Tag Archives: red pepper jam

More Places to Find Food and Family Stories

I hope you’re enjoying Ancestors in Aprons, for whatever reason brings you here–family stories, recipes, food stories.  I also want to let you know  some other sources of family stories  that I’ve discovered.  I think you might enjoy these TV shows and a web site.

Learn More About Seeking Family Stories

Family stories

“Genealogy Roadshow” on PBS goes to the source. Credit: Courtesy of David Bean
Producer: Krasnow Productions

Did you see the television show, Who Do You Think You Are?  The TLC cable channel brings the drama of a search for family stories of celebrities.

And on September 23, PBS debuted a new show, Genealogy Road Show. (It may come later in some markets, so check with your local PBS station.)  Modeled on the popular Antiques Road Show, experts travel from city to city and work to solve nagging questions about ancestors and family stories that are brought by people in the audience.

I wrote about these two shows for the website Reel Life With Jane, and you can see the article and get more information here, including links to both shows.

Explore How The Foods We Eat are Influenced by Where We’re From

If you find, as I do, that your ancestors come to life in your kitchen–through handed down recipes, cooking techniques and implements–I’m sure you’ll enjoy a website dedicated to family stories and food facts, American Food Roots.  You can find lots of food for thought (pun intended) on this site, but of course I like the “My American Roots section where people tell an interesting story relating their family and food.

Meanwhile–have you read my family stories about the

Community band Kaser trombone

Trombone of Clifford Kaser


Trombone that changed my mind about my paternal grandfather?



Maude Bartlett's tea service

Aunt Maude’s tea service




About my Great Aunt who entertained a Queen?

William Stout diploma

William C. Stout’s diploma


My great grandfather’s questionable education?



Sarah Anderson Cherry Pudding

Cherries for Cherry Pudding


Have you tried our family recipes for cherry pudding,




Making Canned Food--Re Peppers

Grandma’s Red Pepper Jam



red pepper jam,



pie crust ventsor perfect pie crust?

Red Pepper Jam Update from Grandma Vera’s Recipe

A while back, I shared with you Vera Anderson’s recipe for Red Pepper Jam. Since I wrote that, I have actually tried the recipe, and here’s the result.

You may remember it started like this:

Making Canned Food--Re Peppers

Red Peppers for Ready to Make Grandma’s Red Pepper Jam

The first step. Since she always like modern things, I’m sure grandma would approve of using the electric food processor instead of the hand-cranked food chopper.

Red Pepper ready for chopping

Chopping the peppers

Then the serious cooking starts.

Red Pepper jam ingredients

Pepper jam ingredients cooking.

And finally, they get ladled into two jars–yes TWO jars is all that results from 7 peppers.

Red Pepper jam

Red Pepper jam

And to tell you the truth–I would change the name to Red Pepper Relish, because it tastes more like sweet pickle relish than anything else I can think of. But I am definitely looking forward to breaking it out for a family meal and spreading it on whatever meat we’re having. It will be great on ham, but also good on beef or poultry. Thanks, Grandma.

Canned Food in the Cellar and a Heritage Recipe

UPDATE: I did finally make the red pepper jam. Check out the results here.

When I most keenly sense Grandma in my kitchen is when I’m trying to ignore her tried and true recipes–like canned food–like Red Pepper Jam.

Making Canned Food--Red Peppers

Red Peppers for Ready to Make Grandma’s Red Pepper Jam

Grandma’s basement was full of wonders, like the lace curtain stretchers–wooden frames circled with the sharp ends of nails sticking out. During spring cleaning, when rugs small enough to carry outside were hung over the wire clothesline and beat with a bent rug beater, lace curtains were taken down and washed and then fastened around the edges to the curtain stretchers to dry, so they wouldn’t wind up in strange shapes.  

Her basement also held an old wringer washer, long after she had a regular washer, but I remember when I was little and every piece of laundry was fed through the two rubber rollers and squeezed out after being beat by the agitators.

But most importantly, her cellar held shelves of glowing colors shining through glass jars–jams and jellies and “put up” foods. That would be canned foods–tomatoes and mustard relish and applesauce and crunchy cucumber pickles and pickled everything else that grew in the garden.

Corn relish–MMMMMMMM! Apricots and peaches brought summer sun to winter tables. Canned tomatoes tasted like the sun-warmed ones I pulled off the  garden vines, juice running down my arm. How I wish I had Grandma’s recipe for piccalili–one of those concoctions that is different with every person who chops and seasons and cans.

Canned foods at farmer's Market

St. Phillips’ Farmers’ Market in Tucson, Grammy’s canned foods

Canned foods aren’t actually put in cans. They are put into sterilized glass jars and sealed with a flat metal lid with a rubber ridge that hold it tight to the jar, tightened down with a metal ring screwed on the top. Canning and preserving is back in style and you can buy the equipment at your grocery store.

I remember canning time as a time I dreaded.  All day long in the humid days of the end of summer, sitting in an even more humid kitchen because huge kettles of boiling water were boiling away germs from the glass jars. Once the jars were full– packed into the large pans, and surrounded with water, boiled for half an hour. All evening, you heard the pop of the metal sealing as the air was sucked out and the seal complete.

You were in that kitchen all day long, up to your elbows in sticky fruit and vegetables.  Peeling apples, slicing peaches, dicing tomatoes. Then you cooked them down, pulled a jar out of the boiling water with tongs, poured the hot food into the jar and put on the top. It was several days of gathering all the women in the family, or a couple of neighbors, to gossip about somebody’s recent operation or who skipped whose funeral. Hard work lightened by camaraderie.

Of course, as much as I did NOT want to slave in that sticky hot kitchen at the end of summer, I DID want to eat the wonderful food that came out of the jars.

book cover: Food in Jars CanningFoodIn my mind, it was no wonder that canning and preserving and jelly making went out of style.  But I may be ready to try it again, and I heard about a book that instructs on making small batches of canned goods. Maybe that would work for me.

I’ve had this recipe of Grandma Vera’s on top of my kitchen shelf for several months now, trying to work up my courage. I absolutely love Italian roasted peppers, so why not try this heritage recipe for preserved sweet red peppers ? Maybe you’ll make it before I get around to it.  Let me know how it goes. Do you have a favorite heritage canning or preserving recipe to share?

Grandma Vera’s Red Pepper Jam

        • 12 large sweet red peppers
        • 1 T. salt
        • 2 C vinegar
        • 3 C sugar

Wash peppers. Remove stems and seeds and light colored ribs from inside. Grind medium coarse.  Add salt. Mix and let stand 3 hours. Drain. Add vinegar and sugar.  Simmer slowly until the consistency of jam (about 1 hour). Fill sterilized containers [fill within 1/2″ of top] and seal.

[By ‘Seal,’ she means the water bath method–set them in boiling  water about 2 inches up on the jar, boil with a lid on top of the pan for 20-30 min. and remove them (using tongs, or if you’re well equipped, a jar rack) to sit on cooling racks until the lids pop shut tightly. If you’re a real pro, you may even have a pressure canner. At any rate there are directions on the jars you buy at the grocery store.]

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