Making and Preserving BBQ and Hot Sauces

HYG-5365
Family and Consumer Sciences
Date: 
07/18/2018
Abigail Snyder, Food Safety Field Specialist, Family and Consumer Sciences

To make barbecue (BBQ) or hot sauces, tomatoes are combined with spices, vinegar, and various other ingredients and blended until smooth. The mixture is simmered to reduce the volume and thicken the product. BBQ and hot sauces can be used as marinades to prepare raw meat, poultry, seafood, and even vegetables for cooking. They can also be added to cooked foods, casseroles, and slow cooker recipes, and used as dips or condiments.

BBQ sauce

This fact sheet contains two recipes from the National Center for Home Food Preservation which have been evaluated for safety. While many other recipes for these products certainly exist, they may not be appropriate for canning (see Food Safety Considerations, below). Additionally, food entrepreneurs who plan to can BBQ or hot sauces will need to follow appropriate state and federal regulations for the production of acidified foods (21 CFR Part 114). Find out more by contacting: faes-foodsafety@osu.edu.

Suitable Ingredient Selection and Handling

As with all tomato-based products for canning, tomatoes from dead, over-ripe, or frost-killed vines should not be used. Various kinds of vinegar (e.g., apple cider, distilled white, etc.) may be used, but the concentration of acetic acid should be at least 5 percent. This information can be found on the vinegar label but may be listed as 50 grain.

When handling hot peppers, gloves may be worn to prevent irritation. Be sure to wash hands with soap and water after handling hot peppers. In either case, take caution to avoid touching the eyes while handling peppers.

Food Safety Considerations

Foods prepared for canning are formulated to prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum, the microbe that causes botulism. In water bath-processed canned foods, growth is inhibited by the amount of acid (pH) or through the limitation of moisture (water activity). Ingredients such as tomatoes, vinegar, and lemon juice increase the acidity. Ingredients like sugar, molasses, and salt decrease the amount of water available to support microbial growth.

It is important to follow the recipe as described to ensure that the finished product will not support the growth of Clostridium botulinum if you plan to can the finished product. If you would like to prepare a different sauce recipe, consider preserving it by freezing or simply refrigerate and use relatively quickly.

Bowl of BBQ meat in sauce with ladle

Ingredients for BBQ Sauce:

16 cups tomatoes, diced

2 cups celery, diced

2 cups onions, diced

1½ cups (about 3 peppers) red or green bell peppers, diced

2 hot peppers, like serrano, habanero, or cayenne, diced

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon powdered mustard

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon purchased hot sauce

1/8 to 1¼ teaspoon (depending on level of heat desired) dried cayenne pepper

1¼ cup vinegar, at least 5 percent

Makes enough to fill 7 to 8 half-pint jars.

Preparation

Combine diced tomatoes, celery, onions, and peppers, and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Puree until smooth using a blender or food processor. Return to heat.

Simmer for approximately 45 minutes, until the volume has reduced by half.

Tie peppercorns in a cheesecloth bag and add to mixture. Combine all remaining ingredients and add to the mixture.

To thicken product, simmer mixture for about 1½ to 2 hours with frequent stirring.

Remove spice bag and fill hot product into clean pint or half-pint canning jars leaving ½-inch headspace. Follow manufacturer recommendations for preparation of jars and lids.

Attach two-piece metal lid and process in a boiling water bath. At altitudes up to 1,000 feet, process for 20 minutes. At altitudes between 1,001 and 3,000 feet, process for 25 minutes. At altitudes between 3,001 and 6,000 feet, process for 30 minutes. At altitudes above 6,000 feet, process jars for 35 minutes.

Once processing time is complete, turn heat off and allow the jars to remain in the water bath for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove jars from the water bath and let cool.

Refer to the fact sheet on canning basics for a detailed description about water bath processing canned foods. Alternatively, the sauce can be cooled and frozen or simply refrigerated. Refer to the fact sheet on freezing basics for additional tips.

Platter with BBQ ribs and sauce

Ingredients for Hot Sauce:

8 cups canned, diced tomatoes (undrained)

4 cups distilled white vinegar, at least 5 percent (or 50 grain)

1½ cup serrano peppers, diced

2 tablespoons mixed pickling spices

2 teaspoons salt

Makes enough to fill 7 to 8 half-pint jars.

Preparation

Tie pickling spice mix in a cheesecloth bag. Combine all ingredients and bring to a simmer.

Simmer for about 20 minutes with frequent stirring, then remove spice bag.

Blend mixture using a food mill. Return to heat.

Simmer for an additional 15 minutes before filling into clean half-pint jars leaving ¼-inch headspace.

Attach a two-piece, lined metal lid and process in a boiling water bath. At altitudes up to 1,000 feet, process for 10 minutes. At altitudes between 1,001 and 6,000 feet, process for 15 minutes. At altitudes above 6,000 feet, process jars for 20 minutes.

Alternatively, the sauce can be cooled and frozen or simply refrigerated. Refer to the fact sheet on freezing basics for additional tips.

References

Andress, E., Williams, P., Harrison, J., and Reynolds, J. So Easy to Preserve. Athens: Cooperative Extension Services, University of Georgia, College of Family and Consumer Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, 2014.

National Center for Home Food Preservation, Easy Hot Sauce. nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_03/easy_hot_sauce.html

National Center for Home Food Preservation, Barbecue Hot Sauce. nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_03/bbqsauce.html

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