Canning Christmas

It is my habit to give edible gifts for Christmas, but I do my best not to give sweets. People tend to get a lot of candy and cookies at the holidays, and I like to be different. Plus, when you do it my way, you can start earlier and not spend the last few harried days before the holiday making messes in your kitchen. Also, I'm a pretty poor baker, truth be told.

So, in lieu of peanut brittle and divinity, I give a box o' canned goods. I think people appreciate it. REAL FOOD! That won't go bad in a week! Winning! See there? I just saved my friends and family from being FORCED to gorge on frosted sugar cookies for four days lest they get past their prime. I'm nice that way.

Last year, I did an Italian box with marinara sauce, garlic confit and infused olive oil. It was well-received, but I bore easily and didn't want to do the same thing again this year. I got together with my girl SJ and we proclaimed this the year of barbecue. So, if you are usually on my gift list, there you go. A box of barbecue-related sauces is headed your way. Surprise!

We did a big mess of stuff this year, because SJ doesn't know how to do anything small. In each box, then, will be beautiful jars of Bourbon BBQ Sauce, Alabama White BBQ Sauce, Jalapeno Mustard Relish, Bloody Mary Pickled Green Beans and Jalapeno Pepper Jelly. Now just try to tell me there isn't something in that box for everyone.

The contents of each box came out to be about $12 total. (Hey friends, I spent $12 on your Christmas gift!) But hey, it was made with love by an 8-month-pregnant woman, and that counts for something, doesn't it? That includes the cost of several flats of canning jars. And hey, friends, if you don't like canning jars hanging around your house, you are welcome to give them back to me when you're done. That might ensure you get your box o' sauce next year.

So, dear readers, would you like to know how it's done so you can make your own boxes of barbecue love for your friends? Okay. I'll start with two recipes. If you ask nice, maybe I'll give you a couple more next week.

Stuke Family Bourbon BBQ Sauce (If you know us, you know it has to be bourbon sauce.)

Makes 9 quarts of sauce

2 No. 10 cans of ketchup (that's 24 cups to you)
3 cups bourbon
2 cups yellow mustard
8 ounces dark molasses
1 1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup juice from pickled jalapenos (if you like it hotter, throw half a jar of pickled jalapenos and half the juice in a blender, puree and add the whole mix to the sauce)
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons salt

Toss it all in a big stock pot and stir and simmer over medium low heat. Be sure to stir a lot to ensure the sugars don't burn on the bottom. You need to be sure it comes to a low boil to get those sugars to do their thing — that's what makes this sauce magical.

To can, pour into quart-sized jars — be sure the lip is clean of sloppy sauce — and process in boiling water for 20 minutes.

Alabama White BBQ sauce (If you have never had this, you need to quickly come around to my way of thinking.)

Makes 6 pints

2 quarts mayonnaise
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
8 ounces prepared horseradish
1/4 cup juice from pickled jalapenos
1 ounces wasabi
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper

Stir it all together. This one can't be canned, you have to keep it in the refrigerator. Be sure to warn your gift recipients to put it in the cold box asap.

This goes great on most things, but the Alabama folk I know really recommend mopping it on grilled or smoked chicken while you cook, and also setting some aside for dipping.

Happy canning, folks! Get busy!


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