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Odd issue with ribs...

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hello all, first post I have made on this forum but have popped in over time and read many posts.


The last batch of ribs I cooked gave me a problem I have never had before. I have been cooking them for years and never ruined a single rack untill last week, i ruined 8 racks at once.   Same cooker, same rubs, same technique but the only difference was charcoal and temp.


In the past I have always used Kingsford hickory or regular with hickory blended in and consistently ran my cooker ( a brinkman crossroads trailer) at about 175 to 185 degrees.  Since I bought a pallet of that charcoal and used it till gone. With that charcoal I easily could maintain my temps consistently between 150 and 185 ... anything hotter I would have to load the box up to get over 200 and keep feeding it .. with 240 is being the highest i could reasonably reach.   Well, the pallet runeth out ... So i grabbed a few bags of royal oak and a whole new world of BBQ opened up.


With the royal oak, I can easily maintain 225-300 degrees with the same cooker but have trouble getting down below 200 and holding.

Everything tasted better with the royal oak and I had been cooking lots of pork loin, deer and chicken with it and its amazing. So on to the ribs...


I threw 8 racks in, normal prep, the same as I have done for years.  On these forums it seames like everyone cooks them hotter than I always did, 225-275 was the range people seam to be using. I always did 175 average and would cook 8 to 12 hours as needed. Never had a rack that was not amazing, fall off the bone, tender, juicy and people fight over them.    With the new charcoal not being stable at low temps I cooked these at a solid average of 245.  I ran them till the bones started popping out (as i always do) then put them in foil with some liquids (as always).  After checking on them a few times till they got to where the bones were all sticking out where i normall pull them, about 1/4 to 3/8" i found that the bones were SOFT and would break easily and you could bite right though them.


At the higher temp, do you need to foil them before the meat starts to pull away from the bones ... like i do at 175?  I am going to build an adjustable baffle to help regulate the heat better in my box, and If i am not in a hurry I will continue to do them at 175 like always, but I would like to be able to cut the time down sometimes with the higher temp.    


Has anyone else run into this issue with the bones getting soft?  The meat was a little dry on the thinner end of the rack, but still very edible.  Since they were hard to head with the bones soft I pulled all the meat and made rib sandwiches, it wasnt a total loss but I do not want this to happen again!  

Any thought are appriciated!



post #2 of 7

Nope never heard of such a thing. Most folks around this site use the 3-2-1 method. 3 hours in the smoker, 2 hours foiled, 1 hour or so out of foil to firm up a little bit. Great ribs every time. Now that is for meaty ribs like loin backs or spares. 2-2-1 for baby backs. I have never seen a rib bone I could bite through.

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

I have never had it happen before....

Every rack is a little different as far as % of fat and meat... If i do 10 racks at once I usually foil them at different times, they all seam to be "ready" for foil at slightly different rates. at the lower temps it tends to be 5 or 6 hours before I foil, then a few in the foil and one hour to make a nice bark. I realize higher temp will be shorter time, but will the bone start sticking out at the higher temp before they need to go in foil or is it simply "at 3 hours foil them" at the higher temp?

post #4 of 7

It's just a rule of thumb we use. I actually do the same as you and adjust the times to the ribs. Like the last ones I did were 2.5 hours then foil for 2 and out of foil for a half hour. They are all different as you know. I wonder if they were just some weird ribs. I have seen people get soft bones from boiling but never from smoking or foiling.

post #5 of 7

Also are you using your lid therm to check your smoking chamber temps or a calibrated probe therm.? Stock OEM therms can be way off - sometimes by as much as 75+ degrees. So you may have been cooking hotter than you realized.


For me I smoke ribs at 250-275 unfoiled the entire time. Usually takes 5-6 hrs. to have them bite tender, where the meat pulls from the bone with each bite, but not falling apart. 8-12 hours is way to long for ribs especially if you foil them. I use the bend test to check when mine are done - around the 5 hr. mark I grab a rack of ribs about 1/4 to 1/3 from the wide end with a pair of tongs, then lift the rack straight up till the bottom is no longer touching the grates. If the rack bends a full 90° easily and points straight down your done, if not keep going another hour or so - you will also see the meat fibers starting to pull apart on top of the bent portion when you lift them up.

post #6 of 7

I often cook ribs at very high temps...like 450-600. Plus degrees naked  and have no issues. Just don't over analyze ribs or complicate them would be my advice. With regards to soft bones the ( brisket )bones or tips  are soft bones and some can bite right through.


Some enhanced ribs can be super soft also. 

post #7 of 7

I don't have a clue about the soft bones. Maybe just that pig problem. But 175 degrees for 8-12 hours....WOW! too long for me. Glad you get great results though.

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