BBQ Sauce Safety: What You Need to Know Before You Slather

If you're like most people, you love a good BBQ sauce on your ribs, brisket, or pulled pork. But before you slather that sauce all over your meat, you should know a few things about BBQ sauce safety.

Since BBQ sauce safety seems to be of great concerns to many, our experts are more than glad to share their wisdom with you.

Can BBQ Sauce Go Bad?

The answer is yes, BBQ sauce can go bad. In fact, it has a limited shelf life of about 6 to 9 months, depending on the type of sauce and how it's stored. Some say, you don't have to throw out your favorite bottle of BBQ sauce just because it's past its expiration date. You can still use it, as long as it looks and smells okay. You may want to check if those people are your life insurance beneficiaries.

Also, beware of that green fur growing on the lid. That would be a pretty good indication you should definitely not eat it.

Fun Fact: The oldest known recipe for BBQ sauce dates back to the 17th century, and it's a recipe for a vinegar-based sauce that's still popular in some parts of the world today.

Can BBQ Sauce Be Left Out?

No, you shouldn't leave BBQ sauce out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Bacteria can grow rapidly at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, which is known as the danger zone. If you leave your BBQ sauce out for too long, it could spoil and make you sick. On the other hand, this makes for an awesome kids science project if you have a microscope to see what salmonella looks like!

Historical Fact: BBQ sauce as we know it today is thought to have originated in the southern United States in the late 1800s, when pitmasters started adding tomato ketchup and other ingredients to their traditional vinegar-based sauces.

Can BBQ Sauce Be Frozen?

Yes, you can freeze BBQ sauce to extend its shelf life. But keep in mind that freezing and thawing can change the texture and flavor of the sauce, so it may not be as good as fresh sauce.

Also careful with full glass jar in a deep freezer and they can crack and make a mess in your freezer or worst give you a nasty cut.

Life Hack: Freeze it in ice cube trays. Whenever you want to use some, just pop a few cubes into a pan and heat them up.

What BBQ Sauce is Gluten-Free?

If you're gluten intolerant, you'll want to look for BBQ sauces that are labeled gluten-free. Some popular brands that make gluten-free BBQ sauce include Sweet Baby Ray's, Stubbs, and Kraft.

While many barbecue sauces are naturally gluten-free, some common ingredients used in barbecue sauce that can contain gluten include:

  • Soy Sauce: Traditional soy sauce is brewed with wheat and contains gluten. Be sure to look for tamari or a gluten-free soy sauce if you're avoiding gluten.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Some brands of Worcestershire sauce contain malt vinegar, which is derived from barley, a gluten-containing grain.
  • Modified Food Starch: This ingredient can be derived from a variety of sources, including wheat. If a product is made in the United States and the source is wheat, it should be listed as "modified wheat starch," "modified food starch (wheat)," or something similar. However, products from other countries may not have this level of detail.
  • Liquid Smoke: Some brands of liquid smoke may contain barley malt flour or other gluten-containing ingredients.
  • Beer: Some barbecue sauces use beer as a flavoring. Unless the beer is specifically labeled gluten-free, it is likely to contain gluten.
  • Flavorings: The vague term "flavorings" can sometimes hide gluten-based ingredients. While it's less common, it's something to look out for if the product isn't labeled gluten-free.

Remember, if you're avoiding gluten due to celiac disease or another form of gluten intolerance, it's always best to read labels carefully. If you're unsure whether a product is gluten-free, you can always contact the manufacturer to verify.

Will BBQ Sauce Hurt My Dog?

The official answer is: Yes, BBQ sauce can be harmful to dogs, especially if it contains garlic, onion, or other ingredients that are toxic to dogs. If your dog ingests BBQ sauce, it could cause an upset stomach, diarrhea, or even more serious health problems.

However, as anyone who ever owned a dog will tell you, if fido can sneak some BBQ, he will likely eat an entire rack of ribs before you know it. He may look guilty afterwards, but he’s likely thinking “Ooh doggy! That was worth it”.

Will BBQ Sauce Burn in an Instant Pot or Slow Cooker?

No, BBQ sauce won't burn in an instant pot or slow cooker, as long as there's enough liquid in the pot. However, if you're using a high-sugar BBQ sauce, you may want to add a little extra liquid to prevent burning.

BBQ Sauce Safety_ What You Need to Know Before You Slather - Ribs with BBQ Sauce in a slow cooker

Will BBQ Sauce Stain?

Yes, BBQ sauce can stain clothes, carpets, and other surfaces. Barbecue stains can be stubborn, but with a bit of patience and the right cleaning method, you can remove them. Here's a general method for both fabric and hard surfaces:

For fabric (clothing, tablecloth, etc.):

  1. As soon as possible, blot (don't rub) the stain with a clean, dry cloth to remove as much of the sauce as possible.
  2. Rinse the stain with cold water from the back of the stain to push it out of the fabric.
  3. Apply a liquid laundry detergent, or a stain remover stick, gel, or spray. Rub it gently into the stain.
  4. Let the stain remover work for at least 5 minutes.
  5. Wash the garment in the hottest water that's safe for the fabric. Check the care tag for washing instructions.
  6. Before you put the garment in the dryer, check to make sure the stain is completely gone. The heat from the dryer can set the stain and make it much harder to remove. If the stain is still there, repeat the steps above.

For hard surfaces (like a countertop):

  1. Wipe up as much of the sauce as possible with a paper towel or cloth.
  2. Spray the area with a kitchen cleaner or make a paste with baking soda and a little water.
  3. Scrub the area with a soft cloth or sponge. If you use the baking soda paste, let it sit on the stain for 15-20 minutes first.
  4. Rinse with warm water and dry.

If the stain is on a porous surface like stone or untreated wood, it may be more difficult to remove. In that case, you might want to consider a specialty cleaner designed for that type of material. In some cases you may need to sand down the surface.

Remember, always test any cleaning solution on a small, hidden area first to make sure it won't damage the material.

In conclusion, BBQ sauce is a delicious and versatile condiment that can be used in a variety of dishes. While it is generally safe to consume, it is important to pay attention to storage, expiration dates, and ingredient labels. BBQ sauce can go bad if left out for too long or not stored properly, and some brands may contain gluten or other allergens. It's also important to keep BBQ sauce away from pets, as some ingredients can be harmful to them.

But don't let these concerns ruin your BBQ experience! With the right precautions and knowledge, you can enjoy your favorite BBQ sauce without worry. And with so many different brands and flavors available, there's always something new to try.

As always, if you are interested in upping your BBQ skills, why not take a detour by your local WE LOVE FIRE® dealer? On top on a vast offering of outdoor cooking grills and accessories, they also have a large assortment of BBQ sauces, rubs and other ingredients to make you the block BBQ hero. Many of our dealers are also BBQ aficionados and love to share tips and recipes with you. Pay them a visit and you won’t regret it.

If you're interested in learning more about the history of BBQ sauce, the science behind it, or just some fun facts, check out these sources:

  • Gluten Free Watchdog - This organization is dedicated to review commercial products that may contain gluten.
  • Food safety tips for barbecuing- This Canadian government page provides safety tips on how to make cook ingredients safely on the BBQ.
  • "The Science of Good Cooking" by Cook's Illustrated Magazine
  • "The Ultimate Book of BBQ" by Christopher Prieto
  • "The Barbecue Bible" by Steven Raichlen

So fire up the grill, slather on some BBQ sauce, and enjoy the deliciousness that is this beloved condiment!

BBQ Sauce Safety_ What You Need to Know Before You Slather - BBQ Sauce on Meat on a BBQ

Below is a list of fireplace and grill stores that service Virginia (VA)

Manassas, VA

Winston's Chimney Service
11301 Industrial Road
Manassas, VA 20109

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Mechanicsville, VA

Hearth & Home Shoppe
8151 Mechanicsville Tpk
Mechanicsville, VA 23111

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Roanoke, VA

Dixie Building Products Inc.
3342 Melrose Ave NW
Roanoke, VA 24017

Warrenton, VA

Costello's Warrenton Fireplace & Hot Tub
251 West Lee Hwy
Warrenton, VA 20186

For more information, contact your local fireplace and grill store..

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