Black ribs

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by javafool, Oct 16, 2015.

  1. I did my first cook in my new MES 30 Bluetooth yesterday using a A_MAZE_N 6" tube and alder pellets. I cooked 2-2-1 at 225°and had plenty of white smoke for the first two hours. The ribs turned out good but they were black and the grill has quite a build-up of residue.

    The water pan has a build-up on it that won't wash off using soap and water. Below is a picture of my original placement of the 6" tube, which was against the heating element case.

    So I took some wire and formed a holder for the tube to get it farther from the heating element thinking it might have been too close.

    First: Are the ribs supposed to be black with this almost rock hard residue?

    Second: Is my choice of alder pellets a mistake?

    Finally: Does the new stand look like it will be better placement for the tube?

    Thanks for any help and advice you can offer.


    Oh, next time I will probably use my BGE for ribs (and try the 6" tube) but want to cook pulled pork, chuck roast, smoked bologna, chuckies and  more on the MES because I don't like getting up every hour or so through the night to make sure the fire is still good. Being retired for 4 years now I guess I am getting a little on the lazy side. That doesn't mean I have to give up my "Q" though.
  3. First: Are the ribs supposed to be black with this almost rock hard residue?
    No, they should not be black and rock hard. What did you use for rub? A sugar based rub will give a harder bark than a salt based rub.

    I used Dizzy Dust rub which is not sugar based. I should have been more clear, the ribs were black but not hard crusted. The water pan and parts of the smoker had a hard coating. I had the scrape the window with a razor blade scraper to get the crud off.

    Second: Is my choice of alder pellets a mistake?
    never used alder so I couldn't say.

    Finally: Does the new stand look like it will be better placement for the tube?
    Yes. Originally the tube was too close to the heating element and caused the pellets to burn faster which is why you had thick white smoke. You want thin, blue smoke.

    That is what I thought. 

    Thanks hamrhead1971

  4. Anytime, Terry. The thick smoke could have caused a creosote build-up. Creosote will have a bitter taste to it. Also don't use a razor blade on your window. Razor blades will put microscopic scratches in the glass making it harder and harder to clean. I use a 50-50 mix of rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle and paper towels. Spray it on the glass and watch the black gunk start running down the window.

  5. Yes, I tried vinegar and water (I read about that somewhere on this forum), alcohol and water which is what I use on my coffee roasters, and Simple Green. It just kept looking back at me screaming "Take your best shot", so I did. Most of it came off from the previous cleanings but the rest was carefully removed by scraping.

    We used that 50/50 mix of alcohol and DI water to clean anti-glare coated windows inside and out on military radios to get them squeaky clean.

    I don't think I will have a repeat of that serious a problem.

  6. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    I learned early on to fill the AMNTS less than half full with pellets then hold horizontally and shake to level the pellets.  It's oversized for people in high elevations to fill it to hold enough burning pellets to keep adequate smoke production.  In lower altitudes it's a runaway train.  When the AMNTS is filled half way it's comparable to the AMNPS maze. 

  7. Thanks for the advice and information Kurt. We actually are pretty high for Clearwater, FL. Our property is 33' - 37' above sea level. I will try filling it half way.

  8. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    People in Denver and higher than a mile (5280 ft.) need to fill the AMNTS.  Play with it to get a thin blue smoke.  I cold smoke burgers, sausage, steaks etc. with the AMNTS half full and leveled in my grill with the lid cracked for 3 hours.  Then fire up the grill and finish it all within four hours.  You'll love it!

  9. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I used alder pellets for the first time last week and the 2nd time yesterday. They gave off a stronger smell than I thought, much stronger than hickory to me. I also saw more sticky residue afterwards (I hot smoked salmon fillets and cold smoked cheeses) which I've never seen before. Don't know if it was the wood or the salmon.

    For pork, the classic woods are hickory, apple and pecan. I have all three. I can't tell it myself but pecan is supposed to give a flavor somewhat like hickory but less intense. A few times I've combined pecan and apple to get the flavors of both. Combining nut and fruitwoods is fairly common.

    As for all that residue build up, well you're dealing with heat, smoke and moisture and carbon buildup. It's gonna blacken the inside of your smoker. I don't know of any smoker, backyard or pro that hasn't been blackened. Just look at any BBQ or smoking show or episode on TV and you'll see what I mean. If you try to clean off all that residue you'll just get angry and go nuts because it can't be done unless you're willing to put a lot of work into it. We have gas oven with gas burners. All of our stainless steel cookware is discolored on the bottom and around the base where the flame and heat hit. It's like a caramelization effect which bonds that stuff to the steel. That's just the way it is. We don't mind because it shows the cookware has been heavily used. My wife always says it looks well-loved. Same thing with the inside of my smoker. I just clean the wire racks as spotlessly as I can along with the inside of the water pan and the drip tray.

    The black ribs? Most dry rubs heavily applied that contain brown sugar or any sugar will turn black. Happens to me all the time. That's where foiling comes in because you can control the bark build up. You can also control the color of the ribs by applying mop sauce (which I don't) and/or BBQ sauce (which I apply during the last 30-45 minutes or so and after the ribs are removed from the smoker). I went to a BBQ competition a few weeks ago. I saw ribs with black bark and I saw ribs with practically no bark at all but a nice BBQ sauce coating over browned meat.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2015

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