How to Tell if Membrane Is on Ribs

Some stores like Costco, sell the ribs with their membranes on or without it. So, when you are getting your ribs from a store, ask the salesperson if there is membrane on your ribs or it’s removed already. If you haven’t asked the salespeople and the ribs are already at home, you need to check and understand if there is some membrane or not.

The membrane should be torn off from the ribs as it is really not nice for smoking them. Sometimes the membrane is named silverskin or the peritoneum.

Do You Have to Remove the Membrane on Ribs?

Yes, it needs to be removed as it’s ropy, tough and it’s really not tasty to try to chew it when the ribs are finished. Also, membrane doesn’t let the smoke penetrate into the meat and create its famous smoky taste and flavor. Yes, you would get the smoky taste but it would be subtle and not so mouthwatering as it is without the removed membrane. So, for the full taste of smoke and really soft meat of the ribs the rib’s membrane must be torn off.

How Do You Remove the Membrane from Ribs?

If you obtained your ribs, open the package and check if there is some silvery or whitish dense skin on the bone side of the ribs. If it’s present, there is membrane and you should do its removing. Actually, this membrane may be seen on all meat types but we don’t pay much attention to it until it’s the lamb, pork or beef sirloin or ribs. In fact, this membrane is located in the abdominal area of an animal and it covers the organs of the abdomen.
Here are two videos for you showing how to tear off the membrane from the ribs properly and easily and then a short description of how to do that in several steps:

For this a little tough process you need to take a spoon or a fruit knife, avoid using any sharp knife, as you may cut yourself or cut the meat on the ribs:

  1. At the bony side of a rack, try to put the knife or spoon under the silvery membrane and separate it a little from the bones.
  2. When you that the skin is getting loosed a little, put a few fingers under the skin and start tearing it off from the bones in a gentle way.
  3. You had better use the paper napkin or towel to keep the skin as it might be too slippery when holding it with your hands. You need to pull carefully and slowly trying not to tear it into pieces. If it happened, just continue removing the left pieces of the membrane until the ribs are full free from the skin.
  4. After removing the tissue, you may see how elastic it actually is and why it must be torn off.
  5. Eating finished ribs with this tissue would be like chewing on the rubber piece. In addition, the tissue would prevent the ribs from soaking the rubbing and seasonings and the flavor would be far from perfect after smoking.

Do You Have to Remove Membrane from Beef Ribs?

Yes, you need to do that as well as removing the tissue from the pork ribs as the result and disadvantage of leaving the silverskin of the ribs will be the same. The ribs would get hard to chew them on and flavor would be not so tasty, also, the rubbing would be hard to be soaked into the rib meat during smoking.

Do St. Louis Style Ribs Have a Membrane?

The ribs, which are smoked using the famous and popular St. Louis style, have their skin removed from the ribs and the peculiarity of cooking in this style is that the ribs are divided into two parts: the part of spareribs and the part of loin-back ribs. So, they are cooked separately. Cooks are still arguing if the silverskin should be torn off or not, as some pitmasters think that the ribs come out smoky and tasty even with the membrane on. But, in general, it’s still better to remove the peritoneum from the ribs, especially if you are just starting your journey in the world of rib smoking.

Can You Remove Rib Membrane after Cooking?

Yes, it may be done after the cooking has been finished, but if you are firm about cutting the skin off, you ‘d rather do it before the cooking, not after. But if you forgot to do that before the start of the smoking process, and you are not a fan of chewing the cooked membrane, don’t doubt, tear it off after the ribs are finished. Some pit masters think that removing the skin is unnecessary as it helps to keep ribs together when turning them over on the smoker and they like its special taste. Anyway, it’s up to you to decide to remove or not.

How Do You Fix Tough Ribs?

If the ribs came out tough, there is a way to save them and make them softer. Make a barbeque sauce, which consists of a mixture of some barbeque sauce you like and the vinegar of apple cider, the mixture percentage should be 50/50. Then, apply this coat on the ribs. The next step is wrapping the ribs in a foil tightly and putting them into the oven with the low and slow style with the 300 degrees F for around one hour. Then your tender ribs are ready for eating and enjoying their taste and texture.

How Do You Know Ribs Are Done?

When you are completely new in the ribs smoking, it’s hard to understand if they are finished or not. For checking that take a toothpick, poke it into the meat between the bones and when there is no resistance or little resistance of the meat, it’s ready for cooling it down. If it’s still springy, keep on cooking.

Have a good meal!