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Digital Thermometers:
Stop Guessing!

thermopop bbq thermometer

Gold BBQ AwardA good digital thermometer keeps me from serving dry overcooked food or dangerously undercooked food. You can get a professional grade, fast and precise splashproof thermometer like the Thermopop (above) for about $24. The Thermapen (below), the Ferrari of instant reads, is about $96. It's the one you see all the TV chefs and all the top competition pitmasters using. Click here to read more about types of thermometer and our ratings and reviews.

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GrillGrates Take You To
The Infrared Zone

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Gold BBQ AwardGrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, produce great grill marks, keep small foods from committing suicide, kill hotspots, are easier to clean, flip over to make a fine griddle, smolder wood right below the meat, and can be easily removed and moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips or pellets or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke to whatever is above. Every gas grill and pellet smoker needs them.

Click here to read more about what makes these grates so special and how they compare to other cooking surfaces.

The Smokenator:
A Necessity For All Weber Kettles

smokenator bbq system

Gold BBQ Award If you have a Weber Kettle, you need the amazing Smokenator and Hovergrill. The Smokenator turns your grill into a first class smoker, and the Hovergrill can add capacity or be used to create steakhouse steaks.

Click here to read more.

The Pit Barrel Cooker

pit barrel c ooker bbqAbsolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world.

This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers in the hardware stores because temperature control is so much easier (and that's because smoke and heat go up, not sideways).

Gold BBQ AwardBest of all, it is only $299 delivered to your door!

Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them.

scissor tongs

Best. Tongs. Ever.

Gold BBQ AwardMade of rugged 1/8" thick aluminum, 20" long, with four serious rivets, mine show zero signs of weakness after years of abuse. I use them on meats, hot charcoal, burning logs, and with the mechanical advantage that the scissor design creates, I can easily pick up a whole packer brisket. Click here to read more.

Amp Up The Smoke

mo's smoking pouch

Gold BBQ AwardMo's Smoking Pouch is essential for gas grills. It is an envelope of mesh 304 stainless steel that holds wood chips or pellets. The airspaces in the mesh are small enough that they limit the amount of oxygen that gets in so the wood smokes and never bursts into flame. Put it on top of the cooking grate, on the burners, on the coals, or stand it on edge at the back of your grill. It holds enough wood for about 15 minutes for short cooks, so you need to refill it or buy a second pouch for long cooks like pork shoulder and brisket. Mine has survived more than 50 cooks. Click for more info.

steak knives for bbq

The Best Steakhouse Knives

Gold BBQ AwardThe same knives used at Peter Luger, Smith & Wollensky, and Morton's. Machine washable, high-carbon stainless steel, hardwood handle. And now they have the AmazingRibs.com imprimatur. Click for more info.

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Is Corn Syrup Bad For You?

"A man who is not confused is not well informed." Old Irish saying

HFCS in BBQ sauceBy Meathead Goldwyn

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) appears high on the ingredients list of many barbecue sauces. It has also been the subject of a lot of discussion lately. It has gotten a bad name, and sauce manufacturers have been scrambling to remove it from their formulae. Here are the facts as we know them today, although research is ongoing.

The problem stems from fructose. Many people seem to think fructose is worse for you than table sugar. But the facts are that HFCS ranges from about 42 to 55% fructose and the rest is mostly glucose, the exact amount varies depending on what its intended use is. What the abolitionists don't seem to understand is that table sugar, called cane sugar or sucrose, is 50% glucose and 50% fructose and breaks down into those components when eaten. So what's the diff?

The anti-HFCS folks have painted all corn syrups with the same broad brush. Corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup are not the same! Corn syrup is mostly a sugar called maltose. Karo Corn Syrup was introduced in 1902 and is hard to live without in many baking and other applications. Many modern barbecue sauces have corn syrup in them because they give the sauce a nice sheen.

There have been a handful of papers on the subject of HFCS and health. I have studied the studies and discussed the subject with a well known scientist at FDA. So far there has been no concrete, high quality study whose results have been published in a respected peer reviewed journal, whose data has been replicated, that has demonstrated that HFCS is more harmful than cane sugar. Every word in that sentence was carefully chosen. There are some small, poorly run tests, that the abolitionists quote extensively, but they have not been duplicated by reputable labs, and the scientific community does not accept data that cannot be duplicated.

And yes, I have seen the Princeton study, and I have read credible criticism of the experiments. Among the clearest critics is the broadly respected, deeply credentialed, very independent, molecular biologist, Marion Nestle, Ph.D., who outlines the flaws in the paper on her website. Karen Teff, Ph.D., a physiologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia has studied the issue extensively. She told EatingWell.com "This study is poorly designed and poorly controlled and does not prove or even suggest that HFCS is more likely to lead to obesity than sucrose [table sugar]." So far the Princeton data has not been repeated.

Yes I have seen the data proving that some HFCS has mercury. But not all samples did. And it was one small test. And we don't know if this was HFCS made improperly. And the test has not been replicated. We don't know if the problem is widespread or if it was the testing method in error. Right now, saying that HFCS contains mercury is like saying Americans are racists because the Klan still exists.

Health experts and scientists as well as consumer advocates such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) say there is no difference in the impact on our metabolism or health between HFCS and table sugar. CSPI is a highly regarded consumer health watchdog and generally despised by the food industry, whom they target frequently. They have a well-respected staff of scientists and lawyers. They would be the first to stand on the rooftops and scream for a ban if it was proven harmful. "Sugar is sugar", they tell us, and all of it is high in calories and low in nutrition. The moment CSPI says otherwise, I will cut HFCS out of my diet.

CSPI and other nutritionists say we should reduce our sugar intake. HFCS and cane sugar alike. This means we should give up many processed foods, fast foods, candies, and soft drinks.

I use small amounts of sugar in many recipes because it amplifies flavors and it promotes browning, and browning is an important source of flavor in cooking. It is a small amount. Nowhere near the amounts used in factory-made foods, with the exception of some of my barbecue sauce recipes. Admittedly, they are sweet because that's the way we like them, and because I am trying to replicate the flavor profiles of traditional regional sauce recipes. I use corn syrup (not HFCS) in only one of my sauce recipes, and it really does the job of making the meat shiny.

But I must confess that when I see HFCS on a label it does set off alarm bells in my head. Not because I fear HFCS, but because it says the manufacturer is using the cheapest sweetener possible, and is probably cutting corners elsewhere.

Pay attention to your driving. That is faaarrrr more risky than HFCS. And if you want HFCS-free barbecue sauce, try some of my recipes.

This page was revised 9/13/2012


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About this website. AmazingRibs.com is all about the science of barbecue, grilling, and outdoor cooking, with great BBQ recipes, tips on technique, and unbiased equipment reviews. Learn how to set up your grills and smokers properly, the thermodynamics of what happens when heat hits meat, as well as hundreds of excellent tested recipes including all the classics: Baby back ribs, spareribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, burgers, chicken, smoked turkey, lamb, steaks, barbecue sauces, spice rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best buying guide to barbecue smokers, grills, accessories, and thermometers, edited by Meathead.

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