Sunday, August 05, 2012

Ask Moms Kitchen: Best BBQ sauce for canning

A reader writes:

I have never canned anything that wasn't a tested recipe, but I have read that you can't can pumpkin puree because of the density, and on here you mentioned pH as one of your indicators on whether or not you could can your bbq sauce. Other than pH and density, what other factors are there in determining whether something is safe to can or not? The reason I ask is that you stated that the woodchick recipe had a pH of 3.8, so I'm wondering why you didn't just can it as is? on Can Jam Aliums: Barbecue Sauce

That is an excellent question!   For those that might not have read my original post, I was trying to come up with a  safe canning recipe for a favorite barbecue sauce we like.  I started out using a canning safe recipe that was similar and tweaked it to get to my recipe.  The original recipe of the sauce contained some ingredients I didn't want to use.  Why not just can it as it is?  As the reader noted, I had tested the pH of the original recipe and it was 3.8, which is well below what's needed to safely can something in a boiling water bath recipe.  The first issue with the original recipe is that it has butter in it.  The USDA doesn't recommend using butter in canning recipes because it can interfere with the sealing process of the jar lid.   Also, I was developing a recipe that I could use fresh tomatoes and costs less than a jar of BBQ sauce you can buy at the store - so I didn't want to use store bought tomato sauce, ketchup or chili sauce.  So when I created my recipe, I used the elements of those items in my ingredients.   For example, I used the things I'd use in a canning recipe for ketchup instead of the ketchup itself, like cloves, and I bumped up the sugar.  The original recipe has such a small amount of chili sauce that I didn't try to duplicate that, but I used hot chili powder instead of mild.  Also, I used real garlic instead of garlic powder.

When I developed that recipe, it was in the middle of winter, so I used canned tomato puree to test it.  I noticed that when I used fresh tomato puree in the summer, the end product came out more watery than the original when I canned it.  I think I probably didn't cook the tomato/onion mixture down long enough or the end product long enough.   I find coring and peeling tomatoes a tedious, labor intensive task, so this year, I plan on employing a technique I learned about in Linda Ziedrich's excellent book Joy of Pickling to make a thick tomato puree without a lot of boiling.   Today looks like it might be an excellent day for canning - the sky is overcast and I am hoping it will rain.  I might pick up some tomatoes at my friend Ann's farm stand on the way home from church to make this year's batch of BBQ sauce. 

Vintage Detroit - D.M. Ferry seed package
Woodchick Style Barbecue Sauce for Canning - 2012 Edition
Makes about 10 half pint jars

10 lb fresh Roma tomatoes (or any other good paste tomato)
5.5 c. finely chopped onions
6 c. white vinegar
3.5 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. dry mustard
1 T. black peppercorns, tied in a cloth bag
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T. paprika
1/2 c. maple syrup
3/4 c. honey
1 T. ground cloves
2 T. canning salt
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. hot chili powder
2 T. allspice

In a large kettle, drop tomatoes one by one, giving each a squeeze to release some of the seed and liquid. Boil tomatoes gently until they soften.   Our the contents of the kettle into a strainer set over a large bowl.   Let the tomatoes drain a bit.  (helpful hint - don't throw out the makes an excellent beverage or consomme).  Using a food mill, strain the tomatoes to form a puree.   You can use a Foley food mill, but I use my food strainer attachment on my beloved Kitchen Aid mixer for this task.

In a large stock pot, combine the tomato puree and onions and bring to a boil, boil gently for 30 minutes until onions soften, about 30 minutes.  Using a stick blender puree the mixture until smooth, and then return it to the pot and reduce heat and boil gently until mixture is reduced by half., about 45 minutes    Add remaining ingredients and increase heat to medium and boil gently, stir frequently until the mixture is thickened to the consistency of a thin store bought sauce, about an hour or so. Prepare the canner and lids, and then ladle hot sauce into jars, removing bubbles and leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Process for 35 minutes. 


Sarah Nix said...

I think I'm going to try this recipe as favors for my wedding. I'm going to need to make 50 pints of sauce to put into 4-ounce containers. I'm wondering if you know if it would affect the canning process if I doubled the recipe and made it in 2.5 batches instead of 5?

Cynthia said...

I think you could double it safely.

Lori said...

Is that the right amount of vinegar. I only put four cups in it and it was awfully vinegary- nevertheless after all the seasonings with the four cups- it was good. I did add some parsley as well and a few other modifications.