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Discussion in 'Pork' started by joann mantych, Nov 7, 2010.

  1. This should be so simple but I screw up ribs almost every time.

    I still cannot do ribs!!!

    My hubby is getting dissapointed with me on this. HELP!. I have a Smokin Tex smoker. I have used various woods. Currently I am using the smoking pellets and used the hickory pellets on the last ribs. I used about 2 to 3 oz of pellets. I did not put a rub on them, just salt and pepper and a touch of accent. I set the tamp at 220. I smoked the ribs for 1 hour, then transfered them to a pan and covered with foil and put back into the smoker for two more hours. ( with a little more water added for moisture) The meat was over smoked with that bitter taste and chewy "bark". The meat was chewy and somewhat dry. Please help me. I really need some guidence.
  2. bonedadddy

    bonedadddy Smoke Blower

    Hmmm...I havent used that type of smoker before, but usually you will get that bitter taste if there is creosote built up in the smoker (I will let the experts comment on this too...I may be off on my idea here!)

    I usually let the ribs smoke for 2-3 hours before I foil them....search for the 3-2-1 method on this site...

    Please dont give up though...ribs are cheap enough that you should be able to experiment with the amount of pellets. I know a lot of guys on this site will smoke small single serving pieces of meat...trying different things...before they spend a ton of money on meat and have it turn out bad.

    But check to see that you dont have too much buildup of black goop on the walls...and clean that out if you do. That will give you the bitter taste.

    I will let someone else post, who has used that type of smoker too...as I said before, I may be off here.

    Good luck...you have come to the right place...these guys have all the answers!!!
  3. Need more info Jo! What kind of ribs are you working with? The biggest thing you are doing is not cooking them for long enough. If they are babybacks they need about 5 hrs and spares are gonna need 6. Look up the 2-2-1 method on the forums for babybacks or 3-2-1 for spares. Follow these methods and you will get much better ribs. Don't get frustrated, you'll get it.

  4. Welcome. You'll get some good advice here, not necessarily from me. [​IMG]

    I'm not familiar with your smoker but, what kind of ribs? Three hours isn't enough time for baby backs or spares, not sure about beef. Usually it's 2 on the grill, 2 in foil and 1 on the grill for BB and the same for spares except it's 3 on the grill, 225 to 240.

    Tell hubby, Lighten up Francis! [​IMG]  Once you get them right, he'll be quiet.
  5. bonedadddy

    bonedadddy Smoke Blower

    HAH...I love the Lighten Up Francis!!!! (and I agree!!!) 

    Don't order the Schnitzel, they're using Schnauzer. 
  6. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    First off Welcome Jam to SMF. The first thing that you need to do is take the E-course and then try to smoke your ribs. You need to run your smoker at maybe 230°ish and then use the 3-2-1 method or the 2-2-1 method depending on what rib you are smoking spares, or Baby backs. You'll like it here for there are alot of really good folks here that would just love to help you with just about anything to do with smoking. Now there are alot of proven recipes for some amazing things here too. So the next big thing for you to do is go out and get you something to smoke and if you happen to have any questions just post it here and we will be happy to answer them for you.

    Welcome To Your New Addiction        
  7. meateater

    meateater Legendary Pitmaster SMF Premier Member

    I had to google your smoker to see what it was. One question? Do you have the vent wide open? It sounds like you may be building up to much smoke. What you want is just whisps of smoke coming out of the smoker not thick white smoke. One option is to contact TJohnson a member here and get yourself a A-Maze-N smoker, alot of watt burners here like them in the smokers.
  8. TulsaJeff

    TulsaJeff Smoke Whisperer Staff Member Administrator OTBS Member


    Anytime I hear of bitter tasting meat of any kind, I can almost always chalk it up to 1 or 2 single problems..
    1. Using wood that is green (wood should be dried for 4-6 months for best results)
    2. Smoker is not getting enough airflow.. i.e. vents are closed off and air is not getting into and out of the smoker properly.
    You say you are using pellets which should not be giving you bitter tasting meat. The only other option is that the smoker is not getting enough airflow. I went and took a quick look at the smokers on the Smokin Tex website. I don't know which model you have but it looks like they all have a drain hole on the bottom and a vent at the top. I don't see any other venting.

    Be sure to keep the drain hole open at all time.. completely open. The vent at the top should be completely open as well until you get a little practice and success under your belt. This should give you enough positive airflow through the smoker so that the air will be drawn in, mix with the smoke then exit out the top.

    With time you may opt to close the top vent slightly to increase the smoke flavor on the meat.

    You might also try using wood chips instead of pellets. Use them dry and try some milder woods such as cherry, apple, pecan, etc.. Replace the wood chips/pellets with fresh ones once the smoke stops and keep up the smoking process for about half of the cook time for best results however, if your smoke is right and the airflow is right, theoretically speaking, you should be able to keep it going the entire time with no bitterness or "over-smoked" taste.

    As others have already said, 3 hours is just not enough time to produce any kind of tender ribs at 220 degrees F. Ribs are not smoked to temperature or time in most cases. We estimate but ultimately, they are done when they reach that perfect level of tenderness. Foil helps tremendously with that process. A very common practice around here is the 3-2-1 method for spare ribs or 2-2-1 method for baby backs as outlined below:
    Baby Backs (hours)Spare Ribs (hours)Process Instructions
    23Hours on the grate, no foil, smoke is going
    22Hours wrapped in foil, 1/4 cup of apple juice in foil, no smoke needed
    11Final hour unwrapped and back on the grate, smoke is optional.

    Be sure to remove the membrane from the ribs before they go on the smoker and you should be good to go. The covered pan you mentioned could easily work in lieu of the foil wrap in the 3-2-1 process just be sure to use a little apple juice or other liquid at the bottom of the pan.

    To make sure they are done to your liking, grab a couple of bone ends and pull them apart in opposite directions. Use this to judge the tenderness of the meat and if you like how they look then it's time to eat.

    You can always use my own personal method too.. I just slice off one of the ribs and give it a real "chew" test for tenderness. My wife to this day still thinks there are only 12 bones (and sometimes 11) in a rack of spare ribs[​IMG]

    Let us know if you have further questions..
  9. Thank you to everyone for your response. All came up with several good ideas.

    1. Yes, the vent hole could have been blocked. I remember setting something on it and removing it much later.

    2. Now that someone mentioned it, it has been a while since I cleaned it. Every once in a while the thing has a big POOF sound, as if there was some spontianous combustion occurring. Will do so tomorrow before we shut down the water system for the winter. It will be around 23 degrees night by Thursday.

    3. Change to chunks of wood or wait until I can buy some fruit wood. Otherwise it will be hickory.

    4. change the temperature to recommended.

    5. Follow the 3-2-1 or 2-2-1, depending on the ribs.

    Any other instructions or thoughts will be really appreciated.

    I really wish to become a master of this craft as when it is good, it is so very good. And it is great for the low carb diet.


  10. dforbes

    dforbes Meat Mopper

    I agree with all of the advice that was givin here. I would like to add that there are a lot of woods, such as cherry, apple, pecan,ect, that are a lot more forgiving than hickory. It is my experiance that a little hickory can add a lot of smoke flavor. To much can make the bitter flavor you speak of.. I like a mixture of woods when I smoke. I think Jeff hit the nail on the head when he said you are not getting enough airflow. Also low and slow is the way to go.
  11. thebarbequeen

    thebarbequeen Smoking Fanatic

    Good Luck JoAnn!  You are on your way to AWESOME ribs your next time out!  I use an electric, and often use chips.  If you're smoker isn't full, you may rarely need more than 2 oz. even of fruit woods.   Keep looking around the forum - you'll find all the help you need, and great, supoortive folks. 
  12. SmokinAl

    SmokinAl SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    To foil or not foil is a personal preference. I think the ribs are just as juicy without the foil. You have to smoke them for 5 or 6 hours either way. Remember you just want to see light smoke or no smoke just smoke smell coming out of the top vent.
  13. richoso1

    richoso1 Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    By golly, I think your next smoke is going to be the bomb! You've got all the right information, so you should have a great smoke next time around. It's all good my friend.
  14. bonedadddy

    bonedadddy Smoke Blower

    Wow...with all that great advice!!! Your next smoke should be right on track!!! We would love to hear about it!!! and post some pics of your accomplishments too...nothing like making all of us hungry with your cooking!

    Good luck...and come back often! I learn things on this site every time I am reading posts!

    And I forgot to say Welcome!!! :-)  
  15. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    When you said you get that poof sound every now and then ,That tells me right there that there is no where near enough air flow inside your smoker.

     What is happening is the smoke (gasses) are building up inside your smoker and once they reach a certain level they are igniting.(POOF)

    This could also cause the bitter taste as stale smoke is staying in the smoker.

     I can make my MES do this same thing by closing the top vent after the temp reachs 230. adding chips to the tray. let it fill up w/ smoke and just crack open the chip loader. Lets just enough air into the unit to cause a mini explosion.
  16. fisherman

    fisherman Newbie

    Hello all, this is my first post.  Been lurking here for about 5 years.
    Jam - I also have the smokin tex smoker and have experienced some of the same problems.  Foiling the wood will solve the bitterness problem, place all the wood in a foil packet and poke about 6 holes in the top of the foil with a knife.  I use about 2 to 3 2x2inch chunks of wood, use northerners use apple for ribs.  You should also preheat the smoker till a steady stream of smoke is coming out the vent hole (about 15 minutes).  I smoke ribs at 225°F.
    BBQing babybacks in this smoker is very easy.  First clean ribs, remove or score silver skin, slather with yellow muster and add rub. Place in smoker for 3 hours then exchange racks, top to bottom, bottom to top.  Smoke about 3 more hours and your done.  No need to foil or sprits, they will be moist.
  17. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    One other thing to double check. Put a good oven thermometer on your grates and check that against the setting on your electronic temp. controller. Just because you set it to 200° doesn't mean you are getting 200°, a lot of factory thermometers and temp. controllers can be off by quite a large margin. Other than that you got some great advice from everybody else. Good luck! [​IMG]
  18. fisherman

    fisherman Newbie

    I tried measuring internal temperature some time ago.  The Smokin Tex temperature controller hysteresis is terrible, the internal temp when set to 225° will swing from (if I remember correctly) ~180° to 270° continuously.[​IMG]

    It’s probably best to just trust the dial indicator.

    Winter project is to add an Auber digital PID temperature control, should help???
  19. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Ouch! That is really bad temp swing over 100°!! I would consider changing to a differant smoker if that one is that poor at maintaining a constant temp. It will be really, really hard to turn out any kind of decent Que if you can't run a fairly consistant temp. over a long period of time. Not saying it can't be done, but will definately take a lot of work. Smokin Tex should be embarrased of selling that thing... lol.

    I know that isn't the most helpfull of suggestions, but I learned long ago you can keep tossing $$ at a lemon all day long, and at the end of the day it's still a lemon. Sometimes best to cut your losses, say lesson learned, and move on.
  20. Hi Jeff,

        Well, I have been doing some work with the smoking problems. I thoroughly cleaned the smoker and yes, it was dirty. I made sure the air holes (one on the bottom, one on the top) were clear. I lined the smoker with foil and made sure the hole was clear. I used pork brisket bones (a cheap cut of pork to work on the smoking problem.) I used a Taylor digital probe theomometer to monitor the heat in the smoker. I spaced the probe off the top for air circulation.

    First ribs.

        I used a rub on them, an Ereita berebere spice mix.

        I set the temp at 225 degrees.

        I placed 5 oz of hickory in the smokers, "house".

        I monitored the temperature of the smoke coming out of the smoker, checking it every 10 minutes or so.  

          The temperature climbed over 260 with no indication it would turn off any time soon. I turned it off and let it cool down. I had to monitor closly until suddenly, it started preforming more consistantly. I followed your 2-2-1 method. The meat was dry and the surface was tough.

        I came to the conclusion that there was a problem with the theromostat in the Smokin tex itself and did some research on modifications for a more consistant regulator. Will follow that through more later but I did get some good information.