In summer, the story goes, when bushels of tomatoes would be piled high at farm stands and markets, my grandmother would present herself in the kitchen clad only in her bathing suit and pearls. The bathing suit was because she was about to cook up and can jar after jar of chili sauce, a Victorian-era tomato relish that my grandfather adored. The pearls? Well, a 1950s lady was still a 1950s lady, even dishabille.
I never knew my grandmother. She died right before I was born. But her presence lived on as my family slowly filled not only the kitchen but the entire house with the smell of cider vinegar and tomatoes every summer. As a kid, I was dazzled by the whole aromatic process.
As an adult, I know that relish-making takes some time, especially if the choice is to can the product rather than refrigerate or freeze it. Honestly, I'd rather go through the chore of canning. There's something appealing about spooning up a vivid reminder of summer's sun-kissed bounty on a dark, snowy winter's eve.
Don't know how to can? Get all the instructions you need via cookbooks, magazines and Web sites such as the National Center for Home Food Preservation (uga.edu/nchfp) at the University of Georgia. Also, consider consulting your state extension service for more canning tips.
The big things to keep in mind: Give yourself enough time, have all your ingredients prepped and, remember, have fun. Relish this process as a memory deliciously worthy of being remembered.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun