Dark Bark on pulled pork?

Discussion in 'Pork' started by cripplecreek, Sep 10, 2010.

  1. Was wondering why a dark bark is desireable for pork butt that i intend to pull.  What does a dark bark on any meat provide?   Thanks in advance, Mike.
  2. pokey

    pokey Meat Mopper

    For those of us who like the burnt ends, it gives us some added flavor and texture.
  3. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Pokey I make burnt ends out of a brisket point. Mikes talking about some pork butt. But anyway most folks like a dark bark for the flavor and some even don't use foil for a darker and harder bark for I guess the chunkie texture too. I personally don't care for the hard or dark bark so I foil my butts for the end of the smoke.
  4. Thanks Pokey
  5. dick foster

    dick foster Smoking Fanatic

    In a word, flavor.
  6. rdknb

    rdknb Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    For me it is flavor and texture.  I love a good bark
  7. pinkmeat

    pinkmeat Smoking Fanatic

    It seems, in my experience, the brown sugar content is what affects the darkness of a bark more than anything, so adjust that to your liking in your rub of choice. I like it dark and not really thick.
     Wait, that didn't sound right!!!
  8. dick foster

    dick foster Smoking Fanatic

    I get good bark without a speck of sugar. Dry rub, let sit overnight in the fridge then without further ado stick it in the smoker and cook it till it's done. Take it out when it's done and until it is, leave it alone.  

    I never did go for sugar with my Q. I think it masks the taste of the meat. Besides, with half the country coming down with diabetes already, who needs it. As it is, almost every bite of processed food you put in your mouth is simply loaded with salt and sugar in some form. I also think it may be largely a Carolina thing. While I was born in VA my taste for Q was developed in North Carolina and they just don't use sugar or tomatoes in Q there. A smidgen of ketchup in finishing sauce perhaps or maybe a dab in red slaw but that's about it.   
  9. carson627

    carson627 Smoke Blower

    If you wanted it, how do you get a thick, dark bark?  Maybe I'm not caking on the brown sugar enough, but I can't get one to save my life.

    Thanks in advance.
  10. realtorterry

    realtorterry Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The spritz whatever it may be will aid in that. Apple juice/ Captain Morgan & things of that sort will give the bark a nice added carmalized type flavor
  11. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    Alot of it has to do w/the type of smoker you are using. Back when i had my new braunfuls SFB i had no problem getting a nice crusty bark on my smokes.

     But now i'm using my MES 40 w/ a water pan and it's allmost impossible to get that same bark.

     I get some bark but nowhere near what i got on the stick burner.
  12. dick foster

    dick foster Smoking Fanatic

    Now that has a ring of truth to it. I use lump and chunk and always get a nice bark. Just the right amout it seems.
  13. carson627

    carson627 Smoke Blower

    I using a propane smoker (Master forge) and usually use apple juice or a AJ/bourbon mix to spritz.  I guess I just don't put enough sugar or maybe I have too high a humidity in the box.  Wonder if that could be it?

    Oh well, it still tastes good and the failed experiment is just another reason to try again.

  14. dick foster

    dick foster Smoking Fanatic

    Again I don't use any sugar at all but I get good bark. Lump and chunk.
  15. geek with fire

    geek with fire Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Rub it down lightly with yellow mustard and then apply the rub.  Keep adding rub in batches until the moisture is completely covered.  You will get more rub to adhear to the meat and will have a thicker bark.  Then spritz with something that has sugar in it every hour; don't use pineapple juice, apple is my favorite.  If you smoke it the whole time (and I don't) you will just about have to break the rub with a hammer to get to the pork.
  16. pokey

    pokey Meat Mopper

    I use a rub with sugar (brown and white) for pork and a salt-based rub with no sugar for beef and manage to get a crust with both (or either). I've only recently started to foil, though, and wonder if I'm going to lose out on the crust with this technique.
  17. ttosmoker

    ttosmoker Fire Starter

    My first several pork butts were done on a Smoky Hollow propane smoker with a full water pan.  I got bark I was happy with -- there is certainly no noticeable difference using the WSM that I now use.  I do not use sugar in my rubs, and I do not spritz or foil.  I put my butt on 225* heat and take it out when it is 195* internal, and never look at it in between.

    My understanding is that bark is separate from caramelized sugar on the surface.  Instead, bark is caused by something called the "Maillard reaction" (had to look that up) which is the browning process of cooked meats.   Not that adding caramelized sugar to an already good bark is bad or anything, just different.  I am pretty sure that I also read someplace that it's the salt in the rub that helps with the formation of the bark by drawing moisture out of the surface of the meat and causing another reaction that draws other flavors into the surface of the meat.  A normal amount of rub won't be enough to make the whole butt dry, of course.  In fact, from what I remember, the bark helps to keep the internal meat juicy by forming a "crust" at the surface. 

    One possibility is that you are spritzing too soon and/or too often, preventing the meat from being able to brown.  Again, I don't spritz, but my understanding is that you should start somewhere after 2 hours and/or halfway through the cook.
  18. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    This dark bark is known as "Mrs Brown" and is loaded with flavor. Most of my rubs do have some brown sugar in them, although not alot. I do not cake brown sugar on the meat. I find higher smoking temps 250 to 275 and leaving the butt unfoiled as long as you can, will help set the bark for you.  170 internal at the earliest, longer if you can wait.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2010

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