Sweet, smoky and tangy, this homemade BBQ sauce recipe uses fresh green tomatoes, molasses and spices to make a flavour packed sauce.
A store-bought sauce has nothing on homemade barbecue sauce. This homemade green tomato bbq sauce recipe is full of flavour, with smoky paprika, cinnamon, rich molasses and more.
What to do with green tomatoes
This BBQ sauce is a green tomato recipe. It was made to use up a green tomato glut at the end of the summer, but if you’ve got ripe tomatoes instead, you can use those!
It’s the end of the tomato season in NZ, and a big dump of rain recently has made all the remaining unripe tomatoes in the garden split. It was definitely time to harvest them!
Even though they aren’t ripe (and let’s face it after the rain, a little bit ugly) that wasn’t any reason to not use these glorious green fruits.
I made this smoky bbq sauce for the first time last year and we loved it! So I’ve made sure to write it on the blog this time around.
What are green tomatoes
Though there are varieties of tomato that stay green even when ripe, in this case I am talking about unripe tomatoes. They are firm, not as juicy and not as sweet as when they are ripe. Green tomatoes can be eaten fresh, in which case they are quite crisp and savoury, or they can be cooked.
They lack sweetness and softness that their ripe counterparts have, so they need a little extra cooking time and flavour additions. In this smoky barbecue sauce recipe they are simmered low and slow with lots of spices.
Green tomato sauce
Cooking with green tomatoes
It’s bit different cooking with green tomatoes. Green tomatoes are quite firm, and they take longer than ripe tomatoes to soften and cook down.
For this homemade bbq sauce recipe, the green tomatoes are blended first to break them up into a tomato puree.
This makes cooking them down easier and faster.
A blender works well for this. Chop the tomatoes into pieces and blend them alongside onion and garlic into a green sauce.
Cooking the sauce
Pour the sauce into a saucepan and simmer it for around 20 minutes until it becomes a muted green colour and the water has reduced a bit.
Remove the puree from the heat and push it through a strainer to remove the seeds and the largest and toughest bits of the tomato skin.
Work in batches and push the cooked green tomato puree through a sieve. Take your time pushing the sauce through to ensure only the seeds and toughest bits skins are left behind and nothing else.
Spices and glavours
The flavours in this homemade barbecue sauce recipe come from:
- Molasses. This gives a rich depth to the sauce, however it is important to know which type of molasses you are using. Blackstrap molasses is the strongest in flavour as it has been boiled three times. Dark molasses is less strong as it has been boiled twice and Light molasses is the mildest. If using blackstrap molasses, only a little bit is needed, while more can be added of the other types.
- Smoked paprika – This flavourful spice is a must for the smoky element of the barbecue sauce.
- Garlic powder, mustard seeds, cinnamon, allspice, chilli, salt, – all these add their bit of depth to the barbecue sauce flavour profile. Grind the mustard seeds using a mortar and pestle, or use mustard powder.
- Brown sugar adds sweetness to complement the tang.
Reducing the sauce
Pour the strained puree back into a saucepan and add in apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, spices and molasses. Place the pan over low heat.
Keep stirring and simmer the sauce for approximately an hour and a half until it has reduced and thickened. Stir it regularly to avoid it sticking. Once it has reduced it can be poured into clean jars and sealed.
Storing homemade barbecue sauce
This sauce can store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks in a sealed container.
Alternatively, freeze the sauce for up to three months.
How to use homemade BBQ sauce
This sauce is great for
- Barbecued meats, pulled pork, pulled chicken
- Pulled jackfruit for a vegetarian or vegan alternative
- Turning into a smokey dip
- Spread over pizza or over oven roasted vegetables
- 2kg (4.4 pounds) green tomatoes, chopped
- 150g (1 cup) chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 160ml (2/3 cup) apple cider vinegar
- 100g (1/2 cup) brown sugar, packed
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses (or 2 Tbsp dark molasses)
- 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp yellow mustard seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1-2 teaspoons chilli powder
- In a blender, blend the green tomatoes, onions, and garlic into a puree. Add this to a saucepan over medium heat.
Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, and keep it simmering for around 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. When stirring, take care, as the hot sauce may splatter. After 25 minutes, remove it from the heat.
- Working in batches, push the cooked puree mix through a sieve, to remove the seeds and the skins of the tomatoes. Take your time pushing the sauce through to ensure only the seeds and toughest bits of skin are left behind and nothing else.
- Add the puree to the saucepan with the vinegar, sugar, salt, molasses, and spices, and place the pan over low heat. Keep stirring regularly and simmer the sauce for approximately an hour and a half until it reduces and thickens.
- Wash preserving jars with warm soapy water. Rinse off all soap residue and dry the jars. Leave the sauce to cool before pouring it into the clean jars.
- Store the sauce in the refrigerator and use it within two weeks. Alternatively, freeze it and use it within three months.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 107Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 745mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 3gSugar: 20gProtein: 3g