Maintaining Your Smoker Like a Pro

If you want your smoker to last, you have to keep it up to par. By putting some time into maintenance every now and then you will have a smoker that will last you for a long time, safe from rust, and safe from looking disgusting. Maintenance is especially important if you’ve invested a lot of money into your smoker. And no matter what type you have, the process is equally important, and pretty much the same.

The first thing you have to do when you get a smoker is to coat it with oil. Oil, when heated, will seep into the imperfections of the metal inside of your smoker, creating a coat that will protect it against rust. So you can take any type of oil, from vegetable oil to grease, and apply it to the inside of the smoker. Once that’s that done fire it up to start seasoning your smoker. And make sure that you add something to smoke up the insides too, because the smoke will help with the process. At a temperature of about 250-275F the oil will start to do its thing and it will form a protective layer that will keep your smoker safe from rust.

However, this is not a necessary process in every case. Just pop open the manual for the grill, and check to see if it needs seasoning. In any case, firing the smoker up without any food in it is always a good idea because it helps get rid of factory residue. Also, be careful as to not up the temperature to much when seasoning, because in some cases even a temperature of 300F will damage the paint (vertical water smokers).

So you’ve got this done, your smoker is seasoned and good to go. The next thing you have to make sure that your smoker has is a lot of ventilation. A lack of ventilation means that the fire won’t be very lively, but far more importantly it means that a layer of Creosote will build up inside of your smoker, which is basically tar which you do not want to have there.

With the smoker set up and good to go, the last thing you have to take care of is periodical maintenance. You can clean your smoker every once in a while, or after every cook. In either case you have to be careful and gentle, so you do not remove the oil coating. But don’t worry, if you somehow scrub too hard and some of the coating comes off, you can always re-season the smoker. And even if you somehow don’t do that, and you find some rust inside of your smoker, you can scrub it out with some sandpaper or a wire-brush and repaint that area using heat resistant paint. Now, there is no need to get to this step, but if you do, it’s not the end of the world. Just make sure you take good care of your smoker, and it will take good care of you.

Review: Masterbuilt 20070210 30-Inch Electric Analog Smoker

The Masterbuilt 20070210 30-Inch Black Electric Analog Smoker

The Masterbuilt 20070210 30-Inch Electric Analog Smoker

is a decent smoker, and this pretty much sums it up. It is not the best, but it is not bad. It will be there for you, not really impressing you, but never letting you down. For the price range of $150-200 it does what it is supposed to do: smoke meat for you. And you won’t get the ‘you have to fix this yourself, right after buying it’ syndrome, which is always a huge plus.

So what you get is a smoker with three racks, which provides an appropriate amount of space for your cooks and an adjustable thermostat for controlling the temperature. This is a little bit archaic if you think about it. They could have gone with digital, but it gets the job done. If you want to have a set temperature that you just place it at (let’s say 225F) you can just mark it with a sharpie on the dial so you don’t have to keep adjusting it every time you start smoking.

You also get a removable grease pan, a wood-chip tray and a water pan, all three being very nice additions. The wood-chip tray and the water pan are somewhat small, but they can be replaced. And you also get a temperature gauge in the door, so you know how the inside of the smoker is doing. But the real downside to the wood-chip tray and the water pan is that you have to open the door to fill them up, which means that you lose heat each time you’re doing it. Fortunately, the tray size works well with the size of the smoker, so you won’t have to do it often.

Now, there is nothing really that much wrong with the Masterbuilt 20070210 30-Inch Black Electric Analog Smoker but it could be better. The big advantages it has are the low price and its sturdiness. Most customers seem very happy with it, and there is no real over the top reason not to be. The trays can be replaced with bigger trays, there is no temperature leakage (or not much anyway) and the end result, the most important thing, comes out delicious.

With these being said, the price of $150 (if you can find it at a sale even better) is what justifies purchasing the Masterbuilt 20070210 30-Inch Black Electric Analog Smoker. Sure for an extra $50 you could get some extra features, like a digital thermostat, and tray that can be fed without opening the door of the smoker, but like I’ve said the end result is what matters, and the end result will be pretty much the same. In this case it’s all comes down to features. Are you willing to forego the leisure that modern technology provides, so that you have an extra 50 bucks in your pocket? That, my friend, is a question that I cannot answer for you. You must look deep down inside and figure it out for yourself.

Types of Wood For Your Smoker

Smoking BBQ is a process of cooking meat using smoke. It is an old process, and in the olden days logs were burned until they turned into embers, and the smoke they emanated was what used to cook the meat, and give it flavor. But when using logs to smoke, temperature control is a very delicate art, so it was a method of cooking reserved only for the masters of the craft. Today, smokers come with a two part mechanism: the heating, which can be electric, gas or charcoal, and the smoking, which usually comes from hardwood.

Hardwood is the most commonly used type of wood in this process. Nut woods and fruit woods are included in this category, while softwoods, like fir, pine or redwood tend to be avoided, because they burn fast and leave an unpleasant flavor. Hardwood, on the other hand, or more specifically dried hardwood, has more minerals than softwood, and it burns slower, while giving the meat a much better flavoring.

Hardwood comes in many different forms. One of them is the log, which we’ve already covered, but in case you want to use logs, just remember that they have to be turned to ember before they are any good to you. Then you have chunks. Chunks can be anywhere from the size of an egg to the size of your fist. They burn slowly and two medium sized chunks can provide smoke for a whole lot of food. They are easy to find and they are one of the most popular form of wood used for smoking. Chips are like the cousin of the chunks, or better yet their sidekick if you’d prefer. They are also very easy to get a hold of, but they are good for short cooks, because they burn pretty fast. For longer cooks it is better to just go with chunks.

Pellets are also a main contender, especially since there are cookers using pellets both as a heat source and as a smoke source. Pellets are rods made of compressed sawdust, without any adhesive or glues (if they are food grade pellets, avoid any other). Cookers that use pellets are very versatile because you can control the temperature and the environment that the meat is cooked in by feeding the pellets as you deem appropriate. You can also find specific flavors straight from manufacturers. You can find Jack Daniel’s flavored pellets made from the charcoal and oak from the barrels that held the whiskey.

Pellet chunks are chunks of sawdust compressed until they are shaped like a brick. These also come in a variety of flavors and they are not a bad choice at all. On the same note, you have bisquettes, small puck-shaped chunks of compressed sawdust. And while we’re at it, sawdust itself can be used for smoking, but it is rarely done so, because it burns very fast. There are some smaller smokers out there however that do use it.

A 30in Stand for your Masterbuilt Smoker

Masterbuilt 20101113 Digital Electric Smoker Stand, 30-Inch
Masterbuilt 20101113 Digital Electric Smoker Stand, 30-Inch

Need a stand for your smoker? This 30-inch electric smoker stand is the perfect height for adults to work around without putting a lot of stress on the back. The steel frame is completely durable so it can handle wear and tear throughout the years without falling apart. The bottom shelf serves as storage for all of your smoking utensils and accessories. This stand fits all electric smokers so it can grow with you as you upgrade your equipment which can’t be said for many smoker stands out there. It can sit out all year long without rusting or succumbing to sun damage too. Overall, this is a sturdy smoker stand that will pay for itself over and over again the longer it’s used.

Chips or Pellets – Which is Best?

When smoking you have a choice between a lot of different styles of materials to turn to smoke. Actually ‘materials’ might be the wrong word, because they are all hardwood. But it comes in many different forms. You have chunks, chips, pellets, sawdust, pucks and pellet chunks amongst others. Finding which one is best for you to use depends on the type of smoker you have.

Most people use chunks, because they burn slow and they don’t have to be fed constantly throughout the duration of a cook. But, this means that you need a big cooker and a lot of meat to smoke to make the most out of chunks. So for smaller cooks and cookers you have the choice between chips and pellets.

So which one should you use? It depends on what you are looking to do and what type of cooker you have. Most people go with chips, because they are cheap, easy to find and easy to use. You just grab a handful feed it into the machine every now and again and you let the delicious meat smoke. They can also come in various flavors, depending on the tree they come from, or they can even come with coats of flavoring.

Pellets on the other hand have specialized cookers made specifically with them in mind. Pellets are pencil shaped rods of compressed sawdust that can be used for smoking. You don’t need to necessarily have a cooker specifically designed for pellets to use them, but that is one place where you won’t find chips. The main advantage that pellets have is the large variety of flavors that they come in, being available online or in stores. You will find flavors of pretty much anything from cherry to Jack Daniel’s.

As for the question of which to use for your grill, there is no right answer. This depends on your grill most of all. You will have to find out what works best for you, and how each cook goes when using what. For example, a lot of people prefer to use a combination of chunks and chips. Others swear by pellets. In most cases it is simply a matter of taste, or more exactly a combination of smoker and personal preference.

So the best advice in this case is try them out for yourself. Use chips one time, pellets the next, and then compare. If you have an electric smoker, just throw them in the tray. If not, use some aluminum tin foil, wrap it around either the chips or pellets, prick some hole into it, and let it smoke. You can go even further and experiment with pellet chunks, bisquettes or pucks if you like, but as far as the top 3 contenders for best smoking materials go, it’s a fight between chips, chunks and pellets, because they are cheap, good and readily available. Other than that, have a nice cook and never quit smoking.