Ribs are a common delicacy that can be prepared in more than one way. Smoking, barbecuing and grilling are some of the many ways of ribs preparations. It’s not rare to have ribs leftovers after everyone has had their share and tummies full.
The main question is how do you store ribs? Another question rib lovers ask frequently is: how do you reheat ribs? Reheating ribs can make them dry and lose flavor when done in the wrong way.
This article covers some of the most recommended methods of reheating ribs as well as storing them. When done right, your ribs are likely to retain their taste as well as tender texture.
How to Prevent Ribs From Drying Out Before Reheating
Proper storage plays a major role in retaining the ribs’ softness during reheating. Whether refrigerating or freezing, you have to take necessary precautions. Ensure that the ribs’ moisture remains intact.
Below are tips on how to lock in the ribs’ moisture and prevent dryness through proper storage.
Seal the ribs inside airtight packaging materials
Before putting the ribs inside the freezer or refrigerator, put them in a container that has a lid or a storage bag with a ziplock. A bag that has a vacuum seal is also ideal for this type of storage.
The container lid, ziplock, and vacuum sealer are put in place to prevent the ribs’ moisture from escaping. This means that by the time you are taking them out for reheating, they will still be moist.
Use low and slow heat to reheat the ribs
High temperatures draw out all the moisture retained in the ribs during storage. This leaves the ribs dry after reheating.
Reheating the ribs slowly on low heat helps maintain the moisture. It also ensures the retention of the flavor acquired when the ribs were prepared for the first time.
Put the ribs in the refrigerator soonest possible
Immediately you’ve realized that no one wants more ribs, it’s time to take the remaining ones into the refrigerator.
It’s best if you do that sooner than later to prevent the ribs from exposure to bacteria. The ribs are also likely to develop another protective skin over them. This happens after all the moisture is withdrawn from being exposed to air for a long. The new outer skin decreases the chewiness in the ribs when they are later reheated.
Reduce the ribs’ sizes before refrigerating or freezing them
Chop the ribs into small portions before sealing them inside the packing bags. This makes it easy for the cold air to reach every part of the ribs.
Add some moisture to the ribs when reheating them
The ribs are bound to lose a big percentage of their moisture when in the freezer or refrigerator. Reheating and cooking can also drain out the remaining moisture.
Adding coke or broth while reheating beef ribs is advisable to bring back the lost moisture. Cider vinegar or apple juice blends well with pork. It not only moisturizes the ribs but also gives them new flavors.
Here’s an article describing the different types of pork ribs
How to Reheat Ribs using an Oven
An oven is the most popular kitchen appliance used in reheating ribs. There are different steps to follow during ribs’ reheating. When followed well, these methods help the ribs retain their moisture, texture, and original flavors.
Steps to Follow:
- Set the oven’s temperature to 250° F and leave it to preheat for some time.
- Add coke, broth, or sauce on the ribs, depending on what you used while cooking them the first time.
- Take a pan or oven tray. Put the ribs on it and put a foil over the pan.
- Put the ribs in the preheated oven. Reheat them to an internal temperature of 145°F.
- After 15 minutes of reheating the ribs, uncover the pan. Put the ribs back in the oven without a foil over them. It makes them caramelize and get crispier.
- When the ribs have attained the recommended internal temperature, take them from the oven. This is a suitable moment to put a rib rub on them. Use the same spices you had rubbed the ribs with initially.
- The ribs are well reheated and ready to serve.
How to Reheat Ribs using the Sous Vide Method
A method where food packaged in air-tight vacuum sealer bags is placed in a hot water bath is called Sous Vide in French. The term ‘Sous Vide’ is translated to ‘under vacuum’ in English.
Some cookers are designed for this type of reheating. However, you can create one as part of the DIY activity.
Steps to follow:
- Fill a pot with water and heat it on the cooker till the water’s temperature rises to 165° F.
- Put the ribs in vacuum sealers bags.
- Place the vacuum sealers with the ribs in the heated water.
- Let the ribs heat for 45 minutes for each inch of the vacuum sealer contents. This means that if the vacuum sealer measures 2 inches, then you’ll reheat the ribs for 90 minutes.
- Add ½ an hour more for reheating ribs that had been stored in the freezer, since they were already frozen by the time you started reheating.
The Sous Vide cooker is designed for this type of reheating. All that’s required of you is to place the vacuum sealers containing the ribs inside it. Set the required temperature and leave the ribs to reheat for the recommended time.
It’s also important to note that, when using the Sous Vide method of reheating, moisture in the ribs is not likely to escape. Vacuum sealers are airtight and they retain the ribs’ moisture from the time of storage until they are reheated.
The Sous Vide method does not expose the ribs to direct heat. It is therefore not necessary to add any liquids before reheating the ribs.
How to Reheat Ribs using an Air Fryer
A cooking appliance that has concentrated air in it is referred to as an air fryer. It is made using the same technology as a deep fat fryer.
The air inside the air fryer is heated to the set temperature. It then circulates over the ribs put inside the fryer, making them hot as well.
An air fryer reheats the ribs into crusty exteriors. For this reason, it is not suitable for ribs that have been soaked in sauce prior to reheating. It works well on ribs that have a dry rub on them.
Steps to follow:
- Set a temperature of 350° F on the air fryer. Let it preheat.
- Chop the ribs into small-sized slices to allow the heated air in the fryer to circulate to every part of them.
- To prevent the ribs from drying out, add some oil over them. A tablespoon or two is enough, depending on the volume of the ribs.
- Check the ribs’ internal temperature. If it reaches 140° F, switch off the air fryer. This should take about 3 or 5 minutes. A longer time than that will get the ribs burnt or dried out because the air fryer cooks fast.
How to Reheat Ribs using a Steamer
A steamer keeps the ribs moist when they are reheated in it. Instead of drying out, the ribs end up basting in their liquids, especially if they were stored right.
Steps to Follow:
- Add 100ml of beef broth or beer in a pot if you are reheating beef ribs. For pork ribs, a similar amount of apple cider vinegar or juice works well.
- Bring the pot to a boil.
- Take a steaming basket and place the ribs inside it.
- Put the basket on the boiling pot and place a lid over it.
- Avoid lifting the lid from the pot for the following ½ an hour of steaming. Doing so lowers the pot’s temperature making the steaming period longer.
- Stir the beef broth or the apple juice left in the boiling pot after steaming. Use it to baste the reheated ribs.
Check our material for the different types of beef ribs
Is Reheating Ribs in a Microwave Recommended?
There are many conspiracy theories when the topic of reheating ribs in the microwave arises. Some argue that it is okay to do that while others warn against it.
Using the microwave to reheat leftover ribs may not be the best option, but it causes no harm. The downside of this method of reheating is that the microwave does not reheat the ribs evenly on all parts. It also causes them to become dry.
Below are a few ‘tricks’ can be incorporated to reduce the drying out effect on the ribs. This guarantees better results.
Wet paper towels microwave-reheating method
- Soak two paper towels in the water.
- Put one under the ribs on a microwave container and the other one over the ribs.
- Turn on the microwave and set it at medium power.
- Set the microwave timer at 3 minutes.
- When the time is up, check the temperature inside the ribs. If it is at 140° F, it means that the ribs are reheated. If not, continue microwaving the ribs till they reach that temperature.
Wet paper towels prevent the ribs from drying. This is due to the steam produced from heating the water on them. This steam keeps the ribs moist.
Paper towels are also used to absorb the fats released by the ribs. They prevent the fats and sauce from spilling out into the microwave.
Proper Storage of Cooked Ribs
As discussed above, proper storage of cooked ribs is important in preventing bacteria from invading them. It also helps them retain moisture and the original flavors they gained while cooking.
Once you decide that the ribs are leftovers, store them in the freezer or refrigerator. You should also keep them in airtight containers.
The Wozniak Storage Method
It is recommended for storing ribs prepared in advance. It involves putting the ribs in a plastic bag that is both air and water-tight.
The package is then placed in an ice-filled cooler. Ice is put over the whole package to cover it completely.
When the ribs attain a temperature of 40° F, they can be transferred to the refrigerator. Since the ribs’ temperature is similar to the recommended refrigerator temperature, you won’t need to change it.
The Wozniak storage method is important because you don’t have to turn up the refrigerator’s temperature. Doing so may cause spoilage of the other foods stored there.
Ribs stored in the refrigerator can last between 3 to 5 days. Airtight containers and vacuum sealers come in handy in keeping them moisturized.
For prolonged storage, a freezer is an ideal appliance. It is capable of storing them for about six months to 1 year. Again, airtight containers are a requirement for this type of storage.
When done right, reheated ribs can be as tasty as the originally cooked ribs. Ensure to follow all the storage and reheating procedures to achieve this.
Chilling the ribs as soon as you are done feasting on them is the secret to retaining their moisture. It also helps keep bacteria away.
When reheating, be keen on which reheating methods require additional moisture and those that don’t. Through this, you’ll be serving reheated ribs whose taste and texture are as great as when they were first cooked.