Pork back ribs come from the top part of the rib cage, as opposed to spare ribs which are the ends of the ribs. They are popular in American and Asian cuisine and can be baked, roasted or barbecued. These are also sometimes referred to as baby back or loin ribs. As with many meats the cooked weight is less than the raw weight and it is important to make sure there is enough to feed everybody.
The raw weight of the ribs depends a lot on the size of the pig. True baby back ribs are taken from younger pigs and are a lot lighter. There are between 11 and 14 bones on a slab of ribs, which is enough for two people as a main meal or more as part of a barbecue. A whole slab of pork back ribs weights around 2 lbs. Pork back ribs are often sold ready cut into six bone portions.
Pork back ribs are normally cooked in two stages. The most common way is to boil them for an hour and then finish them in the oven or on the barbecue for 20 minutes. Alternatively, wrap loosely in tin foil and leave in the oven for an hour before finishing in the normal way. This first stage essentially steams the meat.
Cooked weight depends on a range of issues with the raw product. Meat loses weight during cooking as the fat is rendered and the water evaporates. Ribs lose less weight as a lot of the weight is bone. Back ribs maintain more weight as there is less meat on the bone and less fat. This means that cooking a whole rack of loin ribs will result in less than ½ lb. in weight loss. With ribs it is best to operate in raw weight than cooked weight, allowing for 1 pound raw weight per person as a main meal. The amount of weight lost in loin ribs has more to do with the quality of the ribs.
Raw meat is soaked in water to maintain freshness. This has an added benefit for suppliers as it adds weight. Buying ribs from a reputable butcher or wholesaler is the best option as the meat is fresher and contains less water as a general rule. Supermarket ribs contain a lot more water. High water content means a lot more evaporation during cooking more weight loss.