St Louis Rib question

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Smoke Blower
Original poster
Jun 29, 2016
Bolivar, Ohio
Hello! It's been a while since I posted. I've got a Camp Chef Pellet smoker for almost 2 years now and my son and I are loving it. I have a problem once in a while with the heat rising like crazy, but it seems manageable. Anyway, my question is about the St Louis style ribs I just smoked yesterday - from Costco (in Ohio).

We were smoking baby backs for a long time, but switched to try St. Louis style and we like them both.

My question is, the ones I bought from Costco are 'Swift' brand, vacuum sealed. When eating them last night, we all noticed there were small, white, tubes of something - I think it might be cartilage? Only maybe half inch or inch long, but very annoying. A few weeks ago, we bought St. Louis ribs at a local grocery store and they did not have these 'sticks' of white tendons, cartilage, or whatever.

I'm guessing that the butcher 'cut' for the Costco is different than the ones from the grocery store. I'm pretty sure there aren't 2 different types of pigs! (Joke). :)

Can anyone explain this?
Thanks, and it's good to be back.
The ribs are attached to the Sternum and each other, with flexible pieces of cartilage about the diameter of a cigarette or drinking straw. When St Louis Ribs are cut, the butcher is supposed to cut between this cartilage and the ribs bones. But, if rushing or inexperienced, portions of cartilage is cut through and still attached to the ribs bones. They are easy to eat around if your ribs are near FOB, and the Dogs. If you have any, go Bananas for the cartilage treat. My Three Boys, 2 Beagles and a Boxer watch me cut my spares to Make Sure I leave some cartilage attached....JJ
No two pigs are the same.
Only the Lipstick is varied.

Often, especially these days, amateurs get hired and decide to practice on stock.
Then the messed up items go into the case and sit until they are disposed of.
Recently I was talking with The Butcher at my Sam's Club. The real Butcher.
He apologetically said he didn't know who cut up the pork belly into strips and packaged it then put it in the case. We both knew it wouldn't make bacon in that messed up state.
Two days later he had some pork belly in the case, and I globbed on to two hunks. They are curing as we speak.

One night I was in the same store and wanted a Beef roast to make jerky from. I think I was looking for a Top Round Roast.
I wanted to ask if they had a whole roast that wasn't already cut up into pieces. It took an interpreter to find out they didn't have any that were not already cut into pieces.

Maybe somebody is trying to learn which side of the knife is the sharp side. Or playing with the bandsaw....
I buy swift st louis' especially the natural label quite often since aldis runs them low price. Haven't had a rack yet that doesn't have half the rib tips attached. We all actually love rib tips, but they usually don't make it to the table after I break them down for service. We call them sloppy st louis' due to the trimming.
I buy Full Racks and cut St. Louis Ribs and Tips. It is very easy to separate the meat from the cartilage. The tip meat from two racks is enough to make another meal. Char Siu marinated and into Egg Foo or a Stir Fried dish. Fajita marinated. Rib tip meat simmered in Tomato Sauce, with beef, chicken thighs and Sausage, for Sunday Gravy, is a family favorite...JJ
My question is, the ones I bought from Costco are 'Swift' brand, vacuum sealed. When eating them last night, we all noticed there were small, white, tubes of something - I think it might be cartilage?

I buy ribs from Costco all the time, and have never run into that - until this weekend. Also Swift STL's, the ribs looked normal but only had about 2 inches of bone, the rest was cartilage. All 3 racks were like this. Meat was fine, but not a great eating experience.

I've been back to Costco a bunch of times in the past 5 months since this was first posted, and see the ribs are always cut like this now - I'm not a fan. I'll just get full spares and cut them myself instead.
Don't remember the brand or where but I have seen some labeled as St. Louis style spare ribs. I'm not the most knowledgeable meat person but I thought it was either St. Louis cut or Whole spare ribs which you could cut down to St. Louis style. Maybe I'm wrong.
No, I think the term St. Louis Style spare ribs is fairly common.
So whats the difference between St. Louis Style spare ribs and Spare ribs? From what I can tell nothing. Just seems like a way to confuse people. Is there a difference?
Yes, St. Louis style are spare ribs that have had the breast bone removed.
Ohhhh. Gotcha! So the Spare ribs have the breast bone, St. Louis spares have the breast bone removed and both still have the rubbery cartilage. Whereas the St. Louis ribs will have the breast bone and cartilage removed.
No. Sorry, if I'm not explaining this well. St. Louis Ribs and St. Louis Spare Ribs are the same thing. Producers and consumers just have slightly different ways they name them. Some leave the 'spare rib' designation on, some leave it off.
Hmmm, interesting. I have bought St.Louis spares and they had the cartilage area attached and I've bought St.Louis ribs from Walmart and they had the cartilage etc. removed both were commercially packaged. Don't remember the names though. Lol, now it's just more confusing! Damn, thought I had i figured out too. Thanks bregent for trying to help.
Since a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words! Try these, borrowed from Pop's Articles. I buy Whole Slabs and cut my own. A sharp Boning Knife across the top and bottom of the cartilage gives nice Boneless Rib Tips. The Tip meat from 2 racks is enough for another meal of Pork Stir fry, Char Siu Rib Tips or other dish with thin slices pork strips...
Thanks Pops...

Whole Slab of Pork Spareribs:

St. Louis style spareribs:

Note: Very little if any Rib Tip Cartilage and Point removed.

Carolina Style spareribs:

Note: Breast Bone removed but the Rib Tips, with Cartilage, is left attached to the Rack.

Since I have never seen CAROLINA Style Ribs in the areas I have lived in, I have to think this cut may ALSO be labeled by some stores as St. Louis Ribs...JJ is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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