When buying different meats for cooking purposes, it is not that difficult to navigate through the different cuts of meat and what animal they come from. A lot of cuts of meat will have different names despite being incredibly similar. For example, steak and pork chop are incredibly similar yet are named differently so that you do not get confused. This works really well until you get to something along the lines of ribs and short ribs. There is no differentiating title to help you know what animal it is from. This can lead to a lot of confusion, and that is precisely where I come in – to teach you the differences between short ribs and if they are beef or pork.
Table of Contents
- The Difference Between Beef And Pork Ribs
- Short Ribs Vs Spare Ribs
- Cooking Beef And Pork Ribs
- What Type Of Ribs Are The Best?
- FAQs On Beef And Pork Short Ribs
The Difference Between Beef And Pork Ribs
“Are short ribs beef or pork?” is one of those questions that have the really fun answer of “well, actually…” The answer is that both statements are true.
Short ribs can come from both a pig and a cow so it depends on which animal the ribs were harvested from. If you are buying at a supermarket, it will tell you on the label if they are beef ribs or pork ribs. If this information is not clear to you, then you will be able to tell by how they look, smell, and taste.
Although, it is best to cook them before tasting them as raw beef is fine but raw pork is dangerous.
Beef short ribs are cut from a cow which makes the meat a lot leaner. Meat from a cow still has fat on it and some cuts even have a really good amount of marbling, however, the majority of the meat from a cow is going to be very lean with fat caps attached to it.
As cows are quite large animals, their anatomy may be almost the same as a pig yet it will be scaled up considerably. This means that the ribs from a cow are going to be larger in size than the ribs from a pig.
Beef is classified as red meat so it is a lot different in certain aspects from white meat and poultry. For example, red meat such as beef can be eaten completely raw as long as it is clean. The only precaution is that the surface of the beef is clean, if this is true then you can eat the meat without cooking it. Other types of meat will still need to be cooked to get rid of any bacteria that may be on the inside. Beef has no harmful bacteria on the inside so the only bacteria you must cleanse is on the outer layer.
Pork ribs are from a pig, although you probably already knew that. Anyways, pork is white meat and needs to be cooked thoroughly until it is classed as safe to eat. It is also quite fatty and while it has some lean cuts, the majority of it has many streaks of fat that run throughout the meat.
Pork ribs are much more prone to drying out as the meat is in smaller cuts and has a lot of fat in it. While the fat will render and moisturize the meat, the juices will still be able to evaporate because of how tender the pork can get. When pork is cooking, it will get more tender as it cooks. However, at a certain point, it will be cooked a little too much and will become dry and tough.
The Main Differences
The main differences between each type of short ribs are mostly found within the meat itself.
Short ribs are cut from the same part on each animal and will be generally the same. The differences lay in beef and pork being very different. Beef and pork ribs are very similar in their formation yet they are very different in their actual structure as beef has slow twitch fibers and pork has fast twitch fibers. These fibers are why beef can retain its moisture for longer whereas pork will become dry quite quickly if overcooked even in the slightest.
Beef is incredibly lean and can be eaten raw, while pork is very fatty and must be cooked thoroughly before it is considered safe to eat.
Beef needs to be cooked in a low-temperature environment for a long period of time for it to be very tender. Pork can be cooked quickly at a high temperature while still remaining tender and moist. The caveat for this is that pork will very quickly dry out if you forget about it or accidentally cook it for too long.
Another huge difference between the two cuts of meat is pricing. Beef is a lot more expensive than pork. There are many reasons for this. The majority of them are to do with cows being a lot more high-maintenance than pigs. Cows require more feeding, more space, and more effort. This will result in the price of looking after cows increasing. So the price of selling and butchering the cows will also increase.
Beef is also more sought-after than pork. While pork might be the most globally consumed meat, beef is still more demanded in the western market. This is not just in a general sense, but certain parts of beef are more demanded than the majority of pork products. Specifically, steaks and different cuts of steak will all have a really high demand. This increases the need for production and therefore increases the price further.
Short Ribs Vs Spare Ribs
Whether you are shopping for beef ribs or pork ribs, you will find different types of ribs available for each type of meat. It can be quite overwhelming at first so it is not always the easiest topic to understand.
There are a lot of different named types of ribs. However, the most popular types you will hear about or see are:
- Short ribs
- Spare ribs
- Baby back ribs
- Boneless short ribs
- St Louis-style ribs
The different names of rib cuts all have to do with where on the rib cage they come from. The number of ribs in the rib cage can change depending on the animal. Pigs have 15-16 ribs and cows have 13. While they have different numbers of ribs, the general anatomy is very similar so the ribs will come from basically the same place.
Short ribs come from the lower part of a cow’s rib cage which is closer to the brisket. The short ribs Will be quite fatty and have a lot of marbling due to where they come from. Fat is less prominent in areas of the cow that gets exercise, such as the legs and shoulders. As the rib cage gets little to no exercise, the meat is rather fatty.
Spare ribs are cut from the end of the pork back ribs and will run along the breast bone. On the side that meets the breast bone and back ribs, there will be exposed bone. On the other side of the ribs, there is a flap of meat that is comprised of smaller bones and pieces of cartilage. While spare ribs include this particular piece of the ribs – the St Louis ribs remove this. This can lead to the St Louis-style ribs being a bit more expensive. They require more effort to produce from a butcher.
The cut of ribs that are called spare ribs tends to be incredibly flavorsome and tender. They are preferred by a lot of people due to how inexpensive they are and how much meat you are getting per rib.
Cooking Beef And Pork Ribs
If you are wanting to cook beef ribs, it would be best to decide how you want them cooked. This is equally as true for when you cook pork ribs. Similar to every other cut of meat, there are multiple ways to cook both beef ribs and pork ribs. You could choose to marinate them overnight and smoke them or you can choose to grill them. Cooking pork ribs is going to be slightly more dangerous. Pork needs to be cooked thoroughly to a consistent temperature before it is safe to eat. However, with this more thorough cooking, you also increase the risk of drying out the meat.
Beef ribs taste mostly the same no matter how you cook them, except for the outer layer. If they are grilled then they will have a nice char crust. While pork ribs are very easy to dry out, beef is rarely going to be as tender as pork ribs prepared in the same way.
No matter what pork rib cuts or beef ribs you have, all of them can be marinated overnight. This is the simple task of placing them in a Ziploc bag overnight with a sauce of your design, to help flavor the meat consistently. The sauce, known as a marinade, will be absorbed into the meat and will flavor it. It is up to you how it is flavored. Yet there are a lot of online guides and recipes that can help make sure you perfect it on your first try.
What Type Of Ribs Are The Best?
Using the word ‘best’ in a context like this is always very subjective. It mostly depends on your definition or criteria of the word. Both pork ribs and beef ribs are delicious and enjoyable yet they have very contrasting flavors. Alongside this, they both have different uses and different textures. To truly decide on which is the best, you will have to decide how you are wanting to cook them, what you are wanting to pair them with, and what flavors you are going to use.
While most marinades are typically universal, there are some that can truly enhance the flavor of beef while not being quite as useful when used on pork instead.
FAQs On Beef And Pork Short Ribs
How do I know if my ribs are pork or beef?
Telling your types of meat apart can sometimes be tricky, but thankfully it is not an impossible skill to learn. You are going to want to look at the size and structure of the ribs. If the ribs are larger and better suited to eating two-handed, then they are most likely beef. Pork ribs are quite small and can easily be held in one hand to eat. On top of this, beef ribs are a lot fattier and will have considerable marbling while pork ribs are leaner.
What kind of meat are short ribs?
Short ribs, like many other types of meat cuts, can come in a variety of meats. Most animals have a very similar rib cages so they can all have short ribs harvested from them. The most popular types of short ribs are beef, pork, and lamb.
What is the best cut of meat for short ribs?
Short ribs come in the form of beef, lamb, and pork. While all of them are great choices, a lot of people suggest that pork is the best. This is because pork short ribs are a lot more tender than their beef counterparts and as long as they are not overcooked – will remain tender and succulent.
What are the two types of short ribs?
The two main types of short ribs are beef ribs and pork ribs. Similar to beef steak and pork chops – the two products are very similar but also have many differences. Beef is much leaner while also being larger and pork is a lot more tender but also smaller in size.
Are beef spare ribs the same as short ribs?
Spare ribs and short ribs are very commonly confused with one another or for being the same item. They are both harvested from a cow yet come from very different places. Spare ribs come from the rib cage near the backbone and the short ribs are from the cow’s plate cut.