Foil problem - pulled pork with apple cider vinegar

David Pagels

New member
I made my best pan of pulled pork yet today. The only weird part was that after wrapping the pork in foil and putting it in the oven to finish off, I noticed the juices leaked out of the foil and into the pan. When I went to pull it, the foil wasn't punctured, but dissolved a little bit. When I wrap, I use some apple cider vinegar mixed with apple juice and some rub. Is that a big no - no since acv is acidic? The other thing I thought of while writing this is whether my temp probe turned my setup into a low grade battery. I've heard caution of using a steel pan with aluminum foil for that reason, but am surprised I haven't heard of this before from all the looking around I've done. Thank you for any input/insight! (And happy smoke day if you read this the day I'm writing it!)
 

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB Hall of Fame
Electrolysis comes into play when different metals are in contact with an catalyst (steel, aluminum and vinegar) that will cause a reaction pretty quickly...glass and foil are a better option in my opinion.
Aluminum pan, Aluminum foil, unless the acidic level is pretty high, you should (should) be OK.
 

David Pagels

New member
Thank you for the replies! I did a little more research today and found the article I vaguely remembered. Here's the link. I was using an aluminum foil pan with the butt wrapped in aluminum foil. It sounds like the temp probe being in contact with the foil must've been enough to cause the reaction. From this, it sounds like my best bet is to not leave a probe in anymore and to periodically temp it instead, or maybe skip the apple cider vinegar to at least keep the reaction slower.
 

Brad Olson

TVWBB Wizard
I vote for doing the occasional temping instead of adjusting your recipe. I always figure that a butt's going to take at least 2 hr/lb, so I don't even think about checking until it's been on for at least 90 min/lb.
 

timothy

TVWBB Hall of Fame
Yep, your better off leaving the temp probe out and forget about it after you foil. Foiling causes the internal temp to rise quickly, but you still need time and a certain temperature to make it tender.
Foiled, just go by feel. If it feels soft when giving it a squeeze or poke with a gloved hand, I'll unwrap and check it with a skewer to get that hot knife thru butter thing .

Tim
 
weird. I've never had this and i for sure have wrapped my butts in aluminum foil with a temp prob and some vinegar. usually its apple cider vinegar and beer. i always placed it back on the smoker (no pan) or in the oven on a pyrex. i have probably put it on a baking sheet at some point too.
 

David Pagels

New member
K, now I'm really at a loss. I smoked another pork butt today and this time, when I foiled I left the temp probe out. I also didn't use any vinegar this time, just dry brined and then rubbed with 4 pepper : 2 paprika : 1 onion powder : 1 garlic powder. After I transferred the foil butt to an aluminum pan in the oven to finish off the cook, it still dissolved a couple of holes through the aluminum! It's darker/black around the holes and you can tell the foil is thinner around the holes too, definitely not a puncture. The bottom of the foil pan felt a little rough like last time too... maybe my oven racks aren't properly grounded or something? As far as trying to get foil to work, Is there anything else I can try? I'm thinking about putting the pan on some wood or something to isolate it from the oven rack next time.
 

David Pagels

New member
Did some more research today. Hoping my thrashing can help some people. It's looking more and more like heavily salted foods can cause aluminum foil to turn into salts too and found some people in the food industry talking on another forum about how they always put down plastic wrap over a foil pan before making lasagna and wrap pork shoulders in plastic before foil to avoid this problem (not using consumer grade saran wrap though). @Chris Allingham I like the idea of using a stainless steel hotel pan, but am nervous that if a foiled butt leaks any it might react aggressively. My local barbecue place that inspired me to get into this hobby never wraps and smokes the whole time in hotel pans, so I think I'll get one and try both ways. I've also ordered a 24 inch wide roll of the pink butcher paper to give that a try too (I sure hope paper won't corrode :LOL:). @Robert Dilbert what do you do for salt? Do you dry brine ahead of time? Have you ever put a foiled butt in an aluminum pan? I'm hoping to figure out why I'm having this problem consistently, but I'm hard pressed to find others talk about this on the forums. Maybe people just don't notice/care? Thanks again everyone for all of the feedback and sticking with me thus far!
 

MikeCantell

TVWBB Super Fan
I never use vinegar for spritzing, not a flavor profile I want, that's what I use rubs for, spritzing with a fruit juice works well for me, a sauce on the side with vinegar is great , I use to dry brine every thing I smoked over night but I'm not sure it done much besides drying out the surface of the meat, acv will penetrate into meats easier than water and may carry some flavors from rubs with it, a injection to me is a better method to get flavors deeper. Keeping the meat moist will allow more smoke flavor to stick
 

John K BBQ

TVWBB Member
I agree w/Mike. I spritz w/apple juice for pork. If you have a dutch oven or ceramic casserole, or slow cooker large enough and with tight fitting lid, you can put a pork butt in one of those and stick it in your oven with no worries at all. If you make pulled pork often, and don't have a big dutch oven, you might enjoy having this in your kitchen, I love using mine for all sorts of things. An old fashioned lodge can even be used to cook on the grill or smoker. I think mine's about 6 quarts, but it's also about 15 lbs empty :rolleyes:. Next best option is a big ceramic slow cooker insert, but those are a little less versatile than a dutch oven.

I have foiled meats in aluminum pan before, and have never had a leak. I think the major causes of your issue were the acidity of the vinegar, and/or the temperature probe touching the foil pan. I would be curious to know what your ratio of ACV to juice was.

As far as salt and brine goes. I think dry brine is the way to go with pork butt. Slather the butt up with mustard or Worcestershire, put on a heavy coat of rub, put it in a turkey roaster bag, and stick it in the fridge for the night, smoke it the next morning. This is how I've made my best pulled pork. I have not tried a wet brine on pulled pork, but I'm sure it would work. Typically wet brine includes salt, sugar, and just a few "kickers". I wet brine chicken, turkey, pork chops and other items, but usually not with the full compliment of bbq rub ingredients.
 

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB Hall of Fame
Okay keep this in mind, why do boats use stainless, monel and brass when in salt water? Electrolysis. Larry brought this up in another thread but, the idea holds true. Salts encourage the electrolytic breakdown of aluminum very quickly, if you’re getting pinholes, I’m not too surprised, it’s going to happen.
If it is driving you nuts, use pink butcher paper, then foil. No salt contact, less likely to have electrolysis eating your foil.
Personally, I don’t use massive quantities of salt and have only had a problem when storing leftovers quickly overnight using a stainless hotel pan and foil overtop. It happens!
 
I recall reading about vinegar and salt causing pinholes in foil while cooking or barbecuing. They recommended placing a sheet of baking parchment between the meat and the foil to prevent that kind of reaction.
 
@Robert Dilbert what do you do for salt? Do you dry brine ahead of time? Have you ever put a foiled butt in an aluminum pan? I'm hoping to figure out why I'm having this problem consistently, but I'm hard pressed to find others talk about this on the forums. Maybe people just don't notice/care? Thanks again everyone for all of the feedback and sticking with me thus far!
i rub my pork butts ahead of time, and just let it sit while i get the smoker up and running. i don't recall ever putting a foiled but in an aluminum pan.
 

David Pagels

New member
The last smoke I didn't use any vinegar, pretty much just a texas style butt (with a little paprika, onion, and garlic). And still got the pinholes. I used exclusively aluminum (pan was aluminum and there was no temp probe) and it still happened. I'm just concerned that its such a consistent problem for me and I don't see anyone else with this problem. They are always using a different metal pan in the examples I can find. I just feel like I'm missing something simple
 

Top