The membrane on the back of a rack of ribs is part of the animal’s peritoneum.
It’s different from the cartilage between the ribs in that it doesn’t soften with cooking. It’s rather like a piece of plastic – tough, tasteless, and unpleasant to eat.
It is worthwhile taking a few minutes to remove this tough membrane as it creates a barrier between the meat and any seasonings you may rub onto it.
Also, if you’re smoking the ribs, the membrane stops the smoky taste from properly penetrating the meat.
As you can see, it’s a good idea to get rid of this membrane before marinading, seasoning, and cooking the ribs. However, some people struggle to get it off.
We’re here to tell you about a few techniques to make the removal easier. Once you’ve mastered them, you’ll never struggle to get that rib membrane off again!
To find the membrane, turn the rack of ribs over so that the bones curl upwards towards your face. You should see a thin, almost transparent whitish layer of “skin” over the back of the bones.
We have given you four methods for removing this, but whichever one you choose, you will first need to lift a corner of the membrane on one edge of the rack. Pull this corner up to get started with peeling.
Rib Membrane Won’t Come Off
1. Ask the Butcher
If you’ve bought your rack of ribs from a butcher, the easiest solution to the membrane problem is to ask your butcher to remove it for you.
Obviously, this won’t be an option if you’ve bought the meat from a supermarket. Some butchers will charge a small fee for the extra time but many will do it for free. Just ask!
2. Use a Butter Knife
The best tool for the job will be a blunt one. This is no place for your sharpened chef’s knife. One simple solution for those trying to remove the rib membrane at home is using a butter knife.
All you need to do is firmly grab the ribs in one hand and a butter knife in the other. Slide the knife blade under the membrane.
Now use a sawing and pulling action all the way down. The membrane should separate from the underlying ribs and tear off easily.
3. Use Metal Chopsticks
If you have some metal chopsticks at home, these will work more effectively than a butter knife. They’re great because they have no sharp edges to rip the membrane.
Tearing it makes it more difficult to remove – your goal is to get it off in one piece. Simply slide one metal chopstick under the membrane and pull it down to separate the membrane from the bones. It should peel off in one piece.
4. Use a Paper Towel
Lift a corner of the membrane with your fingers or a blunt knife. Now, grasp this corner with a paper towel (it’s slippery) and simply peel it off. Good job! You’ve removed the membrane.
You can now throw it away as there’s nothing you can use it for. This would have been like chewing on a piece of old leather so you can congratulate yourself on removing it.
You can now proceed to season and cook your ribs according to your recipe. We hope you enjoy them!