When you think of cherries, maybe what comes to mind is eating them fresh, in a pie, or even as a jam. All of those are wonderful, but once you discover cherry bbq sauce, you will never forget it!
Cherry BBQ Sauce to the Rescue
Last year, Todd and I tried peach bbq sauce and fell in love. The marriage of fruity sweetness with the smoky and spicy herbs tasted perfect, and that sauce opened my mind up to using other fruit in sauces. And honestly, I didn’t have much choice since the squirrels have moved in and ravaged my garden and stole our whole peach harvest! *sigh*
I decided to use some fruit from my freezer. Well, it was more like my daughter Abi, upon looking for space for her frozen pizzas in the crammed freezer said, “What is all this stuff?” At that point, I realized I’d better do something with all the fruit in there, starting with the biggest bag — dark sweet cherries.
The Magic of Fruit in BBQ Sauce
I had no idea there was any magic in cherries. I mean, they are so good fresh, what more could I want? I don’t eat cherry pie — I do like it, but I generally avoid eating recreational sugar items.
I don’t exactly know how I came into contact with the cherry bbq sauce recipe I used, but I am almost positive it came to me from the heavens. It’s magical and delicious, and much more than frosted Lucky Charms.
Brushing it onto chicken is my favorite way to use it, but I hope to try it caramelized on ribs very soon. With mashed potatoes. *swoon*
Here is the list of the basic equipment you would need to water bath can a batch of bbq sauce.
- water bath canner
- 8 oz. mason jars
- lids and rings to fit jars
- jar lifter
- lid lifter and bubble remover
- headspace tool
- canning funnel for regular or wide mouth jars
- kitchen timer
- clean kitchen towels (I love these flour sack towels, but any clean kitchen towels will do)
This post is going to assume that you understand the basics of water bath canning, but if you are doing this for the first time, or are not quite sure you have the basics down, you can refer to my post, “How to Can Food for Beginners”. It’s a fantastic article that takes you step-by-step through both canning processes. This time you will only need the information under the headings of Steps Before Processing, Water Bath Processing, and Steps After Processing.
How to Make Cherry BBQ Sauce
This recipe was adapted for use with frozen fruit by me. I checked with a canning expert to find out whether it’s okay for me to have adapted the recipe this way, and the answer I was given was yes. My adaptations of the recipe don’t mess with the ingredients themselves, or change any of the ingredient amounts, processing time, or anything else that would affect the safety of the product.
The recipe I riffed off of belongs to Marisa over at FoodinJars.com. Marisa is a canning teacher who is well-versed in safe canning rules, and has written a few books on the topic. I feel good about using her recipe, but full disclosure, this recipe does not seem to have been tested by Ball or any other canning lab. Use at your own risk.
Cherry Barbecue Sauce
- 3 pounds frozen cherries same amount for fresh cherries
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup minced onion
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- Combine all ingredients in a wide pot with a tight-fitting lid and stir to combine.
- Place lidded pot on the stove over medium-high heat and cook for approximately 20 minutes, until the cherries are fully thawed and the onions are softened. For fresh cherries, cook 20 minutes until the cherries and onions have softened.
- Continue to cook, with the lid off, for 5 minutes. If you are using fresh cherries, cook until the mixture has reduced by approximately half.
- Remove pot from heat. Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until smooth (you may have to tip the pan a little in order to do this without splashing). If you don’t have an immersion blender, scrape the mixture into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- If the sauce is nice and thick, it is done. If it’s still a little watery, return it to the heat and cook a bit longer. At this point, taste it and add more salt or pepper, if necessary.
- When it’s finished, remove the pot from the stove and funnel the finished sauce into the prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes. (Check altitude chart below for adjustments.)