By EMILY RAMSEY
SOME LIKE IT HOT: Ward Mankin, co-owner of Ruby’z Red Sauce Co. speaks with customers at GreenAcres Market in Jenks. The recipe dates back to the early 1900s when co-owner Billy Franks’ grandmother used to make and can the sauce as a cost-effective way to feed her family.
Ruby’z Red Sauce Co., an official Made in Oklahoma product, has hit the shelves of another Tulsa store. Already sold at The Fresh Market, GreenAcres Market and Whole Foods Market, Ruby’z Red is now also available at Reasor’s.
The tried and true sauce, a family recipe, was created by Ruby, the grandmother of co-owner Billy Franks, in the 1900s. She lived in Southeast Oklahoma and made the sauce by combining spices, tomatoes, green peppers and onions from her garden. She made the sauce largely out of necessity, says co-owner Ward Mankin. “During the early 1900s, times were hard. Families canned sauces and other vegetables out of need. Ruby provided for her family in the most cost-effective way she knew how.”
After cooking down the ingredients and creating the sauce, Ruby would can some of it to be used through the winter months. “Momma Ruby used her hands to measure out ingredients,” says Franks. “She would squeeze the ripe tomatoes, adding a smidge of this and a pinch of that with a dice of onions.”
While Franks holds the family tie to the sauce, Mankin was the one to initiate the business idea. Mankin always received the sauce from Franks as a Christmas gift, “but once a year was not enough for me. I wanted more,” he says. “I knew it was unique, it was different, and above all, it was good.”
The sauce comes in two flavors: mild and zesty. The zest, or zing, that the sauce brings to otherwise drab or boring dishes is the reason for the Z in Ruby’z, Mankin says. “When you pour it over an omelet, mix it in your baked beans, serve it up with a salad or dip it like a salsa, . . . it makes everything a little bit better.”
He recommends using the tomato-based, relish-like sauce on pizza, eggs, hamburgers and hot dogs. However, he has known it to be used also as a marinade for grilled chicken and in soups and stews.
Next up for the homegrown sauce is a third spicier blend, called Momma’s Zip Line. The official release date is yet to be announced.