Who doesn’t love a good rack of pork ribs cooked to perfection? They can be a delicious treat for any occasion, from backyard BBQs to gourmet dinners.
But when it comes to selecting pork ribs, you may wonder how many types of pork ribs? The answer is: There are 5 types of pork ribs: spare ribs, rib tips, baby back ribs, country-style ribs, and St. Louis-style ribs.
Now let’s explore the differences between these types of pork ribs in texture, taste, and how you should cook each type. So get comfortable with your kitchen knife and prepare yourself for some mouthwatering information.
An Overview of Pork Rib Varieties
There are several different types of pork ribs, each with its own unique characteristics and cooking methods. Here are some of the most common types:
- Baby back ribs
- St. Louis-style ribs
- Spare ribs
- Country-style ribs
- Rib tips
- Baby Back Ribs
Baby Back Ribs are cut from the upper portion of ribcage. These ribs are more tender and less fatty compared to varieties of pork ribs because they contain less fat and marbling. Despite their name, they are not taken from piglets but are rather named “baby back” due to their shorter length in comparison to spareribs.
A single rack of baby back ribs typically includes from 10 to 13 bones and makes use of almost the entire ribcage. Typically, the ribs are trimmed At the end of the ribs, so the bone with the shortest length in a baby back rib rack is usually around 3 inches long.
Their position near the spine causes the ribs to have a slightly curved shape, with approximately 1/2 inch of pork loin meat located on the upper side of the ribs
Due to their leanness and lighter weight compared to spare ribs, baby back ribs require approximately 4 hours of smoking time.
- St. Louis-style ribs
St. Louis-style ribs are taken from the lower end of the rib cage and contain a higher level of fat and marbling compared to baby back ribs. As such, they have more flavor due to the presence of collagen and connective tissues which dissolve during cooking, imparting flavor and moisture into the ribs.
These ribs have a rectangular shape with well-defined edges compared to other types of pork ribs. Each slab contains around eight bones which can measure up to 4 inches in length when cooked, making it nearly an inch longer than baby back ribs.
For optimal outcomes, Spare Ribs necessitate approximately 8 hours of smoking time because of their larger size and greater fat content.
- Spare Ribs
Spare ribs are cut from the bottom end of the rib cage, just above where the pork belly ends. As such, these have a thicker layer of fat which helps to insulate and protect the meat from drying out during cooking.
Each slab contains around 11-13 bones, with a single bone measuring up to 6 inches in length when cooked properly. The shape of spare ribs is irregular and somewhat curved due to their position near the belly.
- Country-style Ribs
Country-style ribs are taken from either the lateral portion of the pig’s scapula (shoulder blade) and include a part of the shoulder blade bone. These ribs contain more fat and connective tissues compared to other types, resulting in a richer flavor when cooked properly.
The shape of these ribs is similar to that of Spare Ribs, with each slab containing around 6-8 bones measuring up to 2 inches long
- Rib Tips
They are cut from the ends of the spareribs and contain mostly cartilage and fat, lending them an intense and sweet flavor when cooked properly.
These ribs have a triangular shape with each piece measuring up to 2 inches in length. Due to their smaller size and higher fat content, these ribs require approximately 4-6 hours of smoking time for optimal results.
What to Consider When Choosing Pork Ribs?
Here are some tips for selecting pork ribs:
- Look for fresh meat: Choose ribs that are fresh and have a bright pink color. Avoid ribs that are gray or brown in color as they may be spoiled.
- Check for marbling: Look for ribs that have visible streaks of fat running throughout the meat. This marbling helps to keep the meat moist and tender during cooking.
- Check the bone: The bones should be straight and not curved or broken. This can be an indication that the ribs have been mishandled or damaged.
- Consider the weight: If you are buying ribs by the pound, look for ribs that are heavier as this can be an indication of more meat and less bone.
- Choose the right type of ribs: Consider what type of ribs you want to cook and choose accordingly. For example, baby back ribs are leaner and more tender, while spare ribs have more fat and require longer cooking times.
Different Methods and Tips To Get The Perfect Ribs
If you want to achieve the perfect pork ribs, there are a few key tips and techniques you should keep in mind.
First and foremost, consider using a dry rub made of herbs, spices, and sugar to add flavor to the meat.
Another important tip for cooking pork ribs is to wrap them in aluminum foil before placing them in the smoker or oven. This helps to keep the ribs moist while they cook, as the foil traps moisture within and also prevents flare-ups from any drippings that may occur during cooking.
Once the ribs are done cooking, it’s important to let them rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute within the meat, ensuring greater juiciness and tenderness with each bite.
Finally, consider serving your perfect pork ribs with classic side dishes such as coleslaw, potato salad, or macaroni and cheese.
With these tips and techniques in mind, you’ll be able to impress your guests with perfectly cooked and delicious pork ribs every time.
How Long Do Pork Ribs Take to Cook?
Generally, baby back ribs will take 2-3 hours in a smoker or 4-6 hours in an oven, while spare ribs and country-style ribs may require 4-5 hours in a smoker or 6-8 hours in an oven.
What is The Best Way to Cook Them?
Smoking is generally considered the best way to cook them as it allows for slow, even cooking that yields juicier and more flavorful results. However, baking or roasting the ribs in an oven can also yield good results.
Do You Have to Soak Pork Ribs Before Cooking?
No, soaking is not necessary for pork ribs. However, marinating the meat in a flavorful sauce or rub will help enhance its flavor and tenderness.
Do You Have to Remove The Membrane From Pork Ribs Before Cooking?
Yes, removing the thin membrane on the bone side of the ribs is recommended as it can make the meat tough and chewy. To remove this membrane, insert a knife between its edges and gently peel it away.
Are Pork Ribs Healthy?
Pork ribs are relatively high in fat and cholesterol, so they should be consumed in moderation.
To sum it all up, there are five varieties of pork ribs for you to choose from when preparing your next meal. Each offers a unique flavor and texture that will bring a delicious new dish to the dinner table.
Whether you’re looking for Chinese-style spare ribs or St. Louis cut ones, the possibilities are endless. Whichever kind you select, be sure to season them thoroughly and cook them low and slow for maximum savoriness. Keep in mind that although pork ribs are among the tastiest cuts of meat, they can easily dry out if not cooked properly.
Enjoy experimenting with different kinds of pork ribs and have fun with your favorite tender enough to easily separate from the bone recipes.