Pulled pork bark questions

Discussion in 'Pork' started by pigglywiggly, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. Howdy folks, had some questions about foiling and getting a nice bark on PP. I have made quite a few butts in the past but have always foiled them around the 6 hour mark. So the end result was always a kinda soft bark from all of the trapped moisture. Is foiling the way to go with shoulders/butts to retain moisture, or can one not foil them to get that crispy bark with them? I am gonna do a shoulder tomorrow morning and was thinking about changing it up a little to try and get a crispy bark but I also don't want to dry it out too much.

    Is not foiling a viable option?

    I thought about foiling and then taking the foil off the last hour, but i know sometimes they practically fall apart right at the end and thinking it may be more difficult to successfully unfoil without A)breaking it apart prior to being the appropiate temp, and B) accidentally scraping off the bark when unfoiling since its super moist at that point.

    Will start up a Q-view session in the morning when I get her going.
  2. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I always ran mine unfoiled the entire smoke at 225* on a WSM, and foiled when pulled and allowed to rest.  I usually spritz them with either apple juice or pineapple juice the last hour or two and when I pull them from the smoker to foil.  Adds just enough moisture that dry bark is not an issue and adds a final flavor to the bark.  Never had a complaint doing it that way and folks usually fight over the bark so it must be working...

    Depending on who is eating the pulled pork, I also will mix Jack Daniels and apple juice for a little special flavor.

    One other thought is how you are smoking them.  Someone on a stick burner or over charcoal (like my WSM) will get different bark results than someone in an electric, gasser, etc....  Then there are variations such as with or without water pan that contribute to the bark formation as well.

    Here is the bark on some I did for the office. This 4 shoulder load ran about 18 hours at 225* over a oversized water pan in a WSM.  I spritzed it with juice after I moved it to the foil before wrapping (double foiled) and putting into a ice chest for 2 hours (photo was taken before the final spritzing of juice). 


    By running entire smoke unfoiled the bark is solid enough that it does not pull off or break apart just by moving the meat like you described.  But after resting with that final spritz, it's firm and just right without being too soft or mushy. You can see how well it stays attached to the meat when pulling in this photo from the same smoke.  End result is a majority of the pulled pieces still have a sample of bark on one end.


    Last edited: Feb 24, 2012
  3. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    DWard said it. Smoke unfoiled for better bark.
  4. rdknb

    rdknb Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    X3, I love the bark I get not foiling.  Takes a bit longer and tends to stall more but to me worth the wait.
  5. I am glad i posted this thread, because yall just reminded me that i forgot to buy apple juice! Gotta run to the store now lol. I am using a Char-griller with side fire box. I am gonna give it a go and try the no foil approach.
  6. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Used to foil all the time, but don't any more. The bark mixed in with the PP really adds a great flavor.
  7. X5. I never foil my pork butts. That crispy bark is what makes the pulled pork so good!
  8. if you have the time do NOT foil! Constant even temperature and keep that lid closed! I only foil if i am pushed for time
  9. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member


    Let us know how it comes out (and which way you did it).  And post PHOTOS!!!!
  10. cromag

    cromag Smoking Fanatic

    same here I smoke unfoiled to the finish temp then I only foil for the rest period

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