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Smoke Blower
Original poster
Aug 30, 2007
So I make my first foray with the new propane smoker. I folowed all the rules: Kept temp right at 225 degrees, used a good dry rub, kept water pan full.

And after 5 1/2 hours my spare ribs were -- awful. Not even close to being tender.

So the question is: What did I do wrong? Do spare ribs take more that about 5 hours at 225?

Help please.
Well, here are a few questions to you that will make it easier for us to answer.
1. What type or brand name smoker are you using? How did you set the vents to control airflow? (Sorry, thats 2 questions)

2. Did you use the 3-2-1 method for your ribs, or were they in the smoker naked the whole time?

3. Did you spray or baste your ribs with anything?

4. Were you using the built in or stock thermo that came with your smoker?

5. How did they taste?

That's a lot of questions. Each item will affect the finished product. I find that spareribs take about 6 hours. Please don't run away because I asked questions. These are things I struggled with when I first started smoking.

Oh BTW, Welcome to SMF! Keep asking questions. We'll try to make answer!!

Take care, have fun, and do good!


How confident are you that the 225 reading was accurate? After 5 1/2 hours they should have been close, if not done, at 225.

How close is the thermometer to the rack where the ribs were? You want it close as possible. If it is located correctly, you may want to pull it off and test it with boiling water to make sure it reads around 212.

Could be other factors, but that is the first thing that comes to mind.
That isn't a silly question since the first two rib racks I did had the membrane on them! I wondered why they were so tough to chew!
Awful could be to much smoke too. Was it bitter and nasty or just not done?

BTW why don't you head to Roll Call and introduce yourself so we can greet you properly?
#1) You probably don't want to close off the vent on the top. It is best for the smoke to touch the meat and go on about it's way. Try to control your temp via the knob.

#2) Naked is fine, just a little harder to finish correctly. You will probably get the desired results easier with the 3-2-1 method. Give it a try on the next smoke.

#3) It's good to spray, spritz, or baste - you did good, you might go for once an hour though, but that's your choice.

#4) You didn't answer this one... Don't ever trust the built in thermometers on the door. They can be off by 30º or more. Which may have been your problem. If the temp was lower than you believed it to be, the ribs would take longer to cook and make them tough. Not to mention the lower temp makes it easier for creosote build up on your food.

#5) Next time use the same rub and use the water pan, just try the 3-2-1 method and make sure the temp at the grate is correct with a probe stuck through a potato.

#6) Report back and let us know how they come out
As PigCicles said, leave the top vent open. Without enough airflow, the food will taste like creosote. Check your thermo with another one, most stock thermos are not real accurate.

A quick 3-2-1 primer. First 3 hours, ribs in the smoker with smoke being produced, spraying each hour. Next 2 hours, ribs wrapped in aluminum foil packets with some of the liquid you used to spray added to the packets. The ribs "braise" for that 2 hours, making them tender. The last 1 hour ribs out of foil, in smoker with smoke, add BBQ sauce the last 30 minutes if desired. Saucing earlier will allow the sugars in the sauce to burn.

I prefer a 3 to 1 mix of apple juice and Captain Morgan's Original spiced rum for the spray and liquid in the pouches. Others use apple juice and bourbon, others use straight apple juice or even pineapple juice. You will find your personal preference after a little experimentation.

Also be sure to remove the membrane from the bone side of the ribs, as it prevents smoke and flavor from penetrating both sides, and it is very tough to chew.

Hope this helps!! Keep trying, and keep asking questions!!

Take care, have fun, and do good!


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