BBQ Prep

How to Remove the Membrane from Ribs (3 Easy Steps)

BBQ ribs are one of my favorite dishes. Whether I'm grilling them or smoking them, there's nothing more satisfying then presenting a beautiful rack of ribs at a grill party or tailgate.

Preparation is key though, and one of the most important things you can do with this fresh rack of pork is remove the membrane.

This layer of fat that can be found on the underside of the rack. While it’s not harmful by any means, it can turn rubbery when cooked and make your meat tough and sometimes even inedible.

In today’s guide I’m going to show you exactly how to remove the membrane from ribs, in 3 easy steps.


What is the membrane on ribs?

The membrane is found on most rack of ribs from the butcher, and is really easy to spot. It’s the layer of silver or white skin found on the underside of the rack.

This is sometimes referred to as silverskin, and is fairly commonly found on a lot of cuts of meat, particularly pork, lamb and beef.

There’s nothing abnormal about it, as it’s the protective layer of lining that covers some of the animal’s organs.

We’re only concerned about cooking up some ribs however, and when it’s cooked it can be unpleasant in taste, and really tough. It’s made of elastin which doesn’t break down when cooked so can make your smoked rack of ribs really rubbery. Let’s get rid of it.


How to remove the membrane from pork ribs

Here’s a quick video that shows how to remove the layer of membrane from your rack of ribs. Pay close attention to how you need to get purchase on the skin before then tearing it off. The first bit is always the hardest!

You will need a dull knife to get to work on the ribs. Don’t use anything sharp because it’ll easily pierce of slice the membrane, making it harder to remove.

1

Step 1 - Start at the end

Find where the membrane or silver skin starts at one end of the rack. Use your dull knife (or a spoon if you prefer) to slide under the skin and start to carefully pull it away from the bone.

2

Step 2 - Get some purchase

Slowly start to pull it away until you can can get two fingers underneath. Then use your hands to start to pull it away. Try to be as gentle as possible so as to not risk breaking or slicing the skin.

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Step 3 - Tear the skin away 

Using a paper towel for purchase, remove the skin slowly, ensuring that you keep it intact. If it does tear then don’t worry - just use the paper towel to remove as many pieces of membrane as you can.


What if I can’t remove the membrane?

If you’re stuck for time of just find the whole removal process too difficult then don’t worry. Many ribs come with the membrane pre-removed.

Also, cooking ribs with the membrane still on is still absolutely fine. Some people even prefer the taste of ribs with it left on. The skin is permeable, meaning that the juices and seasoning of the ribs can still pass through it and infuse the ribs with flavor.

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