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Keep smoking?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'm pretty new to smoking and have a question. I have a vertical water smoker and use a mix of lump charcoal and wood chunks. Last weekend I monitored my temp very closely and it was at about 230-240 the whole time, however my ribs reached internal done temp well before most people say it should reach that temp ( 2 hours). Should I lower the temp a little? Also they were a little tough. when the internal temp has reached doneness should i leave them on or do I have to take them off? Just trying to make the perfect tenderness. The cooking temp is taken from exactly under the meat level in the smoker. Thanks for your help in advance.
post #2 of 12
Ive never even attempted to monitor the meat temp when making ribs. I use the 2.5-2-1 method and I try to smoke around 240 ish..
Tough ribs mean they didn't cook slow enough. Did you foil at all?
The 2-2-1 method is 2 hours unfoiled, 2 foiled, and one un foiled. You can add in some liquid or sauce when you foil em and apply sauce on the last hour if ya want...
post #3 of 12
From what I have been learning on here there is no need to monitor the temperature. You just need to follow one of these cooking methods.

3-2-1 Method of Smoking Spare Ribs - 3 hours smoked - 2 hours wrapped - 1 final hour unwrapped
2-2-1 Method of Smoking Baby Backs - 2 hours smoked - 2 hours wrapped - 1 final hour unwrapped
post #4 of 12

Whole lot of things

There are a whole lot of things that can influence "tough ribs"

1. quality of meat

2. did you remove the membrane?

3. Are you using a tested thermometer on your smoker? (stock ones are junk)

4. I think its hard to test internal temp of ribs, I always judge doneness by the amount of pullback. Pull back is the amount of bone that is exposed after a certain abound to time. I think it usually is about 1/4 inch anything more they tend to fall apart.

5. Did you use any rubs and spritzes?

Some folks use a "bend method" someone will be along to describe that.

Read up on the 3-2-1 method do it by the book the first time and adjust to your likings after that.

I tend to spritz mine every 30 min when it is not foiled .

Good luck
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 


didn't use foil but reading around sounds like maybe i should try that. i will not check the temp and do what is suggested. so in follow-up once it has reached the appropriate doneness it should be removed correct? leaving it on longer will not make it more tender?
post #6 of 12
Ribs are about the most "by feel" piece of meat most people smoke. There is not a good place to get a therm into the meat without hitting a bone or going to far into or through the meat. For baby back ribs most racks run approx. 5 hrs., for spare ribs and St. Louis cut ribs more like 6 hrs.

As Nickelmore said make sure you test the thermometer in boiling water. The factory thermometers installed in most smokers can be off by as much as 75 degrees!

OK... once your ribs are on the smoker leave them alone for 2 hrs. - no peeking! After 2 hrs. take a look and check for pull back, you want to see about 1/4" of pull back (meat pulling back from the cut end of bones). If you have 1/4" of pull back you are ready to foil, if you are foiling. If you are not foiling give them a light spritz of apple juice or whatever.

Wait another 1.5 hrs., if you have foiled them take out of foil and put back on grill of smoker. If you like to sauce your ribs now is the time I like to do it. If you didn't foil then just add sauce or spritz again.

Wait about 1 more hour then check for doneness. I use two methods to check. The bend test - pick up a slab of ribs with tongs about 1/3 of the way from the thicker end and hold level and elevated above grill, if they are done and tender you will see the strands of meat start to seperate right where the ribs bend downward. The other thing I do sometimes is to cut a bone of the end, it should but very easy and cleanly - plus this makes for a nice "cook snack". biggrin.gif

These are some basic guidlines. Since everybody's smoker runs differant, and every piece of meat is differant you have to adjust times a tad based upon what you see and feel. Once you get a good feel for ribs they are easy to do, and you will be the BBQ champ in the eyes of friends and family! icon_cool.gif
post #7 of 12
There are a lot of factors. The 3-2-1 and 2-2-1 methods really do work. I dont pay attention to anything other than the finished product. It will be trial and error. The exact times will not work for everyone. For instance I have found on my MES at 235° that 2-1.5-1 works perfect for me with spares and 2-1-1 for babies. This gives me ribs that dont fall apart, but come off the bone clean. You will also find experimenting with putting juice or honey, or butter in with the foil, or nothing at all works for you. Personally I find a light spritz at the foil, and then a few brushes of sauce during the last hour gives me what my family likes. The experiments are part of the fun, and create more excuses to smoke.
post #8 of 12
If you would can you stop into Roll Call and introduce yourself and your equipment and we can give you the welcome we like to. Now for your problem we smoke ribs by time not temp and they will turn out good believe us this time.
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 


these all sound like great tips. i just started 2 weeks ago and everyone was happy with the product but i think they were being nice because it wasn't as tender as i wanted. i'm going to try some of the things suggested and see what happens. i'll find the roll call and get on board with you all. i'll report back so you can get me started right from the beginning. Thanks again. this is a lot better than all of the googling i was doing.
post #10 of 12
Everyone has given you good advise. For spares I usually figure on 6 hours at 230 degrees. I check for the pull back and do the bend test. I typically only foil after my ribs are done and they are resting.
This is a great place, ask a bunch of questions and read, read, read.
post #11 of 12
Have you signed up for the free 5 day ecourse?

The temp might get to where it needs by 2 hours but the reason you some it longer is to let the connective tissues break down. This makes it tender. When you dont give it the time it needs it will be tough.
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 


So i did 2-2-1 (although i took off after almost 40 minutes on the last 1) and it worked out very well. I smoked four racks and wrapped all but 1 just for a control. Of course that was the one that didn't turn out even thought I kept spraying it. everything else was super tender. The smallest bones were the most super tender, i'm guessing that means if we like them really tender they could have stayed on even longer. The reason i took them off is because after about 30 minutes I went to put on more SOP and they seemed to be losing their softness. Overall they were awesome for us, although I know they weren't perfect. Thanks for the tips can't wait to go again next weekend. I'll look at the ecourses if everyone thinks that will help get me some more pointers. Thanks all.
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