Baby back ribs are pork loin ribs, named for their size and not the age of the hog. Compared to the larger pork spare rib, baby back ribs are shorter, have less fat and are more tender. A rack of baby back ribs tapers from approximately a 3-inch bone to a 6-inch bone on the opposite end of the rack, depending on how it was trimmed by the meat cutter. The baby back ribs are taken from between the spine and spareribs at the top of the hog’s ribcage. A 4-oz. serving of baby back ribs has about 290 calories.
When shopping for pork ribs look for a rack with reddish-pink meat. Pork with a dark red color will also have a good flavor, yet it must be cooked and eaten immediately. The fat on pork should be pure white, and not gray. Raw pork will normally keep for about two to three days if refrigerated and kept sealed in original packaging. After cooked, pork will keep for four to five days in the refrigerator. Pork can be frozen, yet it is not advised to refreeze. To freeze pork, wrap it tightly in freezer paper and seal with freezer tape. It can be kept in the freezer for up to six months.
Because of the baby back rib’s compact size, compared to a spare rib, it makes an excellent appetizer as well as a main-course meat. More tender than the spare rib, it also takes less time to cook. After cooking, the rack can be cut into individual ribs, making them an ideal finger food.
Baby back ribs have a culinary cult following. Rib aficionados are passionate in how they perceive the ribs should be prepared. Baby back ribs can be smoked, slow-cooked in the oven, barbecued, and braised or boiled before cooking. Cooking styles can vary among regions, making places such as Chicago or Kansas City famous for their style of ribs. Some ribs are prepared with rubs, some wi
th sauce, and some without. One fan may insist proper cooking results in the meat falling off the bone, while another would argue elsewise.
According to some historians, pigs were one of the first domesticated animals, around 7000 B.C. Pork became popular around 4000 B.C., when the emp
eror of ancient China made a royal edict, commanding his people to breed hogs. Hernando de Soto introduced pork to North America when he brought 13 hogs to Florida in 1525 A.D. In the 1760s George Washington imported hogs for special breeding. According to historians, pork was a regular on the menu of early American Revolutionists.