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I have had Barbecue Sauce on my to-do list for a long time. My requirements for a good sauce are: spicy, sweet, and smokey. I like the vinegary Carolina style sauces too, but for this one, I kept it on the sweeter side. Many recipes out there are based on ketchup, but I wanted to make something a little more homemade, and less processed. So we are making our own ketchup and going from there! After the pinch of salt, you have homemade ketchup! However, keep in mind that this will be a deep brownish red ketchup from the coconut sugar, if you want a more traditional ketchup, use white sugar. Add a pinch of curry for a deliciously seasoned ketchup that goes great on veggie sausages. But back to the barbecue sauce: A couple other tweaks to make this 100% homemade: you can use a real habanero pepper, instead of the pepper sauce, simply include it in with the onions when they go in the food processor, (or maybe just a half of a pepper, those things are hot!) You could also make your own tomato paste in the slow cooker. Feel free to double or triple this recipe, my half pint jar is going fast! Stay tuned for an awesome barbecue chop salad recipe next.

Homemade Maple Habanero Barbecue Sauce

Makes 1/2 pint

4 large tomatoes

1/3 cup coconut sugar

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup chopped onions

1/3 cup water

Pinch of salt

2 tbs olive oil

2 tbs maple syrup

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tbs tomato paste

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp liquid smoke

2 tsp hot habenero sauce (I used Trader Joe’s brand)

Fresh ground pepper

Make an ice bath by putting ice and water in a large bowl and set aside. Boil water in a medium pot and drop in the 4 tomatoes. Take them out and submerge them in the ice bath. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins. Cut them open and remove the seeds and tough parts around the stem. Put the tomatoes into a food processor or blender and process until very smooth, a minute or so.

In a large pot, add the tomato puree, sugar, and apple cider vinegar over medium heat. While waiting for that to come to a boil, combine the onion and water in the food processor, blend until smooth, and add to tomato mixture.

Add the salt and bring to a low boil for a few minutes. Then reduce and simmer until it thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir regularly to avoid scorching.

Now add all remaining ingredients and bring back to a boil. Reduce to simmer and taste it. Maybe it needs more vinegar or more smoke. Adjust to what suits you, and continue to simmer until you have the consistency you want, about 5 more minutes.

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