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Old 02-04-2014, 12:05 AM   #1
TERCH
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Default Different types of Spare Ribs?

I bought two different racks of spare ribs from Restaurant Depot today. One was labeled as "PORK SPARE RIBS MED 3.5 / 5.5" and the other is labeled as "PORK SPARE RIB LIGHT." The only notable difference I could see was the size of the rack. Does anyone know what the difference is? Are there other cuts/grades of spare ribs I should be aware of?
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Old 02-04-2014, 01:00 AM   #2
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I believe that Rest Depot just lumps their ribs and briskets into weight ranges. That 3.5 / 5.5 is likely racks weighing 3.5-5.5 lbs and is considered "medium". I'd bet if you weigh a rack from the "light" package you'll find it under 3.5 lbs. Was the price/lb different between the packages?

I've noticed a different price/lb (a little higher) on "heavy" briskets.
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Old 02-04-2014, 08:11 AM   #3
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Spareribs come from the belly and side of the pig, under where bacon (belly and side) comes from. They are about 2-4 pounds sometimes more, and are very meaty, but are less tender than loin back ribs. Spareribs tend to have more fat, more flavor, and cost less per pound than loin back ribs.

Pork ribs are sold in slabs. The number of bones in a whole slab will vary depending upon how the ribs were processed and trimmed. You should expect 11-14 bones in a whole slab of Ribs.

The size and weight of a slab is based on several factors, including the age and size of the Pig and how the meat was processed. You may hear terms like "3-1/2 and down", "3 to 5", and "5 and up". These are common ranges used to describe ribs for the weight ranges in which rib slabs are commonly sold. While these terms are commonly used by meat suppliers at the wholesale level, you won't hear them used in retail stores.

Most of us like to buy and cook whole slabs. Supermarket cut slabs in half for packaging convenience and to allow shoppers to buy smaller quantities. I find that it's easier to prep and cook a small number of large pieces versus a large number of small pieces. I also find that the end pieces can dry out, and you have fewer end pieces if you're cooking whole slabs.

People often use the terms "baby back ribs" and "back ribs" interchangeably. Loin back ribs come from the loin of the hog, where pork chops come from. You'll sometimes see them called baby back ribs or loin ribs in the grocery store. They are smaller in size 1-1/4 to 2-1/4 pounds and are less meaty, less fatty, and more tender than spareribs.

Because they are smaller, baby back back ribs cook faster than spareribs. They are one of the most expensive cuts of meat from the hog due to high consumer demand.
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Old 02-04-2014, 08:28 AM   #4
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Great explanation!

Technically Babybacks are 1 1/4# or under. Over that is a loin back rib.

Your average spare rib will weigh 5-6 lbs and yeild a 2.5-3# St. Louis cut rib.
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Old 02-04-2014, 10:23 AM   #5
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I disagree with the notion that spare ribs are less tender than loin backs. Because they have more fat, they cook up more tender for me. I also think that loin backs taste closer to pork loin than spares do because well, they tend to include some of the leaner loin meat when they are cut extra meaty.

Back to the original question, the ribs at rd are packaged by weight ranges.
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Old 02-04-2014, 12:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R2Egg2Q View Post
I believe that Rest Depot just lumps their ribs and briskets into weight ranges. That 3.5 / 5.5 is likely racks weighing 3.5-5.5 lbs and is considered "medium". I'd bet if you weigh a rack from the "light" package you'll find it under 3.5 lbs. Was the price/lb different between the packages?

I've noticed a different price/lb (a little higher) on "heavy" briskets.
Not sure about the price, will check tonight when I get home.
Thanks for all the info.
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Old 02-04-2014, 12:21 PM   #7
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Restaurant Depot out here sells by wieght. They often sell cases by the average weight of racks, per R2egg2Q. Most restaurants out here get the heavier spare racks, you will almost never see these at grocery store.
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Old 02-04-2014, 01:07 PM   #8
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It is my understanding that "baby back" ribs are the upper (loin ribs) taken from hogs between 250-275# at time of slaughter.
Loin ribs from hogs larger than that are labeled as Loin ribs.
Then again...
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Old 02-04-2014, 07:01 PM   #9
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Baby back is not official. Think delmonico. There is no legal definition of a baby back
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Old 02-04-2014, 10:31 PM   #10
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I have heard the expression 3 1/2 and down for ribs and never could find an explanation of what it meant. Maybe know I have a clue. Thanks IamMadMan
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Old 02-05-2014, 05:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by okiej View Post
I have heard the expression 3 1/2 and down for ribs and never could find an explanation of what it meant. Maybe know I have a clue. Thanks IamMadMan
That ribs in the case that your package came out of will average 3 1/2 lbs.
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Last edited by Bbq Bubba; 02-05-2014 at 06:05 PM..
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Old 02-06-2014, 08:56 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoke ninja View Post
Baby back is not official. Think delmonico. There is no legal definition of a baby back
Whether "official" or "legal" this can be found by an online search...



Quote:
  • Baby back ribs (or loin ribs, back ribs) are taken from the top of the rib cage between the spine and the spare ribs, below the loin muscle. The designation "baby" indicates the cuts are from market-weight hogs (240–270 lbs.), rather than adult hogs (500–650 lbs.). They have meat between the bones and on top of the bones, and are shorter, curved, and sometimes meatier than spare ribs. The rack is shorter at one end, due to the natural tapering of a pig's rib cage. The shortest bones are typically only about 3 in (7.6 cm) and the longest is usually about 6 in (15 cm), depending on the size of the hog. A pig side has 15 to 16 ribs (depending on the breed), but usually two or three are left on the shoulder when it is separated from the loin. So, a rack of back ribs contains a minimum of eight ribs (some may be trimmed if damaged), but can include up to 13 ribs, depending on how it has been prepared by the butcher. A typical commercial rack has 10–13 bones. If fewer than 10 bones are present, butchers call them "cheater racks".
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