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Frustration - Bitter Ribs??

MastroMastro Posts: 5
Hi Everyone,

I cant think of a better way to describe my experiences cooking ribs other than frustration.  The first time i tried it... the most amazing, best tasting ever, but since the hit/miss.  I'm using the Mike's 3-2-1 method @ 225-250 (at the dome) and at those temps i sometimes encounter bitter tasting ribs.  My process is as follows:  cleaning out the egg (taking out he rings, etc), saving some of the left over lump, then adding new Royal Oak lump above the used.  I add 2 green egg fire starts and let it burn with the dome open for at least 30 minutes.  I then add chunks of hickory or peach and close the dampener down to sliver/slightly open, add the plate setter, pop on the grate, and let the temp stabilize at about 225.  I then add the ribs.  Where am i going wrong?  The ribs have a the taste of what the lump smells like when i first start it up (also it seems that smell is slightly present during the cook).  Do you think it's the Royal Oak - I'm using a bag that i had for a while (i stocked up when they went on sale at Walmart)? Should i let it burn for an hour before adding the ribs?  Even then there's still unburnt lump, so my thought is the unburnt lump will still give off that bitter smoke?  Has anyone had an issue with bitter ribs or have insight as to why this occurs?  if so, please describe your solution.

Greatly appreciative!!! 
Mike

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Comments

  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 9,702
    I'm no eggspert here but the fundamental rule of thumb is "If the smoke smells good, then it is good."  Your process reads like it should work and not result in your eggsperience.  I will admit I'm in the X-_0-0 camp in that I run "no frills" with the ribs til the finish-line.  However, just make sure the smoke isn't the guilty party and you should be fine.  FWIW-YMMV.
    Louisville;  L & S BGEs 
    Pit Barrel Cooker
    ABC- 
  • henapplehenapple Posts: 15,574
    Let the lump burn off longer


    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • stantrbstantrb Posts: 134
    RO, for me lately, never seems to completely burn off the stink.
    Minimax and a wood-fired oven.
  • henapplehenapple Posts: 15,574
    @Mastro...where are you located?
    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • LitLit Posts: 5,722
    I have had the bitter taste when using too much wood. Cut back to one or two fist size chunks tops and see if that helps.
  • MastroMastro Posts: 5
    edited February 2014
    Thanks! The two times I have had bitter taste is when using peach wood so may be I'm using too much. I think I'm gonna scratch the royal and try some other lump... @henapple lake Lanier area. Will it have the same affect on Butt? I've seen guys load up their egg with what seems like a lot of smoking wood. I gotta attend an egg event and see how it's really done
  • Try Rockwood or Ozark Oak lump, Rockwood is available at Ace in GA and Ace in Johns Creek carries OO, Let the VOC's burn off a little more before you put the ribs in.
    LBGE
    Go Dawgs! - Marietta, GA
  • BREWnQBREWnQ Posts: 213
    I use RO and I don't have any off flavors. Or maybe they're masked by the Apple smoke.
    Brewer, BBQer, Softballer, RCer, Father, HomeTheaterer, and trouble maker.
    Orange, CA
  • Mastro said:
    Thanks! The two times I have had bitter taste is when using peach wood so may be I'm using too much. I think I'm gonna scratch the royal and try some other lump... @henapple lake Lanier area. Will it have the same affect on Butt? I've seen guys load up their egg with what seems like a lot of smoking wood. I gotta attend an egg event and see how it's really done
    Maybe its the Lanier area. Depends on the south end by holiday or north end up the rivers :)
    Jefferson .GA.  
    Been egging since 1985 on a medium egg
  • Where are you getting the 3-2-1 method for Carwash Mike ribs? I knew Mike pretty well and saw him cook a lot of ribs. Never saw him foil anything.

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,192
    For good smoke taste, it is not a matter of going by a particular time or temperature. As lousubcap mentioned "the fundamental rule of thumb is "If the smoke smells good, then it is good."" Also, the "good" smoke is nearly invisible. Visible smoke at the least has lots of water vapor in it, which means that when the smoke hits it, and drops to condensation temp, it forms creosote.  At the worst, visible smoke is loaded with VOCs both from the lump and the wood. Are you still seeing smoke when you put the ribs on?  If so, there's your problem.

    I expect to get a little visible smoke after placing the food into the Egg, but that seems to just be some water vapor. I also cook w. a higher dome temp, 250 at least, which helps lessen creosote formation.

    The quality of lump does have some bearing on the amount of bad smoke that's made. If you are willing to spend $10/lb for Japanese binchotan, which supposedly produces no flavors. I've read that binchotan is produced by forcing superheated steam thru a kind of white oak, and the process drives off all of the residues produced by heating the wood. Average lump needs to clean itself up by burning for awhile.

    Also, even well cured wood, no matter the kind, is at least 25% water by weight. That water must steam away before the heat from the burning lump will pyrolyze the wood into the pleasant smelling and tasting chemicals we look for from BBQ.

    The kind of wood makes some difference. Any hardwood can be used, but ones high in lignin produce the best flavors, as far as I can tell. All fruit woods are well regarded. Most nut woods too, w. the exception of walnut, whose flavor is often described as heavy and overpowering.
  • MickeyMickey Posts: 17,423
    Where are you getting the 3-2-1 method for Carwash Mike ribs? I knew Mike pretty well and saw him cook a lot of ribs. Never saw him foil anything.

    I think Steven hit on it. Look at this: http://www.greeneggers.com/index.php?option=com_recipes&Itemid=71&func=detail&id=1207
    Salado TX Egg Family: 2 Large and a very well used Mini, added a Mini Max (I'm good for now). 

  • I am wondering if you are putting the wood in late in your startup process.  From your description, it looks to me like you are getting a clean burn; then putting your wood in, platesetter on, and grate in; and then letting it burn for a few minutes before putting the meat on.

    Try putting your wood in before you light your lump.  That way it will all clean out at the same time.  I also put my plate setter and grate in at the same time.  That could also cut down on the time that it takes from the time you light your fire and put your meat on.

    Also, is there anyway that your back of lump got wet?


    Large BGE Decatur, AL
  • ShiffShiff Posts: 1,511
    I also noticed that you said you burned it for 30 minutes with the lid open.  Perhaps this doesn't allow the unburned lump in the egg to heat up enough to burn off the VOCs.  I only keep my lid open for a few minutes to make sure it starts OK, then close it and let the draft start up the charcoal.

    I just bought a few bags of Royal Oak since my supply of Humphrey's is getting low.  This is the first RO I have used in several years and I have found it to be extremely smokey and took a long time before I could put in the meat.
    Large BGE
    Barry, Lancaster, PA
  • Mickey said:
    Where are you getting the 3-2-1 method for Carwash Mike ribs? I knew Mike pretty well and saw him cook a lot of ribs. Never saw him foil anything.

    I think Steven hit on it. Look at this: http://www.greeneggers.com/index.php?option=com_recipes&Itemid=71&func=detail&id=1207
    That isn't the reason for the acrid flavour. I just keep seeing people talking about 3-2-1 for Mikes ribs. The flavour is from bad smoke.

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • MickeyMickey Posts: 17,423
    Mickey said:
    Where are you getting the 3-2-1 method for Carwash Mike ribs? I knew Mike pretty well and saw him cook a lot of ribs. Never saw him foil anything.

    I think Steven hit on it. Look at this: http://www.greeneggers.com/index.php?option=com_recipes&Itemid=71&func=detail&id=1207
    That isn't the reason for the acrid flavour. I just keep seeing people talking about 3-2-1 for Mikes ribs. The flavour is from bad smoke.
    I agree. I was pointing out the foil part only..... Can't we all just be friends
    Salado TX Egg Family: 2 Large and a very well used Mini, added a Mini Max (I'm good for now). 

  • Oh Mic! Fill this out and file it. So thin skinned.


    image

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • I get peach and apple chunks at the local orchard. They told me to strip the bark before using as the bark will produce an acrid taste.
    Hood Stars, Wrist Crowns and Obsession Dobs!


  • Great suggestions... BTW @littlesteven gonna print that sucker out and give it to my wife - i'll let you know how that goes.

    So, I've tried to incorporate everyone's advice... I had some (sorta a lot of) build up on the plate setter, so i turned that puppy over a blazing fire (with the leftover RO) and scortched the hell out of it.  I went to Ace and purchased some Rockwood Lump...  Didnt have a drip pan; went to Costco and bought enough to where aluminum futures have to be going up.  Purchase some Apply chunks without bark (i noticed my peach chunks still have some skin on them)... I am going to re-read Mike's 3-2-1; not sure why i foiled (boiled) just did

    May be during Snow'pocalypse 2.0 forecasted for this week, i'll be able to test out the tweaks

    Thanks for all of your insight!

    I'm going to postively project success and upload pics of the post 'post' cook
  • Mattman3969Mattman3969 Posts: 6,355
    Onward and upward!!! Sounds like there's gonna be some serious changes in your eggdom

    -----------------------------------------


    2008 -Large BGE. 2013- Small BGE and 2015 - Mini. Henderson, Ky.
  • Magicman_007Magicman_007 Posts: 58
    edited February 2014
    I have used RO almost exclusively and have never had bitter ribs.  I always use some variant of the 3-2-1 method. I have also foiled and sometimes not and ribs have never been bitter. So, I do not think it is the Royal Oak or the foil.

    I have not used peach wood. I have always used apple and / or hickory and not too much (I know that is vague but I'd guess an amount a size of two of my fist).

    I get the fire stable w/ the plate setter to the temp I want (about 225) the I put all of the chunks (not chips) on the fire (yes I have to remove and replace the plate setter, I use welder's gloves) and let burn for about 10 to 15 min, then put on my ribs. I do use a rib rack for what it is with. I have never been disappointed. Always some degree of excellent to great.

    I would add, that possibly the old lump you are reusing has gotten moist and imparting bad flavors, but that is only a guess. I have used old lump plenty of times with no issues.
  • It is the smoke. 30 minutes might not be long enough to stabilize in the low 200's so I suspect that you are fiddling with the vents and choking it off which will create a lot of bitter smoke. I try to give it an hour with the digiQ to stabilize at low temps. I agree with putting the smoke wood on as soon as the fire is lit and let it get going. Stratify the smoke wood in the lump so that it does not all burn/smoke at once.
  • tksmoketksmoke Posts: 763
    edited February 2014
    I did  ribs tonight using RO and they were among the best I've done.  Try this: light the Egg any way you want ('cept with lighter fluid).  Leave the bottom vent wide open, and the lid up until the lump is well lit (15 minutes or so).  Close the lid.  As the temperature comes up to @ 300, stick in your plate setter.  This will decrease the temp.  Close the bottom vent half way and place the top vent open a half inch at the widest point.  Let the temperature come back up to 300-350.  Open the lid, and with welders gloves lift up the plate setter, and throw in a few chunks of smoking wood (3-4 is a good number in the XL).  Replace the plate setter, add the drip pan and grid, and let it get warm again.  After about 10 minutes, you should have good smoke and the temp should be coming back up.  Throw on your ribs.  Start the timer.  Depending on what kind of ribs you are using, let it go from 1:40 to 2:00.  Keep the temp around 350.  Resist the temptation to mess with the ribs.  When it's time, open the lid, sauce the ribs, close the lid for 15 minutes, pull em off and enjoy.  2 hours beats the heck out of 6, and you will be very hard pressed to tell these ribs from the 3-2-1 ribs.  The higher temps will get rid of your acrid smoke flavor too.  Enjoy!!
    Santa Paula, CA
  • jhl192jhl192 Posts: 998
    Could it be that @mastro needs a clean burn? He mentions he didn't have a drip pan. I did some low and slows before I did a clean burn and was getting a bad acrid taste. I think a clean burn is in order.
    XL BGE; Medium BGE; L BGE 
  • JoeAJoeA Posts: 22
    On any low & slow with fresh lump, I always get my coals over 400* to burn off any VOC's.  Plate setter goes in. Takes a little time to cool down to 225 - 250.  When it's stabilized I remove setter with welding gloves, add wood of choice(no bark on wood).  After 20 - 30 minutes, ribs  go on.
      Fairly certain I read a post on 400* burn here prior to any fresh lump cook.  Never had any off flavors.
  • tksmoketksmoke Posts: 763
    Not to argue the point, but I have never done a clean burn.  I cook an average of 3 nights a week on the egg.  The temperature varies, from 250 or so to 650, but at least in the year I've been at this, no clean burns.  It might be a good idea if the OP has only been doing low temp cooks, but  in normal use, the value of the clean burn may be overrated.
    Santa Paula, CA
  • I'm beginning to wonder if the shelf life of RO is an issue.  I too loaded up when it was on sale last year and had no issues until recently where it takes almost an hour to burn off the VOC's.  I've tried multiple ways of lighting the egg and it makes no difference.  I store my lump in a storage shed that is on a concrete pad so I don't think it's moisture related.

    Damascus, VA.  Friendliest town on the Appalachian Trail.

    LBGE Aug 2012, SBGE Feb 2014

  • Mastro said:
    Hi Everyone,

    I cant think of a better way to describe my experiences cooking ribs other than frustration.  The first time i tried it... the most amazing, best tasting ever, but since the hit/miss.  I'm using the Mike's 3-2-1 method @ 225-250 (at the dome) and at those temps i sometimes encounter bitter tasting ribs.  My process is as follows:  cleaning out the egg (taking out he rings, etc), saving some of the left over lump, then adding new Royal Oak lump above the used.  I add 2 green egg fire starts and let it burn with the dome open for at least 30 minutes.  I then add chunks of hickory or peach and close the dampener down to sliver/slightly open, add the plate setter, pop on the grate, and let the temp stabilize at about 225.  I then add the ribs.  Where am i going wrong?  The ribs have a the taste of what the lump smells like when i first start it up (also it seems that smell is slightly present during the cook).  Do you think it's the Royal Oak - I'm using a bag that i had for a while (i stocked up when they went on sale at Walmart)? Should i let it burn for an hour before adding the ribs?  Even then there's still unburnt lump, so my thought is the unburnt lump will still give off that bitter smoke?  Has anyone had an issue with bitter ribs or have insight as to why this occurs?  if so, please describe your solution.

    Greatly appreciative!!! 
    Mike

    Just your post. Try starting with another method. I've used those starter cubes at fests and the first few things off the egg had a nasty flavour.

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • That did say just re-read your post. Can't edit today

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • Oh Mic! Fill this out and file it. So thin skinned.


    image
    Anyone ever involved in a church understands this.
    Hendersonville, TN.
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