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Rib Membrane

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Post Wed Jun 16, 2004 1:58 pm
Rob96 rare

Posts: 16
Location: Allentown, PA
I know you are suppose to pull the membrane off the back of the ribs. But.......What happens if you don't before you grill them?

Post Wed Jun 16, 2004 2:20 pm
Wolfpackbbq well done
well done

Posts: 2671
Location: San Ramon, CA
I can't answer for grilling, but if you slow cook them it becomes a kind flaky/hard is the best way to describe it. It is easy enough to pull off, I would pull it if you have that option.

Post Wed Jun 16, 2004 2:48 pm
Grand Scale BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 4272
Location: York, PA
I haven't tried it but one one of the food network show from during bbq week the showed a guy scraping it off with a knife. It looked like he was scaling a fish almost. It may be an option.

Post Wed Jun 16, 2004 3:00 pm
RichD medium-well

Posts: 280
Location: New Jersey
Before I started BBQing I always grilled my ribs and never pulled the membrane off. It does not effect the taste at all. The best example I can give you is it acts kind of like tape in that it keeps everything together no matter how tender your meat is. I've never noticed any taste or texture difference.
I do remove it now though.


Post Wed Jun 16, 2004 4:05 pm
BBcue-Z well done
well done

Posts: 3209
Location: Atlanta-GA
Some restaurants in Memphis leave the membrane on during smoking. Just before they serve the ribs, they place the ribs on a hot grill and burn the membrane off. They scrap the burned particles, and then they apply more rub or sauce (based on what the customer ordered). I always pull the membrane off prior to cooking. The only explanation I’ve been able to find is this: if you pull the membrane prior to cooking, the rub can better penetrate the meat.

Post Wed Jun 16, 2004 4:30 pm

Hello rob96
On the second page of the disscussion there is another discussion of membrane.
There are several different ways discussed to remove.
Personally I think the ribs are better with the membrane pulled
The rub seams to permiate the meat better and the smoke gets in better, as all things everybody has there own personal preferences.
Hooe you get the answer you are looking for.

Post Wed Jun 16, 2004 4:33 pm
JDasmokin rare

Posts: 24
Location: Sothern Indiana
I was the guest
Thought I signed in

Post Wed Jun 16, 2004 4:58 pm
Rob96 rare

Posts: 16
Location: Allentown, PA
Thanks everyone. I haven't tried making ribs yet. I was looking to see what kind of effect leaving it on it would have. Also I was asking because my brothr is coming home on leave soon. And after doing some time in Iraq. I'd like to treat him to some chicken wings and ribs.

Post Wed Jun 16, 2004 8:09 pm

Posts: 8

If you remove the membrane, it will allow seasonings to absorb into both sides of the ribs.
You Kill It, I'll Grill It

Post Wed Jun 16, 2004 9:11 pm

Posts: 16
Location: Lehi Utah

ive tried both I like it removed. You need someting like a ice pick to get under it and it comes off pretty easily after that


Post Thu Jun 17, 2004 5:25 am
CharredGriller User avatar
BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 6079
Location: Central Alberta, Canada

I've done ribs both ways- with or without membrane. The membrane can get pretty leathery, but it also holds the ribs together better. I still remove it, though, as the rub and/or sauces get into the meat better, as does the smoke.

I don't know of any big-name, franchised rib joints that remove the membrane, but remember that some of these places also steam or parboil the ribs to precook them. The meat practically falls off the bone when you do this, so the membrane is left on simply to hold the ribs together. Otherwise you wind up with a plate of dry bones and soggy meat. (We don't eat at the big franchises, though.)

I've got a few President's Choice BBQ videos that actually recommend parboiling the ribs before putting them on the grill, then soaking the cooked ribs in sauce overnight. Frankly, I'd rather eat sauced and grilled cardboard- it's cheaper by the pound. The ribs in the recipe on the video were black on the outside and the consistency of boiled rubber on the inside. (The rest of the dishes in this "barbecue video" were about the same- it's mostly a plug for the Presiden't Choice line of marinades.)

What was the lesson learned here? Leave the membrane on if you're parboiling or steaming your ribs. Second lesson? Don't parboil or steam your ribs. Cute, huh?

Steven discusses the membrane issue both in BBQ USA and How To Grill, and the second book has excellent step-by-step instructions on how to remove the membrane. He also discusses parboiled and steamed ribs in BBQ USA (In fact, he actually said "Beware" when discussing these ribs.)

Post Thu Jun 17, 2004 6:45 am
DarkRubiTJ medium-well

Posts: 221
Location: Livingston, TX.
Rubs and Sauces penetrate the meat better if you pull the membrane off. It's actually harder to read the description of how to do it than it actually is. The whole process only takes a minute or two. Once you get the membrane lifted it peels off like a piece of tape. I just stick a paring knife under the corner, get it started and off it comes.

Par boiling ribs-NEVER IN MY KITCHEN
Weber "Q", Weber Performer, Weber 22.5" Bar-B-Kettle

Post Thu Jun 17, 2004 7:17 am
CharredGriller User avatar
BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 6079
Location: Central Alberta, Canada

Steven mentioned in BBQ USA that the membrane on baby back ribs is a lot easier to pull off than the one on spareribs. I agree, but maybe it's just the ribs I buy. Supermarket spareribs can be a pain, while the spareribs I get from my local butcher are a bit easier.

Also- a clean flat head screwdriver works really well if you don't have an ice pick.

Parboiling ribs? NOT IN MY KITCHEN EITHER!

Post Thu Jun 17, 2004 8:54 am
Big Belly rare

Posts: 42
Location: Annapolis, MD
Newp, mah ribs never touch any water of any sorts. What an abomination!!!!
Big Belly
"Let's chew the fat!"

Post Thu Jun 17, 2004 9:15 am
Big D well done
well done

Posts: 616
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I like my membrane off, as said before I find it doesnt taste much difference... just makes it chewy... allthough I have freinds who insist I dont remove the membrane on theirs because their used to it that way and grew up with it on... just like some of us like to eat the grizzle on steak ;)

As for boiling or steaming... my mother sometime quickly boils or steams her ribs for just a few mins which really loosens up the membrane and then removes it cause she struggles soimetimes getting it off... all though she did once make, dare I say it, baked ribs that werent half bad. Obviously no replacement for the BBQ but it was -40C outside and -52C with the windchill and we pretty much only had ribs left in the fridge and since it was sunday couldnt go to the grocery store as it was closed and even if it wasnt I dont know if anyone would have ventured out in those temps


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