making barbecue sauce with summer fruit

red plums
ripe red plums at the farmer's market

i’ve been experimenting with some old-timey recipes for BBQ sauce from back when it was made with mostly fruit. one caveat is, i’m trying to eliminate the sugar, so while old-timey stuff definitely had molasses, honey or sugar of some kind, i want to be able to slather with impunity, so i’m trying to limit the sugar to only that which can be found in summer stone fruits.

BBQ sauce ingredients
getting started with BBQ sauce ingredients

this week i worked with plums. one sauce is tomato-based, and one is just plums and a bunch of seasonings. do they taste just like store-bought sauce? kansas city? smokehouse? not really, but they do have a delicious, fruity, balsamic taste of their own, and i’m going to keep working on them.

bottled plum BBQ sauces
seasoned plum and tomato plum barbecue sauces, puréed & bottled

plum & tomato barbecue sauce

1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
14 oz canned tomato, crushed – or diced fresh
4 plums, chopped coarse
4 tbs balsamic vineager
1 tb canola oil
1 tb dijon mustard
1 tsp ground pepper
hot sauce (optional—i used my homemade 3-alarm sauce from last summer)

sauté onion in a heavy saucepan with canola oil and 1 tb of balsamic vinegar, 5 minutes. add crushed garlic and canned tomato and bring to a simmer over medium heat as you work with the plums.

cut plums around the seam, separate from the stone and chop close to 1/4″ dice over a plate to reserve any juice [here’s a quick demo on how to cut stone fruit. optional idea: halve the plums, toss with oil and balsamic vinegar and grill over a barbecue with hickory chips added, to get that smoky flavor [i’m trying this next time].

add plums, 3 tbs balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, ground pepper, and hot sauce (if you’re using it), to the saucepan, stir and bring to a simmer. cover and simmer on low 50 min.

let sauce cool in the pan. bottle it chunky, or purée until smooth if desired.

seasoned plum barbecue sauce

1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 plums, chopped coarse
1 tb canola oil
1 tb white wine vinegar
2 tbs balsamic vineager
1 tb vanilla
1 tb honey
1 tsp fresh or dried powdered ginger
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sesame oil

sauté onion in a heavy saucepan with canola oil and white wine vinegar, 5 minutes. cut plums around the seam, separate from the stone and chop close to 1/4″ dice over a plate to reserve any juice.

add diced plums and garlic to the saucepan, cover and simmer over medium-low heat, 50 minutes. when fruit is falling apart, turn off heat and add all remaining ingredients, stir to mix well, and let cool.

bottle it up chunky, or purée until smooth if desired.

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