The Deliciously Dirty Pages – Canning/freezing secrets from around Nebraska

This is the latest installment of the feature on to showcase old, tried and true, family favorite recipes handed down through the generations. And where are they found? On the dirtiest, most stained pages of beloved old cookbooks.

These aren’t The White Pages. They aren’t the Yellow Pages. They are the Deliciously Dirty Pages, where good cooking and memories of great cooks are forever preserved.

This writer has a collection of old cookbooks, ranging in age from 40 to 70 years old, which were used by her mother. She kept the cookbooks and has beautiful memories of making those favored recipes, as well as spilling ingredients on the pages.

The theory is the dirtier the page, the better the recipe.

Each Wednesday, JustMelanieW is featuring these culinary wonders, sure to still please because they have been made many times with great success – again, identified by being on the dirtiest pages of these archival hard copy treasures.

We would also love to share your family favorite recipes from your own Deliciously Dirty Pages. Just send them to And if you want to share pictures of the end product, or your family making it, or a picture of the dirty cookbook pages where the recipes were found – please send those my way as well!

Some of our greatest memories come from the kitchen . . . and those Deliciously Dirty Pages.


This week’s featured recipes: Canning/freezing secrets from around Nebraska

Oh, we are just in the beginning stages of the gardening season as the seeds are going in and soon the plants will follow.

We will toil away all summer until that first glorious day arrives when we get our first tomato, our first cucumber, a handful of beans, that inaugural zucchini and a tiny green pepper we pick too early because we are just so excited! As all gardeners know, what follows next is hopefully an overload of produce we eventually get tired of dealing with. And that leads to the process of preserving everything we can through the art of canning and freezing.

This week’s installment was inspired by a wonderful note and photograph I received from Connie Kinney of rural Elgin. I was so excited to receive another contribution from a reader (which I hope to keep receiving, send them my way!).

Connie provided her mother-in-law’s recipe for soup, which we found in the Park Center Cookbook and published last week. She also provided insight into how canning can make this soup easily accessible at any time of the year.

“This recipe from Park Cookbook is Phyllis Kinney’s. She made it a lot when we had family gatherings. I vamped it a little bit. I can the tomatoes, carrots, onions, green pepper and celery in the fall at canning time. I use less salt because salt is added at canning time. I use Minute Rice because all the vegetables are cooked. I use two quarts of canned tomatoes/vegetables when making for lunch. I double the seasonings and add water if needed. As you can see by the cookbook, it is used a lot, I almost burned it up (ha, ha).”

Connie even made the recipe and provided a photo of the end result, as well as her revised version jotted into that old, worn cookbook. I love to see home cooking in action and how family tradition is handed down – thanks, Connie!

So that got me to thinking about the canning/freezing secrets certain people possess. To many, canning/freezing/preservation is a summer/fall ritual during which tried and true methods are key. And to others, preservation can be a bit intimidating and even a little bit like a science experiment they surely don’t want to fail.

I dove into all the old cookbooks in my possession and found sections dedicated to the art of canning and freezing. I recognized many of the names and realized I was reading the preservation secrets of amazing farm women who are/were certainly experts in this field.

Hold onto these and when the garden allows, grab your jars and freezer containers, and follow their wisdom:


Cucumber relish by Cheri Mueller (Full disclosure, she was my mother; but I can also vouch firsthand how good this is)

Use large cucumbers; wash well but don’t peel. Grind enough to almost fill a two-gallon container. Add green coloring. Add 10 big onions (chopped) and some red and green peppers (chopped). If you have a blender, use it for all of the chopping to save time and a mess. Sprinkle ½ cup salt over everything and let stand 1 hour. Drain well in colander. Cook well in large kettle:

4 cups vinegar

9 cups white sugar

3 teaspoons celery seed

5 teaspoons whole mustard seed

Cook this together with the cucumber mixture until tender (about 45 minutes) and then seal in hot jars.


Oven Scalloped Corn For The Freezer by Dolores Fick

20 cups corn

1 pound butter or oleo

1 pint Half and Half or light cream

Canning salt, to taste

Mix together and cook for one hour at 325 degrees in the oven. Cool and freeze in containers.


Zucchini Relish by Marilyn Sehi

10 cups ground zucchini

4 cups onions

5 tablespoons salt

2 ½ cups vinegar

4 cups sugar

1 tablespoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon prepared mustard or ½ teaspoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon turmeric

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons celery seed

½ teaspoon pepper

1 ground green pepper

1 ground red pepper or one small can of pimentos

Grind and combine the zucchini and onion with the salt. Let stand overnight in a glass or plastic container. Drain the next morning and rinse. Redrain and put in kettle. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil and cook 30 minutes, slowly, and stir frequently. Seal in seven pint jars.


Tomato soup by Debbie Knapp

½ bushel tomatoes (26 pounds)

1 ½ cups sugar

2 tablespoons pickling salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

4 teaspoons onion salt

4 teaspoons celery salt

1 pound butter

2 cups flour

Cook tomatoes until soft. Pour through strainer. Melt butter, stir flour into the butter, blending into a paste. Add to kettle, bring to a full boil. Process in hot water bath for 30 minutes. Makes 10 quarts.


Canning Apples For Pies by Jolene Koenig

Peel and slice apples as for a pie. Spread in a shallow pan. For each quart of apples, sprinkle on one cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon Fruit Fresh to keep apples from turning dark. Let set, stir often, until enough juice forms to fill jars. Pack apples in jars, cover with juice, leaving one inch headspace at top of each jar. Put on lids. Place apples in canner and cover with hot water. When the water comes to a good rolling boil, let boil five minutes. Turn off heat and leave jars in canner until completely cold.

To prepare for pies, drain juice, heat and thicken with cornstarch. Mix juice and apples, put in pie crust. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Top with crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes until brown.


Frozen Cabbage Slaw by Cheryl Kaczor

1 medium head cabbage, grated

1 cup grated carrot

1 medium green pepper, diced

1 teaspoon canning salt

2 cups sugar

¼ cup water

1 cup vinegar

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon mustard seed

Combine the grated cabbage, carrots and diced green pepper. Add the salt and let stand one hour, then drain. Boil for one minute the remaining ingredients. Cool and pour over cabbage. Pack loosely in container and freeze. Celery and onion may be added to suit your taste.


Pizza Sauce For Canning by Lora Mae Sehi Spieker and Marilyn Sehi

2 large onions

2 cloves garlic

½ cup oil

Juice of 12 medium/large tomatoes

2 cubes beef bouillon

2 bay leaves

1 ½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon oregano

1 (12 ounce) can tomato paste

Brown the onions and garlic in the oil. Stir in the tomato juice. Precook so you can run these through a colander. Add the beef bouillon, seasonings and tomato paste. Cook all together until thick and seal in jars.


Canned Vegetable Soup by Teresa Parks

Cup up equal amounts of garden vegetables such as green beans, potatoes, onions, celery, cabbage, carrots, peas and only a small amount of green peppers. Add or omit as you like with the vegetables. Pack loosely in pint or quart jars. Make a mixture of half water and half tomato juice. Fill jars, leaving one-half inch headspace. Seal. Process for 25 minutes at 10 pounds pressure in pressure canner. Use as much as you’d like in soup.








Thanks for reading this article. content is free and never behind a paywall.
We believe in trustworthy, local journalism that is accessible to everyone.