How To Remove The Membrane From Ribs

How to Remove the Membrane from Ribs

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Ribs are so tasty! But, they can be a pain in the butt to cook and eat.

The membrane is what makes them tough. It’s like having a piece of plastic wrap stuck on your ribs. You have to remove it before you start cooking or else it will burn off when you grill them.

The best way to cook ribs is by removing the membrane first. But that can be tricky. Don’t worry, though – we’ve got some helpful tips on how to remove the membrane from the ribs without ruining the meat.

Why Do Ribs Have Membranes?

Why Do Ribs Have Membranes

Ribs are made up of two different types of muscle fibers: longissimus dorsi (the main muscle) and psoas major (a smaller muscle). Both muscles contain collagen, which is why ribs are tender.

But, only the longissimus dorsi has connective tissue called fascia. Fascia is what gives ribs their toughness.

When you cook them, the collagen breaks down and melts away, leaving behind the fascia. That’s why you need to remove the membrane before cooking.

What Do Membranes On Ribs Look Like?

To identify the different parts of ribs, look for the changes in color and texture. The main meat of the ribs that you cook is a red-sh/pink color.

You’ll be able to tell what the membrane is because it looks like a silvery/white color. The skin is opaque.

Finally, the location of the membrane is on the underside of the ribs. If you’re not sure what side that is, it’s the side with the ribs protruding.

Do I Need To Remove The Membrane?

If you’re just buying whole racks of ribs at the store, chances are you don’t need to do anything special to prepare them for grilling. This is because store-bought ribs come pre-prepared for cooking.

However, if you bought them already cut into individual rib portions, then you’ll want to remove the membrane before you begin grilling.

Removing the membrane is easy enough. Just pull it off with your fingers. If you try to use a knife, you could tear up the meat. And even worse, you might accidentally puncture the meat and ruin it.

So, make sure you get rid of the membrane before you start cooking.

So What Can I Use To Remove The Membranes From My Racks Of Ribs?

There are several ways to remove the membranes from your ribs. Here are some options:

A Knife

This method works well if you have access to a sharp knife. Start by cutting between each rack of ribs. Then, slide your knife under the membrane and gently lift it up.

Once you have all the membranes removed, discard the rest of the membrane.


You can also use scissors to cut through the membrane. Make sure you hold the blade firmly against the membrane and meat as you go along. Otherwise, you may end up tearing the meat.


Toothpicks work great for this job. They won’t damage the meat, but they’ll help you easily peel back the membrane.

Simply insert one toothpick into the center of the membrane and slowly push outwards until you reach the edge of the meat. Repeat this process until you’ve removed all the membrane.


Tweezers are another option for removing the membranes. They’re not as effective as using a knife or toothpicks, but they’re better than nothing.

Insert the tweezers into the center of the membranes. Gently squeeze together the ends of the tweezers to create tension. Then, slowly pull the tweezers apart. Repeat this process until all of the membranes are gone.

Basting Brush

A basting brush is an alternative tool for removing the membranes. But it depends on how tender the membrane is. Hold the bristles over the top of the membrane and carefully move the brush across the surface.

You should be able to see the membrane starting to loosen up. As soon as you see that happening, stop moving the brush and let the membrane fall off onto the grill.

Grill Brush

A grill brush is another option for removing the membrane. It’s easier to clean than a basting brush. Just wipe the brush on a paper towel and give it a quick rinse. Then, rub the brush along the membrane. It will loosen it up and allow you to pull it off.

Paper Towel

If none of these methods work, then simply wrap a paper towel around the membrane and twist it. This should help you remove the membrane without damaging the meat.

De Barbing Pliers

Finally, if you want a really accurate tool to help, then you should try de-barbing pliers. These tools can be found in most hardware stores. Simply grab the handles of the pliers and press down on the barbs. This should release the membrane.

How Do I Remove The Membrane On Ribs?

How to Remove the Membrane from Ribs

Of all the tools you can use, the simplest one to go with is a knife. Here’s how to remove the membrane in a few easy steps, using a knife.

Step One

Find the membrane on the ribs. This will be on the rib side, also known as the underside. It will look like a silvery white layer.

Step Two

Slide your knife under the membrane, between the ribs and the membrane. You’ll start to see the membrane loosening. Once you’ve got a good hold of the membrane, you can start to peel it off.

Step Three

At this point, the membrane will be slippery. This is just the texture of the membrane. But it does mean that it is a slipping hazard, and no one wants a membrane on their kitchen floor.

So be sure to use a paper towel to get a good grip as you pull it off. Try to pull slowly to keep the membrane from breaking off and having to wedge between the skins again.

Step Four

Keep pulling until the membrane is fully removed from the ribs. Then wrap up and dispose of it. If you have a dog, you can even give them the membrane to eat.

Membranes are very nutritional in the same way eggs and eggshells can be, to dogs. Many vets actually recommend feeding them membranes every so often as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Is The Membrane On Ribs Harmful?

The membrane isn’t harmful at all to consume. However, we don’t recommend it. Generally, it tastes awful. Plus, it doesn’t add any flavor to the meat.

That said, there are people who do enjoy eating rib meat with the membrane still attached. In fact, some barbecue restaurants serve their customers with the membrane left on.

But that requires a deep knowledge of the best way to cook ribs with the membrane on. Typically, the easiest way to get juicy, tender-tasting ribs is to remove the membrane first.

If ribs are cooked with the membrane on, then this can sometimes cause the meat to become chewy and tough. This is because the membrane acts as a physical barrier to the meat.

Instead of the flavor being absorbed by the ribs, it’s absorbed by the membrane. Leaving the ribs under or overcooked, and tasteless.

Final Thoughts

Membranes are an absolutely essential part of the anatomy.

On a living pig.

On a set of pork ribs, they’re a bit of a nuisance. A membrane on ribs is not only unsightly, but it can make for some pretty messy taste. And since it’s such a small amount of meat, all the flavor counts.

Ribs are a great cut of meat that can be used in many ways. They are typically sold either boned or deboned. Boning removes the membrane that covers the inside of the rib. De-boning leaves the membrane intact.

So, if you’re looking for the perfect way to cook ribs, then removing the membrane before cooking is the way to go. It ensures that the meat stays moist and tender. And it makes the process much easier.

So, if you’re going to make ribs, make sure you know how to remove the membrane. Otherwise, you may end up spending hours trying to figure out why they taste terrible!

But luckily, removing the membrane is easy enough. There are loads of great tools out there to help. And the membrane isn’t too tough to pull off. Just follow these simple steps, and you should be able to remove the membrane without too much trouble.

And once you’ve done that, you can enjoy delicious, flavorful ribs.

If you want to try removing the membrane yourself, here’s what you need to know. First, you’ll need to find the membrane. It’s usually found on the underside of the ribs. It looks like a thin silver film.

Next, slide your knife underneath the membrane. You should be able to feel the membrane starting to loosen.

When you’ve got a good grip, you can start to carefully peel the membrane away. Be careful when doing this, as the membrane can easily break off.

Once you’ve peeled the membrane away, you can wrap it up and throw it out. Or you could feed it to your dog!