Here are basic hints and a few suggestions when using your own dry rub or making your own custom blends for beef and pork. 

Dry Rub Marination on Beef

Trim, cut and rub your beef first, then re-bag or cover in a bowl for good marination. Key marination time for me, is 24 to 48 hours in the refrigerator prior to grilling. For a lighter taste, or if you don't plan your meals that far ahead, twelve hours may suffice. The idea here is that the longer you marinate, the more flavor your beef will have.  If you are used to a 12 hour marination, try it for 36 to 48 hours and note the difference.  You may never go back to a 12 hour marination again!

Dry Rub Marination on Pork Is Great, But Beware the Salty Spiral Ham

A lot of grillmasters stick to their own blends and use it as a versatile rub on all types of meats, but beware the salted ham! Most of the dry rub for beefs go great with pork loin, pork butt or other cuts.  A big lesson I learned is when grilling with spiral hams or boneless hams, (or even luncheon loaf type butts) is that you must check to see if it's salted.  The problem is, a salty dry rub on a salty ham will send you into sodium overload, and quite frankly, taste horrible. In other words, you, your family or your customers will be dying of thirst after eating this. This is why either using unsalted or low-salt may be key, or simply have a custom blend for salted hams.

Tips for Dry Rub Custom Blends for Salty Ham Shanks vs Everything Else

If your custom blended dry rub contains a lot of salts in it, the solution for using this same custom blend dry rub with salted hams is to duplicate your recipe but cut all the salts in half (or even one quarter if you have sodium issues). Do this in small batch quantity and label this expressly for "salted shanks." I suggest one half the regular salt content since some salted hams are "lower sodium".  This way, your dry rub will work perfectly against the salts in the ham.  

TIP:  We almost always seal our rub into a ham with a layer of Maple Syrup or Honey. If you are fresh out, try a light layer of Pancake Syrup.

Dry Rubs: A Grilling Fool's Best Friend  Photo Credit: Author
Custom Blend Recipes

Many of us experiment with our dry rubs to no end. That's the fun part of grilling. Even if you are just throwing some spices and salts together, write it down! If you hit that golden note you will want to remember it, and trust me, when you are throwing a dash of this and a pinch of that you will tend to forget.  Have your spouse or pit crew buddy  write down everything you are throwing in. Anything written down is better than nothing. If you aren't a fan of the outcome, toss it out.

Anti Caking Agents, Friend or Foe?

It's not secret that a lot of dry rub containing sugars, salts, or garlic salt will start to cake up.  Most of us don't mind pressing out or uncrumpling some wads, but what if you are tired of this ? If you are giving some to friends, family, or co-workers would you want them to have clumpy spices? Anti-Caking agents are available to add to your custom blends. There are pros and cons of doing so.

The pros are :
  • No clumps!
  • You can make your custom blend in larger quantities and not have to worry about smaller batching.
The cons are:
  • Some contain gluten and can be an allergen to friends, family,or customers.
  • Confusion: there are plenty of them for spice use and so which one do you choose?
  • Using and finding the right amount, they claim less than 2% of your batch should be anti-caking agent.
  • Cost: Although anti-caking agents are inexpensive on a small scale the cost would still add up. Since only a small amount is used in a spice shaker, it would take you forever to go through a nice sized bag of anti-caking agent. 
When using an anti-caking agent we suggest you talk to other BBQ gurus who use them, to find out how much they use and what kind.

Dry Rub Marination Experiments and Tips

Remember the dry rub is the catalyst, but not the only thing you can do with your meat. Experimentation with other components on top of Dry Rub key.