into 13 quart jars.
Put lids on and store in cool area. No there is no need to seal jars. I've used this recipe for a couple of years and people ask for the recipe every time I serve it on a cheese plate or sandwiches.
SMOOTHIES
2 gallon fresh peaches
1 gallon fresh pineapples
1 gallon red grapes
4 cans white grape juice concentrate
32 ounces pineapple juice
Mix together and put 2 cups in a quart size bag to freeze. When making smoothies put in blender with 1 cup of vanilla yogurt.
This made us 25 bags.
PIZZA SAUCE
7 quarts tomato juice (1/2 bushel of tomatoes cooked down)
3 large green peppers, chopped
2 cups of oil
¾ tsp red pepper
4 Tbl basil
5 Tbl oregano
1 cup sugar
½ cup salt
1 gal tomato paste
2 packs of pizza spice (I recommend Mrs. Wages)
1 container Parmesan cheese
Thicken with 1 ¼ cup Perma Flo (a cornstarch-based thickener) and 2 cups water

Begin by cooking down ½ bushel tomatoes, straining to a juice. Mix remaining ingredients (with the exception of the Perma Flo and water) with the tomato juice in a large kettle and simmer together. Mix Perma Flo and water in a separate bowl. Simmer pizza sauce for half an hour. Fill quart-sized canning jars and seal with canning lids. Soak the jars in a hot water bath for 20 minutes. The buttons on the lids will pop as the jars seal. Use Caution!

“This is a family favorite! We use it as a marinara sauce, pizza sauce, and spaghetti sauce. I hope your household enjoys as much as we do.”
TOMATO SOUP
10 quarts tomato juice
1/2 cup chopped onion
5 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons black pepper
3 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons celery salt
2 cups butter
Put all of this in a big kettle and bring to boil. Then take 2 cups flour and 2 cups water and whisk together. Add to boiling soup and stir until mixed.
Put in jars and put jars in kettle and cover with water. Bring water to boil and let boil for 20 minutes.
Enjoy this soup on a cold winter night or for a quick dinner party served with grilled cheese.
Dilly Beans
2 lbs. green beans
1/3 cup pickling lime
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup white sugar
4 tsp. dried dill
4 tsp. pickling seasoning
cloves of garlic
hot banana peppers
smoked salts
coarse salt
Trim the beans. I leave the tails. Stack the beans in jars.
Bring lime, water, vinegar and sugar to a boil. Put half of a pepper and a clove of garlic in each jar. Divide seasonings and salts in jars and pour brine over beans. Put on lid and ring. Next, put jars in pot and cover with water. When it comes to boil, let them boil for 10 minutes. Then remove from the water and let set overnight to seal.
Do you have an interesting recipe you always use and get rave reviews over? I'd love if you shared with me! I'm always looking for new recipes that are interesting. 

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