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When is a Pellicle needed?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I know this seems like a newbie question because it is. 

Hi.  I'm Frank, and I am still a newbie to many things concerning smoking food.  :biggrin:


I've been trying to find out just what meats needs a pellicle and which don't, and why.  

Forum searches hasn't helped much, nor has Google.  Search pellicle and you get fish smoking or beer sites.  

Beer pellicle!  Really?  Never left one out that long, myself.


I did find one post by Bearcarver here.


What I don't understand is why, only on cured meats?  If pellicle is a good thing on cured meats, wouldn't it be worthwhile to use on uncured meats, or not brined, also?

True..., you wouldn't be able to form it at "room temps" with a fan, for uncured beef, pork, fowl & etc.   But, why not form a pellicle in fridge, uncovered a day or two in fridge

between 36* * 40*, for the uncured/unbrined meats?     Wouldn't this help the smoke flavor adhere and penetrate, the same as for the cured meats?


And with fowl, it seems to me, it would help keep the skin crispier when smoking.  I don't know.  I've not smoked any birds yet.  When I roast them in the oven I usually leave them overnight uncovered in fridge and always have crispy skin.


Insights & explanations to help me understand is very welcome.



Edited by fpmich - 9/2/14 at 2:40am
post #2 of 8
Frank, morning..... I try to form a pellicle on all meats I smoke.... The meat surface should be dry for smoke to penetrate and not get that acid, acrid taste from smoke mixing with water... I call that mix, acid rain.... I just did pork ribs yesterday.... formed a pellicle and smoked them... the pellicle is a skin of proteins or something like that... seals in moisture.... makes for a great final product..

Look at the surface of the ribs.... dry and shine nicely.... These were no foil, "Naked Ribs", that are moist, juicy and tender.... I attribute that to the pellicle... Seals the meat while letting in smoke....

post #3 of 8
Fpmich you're on the right track. Every meat does benefit from having a pellicle. We just call it different things. Birds, like you said, benefit greatly from an uncovered rest in the fridge. We "dry age" steaks, even for as little as 24 hours, to enhance browning and concentrate flavors. We rub pork butts and let them rest a while in the ' fridge. As Dave pointed out ribs benefit from it too. Care just needs to be taken with un cured meats, but the benefits of that surface coat of dried proteins are undeniable.
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Well, that was quick, easy and painless.  Thanks for the explanation.


And to think I didn't post this question for months because I was embarrassed to. 

Hopefully this quick thread will help another newbie somewhere find out the answer with a search.


Thanks again.  That's why we love this forum.

post #5 of 8

Dave and Boatbum have you covered on this one. Good luck and let us know how your cook goes whatever it may be.



post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks DS, MD & Bear 

This is for general future use, not immediate.  But I feel much more comfortable now, knowing some of the the answers.  I was just confused before asking.  I really screwed up a large batch of jerky awhile back, by putting it into smoke still wet.  ICK!


Follow up questions:


1.  Did I spell it right or wrong?  Pellicle?


2.  Raw, Not Cured Meats:

Other than beef, I assume you wouldn't want to leave it uncovered in fridge longer than 24 hours.  Beef is more forgiving on this, as long as your fridge is very clean, and you don't let anything drip on, or touch it, while aging/drying.

Raw Poultry probably 24 hours or less for my comfort level.  Would raw pork be same as poultry, or could you leave it 36 hours?  Right or wrong?


3.  Pellicle and penetration:

Am I to understand that a pellicle of some kind, will produce "MORE" or a smoke flavor throughout meat, or just "quicker"

And... does a pellicle make a more shallow, or thicker (or deeper) smoke ring?   My thinking is time in smoke determines the deepness of smoke ring,  That's why slow smoked meat has a good one, and hot higher temp cooked ones do not.  I know the ring does not impart any more flavor, but doesn't lower temps permit more smoke flavor deeper into the meat?  Right or wrong?


4.  Bark, & crispy skin: 

I also assume that the pellicle/drying would help in forming a bit more bark/crust.  Right or wrong?

My ribs, barring a couple of times when I cooked them too high of temp, have always had smoke ring to the bone.  A very good smoky taste,even though I was putting them on smoker wet or moist,  But not much bark.  I got some bark when not foiling at all, but not all that much.

Tasted great, but no crusting bark we all like to chew.


Thanks again for your help.  Your replies really help us folks new to the world of smoking.  I know you get tired of answering the same questions over & over, but blame that on the forum search engine.  LOL    It's not just this forum, but all forums, severely lack in search.

Or maybe I don't know how to use it correctly.

post #7 of 8
One authors thoughts on smoke penetration....

post #8 of 8

Simplified , Rub and rest :biggrin:.


The difference is amazing :icon_exclaim:


Have fun and . . .

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