Not getting good bark

Discussion in 'Pork' started by smokenmirrors, Aug 7, 2009.

  1. I've smoked several different things now- pork shoulder, beef and short ribs. The problem is that I am not getting good bark. I've noticed on many of the posts that the meats are close to black with crust. I've sprayed apple juice on my smoked meats during the cooking process, but don't get the kind of crusting that I see in the pictures.

    I'm using a gas powered upright smoker. Should I forgo the water in the pan in the later stages so that a better crust can form?

    Thanks for the help...
  2. wutang

    wutang Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    What kind of rub are you using? The amount of sugar has a big effect on the color of the bark. Also you can try rubbing the meat in plain yellow mustard before coating with rub-the mustard flavor disappears when cooking and it seems to help with the bark formation.
  3. I did use the mustard on the shoulder, but not the ribs.

    Do you think that the water content of the heat/smoke could have anything to do with it?
  4. wutang

    wutang Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I don't use a water pan so I don't know what effect that will have. I would only suggest that you try it both ways and see what difference it makes for you. For me the amount of brown sugar in the rub along with how frequently I spray with juice seem to be the big difference makers.
  5. I'm with Wu on this. I did two butts last weekend and I wanted to make sure I got good bark. I used two cans of the McCormick's Pork rub with an extra cup of dark brown sugar. That was for both of them and it worked great. Minimizing the number of times you open the smoker and dark brown sugar are two of the most important things to get a good bark imho. I spritz sparingly with apple and Jim Beam also.
    Happy Smokin!

  6. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I do wet smokes (humid) faithfully...seems like the meat is bit more forgiving if slightly overcooked...also, may cook just a bit faster. Sometimes I do let my pan run dry towards the end. I always run dry heat to firm up ribs, and even prefer dry heat to finish my ABTs along with higher temps at the end, to crisp the bacon.

    Very good point...most of the rub blends I've done lately have no sugar, and are lower in salt content as well. The bark is much lighter in color and also is softer. Another rub ingredient which I found will affect the bark is salt...salt draws out moisture...more salt can produce a deeper, harder bark. Sugars will darken the bark (carmelization), and harden it to some degree.

    Foiling meats will soften the bark, as the moisture in the meat will create steam in the package...just as brasing will. Spraying liquids onto the meat I would think could soften the bark, and if overspayed, may partially wash the rub/bark off the surface. I don't spray, and rarely mop, so I can't say for sure on that. If anyone has a different opinion on this, please do post.

    Hope that helps you out.

  7. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    For 2 racks of ribs or 1 butt my rub base is about 2-21/2 cups of brown sugar, then I add to that. So far have gotten some really nice barks out of it even without the mustard coat. Also when you apply the rub make sure you really rub it in (get friendly with the meat [​IMG]) and coat it thick as you can.

    Personaly I don't spay very much (if any). I usually try not to open the lid for at least 2 to 3 hours - hate the recovery time since I have a coal burner.
  8. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Like everyone here is telling you it the amount of sugar in your rub that gives you your bark. I personally don't care for alot of bark so I don't add much sugar don't get me wrong there is sugar in my rub just not alot in my eyes.

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