Black Cherry Ribs

We are always experimenting with new rubs and sauces, and this recipe is no different.  Fruity flavours are great with pork, and the black cherry on these ribs adds an extra dimension. It also helps to create a sticky texture on the surface of the meat, so be careful as this can get very messy!

There is more than enough sauce in the recipe below, so keep some spare for your next cook. It’ll keep pretty well in the fridge, and the black cherry flavours complement a wide range of different meats, it’s especially delicious slathered over chicken and pork.


  • 2 racks of spare ribs
  • Light olive oil
  • Black cherry jam
  • Butter
  • Demerara sugar
  • Grape juice


  • ½ cup demerara sugar
  • ¼ cup sweet Spanish paprika
  • 3 tablespoons Maldon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon medium chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic granules
  • 1 tablespoon onion granules
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper


  • 2 tablespoons black cherry jam
  • 1 ½ chopped frozen, pitted black cherries
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons rock salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • ¼teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcester sauce


Remove the membrane from the underside of the ribs, using a butter knife and kitchen towel and then trim the rack to your preference. Mix together the rub ingredients. Brush oil lightly on ribs and sprinkle with rub; use about 2 tablespoons per side.  Let sit for half an hour, so that the rub starts to work its magic and that the ribs come up to room temperature. Store remainder of the rub in a screw top jar for next time.


Bring your BBQ smoker up to 250°F/120°C. Add a couple of fist-sized chunks of hickory and apple wood. If you don’t have a smoker at home, you can easily follow these instructions using an oven – you just won’t get the smoke flavour.

Once the smoke thins out with a tint of blue, place the ribs, meat side up, on the grill grate. Leave to cook for an hour and then spritz with the grape juice every 30 minutes, for a further 2 hours. Feel free to add another couple of wood chunks after an hour.

Remove ribs from grill; transfer to 2 large stacked sheets of foil. Spray once more with the grape juice. Drizzle the butter, black cherry jam, and sugar evenly over both sides of ribs; position the ribs meat side down and wrap the foil tightly around the ribs. This process will ensure the meat ends up tender and juicy. Return to grill and cook for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Heat the ingredients over a moderate heat. Bring to a gentle simmer for 40 minutes. Then blend until smooth.

After the ribs have been cooking for two hours, throw away the foil (For extra oomph, you can add some of the liquid from the wrap, to your sauce). Baste the ribs on both sides with the warmed sauce. Return ribs to grill and cook for a further 30 minutes.

With a pair of tongs, pick up your ribs from one end lengthways – If they bend/flop easily and the surface starts to crack they are done; if not, keep them in the cooker. Once cooked, paint your ribs with more sauce, if required and leave to rest for ten minutes.

Slice and serve!



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