How To Remove Membrane From Ribs

Even after being cooked on a smoker, the membrane from ribs remains put. It is very tough and chewy to eat, which can be an unwanted contrast with perfectly cooked tender meat.

Although some people might like the membrane and enjoy eating it with the ribs, most people dislike it and it is recommended that you remove the membrane from the ribs before cooking. 

A lot of stores and butchers sell the pork ribs with the membrane already removed so that it is ready to be cooked. However, if the membrane is still there, removing it is easy enough!

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In case you’re unsure, the membrane is the silver-white looking opaque skin on the underside of the ribs.

The main meats in which it’s best to remove the membrane from ribs are pork, beef, and lamb.

There really are no benefits from leaving the membrane on, as it is completely tasteless and is just tough to chew.

This is why it is always best to remove the membrane before cooking so that the ribs can be enjoyed nice and tender! 

How To Remove The Membrane From The Ribs

Removing the membrane from the ribs is actually a lot easier than some people might think, so there really is no reason not to do so.

However, although it is very simple to remove, it does require a bit of persistence so that you’re making sure that all of the membrane is completely off and there are no bits of it left behind. 

You don’t need much to remove the membrane, and it can be done perfectly easily at home. Here’s a step by step guide to help you out!

  • Step 1:

First of all, you should place the ribs on a flat surface so that you can work on removing the membrane without having to hold them at an awkward angle.

It is recommended to use a chopping board underneath, as it will also help with keeping it in place without the ribs slipping around. 

  • Step 2:

Next, you need to get your utensils ready. It is very tempting to use a sharp knife to help you get under the membranes to then pull them off, but it is highly recommended that you don’t, as a sharp knife could slip and cause an injury. 

Instead, it is best to use something dull that won’t be able to accidentally cut you if it slips. The most commonly used items for this are spoons or butter knives.

  • Step 3:

From one end of the rack of ribs, place your utensil under the membrane, by sliding it in under the silverskin.

Now you have a bit of membrane separated from the bone, where your utensil is placed. 

  • Step 4:

Now that you have a small hole between the membrane and the bone, you can slip in two fingers and gently start peeling off the membrane by making your way across the ribs. 

  • Step 5:

Next, you can use a paper towel to grab the membrane. This is because grabbing it with your hands will be very difficult because of how slippery the silverskin is.

Once you’ve grabbed it, hold the ribs in place with the other hand and dirt pulling the membrane back so that it comes apart from the bones. The trick is to do it gently enough that it doesn’t tear.

If it does tear, you can grab it again and keep pulling at the pieces until the entire membrane is off of the ribs. 

  • Step 6:

Look over the ribs carefully to ensure you haven’t left any small bits of membrane behind, then throw away the membrane and cook the ribs! 

Why You Should Remove The Membrane From Ribs

Some people like to cook their ribs with the membrane left in, and that saves them from having to remove the membrane (even though it is relatively easy to do).

However, there are no benefits from cooking the ribs with the membrane left on, other than perhaps a personal preference. 

In fact, the membrane is silverskin, which is elastin. This means that no matter how long you cook the ribs, the membranes won’t break down and will remain the same.

It is perfectly edible and safe, but it will be very tough to chew and adds no taste whatsoever. So really, leaving the membrane on is just a downgrade for the final result of the cooked ribs.

Apart from taking away from the taste, flavoring, and enjoyment, the membrane will ruin the presentation of your cooked ribs, as it won’t look good. You will almost never see membrane left on at restaurants or by expert chefs! 

If that doesn’t convince you as to why it’s usually better to remove the membrane from the ribs, let us give you another perspective. 

The silverskin from ribs used to be used by hunters in ancient times. For what? Well for making bowstrings and strings with which to attach arrowheads to the shafts.

The reason silverskin was so good for this, is that it is elastin. And as we’ve mentioned, it doesn’t break down no matter how long you cook it. It is highly resistant and proved very useful. 

Do You Really Want To Leave It On Your Ribs To Eat?

Of course, if you still want to keep the membrane on your ribs when cooking, it is completely okay.

The ribs will still be able to be cooked to the same degree, and perhaps you’re the kind of person that enjoys the tougher texture the membrane adds to the final product.

Who are we to judge different tastes, right?


Removing the membrane from ribs is highly recommended, especially for pork, beef, or lamb.

Keeping the membrane on doesn’t harm the meat or the cooking process, but it doesn’t add any taste whatsoever and it is very tough to chew on when eating, which is why most people dislike it. 

Removing the membrane is very easy and can easily be done at home.

You should use a blunt utensil, like a spoon or a butter knife, to create a hole that separates the membrane from the bones.

You should never use a sharp knife, as it is very easy for it to slip when sliding into the membrane, and could then accidentally cut you or cause an injury. 

Once you are able to, slide two fingers between the bones and the membrane, and gently peel the silverskin off.

You can then finish off the job by grabbing the silverskin with a paper towel (as it will be too slippery to grab with your hands), and you can pull the entire membrane off of the ribs!

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