Spare rib bend test?

Discussion in 'Pork' started by kc chiefs fan, Jun 17, 2015.

  1. Going to do some spare ribs on Sunday a lot of things I read talk about the bend test.  What is that?  I've cooked lots of ribs in my smoker, every Sunday the Chiefs play actually, but I always cook to around 165 IT.  Could someone explain the bend test and even throw out a few ideas for rubs, sauces, marinades, or opinions on wet vs dry ribs?
  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    The bend test is used to aid in determining the amount of shrinkage of the meat with a slab of ribs. You wait until you see pull-back from the bone ends, lift the slab off the grate from mid-length with gloved hand or tongs and see how much the ends sag or droop. The less it sags the tighter the meat fibers and more it is cooked. The less it sags the less it has cooked.

    EDIT: I should have included that the above is best noticed with a dry smoke chamber and a decent bark formed, prior to foiling...things change if you had them foiled doing a 3-2-1, 2-2-1 or other variant.

    I've never used a thermometer in pork ribs...just seems like such a thin target area for probe tip insertion to get an accurate reading. Shrinkage, indicated by pull-back and/or bend test is a very accurate indicator of tenderness.

    I generally don't glaze or sauce, and we prefer dry ribs...just us, but it lets you taste the meat, rub and smoke a lot more. Some like to serve sauce on the side. I know there are certain regions where sauce on ribs is the king, but not for, can't really help with that. I have made sticky ribs (set the sauce on open grates) a few times, and even sticky yard birds, but not sauces...just something everyone knew and liked.

    Here's a couple recipes for expanding the mind a bit, if you dare...

    Blueberry/Cherry Pork Rub

    Chery/Balsamic Wet Rub on Spares

    I've brined ribs a couple times a while back...would have to dig to find a recipe...there's a pork marinade I made a few times for chops...not off the charts, but a nice change with a good pairing for overall flavor profile with pork:

    Lemon/Orange Marinade

    Ancho Chili/RBP Brine (with Hawg Heaven Rub)

    Brined Loin-Back Pork Ribs (with Hawg Heaven Rub)

    That should get you started brain-storming...have fun and enjoy your time with the smoke!!!

    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
    kc chiefs fan likes this.
  3. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    IMO the toothpic test is a much better indicator. Probe with a toothpic between the bones and when it probes with very little resistance they're done. When they probe pretty tender is when i glaze and pull about 10-15 later.
    grandmastershek likes this.
  4. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    For the bend test I pick up the slab approx. 1/3 from the thick end and lift it straight up with a pair of tongs. If the slab bends easily and the tip points straight down they are done, if not cook for another hour.
  5. Thanks for the advice everyone I will post the cook with Q-View on Sunday
  6. crazymoon

    crazymoon Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    KC, please don't do what I did last Sunday which was pick the slab up from the thin end.  The slab broke off and the heavy end was headed for the floor. I was lucky enough to grab it with my other hand before it hit the garage floor ! They were definitely done, I was impressed with my reflexes after imbibing a few cold ones.[​IMG]
  7. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    That's funny CrazyMoon.  Congrats on reflexes tho'.  Been there, done that.    A couple of years ago.    Probably will happen again.  LOL

    KC Chiefs Fan,   I hate your team!  LOL   (I'm a Tigers Man.)

    However, we are all on the same team in these forums.

    Here are some ribs I smoked a few hours ago.

    Ribs on smoker

    Pull Back.... Not a trustworthy indicator for doneness, but always nice when it happens!

    Bend Test.   Reliable, when used along with the toothpick test.

    I mowed an entire acre of lawn carrying my Maverick 732 while  ribs were smoking, and my remote never lost signal.

    I only used it to monitor smoker temp.

    Even when the house and van was between me and the sending unit @ the smoker, I didn't lose signal.  Awesome! 

    I foiled these ribs after 4 hours of 240*-275* smoke temps.  Foiled at 250*, for 1 1/2 hours.

    Sauced, and put back in smoke @ low temp of 190*-225* for 30-40 minutes to set sauce.

    Turned out fantastic!  Tender, yet still had bite texture.  Not mushy at all.

    I usually don't foil. or sauce my ribs.  I offer sauce to those who want it.  But this time I decided to do both.

    Nobody wants the same flavor all the time.  Right?   I like them both ways.   But un-sauced & un-foiled is my favorite.

    I don't usually temp probe my ribs because you'll get different reading between each rib.

    However, a couple of days ago, I did some for my daughter.   She had a full slab, and I was too lazy to trim it to KC cut, so I used Therm-a-pen to check thick end.  It read 185* when I pulled them.  Told her they would be just right, after heating them for her and hubby, next day in 275* oven for an hour.

    I hope this helps you out a bit KC.

    (I still hate your team)   LOL
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2015
  8. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    The Bend Test-

    kc chiefs fan likes this.
  9. cal1956

    cal1956 Smoking Fanatic

    well I have to admit I have never seen//heard of cooking ribs the way you folks do !
  10. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Try it cal1956.  You won't go back.

    My daughter is in her 40's and has always claimed to not like smoked meet.  Especially Ribs!  Last year at a family reunion in December, I took some pork ribs done in my smoker.  I took a bunch, so there were a few pieces left over.  My wife talked my daughter into taking some home.  She said okay, because hubby liked smoked food, but she didn't.  Deb told her to just try one bite.  Just try it.

    Next day, my daughter called me to ask if I would smoke some for her next year.  Her hubby never got any of those she took home!

    She ate them all!   LOL  I just got done smoking some for her a few days ago.  Got to visit with her all afternoon and evening while I was smoking too.  Win, win!
  11. cal1956

    cal1956 Smoking Fanatic

    ooooooh I have smoked more ribs than most I would say , just never did analyze or test them . after the 1st 100 or so I could just look at them and know when they were ready  
  12. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Please tell us the secret then, after all this forum is all about sharing.
  13. cal1956

    cal1956 Smoking Fanatic

    no secret , just experience I guess , 225 degrees , 4 hours , then look at them , if they don't look quite right , give them a few more minutes . however , I never serve my ribs fresh off the smoker

    I ALWAYS let them rest for at least an hour or two at 140 degrees , to let the juices redistribute every time !!!!
  14. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Sry Cal, I thought you were speaking of the cooking method.
  15. cal1956

    cal1956 Smoking Fanatic

    there is no "method "   just rub , cook , rest and eat
  16. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Sounds like a method to me, lots of rib meisters follow something similar.
  17. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Just like there no method to paying a steel.  just move the little bar and wiggle your fingers, and POOF!  Music will automatically sound perfect?

    Or did you have to learn something other than pic at the strings and stomp pedals before you could play it?

    Most of the members here are learning, a good share of them are sometimes smokers, and some are experts.  Us new members learn from those more experienced when they offer more insight other than just to rub, cook, rest, and eat.  Which, btw is a method in itself.  You wouldn't want to eat it first.

    The thread starter specifically asked about the bend test.  We posted some pics, showing that.  Big deal.  So if you don't do a bend test, and find it amusing, just read, and move on.  Don't make the person trying to learn something feel foolish.

    I'm done.  sheesh!
  18. Good  Point, Sometimes us Old Timers  forget we were rookies one time. And there is no reason to ever feel bad or embarrassed . I have been smoking for over 40 years but recently got into curing and sausage making, I ask a ton of questions and still do on anything  I'm not sure about.

     So ----  the bend test and pull back are both good indicators. It will take several times to get it down pat. One of the main things is get to know your smoker, how it cooks and constant temp.

    The 3-2-1 and 2-2-1 are very good methods as well if you are doing the wrapping method. If unwrapped keep an eye on them, if they look like they are drying out, spritz with some apple juice.

    Experiment with different rubs to see what you like. If you sauce do it close to the end so it doesn't burn.

    Ever need any help I'm usually around

  19. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Many members here feel the same about making sausage: grind, stuff, smoke, eat. Yet they felt they could help with some advice on your first batches.

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