Ribs with Maple Whisky & Nanking Cherry Barbecue Sauce

I’ve mentioned before how nice it is to have a chef living next door.

I was out pilfering the Nanking cherries that line our street – oddly some of the bushes have been stripped by birds, but others are heavy with ripe fruit. Wade comes out and casually mentions that he has some maple whisky and Nanking cherry barbecue sauce in his fridge. Of course he does.

There’s nothing wrong with Nanking cherry jelly, of course. Or cherry lemonade. But I had never considered Nanking cherries as a vehicle for barbecue sauce, in place of tomatoes. Brilliant.

My mom declared this the best rib sauce she’d ever had. It’s flavourful but not overly sweet, and it doesn’t have that harsh smokiness so many barbecue sauces come with.

Good news! Wade offered up his recipe. Which is probably smart, since he likely doesn’t have enough jars in his fridge to go around. Thanks Wade! If you can’t get your hands on some maple whisky, I’m sure regular whisky and a hit of pure maple syrup (say 1/4 cup?) would do the trick.

Maple Whisky & Nanking Cherry Barbecue Sauce


August 16, 2011

Recipe by Wade!


8 cups Nanking cherries, washed and stemmed

½ cup sugar

½ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp onion powder

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp mustard powder (or 1 Tbsp grainy mustard)

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp black pepper

1 cup brown sugar

1 ½ cups maple whiskey (from Highwood Distillers in Alberta)


1In a large saucepan combine cherries and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until cherries have given up their juice. Remove from heat and push through a sieve to remove skins and pits. Return cherry juice to saucepan over medium heat, add all the dry ingredients, stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add 1 cup maple whiskey. Continue to simmer until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the final 1/2 cup whiskey. Cool and refrigerate in a sealed container.


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11 comments on “Ribs with Maple Whisky & Nanking Cherry Barbecue Sauce

  1. Laurie from Burnaby
    August 16, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Looks wonderful

  2. kickpleat
    August 16, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    How have I never made ribs before? This looks dangerously delicious and I don’t even know what a nanking cherry is! Must investigate.

  3. Inga
    August 17, 2011 at 7:35 am

    You’re making it harder and harder to stay a devote vegetarian…lol!
    Seriously, am looking for a good pickled beet recipe. What have you tried that’s been good? Our beets are ready to go and we do process the stems and leaves for everything we would normally put spinach in, but need a solid recipe for the beets themselves. Also a neighbor mentioned boiling then peeling and freezing them whole or sliced, have you tried this before?


  4. Fa-Linn
    August 17, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    This looks delicious! Any idea how many cups of juice 8 cups of nanking cherries makes? I already juiced mine for jelly making…

    • Emily Loui
      August 13, 2016 at 10:04 am

      I just juiced choke cherries and it seems like I got about half as much juice as cherries I used. For example, 8 cups cherries = 4 cups juice. Hope that’s helpful.

      • Julie
        August 18, 2016 at 10:47 am

        It is, thanks!

  5. kamran siddiqi
    August 18, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Julie, this is genius. Just genius. I need to make this ASAP.

  6. Anonymous
    October 26, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    What does the Maple Whiskey do for the sauce?

  7. Anita Macpherson
    July 24, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    July 2017, visiting High River from Seattle. I didn’t know what these berries were this morning. The Nanking cherries in the yard were ripe and this was the only non-jelly recipe I could find. To see that it recommends a High River liquor sealed it! We used the sauce to baste a beef roast. This sauce was also on the table next to the horseradish. Yum!!

    • Julie
      July 27, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      Amazing! So glad to hear it!

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