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Why does my regular barbecue sauce turn watery?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I'm using tomato paste as my thickening agent, cooking it until it gets to a nice consistency, but then if I put it in a container, the water almost separates to the top and won't bind well.  Even if I shake it up, it gets to the consistency and then breaks apart again.


Should I just cut back on water or take it out all together?

post #2 of 6

What is the Recipe. That would be more helpful to determine the cause of separation...JJ

post #3 of 6
My guess is to replace the water and paste for ketchup instead. If you are looking for something sugar free... Hunts makes a ketchup that has no fructose corn syrup in it. The water and paste may be what's making it separate.

You can also choose to simmer it a lot longer. How long are you cooking it for?
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

I've gone up to 3 or 4 hours on it.  When it first comes to a simmer, I get the light red from the tomato paste and then as it simmers, the light red goes away.  I always was under the impression that meant the paste had finally melted and the rest of the simmer was taking away water content.


I'll post recipe tomorrow when I get a chance.  If I use ketchup, will I need to cook it?  Also, should I dump some of the light corn syrup out of it? The recipe is fashioned off Sweet Ray's...

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

I am making large batches.  Here is the breakdown.


2 Gallons Water

1 Gallon Corn Syrup

3 Quarts Cider Vinegar

3 Cups Molasses

2 ½ Quarts Brown Sugar

1 Quart + ½ Cup Liquid Smoke

½ Cup Kosher Salt

¼ Cup Onion Powder

1 ¾ Cups Ground Black Pepper (fine ground, not course ground)

1 ½ Cups Paprika

¼ Cup Garlic Powder

¾ Cup Chili Powder

½ Cup Ancho Powder


Mix all ingredients in a large stock pot.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.


Add 1 #10 Can Tomato Paste.  Stir well, dissolving all lumps.  Return and simmer for 2-3 hours or until reached thickened consistency.

post #6 of 6

There is nothing there that stands out as a cause for your problem. I have had Tomato sauce separate depending on the brand of Tomato Paste used as some are more coarse than others. You may try letting it cool and running it through a Blender or use a Submersion Blender to make sure the the ingredients are broken down very fine. Another option is to reduce the Vinegar by 1 Cup and add 1 Cup of Mustard. In that large a batch it should not be real noticeable but Mustard has some great Emulsifying properties that will help bind the sauce. While Ketchup is an option, it will require a lot of experimentation as you will be replacing all or most of the Water, the Tomato Paste, a portion of the Vinegar and some of the Corn Syrup as all of these will already be in the Ketchup. At least a short cook time, heating to a simmer, is needed to help meld the ingredient flavors and add to the shelf life by killing any Bacteria that may be introduced from the ingredients, pot and mixing utensils, and from contact with the air that is incorporated during measuring and mixing...JJ

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