Rhubarb BBQ Sauce

September 4, 2017  •  Condiments, Sauces

Every fall I freeze as many good organic, heirloom tomatoes as I can find at the market. Since I have a large extra freezer in the garage, I find it easier than other canning methods. But my personal life got in the way of using up the crop from last year that I had put up, and I found I was still staring at 12 quarts of frozen tomatoes. I’m moving in a month, and I don’t want to have to move frozen food if possible.I also cut down my rhubarb recently, a surprisingly large harvest this year despite my not watering it one single time (gotta love invasive plants for their spunk), so I created this Rhubarb BBQ Sauce that combines the two ingredients. I believe when embarking on a canning project like this, you might as well do it in volume, so this is a large recipe. You’ll have BBQ sauce for awhile, or have plenty of jars to gift to friends this holiday season.

Rhubarb BBQ Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 22 pints
  • 22 pounds fresh tomatoes (see notes)
  • 6 pounds diced rhubarb
  • 6 medium-large onions, chopped
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and chopped
  • 4 jalapeños, chopped (I seeded mine, but you can skip if you love spice!)
  • 6 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  1. Sterilize your canning jars (about 20-24 pints or 10-12 quarts) and set aside. Divide all of the ingredients equally between two extra large 12-quart pots. Bring to a boil, stirring to combine the ingredients, and reduce heat to medium high. With the lid off, continue to cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Using a stick blender, puree the BBQ sauce right in the pot, then return to medium heat and cook sauce until reduced to the consistency that you like your BBQ sauce. (Because I had drained off some of the tomato water, mine took an additional 45 minutes after the puree step.) While the sauce is thickening, prepare the water bath by bringing the water to a boil; turn off and hold.
  3. Add the sauce to the prepared jars, leaving ½-inch space. Wipe the rims and apply the lids and rings; process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Remove the jars from the canner and let them cool. Once cooled, check the seals. Sealed jars/bottles can be stored at room temperature until opened. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.
I prefer to roughly chop my tomatoes and freeze them first. When they thaw, much of the water separates and drains out, making it far quicker to reduce the sauce. If you skip this step and cook them fresh, you'll need longer time to reduce the BBQ sauce.


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