This rub is intended for indirect low & slow cooking only, as the natural sugars in the fruits will tend to scorch very quickly with higher heat, especially direct/grilling. It is a very unique rub for pork ribs, yet may prove to be a little "under-powered" for pork shoulder, depending on your personal preferences. It has a natural sweetness without processed/added sugars, and is mildly spicy once cooked.
WILD HAWG DRY RUB
All measures are pre-grind, except if listed as powder.
4 Tbsp dried whole Blueberry
4 Tbsp dried Tart Cherry
3 Tbsp dried 3/8" diced Red Bell Pepper
5 Tbsp Apple powder (any sweet variety)
2 Tbsp dried minced Garlic
1-1/2 Tbsp Black Peppercorn
1 Tbsp ground White Pepper
2 Tbsp Sea Salt (sub with Himalayan Pink Salt,Kosher Salt, Salt Substitute, etc)
1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika (sub with Spanish Paprika)
1 Tbsp Rosemary
2-1/2 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Fennel Seed
1-1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper powder (sub to your liking)
1 tsp Cinnamon (optional: reduces bitterness of Cayenne)
1 tsp ground Cumin
3/4 tsp rubbed Sage
Yield is approx. 1-3/4 to 2 cups (I made a 1.5X batch for my 1st run and yield was ~3-3/4)
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, toss/tumble well. Portion 1-1/2 to 2 Tbsp into your blade-type (coffee) grinder at a time. You can add more if your grinder will not overload or stall. Use less if the grinder stalls/jams. Grind to near your desired particle size and place in a second container until all ingredients are ground, then repeat grinding for smaller particle size, if desired, and to aid in blending all of the ingredients of the dry rub for the best consistency. Also, pay attention to your grinder motor/housing temperature...it will heat up, and you don't want to fry the motor doing a larger dry rub batch. The blueberries and cherries will take a bit of time to break-down, so give your grinder a breather after about 1/2 of the batch's 1st grind...cover your rub containers and just take a break...your grinder will thank you for it. My old Mr Coffee grinder is pushing it's 8th year providing me with wet/dry rub and sauce/glaze ingredients...expecting it to die a couple years back I bought a replacement...it's still in the box.
Grinding the dry ingredients with the fruits will aid in preventing/reducing the formation of paste and stalling your grinder, as well as making for much easier clean-up. This is a very effective method for grinding dried fruits for use in a rub blend. The main draw-back to grinding all ingredients together is if you want larger particle sizes with certain spices but not others, although some of them could be ground separately or not ground at all, if desired, such as the Salt and minced Garlic. Keep in mind that the less spices, salt and herbs there are to mix with the dried fruits the more likely the blend will form a paste when grinding.
If you have a dehydrator to super-dry the fruits immediately before measuring ingredients helps a lot in avoiding paste formation. I super-dried the already dried Apple wedges, Cherries and Blueberries for 4 hours @ 235*, then, overnight for about 12 hours @ 225*. This made a huge difference with this batch, as there was absolutely no clumping or pasting in the grinder with the blended ingredients. The Apple (ground separately, then blended) had a slight tendency to clump, but was easily removed with a butter knife. The Cherries and Blueberries should be dried to a very firm texture when pinched, while the Apple should be dried as near to the point of being crisp as possible. The additional drying may be a necessity in higher humidity environments...the price you pay for a unique and delicious fruit-based dry rub.
This particular recipe (as well as it's predecessors) tends to clump soon after blending if tumbled in the container, so a regrind may be necessary prior to application onto your pork. This batch was easily tumbled in the container and flows very well, thanks to additional drying of the fruits. Clumping is due to the sugars and small amount of moisture in the fruits and is normal. This will be more noticeable in high-humidity climates. Application with a shaker container may give the easiest application results if any clumping is noticed. Do not compress this mixture until it is on your meat if signs of clumping exist, or it may pack to a very firm consistency, making a re-grind difficult, but necessary. With this new batch today, I was able to grab a pinch at a time with bare fingers and dust the ribs with no evidence of compression or clumping, whatsoever. I really appreciated the benefit of taking the time to dry my fruits well before grinding and blending, so, that said, I would recommend that you make use of your dehydrator, if you have one.
I smoked this new recipe with Apple, Hickory and Cherry. Cherry is a moderately sweet, somewhat heavy flavor, so blending with Apple (lighter, moderately sweet) and/or Pecan (pungent aroma) can lighten it up and smooth it over. I generally reserve Cherry smoke for pork shoulder or beef, unless I'm blending smoke woods. Hickory is sharper, but still lends a sweeter background flavor, and is excellent with most pork cuts/preparations. Peach would also be a good choice, especially in combinations. And, let's add Almond to the list, while we're at it.
Baby Backs almost ready:
All smoked, except the Asian Cole Slaw, of course...no sauce needed with this rub, as it stands on it's own: