Ribs were disappointing - Any advice?

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big bad rog

Fire Starter
Original poster
Dec 27, 2010
So yesterday I smoked 2 racks (1 spare + 1 baby) to enjoy in time for the late game. My temp was 225 consistently in a gasser with water. Spares went in 1hr before the babies. 

Here was my problem: The bark was very tough and very chewy, even difficult to cut with a chef's knife. The truth is that we here prefer not to wrap the ribs in foil and smoke most of the way. We like to put the sauce on at the table.

Here is where I think the problem started but I can't be sure. I actually planned my smoke in advance and rubbed the ribs the day before. When they came out of the bags, before in the box, they had almost a glaze on them. Did the rub sit on them too long? Or what? Kind of dissapointing. No qview because of my mood when I felt them. Any advice would be appreciated.

If the ribs were that tough they were over done. the rub is not going to make them hard to cut..

 Sounds like the temps are higher than you think or the ribs are drying out . The foil will solve the drying problem the rest is up to you.
Hummmm i always put my rub on the night before and have never had bark so hard that i couldn't cut it??? Did you have alot of sugar and salt in your rub?it could have melted into a coating.how long did they sit in the frigde?are you sure your temps are ridht? may be higher than you think
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what eman said and how long did you cook them
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Packing house of ribs?

If I see a fiberous rib on top, I usually rub with oil prior to hitting the heat with them.
Putting the rub on probably had nothing or little to do with the ribs being dry unless the rub had considerably high salt content. Some of my best ribs have had a glaze before putting them into the cooker. As others have mentioned, foiling would have most likely remedied the issue with some liquid added.
I don't foil because I think the ribs get too tender and feel as though I am braising not smoking. There was less salt then other spices  and very little sugar on the rub. The rub was put on 24hrs before smoking. My only other concern was that it was 9 degrees outside and 225 inside, could the ribs near the vent disc been effected? Total time on was 6.5hrs for the spares, 5.5hrs for the babies. What else guys?
Like eman said maybe your chamber is to hot? Test the gauge to see if it's reading right? Next time try the bend & pull back method. Look for the pull back & if you hold one side of the ribs & the bend almost 90 they done!
Use the 2-2-1 method.  Bullet proof.  smoke for 2 hrs.  foil for 2 hrs. unfoil the last  hour. 
I have to go with most of the other guys. It seems that your chamber temp was a little high, or they were overdone.
W/ temps at 225°f and water in the pan and spritzing w/ juice , nothing short of cement should make the outside of the ribs tough. You may have had some temp spikes from all the opening and closeing of your smoker .

 Again i'd bet dollars to doughnuts that you have some sort of temp. problem .

  First make sure your probe temps are right. DO NOT trust the thermometer that comes on the smoker.

If you dont have one, get a good digital thermo.and test its calibration, Put the probe thru a half of a potatoe and leave att least 1 inch of the tip sticking out. Set the potatoe on the grate next to the ribs or meat that you are smoking . This should give you the true temp.that you are smoking at.

 I bet you will find that it's alot hotter than what you are reading now.
I did the hourly mist with apple juice. Maybe it was the sugars with the juice?
Misting with fruit juice as often as you did will create a tough, hard candy like skin on the ribs. I know this because I've done it before by spraying cranberry juice too often on ribs about 3 years ago.

IMHO you have it figured out.
Not sure why, but the cold weather can make a huge difference.  I had 4 briskets on a wood burner that I had used 50 times before.  Put in my wood and got it going and left it just how I always did as far as air/damper, amount of wood, stack etc.  I went back about 2 hours later to check on them; the temp was pegged at 500 and the briskets were burned...I mean black char burned about an inch deep and all the wood was gone.  I just assumed it had something to do with the cold and somehow way more air got pulled in and burned up the wood, and so on & so on. 
Well.... I guess I'll be back at it soon.

I'll definately check the temp, although I keep an analog oven thermometer inside and a second digital probe in a wood block.

I'll skip the juice and try a short foil wrap.

Thanks for all the insight and advice guys, much appreciated,

I would have loved to see the qview on this one.  That may have helped with the trouble shooting process as well.  It sounds like everyone has thrown some good advice your way as you have assessed the situation up as well.  I hope your next smoke is more pleasing for you & we really would love to see the qview on the next one.

Good luck.
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