Canned Vegetarian Chili

Three weeks ago it didn’t look any of our tomatoes were going to ripen. In the past week we’ve picked somewhere around 50 pounds of a colorful array of beautiful varieties — romas and heirlooms in shades of yellow, orange, pink, green and red. One batch of salsa has been canned, a few quarts of plain tomatoes, and today a batch of vegetarian chili is finishing up in the pressure canner as I write.

Vegetarian chili fits my impulsive menu style pretty well. Because the chili is canned without meat or beans you can dress it up any way you like, or based on whatever is in your fridge. I always add some canned beans and usually meat, which could be cubed or shredded beef, chicken, or pork, hamburger or sausage. I have also been known to toss in small pieces of cooked squash or sweet potato. If the idea of chunks of those bothers you, cook them in a microwave and purée before adding to the chili. You’ll get the sweetness along with the vitamin boost and nobody will know it’s there. Serve on its own topped with shredded cheese and accompanied by a generous piece of country-style bread, or on top of rice spiced up with some chopped cilantro.

Since I like to use a mix of tomatoes that may include some low-acid varieties, I add a little citric acid to make sure it’s safe.  And because it contains other vegetables in addition to tomatoes, I use a pressure canner instead of a water bath. You need to set aside some time for this recipe.  There’s a lot of chopping and peeling, but it’s worth it. This makes about one quart. Scale it to fit the amount of tomatoes you have. The variety of peppers can be adjusted to your garden or your tastes. For this batch I used just one very large jalapeño (very large, as in I’ve never seen them this big!) per quart instead of the mix of different kinds, and also a small sweet pepper.

— Joan, 25 September 2017



  • Servings: Makes 1 quart
  • Print

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup onions, chopped (about 2 medium sized onions)
  • 28 oz. tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small sweet or green pepper, if desired
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1 superchile or serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cayenne pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 anaheim or New Mexico chile, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon citric acid powder

Cook onions and peppers in the oil, covered, till softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook about 10 minutes more, till onions are very tender and golden. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, sugar and salt along with tomatoes. Heat to boiling.

While the chili is heating, get the pressure canner ready,  following the instructions for your canner. When chili is boiling, put ½ teaspoon of citric acid powder in each jar, fill with hot chili and stir slightly with a knife to mix in the citric acid, wipe the rims and put on the lids and rings. Place in the canner, cover and proceed as directed in your canner’s instructions. Process for 25 minutes at 10# pressure. When the jars are completely cooled and you’ve checked to make sure they sealed, you can remove the rings. Any that have not sealed should be refrigerated and used in a few days. Store in a cool, dark place.




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