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
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
“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.”