I’ve always loved the tang of barbecue sauce, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered how easily it can be made at home. Barbecue sauce, it turns out, can be made using pantry staples — ketchup, molasses, vinegar and a mixture of several common spices — which means, of course, that making your own is almost as convenient as using a commercial brand.
The key is to figure out the proper proportions of ingredients to achieve your preferred balance among the four basic flavor profiles: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. (A fifth flavor profile, umami, has recently been identified. Its name is derived from a Japanese word that describes a meaty or savory taste, and it is found in foods such as soy sauce, Parmesan cheese, and mushrooms.)
In my case, ketchup serves as the base of the sauce and provides the majority of its sweetness. Molasses contributes additional sweetness and some bitterness, while vinegar is the primary sour component. Salt is, well, salty. Read More