Last summer, I made a gallon of Peach Barbecue Sauce out of the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (ntoe my copy of the book is marketed under the Canadian Bernardin label, so the recipes may not be identical).  I canned most of it and sent half-pints to friends and family at Christmas.  It received rave reviews in thank-you cards, and I also thought it was one of my finer canning projects, if I do say so myself.

So I got to thinking I could use any summer fruit as the base for a sweet barbecue sauce.  I experimented with watermelon today, and ended up with a tangy, spicy sauce with sweet, melony undertones.  It was phenomenal caramelized on grilled chicken — the perfect going-away dinner for the S.O.

Watermelon Barbecue Sauce

Yield ~2.5 pints / Adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

  • 3 cups mashed, seeded watermelon (about half a mini seedless melon)
  • scant 1/2 cup diced, seeded red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (optional — we like spicy)

Simmer all ingredients over medium heat until fruit and vegetables are softened, about 5-10 minutes.  Transfer mixture to blender (or use immersion blender) and blend on low setting only briefly, to reach a relatively smooth consistency — do not fully puree or emulsify; you still want some texture.  Return to medium heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until desired consistency is achieved, about 15-20 minutes (aim for regular bottled barbecue sauce thickness).

I adapted this from a canning-ready recipe, but don’t can this one — watermelon is too low-acid.  If you’re not using the sauce immediately, store it in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.  We used about half the yield basting three pounds of chicken breasts.


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