Seasonal Flavors: Barbecued Beef Ribs

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There is a growing awareness of the vast amount of food we Americans waste.  The United States Department of Agriculture reports that 30 to 40% of all food produced in our country ends up in the landfill. Let’s all just agree that that is egregious. 

Now, think about your own refrigerator. Is that where food goes to die, before going into the trash? Or are you a virtuous composter? At least then, wasted food is turned to soil.  Or perhaps you have chickens or pigs who feast on your leftovers?

When there were five of us, there was little wasted food at our place. My sons were always willing to eat whatever was available. Now that our household is merely two, I must be diligent and deliberate in sequestering leftovers. I label and freeze what I can, even if it is just a single serving. These are great for single meals, or maybe to add to soup. Between these practices and serious composting, I waste very little.

That’s why when I made a batch of bread and butter pickles last month and had two quarts of the pickling brine leftover, I just couldn’t throw it out. I put it in the refrigerator and then hoped for another gift of cucumbers from a neighbor’s garden. Those never materialized, and then it came to me—I could turn that brine into a lovely barbeque sauce. A small can of tomato paste transformed my pickling brine into the perfect braise for beef ribs.  This is so good, it’s worth making even if you don’t intend to do any pickling.

Barbecued Beef Ribs

  • 4-5 lb beef ribs
  • 3 cups cider vinegar
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 2 T mustard seed 
  • 1 ½ tsp celery seed
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 T tumeric
  • 1 small can tomato paste

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Put the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add the mustard seed, celery seed, red pepper flakes and turmeric.  Stir to mix.  Add the tomato paste and stir until completely incorporated.

Put the ribs into a large roasting pan and pour the sauce over the ribs. Cover the pan and place in the oven, then immediately reduce the heat to 2000F. Bake for 8-12 hours until the meat is falling off the bone. 

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