Ribs - Rub turned black

Discussion in 'Pork' started by dev421, Mar 5, 2015.

  1. Hello everyone,

    I'm very new to this site. I am young and fairly new to the smoking world. I own a small CharBroil propane smoker. I've smoked ribs before to varying degrees of success before my co-worker turned me on to this site, but this was my first use of my new smoker. I decided to try the 2-2-1 to great success - by far the most tender (yet still firm) ribs I have made. In the past, it seems I was generally undercooking my ribs and these were spot on. 

    However, as I was putting my ribs into the foil pan, I noticed my rub was black. I took a picture (will add later when I get home) and continued on. After it was all done, I could taste nothing of the rub. When I tried to taste just the rub, I mostly tasted a burned/char type of taste and no sweetness. That led me to believe one of two things happened:

    1) The sugar in the rub burned

    - or -

    2) I got a lot of soot on my ribs

    I know the scorch point of brown sugar is ~ 350F, I have a Maverick ET-732 thermometer (sensor was same rack as ribs) and I was struggling just to get 225F as it was cool and rainy. My water pan was filled the entire night and there was no direct source of heat available for the ribs. I don't think I could have burned the sugar (the hottest I got through the night was 240F). 

    I'm wondering if I had way too much smoke. In the past, I've only done about 45 minutes worth of smoke but I kept it going the whole two hours. I used apple wood chips and I put a rather large handful in the bowl to start - I only had to refill once during the 2 hours of smoke time. I also fiddled a lot with my dampers early on to keep my temps up - at which I started to notice thick, white smoke. I opened them up once I hit 225F and they sat at about 25% closed (75% of the way open) the rest of the cook. I didn't achieve much TBS during my smoke so I think I used too many wood chips at a time but I think closing my damper was the main culprit. 

    Does anyone have advice on the situation? I really appreciate your insight. Thank you in advance. 
  2. frosty

    frosty Master of the Pit

    That might be the culprit.  You might need to leave the damper open as much as possible to allow the smoke to escape.  You might consider adding some insulation to help keep the temperature up.

    Something like welder's blankets will be beneficial. DON'T use normal blankets.

    Keep trying and if needed keep a little journal or notebook to remind you of what you did and if it was a success.

    Keep trying, and soon you will be teaching all of US how to do it.

    Either way, Good Luck!!!

    dev421 likes this.
  3. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    As Frosty said, you need the dampers open to get the air moving. You don't want thick smoke or stale smoke.

    How long did you run the smoker before adding the ribs? In cold weather you probably need to run it for an hour or so and get it over your set point. That way it has enough residual heat to maintain temp when you open the door and add the cold meat.
    dev421 likes this.
  4. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I have heard those smokers tend to nuke the wood pretty fast. Meaning hot raging smoky bad flavored smoke. You might try making a foil pouch for your chips and poke some holes in it for air. Or find a small cast iron pan and cover it with foil. I would just say you had an airflow/heavy smoke issue. Did they taste Bitter or numb your mouth when you tried them? I mean good bark is kind of blackish really.
    dev421 likes this.
  5. Thank you everyone for the responses. I think we're in agreement that the smoke is the culprit here and I need to work on controlling it better. 

    @Frosty: I do track my cooks but I should probably do it with some more detail. I think this is a very valuable tool for someone that truly wants to master the craft. My co-worker also has a CharBroil smoker and we've been discussing ideas to better insulate the unit. So far, we've been mostly talking about adding a gasket so that less heat/air/smoke is lost between the unit and the door. I hadn't considered blankets - do you keep them inside or outside the unit?

    @bmaddox: It had been running about 30-40 minutes before I put the ribs in. I probably should have let the smoke run a little longer before I added the meat. I only had about a 7 degree drop when I added the ribs, so it wasn't a huge effect. 

    @timberjet: I have two Mo's Smoking Pouches that I used when I smoked on my grill. They get great TBS but they only last about 20 mins and are a real pain in the ass to reuse when they're hot. I'll do an experiment run with a foil pouch today (no meat) and see if I can get a good idea to get good smoke from a pouch since I've never done it before. The bark definitely wasn't tasty. Maybe bitter was the right word - I just know I couldn't taste any of the seasonings from the rub. Whatever happened completely overpowered it. 

    The weather is looking great this weekend and I should have much better temperature control - time for a second rack of ribs. Does anyone have experience using wood chunks instead of chips in gas smokers like these? Which would you recommend? 
  6. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I used to use a gas smoker a long time ago and I preferred chunks to chips. They burn longer with better TBS. The only thing is if they will fit in there. I have not used your particular model before so I can't really give you vey specific advice. I used to use a coffee can covered with foil with chunks in it and some holes poked for air. It worked awesome and I ended up with perfect charcoal when the pieces were spent which I used in my grill. I don't know if you could rig it up like that but wow that worked great for me. I had two so when one was done I could just reload. It took some figuring to get the can positioned just right in there so it just got a little bit of the flame otherwise the whole thing would just go up in smoke. Hope this helps somewhat. I know there are other folks that have that smoker around that might be able to help you out better.
    dev421 likes this.
  7. frosty

    frosty Master of the Pit

    Welders blankets OUTSIDE the unit.  I used to wrap them as best I could and in a pinch you could just drape it over the unit until you needed to open the lid.  The "bullet" type were pretty easy to wrap.  Another idea is a portable wind break made of plywood and a couple of hinges.  They are easy, adjustable and portable.

    They work really well in the chili cook offs I do and they fold flat for instant deployment or transportation.  I have utilized both together to make a rough tent, and it works well if the wind is not terribly strong.

    As for Timber Jet's reply, I've used the 46 ounce juice can, with one end removed, and wrapped in foil it to prevent oxygen getting in. He is right it worked great!

    Keep up the good work, and you will be a pro pretty soon!!!

    dev421 likes this.

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