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Redheart 09-23-2009 05:03 PM

Burnt Sugar form Rubs
I have heard many times and seen it posted many times, that the sugar in the rub burned. Well lets consider a few facts about sugar.

Sugar doesn't caramelize till 320*. Doesn't burn till 350*.

Syrup sugars like honey and maple syrup will tolerate a little more heat because they need to boil off moisture. But not much.

Maple sap starts boiling only about 7 degrees higher than water. It also is not considered syrup till it is boiled down to 67% sugar content. So bottled syrup does not have a very large window before all the moisture is driven off and the sugar content is susceptible to burning.

At temperatures as low as 100* honey starts to caramelize converting the sugars something very close to cane sugar. Again it shouldn't really burn till about 365* but it will effect the honey flavour.

So hear are my thoughts.

If you are burning your rub during a low and slow you are:

A) Burning something other than the sugar in your rub.
B) Burning at a temp beyond low.
C) Using way too much smoke creating 'stale' smoke allowing the rub to absorb too much of the acrid nature of the smoke.
D)Using smoke for too long during the cook and discolouring the meat and drying the bark out till it has the quality of charred meat.

If you want a sweetened rub you must go low and slow otherwise you will get a bitter burnt taste. Burnt sugar has a very definite taste and smell. I know many a old hand at this may not agree with the facts above and insist sugar burns at about 265* but it is really not the case.

If you must have sweet and high heat try brining, since the internal temperature of the meat should never come close to these temperatures not even 265*. Try making a sweet sauce to glaze the meat and add a couple of layers of the sauce about before pulling the meat. Or try a pan of water in with your smoke. This will keep hotter temperature smokes cooler though the absorption of heat due to the heat sump nature of the pan of water and then again through the cooling effects of evaporation.

So if you are burning the rub on your meats, don't blame the rub. Look at your technique and adjust where needed.

I am taping pillows to my butt ' cause I know the a$$beating I am gone take for this post.

BBQ Grail 09-23-2009 05:13 PM

Rest assured no one here wants to touch your butt....

As for the post. Nice knowledge.

bigabyte 09-23-2009 05:18 PM

I agree 100%.

Bushwacker 09-23-2009 05:47 PM

Thanks for the Info Red... It sounds Like good advice to me,,, But what the heck do I know,LMBO. I'm still a newbie...

NCGuy68 09-23-2009 06:13 PM

My homemade rub with sugar produces a nice bark that everyone likes. Its never been called 'burnt'. And yes, I do cook low and slow.

mrwicks 09-23-2009 08:28 PM

only once had a problem with my homemade, soon to try to take commercial, rub......that was because i was drinking way too much and trying to talk to all the skirts in the park......forgot i had ribs on the smoker

smknhotmama 09-23-2009 08:38 PM


Originally Posted by BBQ Grail (Post 1034374)
Rest assured no one here wants to touch your butt....

As for the post. Nice knowledge.

ha ha ha ha..that made me snort!

Redheart 09-23-2009 10:07 PM


Originally Posted by bigabyte (Post 1034376)

Thanks for the Mad Scientist approach to the problem. But I have to ask ....l Kool -Aid? :eek: How did you ever come up with that?

Meat Burner 09-24-2009 12:08 AM you are waaay over thining this. RELAX and enjoy good BBQ. Facts are only a starting point but if you think you can put all these facts together and make a cook work....won't happen. A brisket of the same brand and size may take 8 hours or 15 hours. It is done when it is done, period! All of your questions are ligitimate but it all boils down to trial and error based on what you are cooking on. Try your theories and techniques and keep us posted. JUST COOK SOMETHING and take notes. Not too many notes though!

bigabyte 09-24-2009 09:44 AM


Originally Posted by Redheart (Post 1034616)
Thanks for the Mad Scientist approach to the problem. But I have to ask ....l Kool -Aid? :eek: How did you ever come up with that?

It wasn't hard to come up with at all. It was there in the pantry when I was checking for more stuff to test.:biggrin::biggrin::biggrin: Actually, before that I had tried a rib rub with cherry Kool-Aid powder in it, so when i saw the packet I figured I better go ahead and put it in the test too. I heard about using the Kool-Aid while chatting with a guy who was trying to duplicate a Cherry Rub he really liked. The Kool-Aid does not duplicate the same cherry flavor as the rub he was trying to duplicate, but a cherry flavor that is not at all offensive is right there front and center!:biggrin:

TrustTheDust 09-24-2009 09:52 AM

great post. good insight.

prudog 09-24-2009 10:35 AM

Hmmm... for 4-5 years, the old dogs on another forum had me convinced that 275* was magic number for burning sugar. I have now been removed of my blinders and will take a more objective assessment.

Now I know where the mad scientist went too. Thanks for the posts everyone!

RubMeTender 09-24-2009 11:34 AM

I've spoken on this before. Paprika has a lower burning point than sugar, and actually contains quite a bit of natural sugar. Certain types of paprika will also get bitter if it's cooked too high too long.

bigabyte 09-24-2009 12:27 PM

Hey Prudog, good to see another familiar face here. There's a few faces here from other forums.:wink:

I also agree about the Paprika being a likely factor for most people. A lot of people use a fair amount of paprika in their rubs, and depending on what kind you use it may wind up burnt tasting.

Hugh Jorgan 09-24-2009 01:03 PM

Over a long period of time, at temperature of around 100 C, sugar will discolor and take on bad flavors.

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