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Canning Pear and Tomato Barbeque Sauce

Have you ever extracted juice from pears to make jelly? If so, what did you do with the leftover pear mash? How about using it to make BBQ sauce?

Rationale for Pear BBQ Sauce,

After juicing a half bushel of pear “seconds,” I had a whole bunch of relatively dry mash that included pear pulp and skins. I put the mash through my food mill which removed some of the skins, and also shredded some so they blended with the pear pulp.

I can several gallons of jam and jelly each year at Your Small Kitchen Garden, with the last batch of the year being pear jelly. After juicing the pears, I end up with a few pounds of cooked pear mash—similar to applesauce, but with the skins floating around in it. For years, I saw this leftover pear mash as waste, but at least I’d pitch it into the compost heap to feed next season’s garden.

Last year the idea of tossing the pear mash nagged at me, so I decided to use it in cooking and I developed pear and tomato BBQ sauce. The procedure I describe in this article represents the second generation of experimentation for my barbeque sauce. It’s a very simple sauce that leans toward sweet and could easily incorporate heat, garlic, ginger, or other seasonings, if you want to mess with it.

I measured the pear pulp, and it came out to nine cups which covered the bottom of my four-gallon stockpot.

It’s Just BBQ Sauce

I want to make it clear: this is not award-winning sauce that I’d brag about to my friends. It’s tasty and it’s different; it has a distinctive fruitiness to it that I haven’t experienced with other molasses & tomato-based sauces. I mix it with pulled pork to make pork barbeque sandwiches, and I serve it with smoked ribs, chicken, sausage, and beef brisket. No one has raved about it and no one has complained. It’s functional.

I’m done with the disclaimers. My recipe is a list of proportions alongside the actual amounts of ingredients I used. The limiting factor when I make this barbeque sauce is the amount of pear mash I have on hand, so I’d start there and use the proportions to come up with corresponding amounts for the other ingredients. Here are the proportions:

1 unit of pear mash

1 unit of tomato sauce

1/3 unit of cider vinegar (5% acidity)

¼ unit of brown sugar

½ unit of cooking molasses

1/32 unit of liquid smoke (which is 1 and ½ teaspoons if a unit is 1 cup)

1/6 unit of powdered fruit pectin—SureJel, Dutch Jel, Home Jel… (that’s 2 tablespoons pluss 2 teaspoons if a unit is 1 cup)

I had 9 cups of pear mash, so my batch of BBQ sauce included the following (note that measurements between the large batch and small batch quantities don’t match. It’s easier to measure ingredients when you round up or down; the way I cook, the small differences don’t make a noticeable difference:

9 cups of pear mash

9 cups of tomato sauce

3 cups of cider vinegar

2 ¼ cups of brown sugar

4 ½ molasses

just over ¼ cup of liquid smoke

1 and ½ cups powdered fruit pectin

The photos and photo captions tell the story. Follow along to make this perfectly OK pear and tomato barbeque sauce.

I’d just made a pot of tomato sauce but hadn’t yet canned it. So, I measured nine cups of tomato sauce and added it to the pear mash. Then I added three cups of cider vinegar and four and a half cups of molasses. I also added two and a quarter cups of brown sugar and a quarter cup of liquid smoke (not shown). 

I stirred while the mixture heated on the stove on high heat. When the mixture was very hot—nearing a boil—I lowered the heat to medium-low (4 on a knob numbered 1 through 9) and left the sauce to cook for about two hours.

Cooking thickens the sauce by evaporating water from it—but not a whole lot in 2 hours. With this batch, I decided the sauce could use more body; thickened even more, it might stick better to whatever I coated it with. So… after the two hours of simmering, I measured 1 and ½ cups of fruit pectin (I used Dutch Jel because 1 and ½ cups of Dutch Jel cost less than $2… which is what many stores charge for a 1/3 cup box of better-known brands of pectin.), raised the heat under the bbq sauce, and stirred in the pectin. 

When you do this, stir and keep stirring as long as you have the heat on… you need the sauce to boil for a minute or longer until the pectin dissolves and the sauce thickens. The thickening will be subtle, so if you don’t notice thickening after two or three minutes of boiling (and stirring), assume you missed it, and turn off the heat.

I canned the bbq sauce following standard techniques for boiling water bath canning: I filled hot pint jars with sauce leaving ½ inch of head space. I applied lids and bands (tightened finger tight), and set the jars into a canning pot of boiling water—the water stood more than 1 inch above the tops of the jars. I processed the jars at a hard boil for 20 minutes, removed them to a cooling rack, and let them cool to room temperature before removing the bands, wiping off stickiness, and storing the sauce in my larder. 

If you’re not familiar with boiling water bath canning tools and methods, please learn more about it before canning this sauce. I posted about the basics along with some videos I found on Youtube. The videos are a bit dry, but the information they contain are critical to anyone just starting out with canning. Please have a look: Canning at Your Home Kitchen Garden.

Disclaimer About the Disclaimer

While preparing this article, I took a break to make pizza. It dawned on me that my pear and tomato barbeque sauce might make a decent pizza sauce, so I topped a pizza with it and mozzarella cheese. Half had pepperoni. The pizza was delicious with and without pepperoni. The pizza had a mildly fruity flavor and was unexpectedly sweet; I may use more of my bbq sauce on pizza in the coming year than I use in pulled pork barbeque.

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