Candy’s Version of Chicago Sweet Barbecue Sauce

Today, I got some of the older (not outdated though) bulk cans of tomato sauce and catsup out of the pantry wanting to try a new recipe using them. We’re big fans of a particular  BBQ chain across the U.S. We especially love their Chicago Sweet and St. Louis Style sauces. I wanted to give the first one a try. Looking at the ingredients, I pulled everything we needed out of the cabinets and started mixing. The original recipe called for red wine vinegar but all I had was apple cider vinegar and white vinegar. I used the apple cider vinegar to give it a little more pizzazz. I made some other substitutions, put a half cup more brown sugar in it, more chili powder and a little less celery salt.

As I made it, I measured the contents of the bulk cans. The catsup can holds 11 cups of catsup and the tomato sauce came out at 12 cups exactly. I’ll share my recipe, but for this batch of BBQ sauce to can, I increased the proportions by 6 to use the entire cans of tomato sauce and catsup. Oh my!! Is it ever good! It has a bit of a kick to it, so if you prefer sweeter BBQ sauces, lessen the amounts of the hotter spices and taste it as you go.

here we go…

Candy’s Version of Chicago Sweet BBQ Sauce.

2 cups catsup

2 cups tomato sauce

1-3/4 cups brown sugar

1-1/4 cups apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup molasses

4 teaspoons liquid smoke. I used hickory flavored.

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon celery salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, as desired (or a scant 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes)

1 scant teaspoon black pepper.( I only had a fine ground black pepper so I used less. The finer ground pepper is, the hotter it tastes.)


  1. Place all ingredients n a very large saucepan. I wound up using a hot water bath canner to cook the sauce in. 6 batches equals a LOT of sauce!
  1. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching. The yellow dots you see is the butter as it’s melting. See the steam? It smells absolutely delicious!

Candys version of Chicago Sweet BBQ sauce

  1. Prepare canning jars, lids and rims per directions in the Ball canning book. Set aside.
  1. Ladle hot barbecue sauce into jars, leaving a 1 inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a clean cloth or paper towel soaked in white vinegar. (I’ve never had a seal failure using vinegar to clean the jar rims. )  Candy's Chicago Sweet BBQ sauce ready to can.JPG
  1. Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes per the Ball canning book directions. Remove from the hot water, allow to cool without touching the lids. In the event of a seal failure, you may remove the lid, prepare a new one and re-process. Be sure to check the edge of the rim of the jar for chips or breaks, or debris that may have caused the seal failure.

I had one jar that broke in the last canner load crying sad face but, I still have 18 pints to use.

Candys version of Chicago Sweet BBQ Sauce all done

  1. Store opened jars of barbecue sauce in the refrigerator.

Feeding Time

help, they're after me!

This is the chore that I actually think that I love most. It’s like playing the Pied Piper. Just walk out of the back door, yell “Chicken!” at the top of your lungs, and they all come running. Ducks, geese, chickens, turkeys, cats, and the dogs. I’ve learned to feet the free rangers, the ducks, turkeys, geese and chickens first. Cats 2nd, and the dogs and goats last. If I make the mistake of feeding the cats first, even though I’ve learned to out it up high, inevitably, the chickens will fly up to get cat food. It seems like they ALL like cat food.

It’s a fun walk back to the chicken coop. Pied Piper it is. Speed Star 1.0455375  00They all follow in a single line, or sometimes, like yesterday, whichever animal got there first, won! The geese and chickens run with their wings outstretched as fast as they can.Speed Star 1.0446379  00

Speed Star 1.0359483  00 Those outstretched wings give them a little lift and enables them to run faster. Turkeys run like a prehistoric beast from Jurassic Park. The dog, well, she just runs over all of them, It’s like having an 80 pound weimeraner dozer. I can’t tell you how many animals she’s rolled in the past. It’s funny, because the rolled one just gets up and continues on their quick trek to the chicken coop.

I didn’t know that animals could be so much fun. One doesn’t need a television set with a collection of farm animals. Just sit back and watch. Eventually they will have you rolling, laughing. Farm work is hard work, but it’s so rewarding to see nature at it’s best. Enjoy the pictures…

Creating an Adequate Pantry

A major challenge when living from your stockpiled foods is getting enough fruits and vegetables.  Without produce, your family can be at risk for nutritional deficiency diseases like scurvy and their immune systems will be compromised.  A minimum of 5 servings per day is recommended, but during the long winter, how can you meet that goal with the contents of your pantry?

Supplying your family with produce that will provide the necessary nutrients that their bodies need to thrive is a twofold process.  Not only should you preserve the summer’s bounty for the winter ahead, but you should also come up with ways to add fresh greens outside of the growing season.

Building a Produce Stockpile

When creating your produce stockpile, you have to look at what actually constitutes a “serving” for the people you will be feeding.  It may not actually be the amount that you expect. For example, a child’s serving of green beans is anywhere between a quarter cup to a half a cup (depending on their age), but an adult’s serving is a full cup.  So for a child, plan on 1-3 cups of produce per day and for an adult, plan on 5 cups of produce per day.

Whenever possible, focus on organic produce.  The use of pesticides in conventional farming is rampant.  Even the hijacked Environmental Protection Agency has to admit that the ingestion of pesticides can cause health problems.  They warn of the risk of “birth defects, nerve damage, cancer, and other effects that might occur over a long period of time.”  (Keep in mind, however, that despite this warning, the EPA just RAISED the acceptable limit of glyphosate at the behest of Monsanto.) Especially at risk of harm from pesticides are prepubescent children and fetuses.

It’s also important to avoid GMOs (genetically modified organisms).  Particularly avoid anything non-organic that contains corn or soy ingredients. (Learn more about why GMOs are not even safe in moderation.)

What to shop for

At the grocery store, look for sales to build your supply of produce:

Dried:  Dried fruits such as raisins, banana chips (without sugar), and dried cranberries can pack a lot of nutritional punch into a tiny serving size.  Think of them as concentrated vitamins. An adult serving of raisins is only 1/4 cup, which means that you can pack a lot of nutrition into a small amount of space with dried fruits.

Canned:  Canned goods such as tomatoes, green beans, and peas can go a long way towards providing nutrition.  The benefit to those rows of tin cans is that you don’t require power to store them safely, and they are fully cooked so you don’t even have to heat them up in a grid down situation.  You can also find many varieties of canned fruit but beware of heavy syrups, which are often made with GMO corn syrup.

Frozen:  Frozen fruits and vegetables are the closest to fresh that you can get.  This is a great way to build a stockpile for good times, but don’t put all of your produce in the freezer.  During an extended power outage, you stand to lose a large portion of your deep freeze contents. If you do purchase a large amount of produce for the freezer, have canning jars, lids, and an off grid method for canning them if the electricity goes down for the long-term.

Freeze dried:  This is a more expensive option, but freeze dried fruits and vegetables maintain nutrients, require little storage space, and need no special storage conditions.  You can add a great deal of variety to your pantry with a selection of freeze dried ingredients and the foods, if sealed correctly, can last up to 25 years.

Preserving fruits and veggies

There are many effective ways to preserve fruits and vegetables that you acquire fresh.  Whether you harvest them from your own property, buy them at the farmer’s market or a local orchard, or even make a bulk purchase from the discount bin at the grocery store, having the supplies and skills to quickly preserve them can allow you to make the most of your windfall.

Dehydrating:  Whether you use an actual dehydrating machine, hang the items in a sunny, dry place, or use your oven, dehydrating can be an easy way to store a lot of food in a small amount of space. One drawback to dehydrated food is that you require a substantial amount of water to reconstitute it.  Fruit roll-ups are an exception – they are a healthy, dehydrated treat that requires no soaking time and they make a great addition to backpacks and bug-out bags.  For more information on dehydrating fruits and vegetables for your pantry, check out this handy chart for instructions and click HERE to find out how to store the food once you have dehydrated it.

Canning:  As always, canning is my favorite way to preserve food.  Many fruits can be canned using the water bath canning method but vegetables (with the exception of tomatoes and pickles) require pressure canning to be safely preserved.    I have row after row of sliced fruit, colorful veggies, pickles, salsas, jams, and applesauce lining my shelves and waiting for their turn on the table.

Root Cellaring:  Another way to store produce is by root cellaring. Many fruits and vegetables will last the entire winter if they are stored under the proper conditions. Autumn harvests tend to do particularly well when root cellared – apples, garlic, hard squash, potatoes, and carrots can all last for many months.

Fresh greens: anytime, anywhere

If you are anything like my family, fruits and vegetables make up a huge part of your diet.  When we did a one-month pantry challenge, the first thing that we realized was how much we missed fresh produce.  No matter how big your pantry is, it’s important to be able to provide yourself with some fresh nutrients too.  In the off-season or in an apartment or other place with no outdoor growing space, learn to adapt and provide your family with some fresh produce.   Grow herbs and lettuce in a bright window.  Set up a hydroponics system in a spare room (but look out for the SWAT team – they like to come after indoor tomato growers!)  Go even further and look into aquaponics. Create a little greenhouse with a grow light for year round veggies.  Sprout seeds and legumes for a healthy addition to salads.


Make your own Instant Potato Flakes

Instant Potato Flakes

Makes 1 pint jar

  • 5  potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • Water
  1. Cover potatoes with just   enough water to cover them. Over medium heat, boil potatoes for 10-15      minutes, or until soft. They should be at the consistency of ready to be mashed.
  2. Once potatoes are soft, drain water and mash potatoes until smooth. Do not add any milk or seasonings.      *Reserve the water to make a yeast starter
  3. Set potatoes on dehydrator fruit roll sheets or a parchment paper lined dehydrator tray. Dehydrate on  145 degrees Fahrenheit for 6 hours or until dry and all moisture is removed.
  4. Break the sheets into chunks, put in the blender, and pulse until ground into flakes.The finer the flake, the stickier the potatoes will be when you reconstitute them.
  5. Add to a glass jar or container and store in a cool, dry area for 6 months.

To Reconstitute the Potato Flakes:

For flavoring soups, casseroles, and dishes add by the tablespoon until desired thickness is met.

For Mashed Potatoes:

Add potato flakes to boiling water, then remove from heat. Add additional ingredients such as cold milk, butter, salt, seasonings and stir in reconstituted potato flakes.

2 servings: 2/3 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon butter, 1/4 cup milk, 2/3 cup flakes
4 servings: 1 1/3 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons butter, 1/2 cup milk, 1 1/3 cup flakes
8 servings: 2 2/3 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt, 4 tablespoons butter, 1 cup milk, 2 2/3 cup flakes
16 servings: 5 1/3 cups water, 2 teaspoons salt, 8 tablespoons butter, 2 cups milk, 5 1/3 cups flakes