I grew up eating Manwich, the product in the can that is mixed with sautéed ground beef and sandwiched between buns. It was one of my favorite dinners as a kid. What I want now is the ease of sloppy joes on demand for a weeknight dinner, but made from-scratch and canned by me.

This recipe is for Sloppy Joe Starter. Just like the canned product from days long ago, but prepped at home with fresh ingredients. It is an easy waterbath canning project that will give you about four pints of starter. I like to double the recipe and make a bunch at once.

You will need clean pint jars and closures, a boiling-water canner, rack, jar lifter, canning funnel, and wooden skewer

Sloppy Joe Starter

Makes about 4 pint jars

3 cups finely chopped green bell peppers (about two large)

3 cups finely chopped red bell peppers (about two large)

2 cups diced onion (about two large)

4 tsp salt

2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper

1/2 cup roasted tomato paste (I prefer Muir Glen)

4 cups tomato sauce (I prefer Muir Glen)

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Place rack in the bottom of a boiling water canner, then place empty jars on the rack. Add water to the jars and the canner until the jars are about two-thirds full. Cover the canner and bring the water to a simmer over medium heat.

Place lids in a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Do not boil. Keep lids hot until ready to use.

In batches if necessary, sauté green and red bell peppers and onions until very tender and beginning to brown. Stir occasionally.

Stir in tomato paste and cook about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often. Stir in tomato sauce and remaining ingredients. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered stirring often, about five minutes.

Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Use a ruler if necessary. Remove air bubbles with a wooden skewer, and readjust headspace if necessary. Apply lids and bands and adjust until fingertip tight. Place jars in boiling water canner.

When all jars are in the canner, adjust the water level in the canner so that it covers the jars by at least one inch. Cover the canner with a lid and bring water to a full rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling hard and continuously, begin counting the processing time of 20 minutes.

Once 20 minutes is complete, turn off heat and let jars sit in canner an additional five minutes (this standing time allows the pressure inside the jars to stabilize and reduces the likelihood of liquid loss that could otherwise occur when the jars are removed.)

Remove jars and place on a kitchen towel-lined space. The towel will help reduce the chance of jar breakage. Do not dry the lids or jars at this point. You do not want to disturb the lids while the seals are being formed. Allow jars to cool for 24 hours before removing bands and wiping down jars. Date jars and store in a cool dry place for up to one year.

If jars do not seal properly, place in refrigerator and consume within one week.

To make sloppy joes: sauté 1/2 pound of ground beef or ground turkey until browned. Drain off oil if desired. Add one pint of sloppy joe starter. Spoon on hamburger buns and enjoy!

Recipe from “The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving”