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Original poster
Jan 22, 2017
I know a little bit about pellicle. I was hoping some of the more seasoned smokers and restauranteurs could give me the low down.
I'm pretty sure when trying to achieve a pellicle on ribs or briskets you put salt on them and allow to sit in fridge for a few hrs? This draws moisture out and seals the outer layer with proteins if I'm correct? Allowing smoke to penetrate further and deeper into the meat itself? I've always put my rub on and let it sit in fridge a few hrs to overnight and it either dries or if it's quicker it forms a wet moisture drawn appearance to it. I've usually thrown them on the smoker without wiping them dry with paper towels...However I'm hearing that's a good way to get acrid creasote tasting smoke to it. Can you guys explain to me the scientific definition of pellicle and why it does what it does? How this makes for the best flavor and smoke enhancer? I just want to know I'm doing it right or wrong. And how to fix my errors or at least the things I'm thinking I know. Thanks in advance
This note about sausage is fairly applicable to meats...

 Stuffed sausages that are subject to smoking follow a drying procedure which can last from 0.5-2 hrs at 68-86° F (20-30° C). The time depends on the diameter of the sausage and the amount of moisture it contains. This simple process dries out the surface of the casing so it can acquire smoke better and develop the proper smoking color. This drying process is often performed inside the smoker and lasts about 1 hr (no smoke applied) at 40-54°C (104-130°F) until the casings feel dry. Leave draft controls or the top of your smoker fully open. If natural wood is used for fuel, enough wood must be burned to produce sufficient amounts of hot embers that would be releasing heat without creating smoke to dry out the casings. Preheating a smoker to eliminate the humidity inside is a must step for the smoking process that follows.


In my experience, a pellicle can be formed in a smoker at 120 ish in an hour or so with lots of air flow.... or in front of a fan on a wire rack at room temp, once the meat has warmed up to room temp..... Meat that is refer temp, will form condensate which dissolves the water soluble protein based pellicle or at least, makes it difficult to form...... There are no health concerns leaving meat out at room temperature, once cured, for several hours or even a day to form a pellicle... Meat that has been cured and then cold smoked, will often sit at temps in the 50-70 degree range for weeks with no ill effects....

Culinary Institute of America... ...

Pellicle formation

Before cured foods are smoked, they should be allowed to air-dry long enough to form a tacky skin, known as a pellicle. The pellicle plays a key role in producing excellent smoked items. It acts as a kind of protective barrier for the food, and also plays an important role in capturing the smoke’s flavor and color.

Most foods can be properly dried by placing them on racks or by hanging them on hooks or sticks. It is important that air be able to flow around all sides. They should be air-dried uncovered, in the refrigerator or a cool room. To encourage pellicle formation, you can place the foods so that a fan blows air over them. The exterior of the item must be sufficiently dry if the smoke is to adhere.

As noted in the pictorials below from Marianski, cold smoke penetrates farther into cool meat than hot smoking.... So, cold smoked products will "appear" to have less smoke... In my experience here also, the flavor is deep into the meat and a rich depth of flavor not experienced when smoke is applied hot...

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I appreciate the information and time and effort you applied to your response. Thank you my friend. I will try to leave my ribs and brisket out in front of a fan, I usually throw a little salt on them and put in fridge, but I don't think it's what I'm looking for. The formulas got to be right, I need killer ribs and brisket not just good or great. [emoji]128077[/emoji] is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.