Deliciously Dirty Pages — Canning and preserving our rewards from the garden

The Deliciously Dirty Pages — 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.


Today’s recipes: Canning and preserving


Sometimes hand-written notes are the best, mostly because the person who took the time to write it all down did it with purpose.

In my mother’s 1974 cookbook from Clearwater, Nebraska, she took the time to write down certain recipes and make sure to bookmark printed recipes so she (or us in the future) could always find them.

In the mystery of the canning world, that was certainly the case.

Let’s be honest – in today’s world, canning can be somewhat of an unchartered territory for many people because we are used to just buying items from the store. But as more of us seem to be delving into gardening and preserving, revisiting our heritage and embracing self-sustainability, it’s an exciting find in the archives of the women who knew exactly what they were doing.

Now, these recipes for canning come at a great time, as we have all started our gardening with hopes for the future. I have my garden in  as well – let’s hope it all reaches our aspirations and we find the time and courage to preserve as much as possible.

And just in case all those things come to fruition, here are great words of wisdom:


Dill Tomatoes by Joyce Knievel

Makes 8 quarts

2 quarts water

1 quart cider vinegar

1 cup salt

Cook 1 minutes. Fill jars with tomatoes, carrots, onions, green peppers, cauliflower, garlic and celery.

Celery and garlic are optional. Cover with above solution.

Note: That’s it. That’s all my mother wrote about this canning situation – she assumed we all know what to do. But I would assume it is the regular pickling situation you already assume.


I loved homemade sauerkraut when I was a kid and have no idea how to make it as an adult. I found this recipe in my mom’s archives:

Easy Sauerkraut

Cabbage (shredded)

1 tablespoon pickling salt

1 teaspoon sugar

Boiling water

Shred the cabbage and put in glass jars, but do not press tight. Add salt and sugar on top of each quart. Fill with boiling water and put lid on but do not tighten. After 12 hours, fill jars with more boiling water and seal tight. Set in hot room three days, then store in a cool dark place. This is ready for use in about three weeks.


How to Prepare Horseradish

1 coffee cup horseradish (grated)

2 tablespoons white sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ pint cold vinegar

Mix well, bottle and seal.

To make horseradish sauce: Two tablespoons of above prepared horseradish; add 1 dessert spoon olive oil (melted butter or cream), and one spoon of prepared mustard.


Mulberry Jelly by Rita Funk

2 ½ cups mulberry juice

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 package raspberry Kool Air

1 package pectin

4 ½ cups sugar

Combine the mulberry juice, lemon juice, Kool Aid and pectin and boil. Add the sugar and continue cooking until jel forms.


Crisp Green Tomato Pickles by Margaret Shavlik

Six pounds small, firm green tomatoes. Slice, soak in solution (1 gallon water and ½ cups slack lime) 24 hours. Drain, soak 24 hours in alum water (2 ounces alum to 1 gallon water). Drain, wash three times in clear water. Soak at least six hours in ginger water (3 tablespoons ginger to 6 quarter water).
Drain, wash well, in cold water. Drain very well.

Pour this syrup over tomatoes, let stand three hours. Simmer (do not boil) the syrup and tomatoes 30 minutes. Fill and seal.


5 pounds sugar

3 pints vinegar

1 teaspoon mace

1 teaspoon celery seed

2 tablespoons pickling spice

1 teaspoon whole cloves

Place this in cheesecloth; discard.


Grandma’s Dill Pickles by Carolyn Schindler

Bring to a hard boil:

3 quarts water

1 quart vinegar

1 can canning salt

Put in each jar:

1 head dill

1 small onion

1 clove garlic

Pack washed pickles and add one more head of dill and a slice of onion. Cover with boiling brine and let stand until cool. Pour off brine and reboil. Pour over pickles again and add a pinch of alum. Seal.


Dilly Beans by Marilyn Sehi

Snip beans. I leave my beans long or you can cut them in smaller pieces if you like. Cook 10 minutes; drain and pack in jar with 1 good stem of fresh dill and a small clove (optional).


2 cups water

2 cups vinegar

¼ cup canning salt

Pour over beans and seal. Use flats and rings or zinc lids with rubbers.


Beet Pickles by Rita Funk

Cut off all but 2 inches of tops. Leave whole with root end. Boil until tender, drain.

Run cold water over them and slip off the skins and root ends. Cut into small pieces. For syrup take:

1 cup vinegar

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

Cinnamon stick

Bay leaves

Onions (sliced)

Simmer beets in above syrup for 25 minutes. Put in hot sterilized jars and seal.


Writer’s note: I wanted to include my mom’s spaghetti sauce recipe, but it’s handwritten, the page is so dirty and the ink has so faded, the directions cannot be seen. My loss, because I remember how good it was and can’t remember for the life of me how to do it.





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