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Help! I need to understand the mechanics for a tender and moist meat in a UDS.


Joined Jul 12, 2013
Hi all,

I made my second smoking session with a poor tenderness result.

Please can you tell me how do you achieve tenderness?

Some info about how I did my smoking:

[if !supportLists]

[if !supportLists]1.      [endif]Smoked the first three hours with 190 and then with 200 F.

[if !supportLists]2.      [endif]I live above sea level; at this height level water boils at 197.6 F

[if !supportLists]3.      [endif]Without a water or drip pan.

[if !supportLists]4.      [endif]I did not use a heat diffuser.

[if !supportLists]5.      [endif]I sprayed the meat with pineapple juice every hour.

[if !supportLists]6.      [endif]I did not use foil.

[if !supportLists]7.      [endif]I have problems with local butchers to find evenly cut ribs.

The result was:




Joined Jul 12, 2013
I want to add more info about my issue with tenderness. While researching the internet I found that my problem with tenderness is related to the fact I am smoking at 8530 foot high.

A quote from http://www.fsis.usda.gov explaining the problem…

“As atmospheric pressure decreases, water boils at lower temperatures. At sea level, water boils at 212 °F. With each 500-feet increase in elevation, the boiling point of water is lowered by just under 1 °F. At 7,500 feet, for example, water boils at about 198 °F. Because water boils at a lower temperature at higher elevations, foods that are prepared by boiling or simmering will cook at a lower temperature, and it will take longer to cook.

High altitude areas are also prone to low humidity, which can cause the moisture in foods to evaporate more quickly during cooking. Covering foods during cooking will help retain moisture.”

I will have to play with temperature and I will use a water pan and/or foil until I get a moister and tender meat. Later I will post the results

For more information about this you can read:

Cooking at high altitude by Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA)

Have a great week.

Last edited:


Sausage maker
Staff member
OTBS Member
Group Lead
Joined Apr 28, 2010
water pan and some foiling will definately help you out here.... still looks good....Nice carmelization on the meat
Last edited:


Joined Oct 28, 2013
A water pan will help you retain the moisture throughout the cooking process and help with smoke penetration especially at that level. Foil can help some but the steam created inside tends to wash off some of your rub coating if you use a rub. I would take it one step at a time and always use foil to wrap your meat when you take it off your smoker and give it about 20 minutes to relax before you cut in to it anywhere if not you will lose a lot of your delicious juice to your cutting board and your meat will dry up quickly and the dryer meat will seem tougher. But dude was right on the color on your meat, great color.


Joined Jul 12, 2013
Thanks for the information, next I will do it with a water pan to keep the meat moisture. 

I loved the wood and meat flavor but I wanted it more juicy and tender. 

Happy week!



Smoke Blower
Joined Aug 18, 2013
Personally, I don't think there is much moisture to be gained from the water pan.  It is a source of some debate, but from my reading, I came to the initial conclusion that it wouldn't help.  I then have tried smoking pork butts both with and without a water pan, keeping all else as constant as I could, and didn't notice any appreciable difference in anything other than lowering pit temps.  The one change I have tried that did result in additional moisture was wrapping.  The couple of times that I have foiled en route to reaching the probe tender mark, I have had very, very moist pulled pork.  One time, I got the wrap done at the right time in terms of getting the bark where I wanted it.  The second time I was a little early and didn't get the bark I wanted.  Both times, though, the pork was more moist than any previous cook.  Unwrapped results (for me) in a very firm, dark bark while being moist, but just a little less so than wrapped.  Wrapped (for me) results in more moisture, while having a slightly lighter and less firm bark (though still a good "shell").  I think I can do even better getting the best of both worlds with either method with a little practice.  

I'd say wrap the shoulder when the bark gets to a color and firmness that you like.  Then continue cooking until you get it probe tender.

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