Friday, November 2, 2018

What Does Barbecue Sauce Actually Do? And why should You use it or even care?


BBQ Sauce recipe
BBQ Sauce Recipe

I was working on one of my recipes the other day when a customer asked me a couple of unique questions related to barbecue sauce.  They've been buying the product for a number of years but never really questioned why our BBQ sauce or any other company's barbecue sauce was considered the perfect accompaniment or main driver for their barbecue ribs or barbecue chicken.  So they thought they would ask the seemingly somewhat innocent question "What does barbecue sauce actually do?  And why should we use it or even care?

Well, you can imagine my surprise especially from a customer that had been buying our bbq sauce for about three years now.  After the interaction, I thought I wonder how many other people have the same or similar questions?  And do they actually know what they're buying or are their purchases related to word of mouth or simple focuses on taste?  I thought I would delve deeper than the normal surface level review so this post is set out to specifically answer the question on barbecue sauce and the myriad reasons for using it.

First, let's start with some common terms for barbecue sauce.  I think many people are aware of where the term barbecue is derived.  If not, the terms go like this, to roast or broil on a rack or revolving spit over or before a source of heat (such as hot coals).  Further, a large animal (such as a steer) roasted whole or split over an open fire or a fire in a pit.  Barbecue at its origins is derived from the word "Barbacoa" in which "Barbecue" is the English word adaptation.  Further, Barbacoa is from the Taino Native American tribe of the Caribbean and Florida regions which employed the methods of open pit roasting worked to completely cook meats for a sustained period of time.

When we employ the derived term "Barbecue" and combine that with the evolution of the process over many years it was determined by trial or by the process that certain liquids could extend the shelf life of aging meats all while improving the actual flavor of the meats.  Without the advent of salt and pepper of meats, the end result would be pretty boring.

The first uses of barbecue sauce appeared in the early 17th century by English and French settlers through the application of mustard sauces to enhance the flavors of their meats.  True commercialization of BBQ sauce did not take place until sometime near or not long after the creation of ketchup around 1909.

But what does barbecue sauce actually do?  Barbecue sauce through its combination of mixed ingredients acts in many cases to improve the quality of meats.  The barbecue sauce was never meant to take over the taste of meat just ask the person that spends 12 plus hours making a brisket with just a hint of smoke.  The last thing someone who has slaved over so long wants to see is their efforts quenched by a nondescript barbecue sauce.  But don't let that get in the way of your path to discovery.  BBQ Sauce depending on the ingredient listing will actually act as a marinade prior to the grilling or slow cooking process.  So, for those who hold great negative opinions about the sauce must consider its actual value in that all meats are not created equal and certainly not butter soft after grilling.

Should you use barbecue sauce?  I say, why not, especially if you feel that the meat you've chosen is not as superior as you'd like it to be.  But if you've had the chance to get your lips around some really superior seasoned and grill meats then skip the added dressing and focus on the results of the grill masters effort.

BBQ Sauce on pork
BBQ Sauce on Grilled Pork


Being in the business of BBQ rubs and sauces I've had many people approach me on the concern over calorie counts.  Mostly I believe that people issue the negative comment about a product when they instinctively either don't understand it or effectively don't want it but have a little internal drive to say no when approached in some store demo.  By all means, if you'd rather not have something just say no, don't focus on the negatives when approached.  But for those that are concerned about calorie counts, I offer the following.

A reasonably good barbecue sauce will either use brown sugar or white sugar or honey or some form of Stevia as a primary sugary component.  There are a number of sauces that use corn syrup and the all too familiar hydrogenated corn syrup which in reality are actually the same thing since the Federal Government allows manufacturers the ability to split the quantity of corn syrup used into categories.  To the unlearned, this just appears as two separate products.  But to those in the know, it's a statement calling out loud and clear as to how much of the corn syrup is actually used.  In these cases, a reasonable calorie limit of 60 or 80 can go as high as 240 or 300 calories depending on the actual serving size.  And serving sizes are quoted in grams or tablespoons the average person is all the more confused as to the actual amount contained in the purchase size.

The truth of the actual matter is that the general public may on the off chance attend a barbecue 2 to 4 times over the course of an average summer.  And if you're fortunate you may choose to barbecue between 3 and 5 times over the course of the entire year.  We, unfortunately, do not consider how many times barbecue sauce is consumed in such small quantities as to be of no real concern where combined amounts of sauce are discussed.  I often tell my customers to focus on the event and the time spent with friends and relatives over the considerations of how much sugar or calories are contained in a BBQ sauce.  Of course, if you have a sensitivity to certain levels of sugar or salts then it would be wise to reconsider any use of the product at all.

Further on what a barbecue sauce actually does when used as a tenderizer.  The amount of time necessary to engage its tenderizing effects is strictly related to the number of ingredients contained in the formulation that yields an ability to marinate.  Specifically, things like mango, vinegar, oils, certain herbs, fruits such as berries these things all have marinating properties.  When placed in contact with meats their enzymes act to break down the fibers and tissues of the meat.  Minimum periods of time such as 30 minutes should be employed.

Take for example the marinating of seafood using citrus as the marinade.  The conversion from sushi to marinated fish takes only a short period of time.  And since barbecue sauce may use these ingredients in concert with sugars, salts and spices they may take much longer to perform the desired marinating effect.  We tell our customers to expect a minimum of 1 to 2 hours of marinating before the grilling process should start.  We also know that a customer can marinate a meat overnight for at least 12 to 14 hours without completely breaking down the fibers and tissues of the meat which would ultimately leave the meat in a somewhat soggy state.

What is the best type of barbecue sauce?  The best type of BBQ sauce is driven by the application, the preference or taste profile determines the experience that you want to impart to the meat and the audience to which the end result will be shared.  In certain parts of the United States the audience experiences mustard sauces, while others experience brown sugar and vinegar, and in some other parts of the country, it's considered a blatant sin to even think about the use of barbecue sauce on smoked meats.  Similarly, in Memphis, Tennessee you practically have an entire state split over whether or not barbecued meats should be finished "wet" or "dry".

For those who consider their purchase of a barbecue sauce, it's a good idea to keep an eye on the shelf life.  Overall the Federal Government casts some guidelines for shelf life but the actual shelf life of a product is primarily determined by the attending states Food and Drug Administration.  Barbecue products that have long shelf lives over two years typically have fewer live ingredients like tomatoes, fruits or herbs.  Those with short shelf lives similarly have an abundance of tomatoes, fruits and in some cases vegetables like carrots or live onions.  Short shelf life sauces can be very good, it's just important to be aware that one can't expect a sauce they bought in April to be around in August depending on the contents and the location in which the product was stored.

Is there really such a thing as Keto or Paleo barbecue sauce?  Moreover, why would you want one?  The trend toward Paleo or Keto focused foods has been heating up for years now.  All driven by the greater desire to have what we like to call "having your cake and eating it too" but just with fewer calories or carbohydrates.  A "Keto" or Ketonic diet is a very low-carb diet, which is classified as turning the body into a fat-burning system as more and more carbohydrates are removed.  Alternatively, a "Paleo" or Paleogenic is rich in nuts, fruits and vegetables and focuses on the elimination of grains and legumes "beans" from the diet.  The end result of each of these as related to barbecue sauce is the focus on a product that will act in concert with the specific diet plan.  We feature a barbecue sauce that is gluten-free and legume and wheat free.  This would be considered a key product option for those who are focused on both a Keto and Paleo Centric diet.

home made bbq sauce in glass container
BBQ Sauce Home Made

If your desire is to consider a full-flavored sauce especially in the case of making or using a barbecue sauce for ribs or a BBQ sauce for chicken then one may need to shy away from products that minimize the number of sugars and carbohydrates or limit the amount of fruit-based elements.

In summary and recommendation, Barbecue Sauce actually performs the act of flavoring foods and enhancing foods.  In pre-barbecue cases, BBQ Sauce will act to marinate foods over a minimum period of time in which tissues and fibers are broken down to soften meats.  Key barbecue sauce recipes are primarily determined by region along with specific barbecue types such as ribs, chicken, brisket or other types of meats.

And although some consider barbecue sauce to carry a certain level of calories we believe it's best to focus on the desired end result of the barbecue as opposed to the specific level of sugars or salts.  Keep in mind the average number of times you might consume a product over the course of a year then divide that actual amount over the meal and we believe you will find that total amount to be very small so as to make the consideration actually insignificant.

And with that said, our best selection of barbecue sauces is available on our website along with some excellent products each focused on the marination aspects of barbecue as well as the health and wellness benefits of the sauces.  There are gluten-free products as well as Monosodium Glutamate free products.  A short list of our best products are:

Really Good Mild Barbecue Sauce

Really Nice Medium Hot Barbecue Sauce

Really Hot Barbecue Sauce

Maple Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

Memphis Blues Barbecue Sauce

Texas Style Inspired Barbecue Sauce

These sauces along with our dry spice seasonings combine to produce some astonishing results.

We hope you've found this post informational and useful as you continue on the path to perfect barbecue nirvana.

In addition to the links above we are including our video on making barbecue sauces.  See below:




Happy barbecuing.

Jake

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