No-Salt Blueberry/Cherry Rubbed Baby-Backs : Q-View & Review

Discussion in 'Pork' started by forluvofsmoke, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I just had to try this after reading S2K9K's thread on trying this w/o salt on his ribs. His description of the flavor just pushed me over the edge. We've been trying to plan a dinner for my 2 daughters to come down for over a week, and the weather pushed things up a bit...we're under a winter storm warning beginning tonight, for 36 hours, so we decided to get this done this evening while roads are still drivable for the girls to make it home this evening, realizing that Friday was not an option at all. Anyway, fast-forward from the spare-ribs and pork butt (with recipe) with this rub to today with a no-salt version on 3 slabs of BBs for my canvas (dropped the salt, all other ingredients unchanged), and this is how it looked when the paint, uh...when the smoke cleared...LOL!!!.

    EDIT: Recipe added


    This rub is intended for low & slow cooking only, as the natural sugars in the fruits will scorch quickly with high-heat cooking.

    All measures are pre-grind, except for the powdered ingredients, of course.

    4 Tbsp dried whole Blueberry
    3 Tbsp dried Tart Cherry
    3 Tbsp dried diced Red Bell Pepper
    3 Tbsp dried chopped Onion
    2 Tbsp dried minced Garlic
    1-1/2 Tbsp Black Peppercorn
    1 Tbsp ground White Pepper
    2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
    1 Tbsp Spanish Paprika
    1 Tbsp Rosemary
    2-1/2 tsp Thyme
    1 tsp ground Cumin
    1/2 tsp rubbed Sage

    Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, then portion 1 to 1-1/2 Tbsp into your blade-type (coffee) grinder at a time. Use less if the grinder stalls/jams. Grind to near your desired particle size and place in a second container until all ingredients are ground, then repeat grinding for smaller particle size, if desired, and to aid in blending the dry rub for the best consistency.

    Note: grinding the dry ingredients with the fruits will aid in preventing the fruits from forming a paste and stalling your grinder, as well as making for much easier clean-up. This is a very effective method for grinding dried fruits. The only draw-back to grinding all ingredients together is if you want larger particle sizes with certain spices but not others, although some of them could be ground separately, if desired, such as the Kosher Salt.

    This particular recipe, even in the semi-arid climate of my location, tends to clump soon after blending if tumbled in the container, so a regrind may be necessary prior to application onto your pork. This is due to the sugars in the fruits and is normal. Application with a shaker container may give the easiest results. Do not compress this mixture until it is on your meat, or it will pack to a very firm consistency, making a re-grind difficult.

    Yield is approx. 1-2/3 cups.


    Rinsed and still semi-frozen, so the rub didn't want to stick very well, but, this means that the smoke WILL stick quite well...ha-ha-ha!!! I left them sit for about 20 minutes and sprinkled on more rub, then hit the Smoke Vault @ 210-215* with wet chamber for good smoke (not worried about these drying out much, and I wanted less bark than the wet-to-dry will develop, so I decided to try a little compromise today), cherry and apple smoke wood chips for heavy smoke up front, tapering off after about 45 minutes, running thin for about another 3 hours thereafter:

    When I say heavy smoke, I mean exactly that...:just into the Vault

    6 hours into the smoke, pull-back and bend-test are just about perfect for what I'm looking for tonight, so it's time for a foil-tented pan to soften the bark just a bit and we'll be dining on some nice ribs after another 45-60 minutes (probe is dangling between rib slabs just below grate level):

    Still some water in the pan, so I did get a wet smoke all the way on this round...used 2qts, which is about right for a 7-8lb butt for wet-to-dry chamber with my rig:

    Pull-back is looking good right now...:

    Panned-up for a tent and ~240* ride to sweat a little:

    Notice the droplets of rain on the foil pan...been raining almost ALL day...will turn to snow later tonight:

    And the moment of truth...:

    Retained moisture was decent, not super-juicy like I get with a wet-to-dry chamber, instead of wet-only, but reasonable. Smoke was dead-on perfect. Rub wasn't quite right, as I'll explain below...very good, but probably just not enough of it on the ribs to do it's job. Texture was very nice, with a light bite and chew, and not quite a clean bone when you took a bite...just a little tug to go with the tender 'em this way!!! Anyway, here's the goods:

    Condensed water vapor on the foil and pan, with a small amount of rendered fat in the bottom...should be just about right for what I wanted tonight, indeed:

    Two slabs are sliced into 2 to 3-bone portions...:

    7 of us killed 2-1/3 slabs plus about 3lbs of one of my renditions of Dutch's wicked beans with a few twists:

    My first plate with 4 short bones...second round had 2 long bones...:

    Ah, that was a GREAT treat for all, and especially the girls and one spouse who all made the short road trip here to join us for a meal tonight!!! Very good, but we did notice it was a no-salt dry rub...I told 'em after they finished eating...I said, "anybody notice something missing?" Could use a little salt...OK. We all concurred, but, I do feel I had a pretty light rub application due to the ribs being semi-frozen and my not taking extra measures to correct that issue for a better rub application...with a little more foresight, even just a simple water mist would have worked wonders for the amount of rub the ribs would hold onto. I now wish I had more time to plan for this smoke so they would have been fully thawed, as I just took the ribs out of the freezer last night after work, once we decided "hey, let's do dinner Thursday night", or skip it for another week or so until we could plan another date when I was off work. Lesson learned, but then not every smoke comes out perfect, either, so I can't complain. I do feel that a little tweeking could make it even better without a heavier application like I wanted today, so I'll be having thoughts about that the next time around and see where it takes me. Overall, I do feel Dave was right about the rub's ability to hold it's own w/o salt, though...I just needed more rub on the ribs to bring on that extra flavor.

    Thanks for the experiment you did earlier, Dave!!! I think you're right about the potential as a no-salt rub...definitely worth trying it, and has me wanting to do it again.

    So, until my next adventure in smoke...

    Great smokes to all, and to all a good night!!!

    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
    docluther and disco like this.
  2. bear55

    bear55 Master of the Pit

    Very nicely done!!
  3. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    First, the ribs look Awesome Eric!!!!
    Second, sorry if I led you astray and things weren't just quite right. But it sounded like it still turned out good and you had a nice dinner with family and that's what really matters!!!

    The no salt rub might not be for everyone but I have become very used to no salt. I used to put salt on everything and things just didn't taste right without it but since I have really been cutting sodium out I don't hardly miss it anymore. That could be why the rub tasted so good to me and your family could tell it was missing salt. I thinks it's all what your palette is accustomed to. I remember cooking things and people saying "this is really salty" while I was thinking "this sure could use a little more salt". Things have changed for me now though, I can even eat a potato without salt! But the jerky sure isn't working out, I'm not sure if it can be done without salt and still taste right. I might have to move up to very low salt next and see if I can get some of that jerky flavor in it.

    Well I'm glad you tried it and I know you will tweak it to where it works for you so keep us posted on it!
  4. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hey Dave, you definitely didn't lead me astray...I needed to find out just how this would work out for the family and myself. I really do feel that the lack of a heavier rub application played a major role in the finished product. I could taste a lot of rib, and not that much rub...just not enough extra push to keep the taste buds satisfied with a more balanced flavor profile...mostly meat and not much else besides the smoke. I'm not disappointed at all in how it came out, and if things had come together better, or I had paid closer attention to getting a good dose of rub on the ribs, it would have made the meal even more enjoyable. Still very good eating ribs, though...we're just pretty finicky eaters when it comes to Q...accustomed to top-notch grub, so if anything isn't perfect for our liking, we notice it.

    You are correct about no-salt foods and how there is a bit of a transition stage where things just don't taste right w/o salt, and that is something that takes a bit to condition yourself. However, finding the flavors and intensity of flavors in a combination that agrees with you while you make the transition, and being able to carry that forward afterwards, I think is a key factor in reducing sodium from your diet.

    No worries, brother...we'll be hitting this again under better conditions sometime in the near future. I'll wait and see if I decide to make any adjustments in the recipe, but I doubt it will be necessary. I'm sure this round was just one trial of many to come in the future for us, so I'm looking forward to getting my game on again soon...[​IMG]

  5. pigbark

    pigbark Smoke Blower

    Sounds interesting and they look great, just how I like em.. Just a lil bit of pull.. I like the idea of no -salt rub.. The thing that gets me is the Cherry, im just not a big fan of it myself,, wonder if there is a replacement for it? Cranberry maybe?
  6. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Don't be scared of the cherry, it's not a real pronounced flavor, just like the blueberry. Nothing really stands out all on it's own, they blend together in just a great flavor that is hard to describe. But it is such a great change from your usual rubs.
  7. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Eric, this is a great post with wonderful instructions and terrific Qview.

    I really enjoy the discussion around the salt you and S2K9K had. I retired just over a year ago. I used to work on the road and eat in restaurants a lot. I find restaurants use a lot of salt. When I retired and started eating at home, I noticed some of my favourite recipes seemed to taste too salty. It got the the point I couldn't eat fast food fries as they were just too salty. Then a buddy from out of town came to visit and noted that my food was less salty than he remembered and he added salt to many dishes.

    This and your interchange with S2K9K supports my belief that the more salt you eat, the more you tolerate it and the more you need to get the food to taste the way you like it. I believe I will have to start putting more salt in food for company.

    Thanks for the great post and the discussion. I learned from both.

  8. If you want to defrost something quickly, fill your sink with ice water and drop the meat in (in sealed plastic, of course). I can defrost a 12 lb cryopack of ribs (3 slabs frozen solid) in about 4 hours or less.
  9. hambone1950

    hambone1950 Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Great looking ribs and beans. Wow! Nice pictures too. Great post. Thanks for sharing. :grilling_smilie:
  10. kathrynn

    kathrynn Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looks wonderful!  don't ya love the Vault!

  11. zackly

    zackly Newbie

    That's beautiful work! Great bark but still moist!
  12. send recipe for the beans
  13. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hey all! Never expected much interest in this, but it's nice to see everyone showing their approval. Been on-and-off line from hit-and-run power bumps and short power outages all day due to a nasty lil' snowstorm up here. Oh, the girls are doing OK so far, but their community is shut-down...nothing moving except emergency vehicles, and in one part of town where my oldest daughter lives residents are experiencing more power outage than otherwise, so I'm edgy right now wondering how things will come out before this is over in another 18 hours, maybe more. On top of that, my UPS has a weak battery, so keeping my desktop running isn't an option...may have to swap to the laptop, I guess.

    Gonna do that right now so I don't loose a page in the middle of a reply...back shortly. Just glad we didn't try to have our baby-back rib night today...would have been a huge mistake...although, my girls would have been here where I could keep them safe...I'm prepared for this kind of thing...they're just getting started, so are not very prepared. Anyway, back ASAP.

  14. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    So I see three plates..... ignoring that third plate does not mean you didn't eat it.  It don't work that way. LOL

    Looks awful tastee! I agree about the salt. First heart attack Doc said NO salt, I was fine eating all fruit but nothing else. I will admit I do eat too much salt, but it makes the food sooo tastee but mostly its an addiction/habit and its hard to break.

    Its not the olden days when we sweated all day and need salt, matter a fact my Dad's old company removed the salt tablet dispensers from the locker room long before he retired.

    Beautiful looking ribs. Bet the kids were happy.

    BTW Batten down the hatches, I see its gonna get a bit nasty there too.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
  15. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Eric, I think someone forgot to tell y'all up there it's just the beginning of October!!! It was 88* down here today!!

    I'm not surprised there is so much interest in it, it's like when I first saw it I knew it was something I just had to try! The flavor combo just sounds so off the wall that it has to work, and it does!

    I went to the store today because I wanted to dry some more blueberries but none in sight, I hope they aren't all gone for the winter!
  16. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    OK, this is with a 7lb-5oz can of beans, so adjust your amounts by going to a ratio format if you wish...Dutch's recipe is a lot different than this, so I encourage you to look for his as well, but I did get the basic idea from his beans recipe.

    This particular version is a bit different than I usually do, as I decided to go with a reduced fat, so instead of adding raw bacon pieces, I used bacon crumbs for salads, etc. I usually use a 12oz-16oz package of hickory smoked bacon and slice into squares across the slice, or a bit smaller, but I'm looking for healthier ways to prepare a meal when I can, and this change was just another one of those "what if" questions I wanted to answer.

    1 - 7lb-5oz can Bush's regular beans

    1 - 10oz can Rotel diced tomatoes & chilies

    1 - 20oz can pineapple chunks, drained (sub with pineapple tidbits, or crushed)

    3/4 cup bacon bits or crumbled bacon

    Combine all ingredients in baking pan or dish and bake @ 300*, stirring occasionally, until temperature measures at least 165*. Allow 1.5-2 hours, depending on how shallow or deep your beans are in the pan. If you prefer, you can place the pan under your ribs to catch drippings while it heats/smokes in your vertical smoker. Allow extra time for heating through when using your smoker...generally 3+ hours. Serves 20-24
    Thanks!!!! As Dave mentioned, if it's just the cherry flavor you're concerned about, don't be. The blend overall has a lot of different things going on, and each ingredient lends some of it's characteristics to another which may seem out of place without them paired as they are. As Dave said, it's not an easily described flavor profile, but very interesting and unique to experience. The tart cherries offer a bit of zip to the otherwise rich and sweet blueberry, while the onion lends a bit of extra sweetness into the background, and the red bells bring in even more of that sweetness...all without added processed sugars, and it seems to have a very good balance for pork with a variety of different smoke woods for the final touch. BTW, processed sugars are something I've been getting away from when/where I can for several years.
    Thank You!!!
    Thanks Disco!!! What you're describing is exactly what I've experienced as well, in regards to having eaten some pretty high salt foods in the past, and they just don't right without it after a while. Lately, I've been reducing sodium with foods that I can for work lunch, especially. SWome low-salt foods taste fine to me, yet others I have trouble wanting to eat it at all. I guess when you reduce salt drastically, it does make a huge impact on flavor, but when done over time it can be far less noticeable. I don't currently have health issues, but am headed more into a prevention seems to be lots easier to do things to stay healthy then to try to get healthy after your body has nearly shut-down on you.
    Excellent point, and had I not been in a slight frenzy that day, I probably would have done just that, myself. I ended up getting the ribs into the smoker about 15 minutes later than I planned, and with the weather coming in on us and a bunch of other stuff going on, I skipped a few steps that ended up changing the overall outcome of the, smoke and learn.
    Thanks, and you're welcome!!!
    Thanks Kat!!! Oh, the SV-24 can handle pretty much anything I throw in it, and anything mother nature throws at it. I have my "toy" smokers I like to fire-up now and then, but when I really need things to come out and don't want to fuss with the smoker, the Vault is my go to.
    Thanks, yeah, they came out very well for texture, moisture was not bad...I have had better with a wet-to-dry smoke chamber, but they held up pretty well for this complaints from me.

  17. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Dave, our weather has been freeked-out up here ever since all the rains in CO that caused so much crept into WY and brought some hosing to us, eventually...barely dried out for a few days and then all day rain yesterday, turned to snow and today it decided to add wind to the equation...been snowing here for over 20 hours now and no end in sight.

    88*...I should fly down there and we could spend some time swapping ideas on low/no-salt recipes...maybe work-up some good stuff while we play in the smoke. CRAP!!! I just realized, I can't even drive to the airport!!!

    No blueberries, already? Wife said check Walmart...might have to get crackin' on 'em right away to prep for drying, though...may be very ripe by now, unless there was a late harvest somewhere, or there may be some being produced in greenhouses, too. That would be a bummer if they're all gone for the season.
    Ah, but it is in fact the same plate...LOL!!! Yeah, salt isn't as important to us when we're not as physically active, although iodine still is. And that's a trend that many don't fully understand or know about...salt regulates fluid content in the body, and if there's too much salt, there's too much retained water...lots of bad things can happen if it's a chronic condition. Splurging once in a while won't hurt, as long as we remember that with everything, moderation is the key...exception being the amount of water we drink...drink as much as you can/want to.
  18. smoking gun

    smoking gun Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Bingo!     They look FABULOUS. Nice presentation on the Qview too.

    Points awarded

    Thanks for sharing

    SG    ........    [​IMG]
  19. bjhartmann

    bjhartmann Newbie

    looks great what has your recipes for the cherry and blueberry rub I am a rub guy
  20. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks! I edited the opening post to add the recipe and process. ENJOY!!!
    Thanks SG, and you're welcome!!!
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013

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