Elderberry and Tomato Barbecue Sauce

a bottle of elderberry and tomato barbecue sauce on a slate bench with a sauce ring stain on it

When there were elderflowers – I made sparkling elderflower champagne and elderflower cordial. Being a respectful forager, I made sure there was plenty of elderflowers left on the trees. The remaining elderflowers have now had time to become elderberries, and I decided it was time to revisit the local elder trees to forage again.

But what can you do with elderberries? Elderberry jams, jellies, cordials and liquors were the first things that came to mind. However, they’re not overly sweet and I don’t like to add sugar unnecessarily to fresh food (when I do add sweetness I prefer to do it with unprocessed sweeteners). I wanted to do something less obvious this time. Since we’ve also been growing tomatoes and chillis, and because we love a little extra heat in our food, I decided it was time to try making a foraged elderberry and tomato barbecue sauce as an original twist on a classic summer condiment.

Using elderberries adds add a unique, tart yet sweet flavour that pairs wonderfully with the smoky and savoury elements. Using date syrup as the whole food natural sweetener adds fruity undertones from the ripe dates and pairs beautifully with the tanginess of tomatoes and the unique, tart flavour of elderberries. The caramel-like notes and subtle earthiness add a depth and complexity to the sauce, enhancing its overall flavour profile without overpowering it . Smoked paprika and a hint of chilli make this sauce the perfect condiment for any barbecue.

Elderberry and Tomato Barbecue Sauce


  • 2 cups fresh ripe elderberries
  • 3 cups ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup date syrup, vegan honey or sweetener of choice
  • 2 tablespoons soy, tamari for a GF option or mushroom ketchup for a soy-free sauce.
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke – optional
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 – 2 tsp Alleppo chilli pepper or chilli of choice
  • Salt to taste


Remove the elderberries from their stems and rinse them well, add to a pot with chopped tomatoes, apple cider vinegar and date syrup. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the tomatoes break down and the berries soften.

Add the soy sauce, smoked paprika, garlic powder, ground pepper, to the pot. Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce directly in the pot until smooth, alternatively, carefully transfer the mixture to a blender to puree.

Optional – pass the sauce through a fine sieve to remove any stems or seeds to make a smooth elderberry and tomato barbecue sauce.

Return the blended sauce to the saucepan and let it simmer and reduce until it’s thick and glossy, it makes approximately 600ml.

Adjust the seasonings, adding salt, extra sweetener or spices if needed or wanted.

Allow the sauce to cool before storing it in an airtight container or pour into sterilised bottles and store in the fridge.

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