What do salt and sugar have in common?

Steve Petrone

TVWBB Diamond Member
According to a source I read online (can't remember who but this is Not original to me & since I read it online...must be true), sugar acts similarly to salt on meat drawing out moisture.
Ding, ding, ding...lets SALT & SUGAR FIRST. Imagine a rub without salt and sugar!

This appeals to me on multiple levels. First, there is control of how much salt and sugar are applied. Second, I can use dark brown sugar and not have to dry it before going in a rub.

So I've done the deed. Made two rubs without salt & sugar.
RUB A:
1/4 cup chili powder (Penseys)
1 teaspoon dehydrated onion
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
Mallet and pestle to grind


RUB B:
1/4 cup chili powder
1 teaspoon dehydrated onion
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Each rub has been applied to St. Louis trim ribs.
We will see.
 

Bob Correll

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
Not what you're talking about Steve, but I've seen several bbq "experts" who say to sprinkle on the rub, but not rub it in.
Something about it blocking the smoke penetration, I think.

Good luck with your experiment.
 

Vincent Carrocci

TVWBB Super Fan
Steve, salt and sugar are both hygroscopic which basically means they attract and hold on to water molecules. That makes both substances perfect for dry brining. If you've ever heard of the process of salting a steak for a few hours before cooking, that is the act of dry brining in process. What happens with salting is that the very liberal coating of salt that you place on the surfaces of the meat will at first draw out moisture from the meat but after about 45 minutes, that moisture is then reabsorbed back into the meat and the surface will actually be dry and a little tacky. The salty moisture that has been reabsorbed will now allow the meat to retain more moisture during the cooking process.

I've done this many times on steaks (you need to leave the salt on for at least an hour) and with large roasts like a rib roast (I will usually salt a roast at least 48 hours in advance of cooking), and the results are excellent! Here is a short video of what actually happens when you salt a steak.

https://www.cooksillustrated.com/videos/9-when-to-salt-steaks

Many people in the competition barbeque world will also dry brine ribs overnight by seasoning their racks on Friday night with their competition rub, wrapping them up tightly in plastic wrap and then holding them in a cooler until they're ready to put them on the smoker Saturday morning.

Best of luck with your experiment. I look forward to seeing your results!
 

Steve Petrone

TVWBB Diamond Member
Tonight was a double cook on the 14.5. 3+lb. beef rib roast...about 1 1/2 hour cook at 250. rest for 25 min. then reverse sear at 550 for 10 min.
It was perfect for my medium loving wife. Rib roast is one of my favorites.

Ok smoked the St. Louis ribs (and riblets after beef came off) for about 4 hours. After gorging on beef, there was little room to test the ribs.
I did try a small sample...I believe I had the Rub B w/cinnamon. In a word it was delightful. Truly tasted like what I imagine pork candy to taste like.
Can't wait for tomorrow to do a proper tasting.

Vincent, thanks for the video-you taught me something with the delay before cooking. I did that today not knowing why...until now.
 

Vincent Carrocci

TVWBB Super Fan
Vincent, thanks for the video-you taught me something with the delay before cooking. I did that today not knowing why...until now.
Happy to have helped, Steve. I think salting/dry brining is a technique that very few people know about but end up using often once they discover how well it works.
 

Steve Petrone

TVWBB Diamond Member
A - B Rub test results.
A with celery seed was OK---sort of underwhelming. I was expecting it to be a hit.
B with cinnamon was VERY GOOD.

A bit of heat would help here. I've ordered a 'medium' chili powder instead of a regular.
More rub on the ribs next time-I was light handed this time.

I kinda like the salt & sugar first technique.
 

JayHeyl

TVWBB Pro
A bit of heat would help here. I've ordered a 'medium' chili powder instead of a regular..
I've found it more versatile to stay with the "mild" chili powder and add cayenne or other spicy powder to it as needed for a particular recipe. If you start with some unknown amount of cayenne in the chili powder it makes it far more difficult to adjust for a particular recipe. I bought a big bag of 'medium' chili powder a couple years ago and ended up with several batches of chili that was far too spicy because I didn't know how much to adjust the other spices to compensate.
 

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB Hall of Fame
With careful “comingling” they make my tastebuds very happy! Too much, in either direction, throws a wrench in the works.
The delicate balance between salt, fat, acid and heat is a ballet of overjoyus ecstasy!
Easily discussed, rarely achieved.
 

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