I have smoked a lot of meat before and recommendations always were for
225 degrees F. I even have a meat smoking book.
Note, though, that I have an adjustable thermostat and it can be
adjusted down to some ridiculously low temps like 100 degrees or so.
There is a difference between "hot smoking" and "cold smoking" and
what I have done so far mostly revolved around hot smoking.
You can make acceptable BBQ in an electric heated box, but you will never
make great BBQ. The boxes tend to make too much creosote because there is
no open flame to actually burn the off gases from the hot wood. Plus, there
is not enough air flow to sweep out the generated gases The lingering,
unburnt gases tend to condense on the cooler surfaces like your meat. Been
there and tasted the bitter results.
There is no substitute for a real wood fired smoker with good air flow and a
hot but small fire in the firebox. That's why you will never see an
electric smoker box in BBQ competition or even a decent BBQ restaurant.
That's upsetting, but very interesting. I am glad that I read your
post before I ruined the enclosure.
I would like to clarify something. My current barbeque has a little
smoker tray, where I put chips, and a gas fire would burn
underneath. Is that essentially the same as what I am planning on
doing (electric heat under a chip pan), as far as creosote etc is
Well, I learn something new every day! I guess with the main thing I do
being jerky, the lower temps work well for leaving the pieces in for about a
day to get the desired level of cure. How long do you leave your meat in
This is just a guess, but you probably won't have the burner set to
250, but higher to account for heat loss. Some insulation will help.
You'll need to cut some holes to let out the smoke. Also, temperature
will vary as you go up the box, so you might want to put in a couple of
BBQ-style thermometers, one near the top, one a little further down.
As far as stopping the chips from catching fire, soaking them is as as
far as I've ever gone. I'd think you could just raise then up a bit off
the surface of the burner so it's a little cooler. I don't know, but
I'd think covering the chips might produce an acrid/creosote smoke. On
the BBQ groups they sometimes talk about "fresh" smoke being important,
so you need to let some of the smoke out, and some air in.
You might think about putting a water pan in the bottom, above the
burner and wood chips. Just like the bullet smokers... they do a great
job keeping the everything moist, and help regulate the temperature a
Just a suggestion -- you might try the alt.food.barbecue newsgroup,
too. I'm sure there are at least a few BBQ makers there.
[I see I'm getting into this a little late, so some of these comments
have already been addressed]
Yes, that's right, I will set the burner set higher. The thermostat
that I have is completely independent from the burner. It will turn
the burner on and off based on temperature inside the enclosure. (it
can be set at 90-250 degrees F)
maybe I should also add some circulating fan... The bad thing is that
it would, to be fair, operate in quite hostile environment. The good
thing is that the demands are very low. It can probably have the motor
outside the enclosure, and the fan itself could be inside.
Good points, another poster also alluded to same thing.
I'd bet a fan would do the trick, but I think it's something you could
add after-the-fact. I think I'd add a chimny first, to help draw out
the smoke. See if you can find a length of 1"--2" tubing or pipe and
drill a hole to fit. If you make it so you can adjust how far down the
pipe goes into the smolker you can control the heat a little more that
way. The further down you shove the chimney, the more hot air collects
at the top of the smoker (above the outlet for the chimney).
Oh, one thing I wanted to mention -- I'm not sure how food-safe those
seals on the door are. You might want to replace them with a food-safe
silicone gasket. I've used some of the high-temp stuff from the auto
store, but it's more on the outside of my smoker.
I've been smoking food for about four years now. It's a lot of fun!
Good luck with your new project. Let me know how it turns out!
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