“Rhubarbecue” Homemade Rhubarb BBQ Sauce
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Over the past few years, I’ve come across different versions of this rhubarb BBQ sauce under various different names. Sometimes called Victorian or Victoria Sauce, other times called Rhubarbecue Sauce or the more literal Rhubarb BBQ sauce, this was one recipe that had always piqued my interest, but it called for a fair amount of rhubarb and we didn’t have a rhubarb plant of our own (and I didn’t really want to buy enough to try out the recipe).
But this year we bought our first house and were pleased to find that it came with three large, established rhubarb plants. Earlier this year I used a bunch of rhubarb to make this Rhubarb Juice Concentrate to add to drinks and cocktails, and I finally had enough to try some rhubarbecue sauce for myself.
I followed the recipe for Victorian BBQ sauce in my Ball canning book, but instead of using white vinegar I used apple cider vinegar to give it a slightly sweeter, “maltier” flavour.
*Safety note: If ever you decide to alter the type of vinegar in a canning recipe, make sure that the vinegar you are substituting has the same level or higher level of acidity as the one called for in a tested recipe. In this case, the white vinegar is a standard 5% acidity and I used store-bought 5% acidity apple cider vinegar in its place, maintaining a safe level of acidity in this recipe.
The end product was delicious! It was even better than I actually expected it would be, as I figured it would be a little overly fruity with all of the rhubarb and raisins in the recipe. But the fruitiness balances perfectly with the onions, vinegar and spices and makes this a beautiful homemade barbecue sauce to spread over grilled meats or spread on burger buns.
I got just under 3 pint jars of sauce with this recipe, so I canned two of them and put the other one in the fridge to enjoy this summer. Let me tell you, it didn’t last a week.
We didn’t just eat it with barbecue (although it was delicious spread on burgers with some One-Minute Homemade Mayo), we also used it as a condiment over eggs, macaroni and, yes, I even ate it straight out of the jar with a spoon.
That’s always a testament to a good canning recipe: Would you eat it straight with a spoon? In this case, hell yes. I’ve even taken to giving friends and family “sample tasters” on dessert spoons when they come to visit. But I’m definitely not giving any of these jars away!
I loved this recipe so much, in fact, that I decided having two jars put away was not going to cut it. So I harvested some more rhubarb (I just love that it has such a long growing season!) and made another batch of this sauce.
So now I have 4 pint jars put away and I’ve replaced the one in my fridge with a new one as this recipe always seems to make just under 3 pint jars per batch… even though the recipe in the book says it should make 4 pint jars. Maybe I just reduce mine a little too much? Please, let me know how many jars you get when you try this recipe out for yourself!
How to Make Rhubarb BBQ Sauce
Start by preparing your jars and lids if you’re planning on canning this sauce to make it shelf-stable (otherwise store in the fridge). Then, for the ingredients you’ll need 8 cups of chopped fresh rhubarb (toxic leaves removed, of course), 3 ½ cups of brown sugar, 1 ½ cups chopped raisins, ½ cup of chopped white onion, ½ cup of 5% acidity apple cider vinegar (or substitute white vinegar) and 1 teaspoon each of salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice.
Throw it all in a large, stainless steel pot and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Then reduce heat to about medium to medium-high and boil the mixture gently until all of the ingredients begin to break down and mixture thickens up to the consistency of a standard store-bought barbecue sauce. This process of boiling gently and stirring frequently until the sauce thickens takes a total of about 30 minutes to get it to the right consistency.
Now, you could can it just like this as the ingredients do break down quite well during the boiling process. But personally I prefer a really smooth barbecue sauce, so to ensure there are no lumps or clumps of rhubarb or raisins in my sauce, I use my beloved Breville immersion blender to blend the sauce to a really smooth consistency.
Then it’s time to can it up! Be sure to leave ½-inch headspace and process in a water bath canner for 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and then remove and let cool completely before storing.
Enjoy it as a marinade on chicken or pork (I think it would be fantastic on pork ribs) or as a condiment on, well, pretty much anything if you’re at all like me;)
I’m all about using sauces and dips with pretty much every meal, and I find this particular sauce really versatile! So it’s definitely worth the effort of collecting 8 cups worth of rhubarb for, even if you have to buy it at the market:)
Canning tools I use and love:
- Canning Funnel
- Canning Scoop
- Jar Lifter
- Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (this recipe is adapted from this book)
- 8 cups chopped fresh rhubarb
- 3 ½ cups brown sugar
- 1 ½ cups chopped raisins
- ½ cup chopped white onion
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar (5% acidity or substitute white vinegar)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- Prepare your canner, jars and lids. Wash your jars and bands in hot, soapy water, rinse and bring to a simmer in your water bath canner to sterilize. Always use new lids for safe preserving.
- Combine rhubarb, brown sugar, raisins, onion, vinegar, salt and spices in a large, stainless steel pot and bring to a boil on high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium/medium-high and boil gently, stirring frequently until ingredients break down and form into a thick sauce.
- Use an immersion blender to blend sauce until smooth (or omit this part if you don't mind a few chunks of rhubarb and raisins in your sauce).
- Ladle into hot Mason jars leaving ½-inch headspace at the top. Slide a knife around the inner "edge" of the jar to remove any air bubbles. Adjust headspace as needed. Wipe rims, place lids on top and screw bands on.
- Place jars in canner and bring water to a boil. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, then turn heat off, remove lid and let cool in your canner for another 5 minutes. Remove jars and allow to cool completely before storing.
Wishing you homemade, homegrown, homestead happiness 🙂
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