Last summer, just as I maxed out my patience and storage space for canning, I threw together some produce I had for dinner into a chunky peach barbecue sauce, baked onto tempeh. It was so good I vowed to make and preserve a regular batch this season, and last week I did just that. The recipe below shows what I put in. Adjust to your taste–and what you have on hand–but this should point you in the right direction.
Ingredients mostly ready to go. Because I was making the recipe up as I went, not everything here made it in, and the agave nectar isn’t pictured. But you get the idea.
Chipotle-Peach Barbecue Sauce
1-2 Tbsp. oil, optional
2-1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (one large onion)
1/4 cup chopped garlic (I used four huge cloves of my favorite garlic.)
1 Tbsp. cumin, whole
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard seed, whole
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns, whole
1 tsp. smoked paprika (use more to sub for chipotle if you want smoky flavor without heat)
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
3 canned chipotles in adobo sauce, adjusted to taste (I’m a spice wuss, so I seeded my peppers and wound up with roughly a 2.5- or 3-star sauce on a scale to 5.)
2 tsp. celery salt
5 lbs. peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped Roma tomatoes (using canned tomatoes would save a lot of time and often a bit of money, unless of course you grow your own tomatoes or have access to others for free or cheap)
2 lbs. peaches, (be sure to get freestone ones, or you’ll go nuts getting the pits out) peeled and chopped
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup or more roasted sweet peppers, any color, seeded and chopped (I used these from a jar)
3/4 cup agave nectar
3 Tbsp. molasses
Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a large, nonreactive pot (I used my 7-quart enameled Dutch oven). Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, translucent, and just starting to color. Meanwhile, grind the whole spices finely in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. When the onions are ready, add the garlic and spices (including the powdered ones and the whole chipotles) to the pot. Cook another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, to bring out the flavor in the spices. If you skip the oil and saute the onion and garlic in water instead, dry-toast the spices in a small pan before grinding and adding to the recipe to maximize their flavor.
Onions, garlic and spices. My kitchen smelled so good at this point!
Skinned yellow peaches, ready for pitting and chopping.
I decided to go for it and use only fresh Romas from Alvarez Farm, skipping the fire-roasted canned tomatoes I’d gotten as a back-up. Skinning and seeding tomatoes takes a fair bit of commotion and time. You can do whatever you’d prefer.
Add the tomatoes, peaches, roasted sweet peppers, vinegar, molasses and most of the agave nectar. Hold back maybe 1/4 cup in case you want your sauce less sweet than mine.
Getting saucy. Everything’s in; it’s time to cook, cook and cook some more.
Now is when you realize, if you’re me, that you should have started this process sooner. Or taken shortcuts. Or done this project on a Saturday. All that delicious juice from the tomatoes and peaches needs to be cooked down so the sauce is nice and thick. Keeping the heat relatively low to avoid scorching the bottom, and stirring now and then, cook for a couple hours, until most of the liquid is cooked down. At some point you need to blend the mixture (unless you want chunky sauce, which is tasty also), and it’s best to do this as late in the process as possible to keep the spattering to a minimum. If you have a spatter guard, you should use it with this recipe. If you don’t, this recipe will inspire you to buy one, and meanwhile you want to wear an oven mitt and long sleeves when stirring the pot.
When you think the sauce is about as thick as you want it (probably in 2-3 hours), purée it with an immersion blender or by pouring batches into an upright blender, being careful to vent the top of the blender jar to allow steam to escape when you run it. Once blended, check and adjust seasonings, and check the consistency. If needed, cook a bit more to achieve a nice, thick sauce that holds its shape at least a bit when you stir it.
If it hadn’t already been so far past bedtime, I would have cooked this a bit longer and blended it a bit smoother before processing.
While the sauce is cooking down, prepare your canning jars. This batch made just over 12 half-pints. Sterilize the jars, and heat the lids in a pan of water. Also bring your canner of water to a boil near the end of the cooking. When the sauce is ready, fill the jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.
Almost ready to process.
Clean rims and threads, add lids, and screw on rings finger-tight. Process 20 minutes; once cooled, check for good seals and remove rings for storage.
A dozen jars of spicy, tangy, sweet goodness, ready for grilling or for gifts.