How long does meat actually take on smoke?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by mummel, Jun 15, 2015.

  1. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Do you guys look at internal temps when deciding when not to add more smoke?  Is it a function of hours?  Whats the general rule of thumb to prevent excess pellets from being wasted?  Thanks!
  2. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Mmm I found this on Meathead's website.  Interesting stuff:

    All this Blonder research busts a bunch of myths. The smoke ring is not cause by the billowy white stuff, it is caused by gases. It is not enhanced by paprika. It is enhanced by basting. It is not due to nitrites like the pink color in cured meats. There is no time limit on smoke absorption. The ring stops when the meat hits about 170°F and myoglobin loses its oxygen retaining ability, not 140°F. Salt has little to do with it. Some people think it does because it is right below the surface and that is where the spices and smoke flavors live. They are fooled by the bark.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2015
  3. I give my meaty smoke the whole time it is in the smoker.  I use chunks so none is wasted.

  4. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    The meat or exterior of the meat will take on smoke as long as you have smoke flowing through your pit.  Just make sure it's clean smoke, heavy smoke will turn the outside bitter and inedible.  As far as smoke ring, it will only develop until the meat reaches a certain IT.  Mummel, this  research you quoted from Meatheads site is another reason to run a clean burning fire.  As long as you are using wood or fuel made from wood you will be creating a smoke ring.  Most of the time when I'm cooking, you wouldn't even know it because I have "Ninja" smoke...  
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2015
  5. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    That appears to be discussing the smoke ring which does not apply to you on an electric smoker. I worry less about when the meat will stop absorbing smoke and more about when it is going to be done the way I like it. The best way to figure it out is to start decreasing the time until it gets to be too little smoke taste.
  6. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Read this guy's research.  He says there is no smoke flavor beyond the smoker ring:

    If you believe it, then it makes sense to say light both ends of your AMPS to pound in more smoke until the 170F level is hit. 

    What makes TBS?  Is it the burn rate, or the denseness?  For example, if I burned 10 AMPS in my MES at the same time, would I still get TBS?
  7. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Meat will take on smoke throughout the entire process.  That said, the amount of smoke it takes on decreases over time as the meat heats up.

    Another thing to consider though is how much smoke you want to suit your tastes.  Some like a heavier smoke flavor while others prefer a lighter touch.   The answer to this will come with experience.     
  8. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    Smoke will only penetrate so deep.  The same as a marinade.  

    TBS comes from proper combustion, the right amount of oxygen to the right amount of fuel.  If you are seeing heat radiating from your fire or chip box or whatever means you may be smoking with, but no smoke, you may be burning too good, back off on the oxygen that is getting to your fire.  If you are getting opposite, white billowy smoke, then you need more oxygen or have way too much fuel for the size of fire you are trying to maintain.  
  9. drewed

    drewed Meat Mopper

    TBS is caused by the temperature at which it is burning.   The hotter the temperature, the more complete the combustion is, the less smoke there is.

    I'm still not convinced that TBS is the way to go.  I can understand not wanting billowing grey/ yellow/ green clouds, but a thinner white smoke (from my CHARCOAL smoker) works much better for me.  But I like heavy smoke.  
  10. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Just a quick thought, I think you are conflating a couple of ideas in the piece you linked to.  It's true that the inner meat doesn't take on any of the smoke flavor.  That flavor is in the surface / smoke ring area.   That said, just because the smoke ring stops developing at 170, it doesn't mean that the outer layer of meat won't take on more smoke flavor above 170.    

    To the second part of your post, as I understand it, TBS is the quality of the smoke, not the quantity.    I often use 2 smoker tubes with pellets in my gas smoker to get a more pronounced smoke flavor.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2015
  11. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Drewed, white smoke isn't really evil, you just have to be more careful/selective in it's usage.   There are times when I actually want thick white smoke for certain reasons.

    That said, for most, especially those without much experience, it's better to advise them to achieve thin blue smoke. 
  12. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Yeah but the question is how much more.  Most of the smoke absorption occurs up to 170F, so how much more saturation takes place, particular after the bark formation?  I'm inclined to say burn both ends of the AMPS up until 170F vs the whole AMPS lit on one end for the duration of the smoke.  From what I read, it makes sense to burn both ends to get more smoke flavor and pound the meat with smoke molecules earlier on in the smoke.
  13. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    So burning 10 AMPS in my MES at the same time will still give me TBS?  I would anticipate seeing massive amounts of white smoke. 
  14. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Get the smoker smoking before adding meat, and make sure the meat is cold from the fridge. Keep the meat moist with a cold spray (if the smoker is well sealed) or a mop (if its not). If the surface dries out between applications, it may be hard to re-moisten. Just enough to keep it moist- too much, and you will wash off the smoke flavor. A proper water tray will keep the humidity high and the surface moist. The humidity also helps other combustion products agglomerate and deposit as flavor particle bombs. A rough surface (e.g a rub with coarse herbs) will trap more gas and particles than a smooth surface. A smoker with little airflow, like some electrics, create a larger stagnant bubble of air protecting the meat from smoke. Rapid, random air movement breaks up the bubble. For example, as strong convection fan. By the time the meat's internal temperature reaches 150F, you will have incorporated plenty of flavor and even developed a smoke ring- ok to finish off in foil or a conventional oven. Just please, please don't boil your meat into submission- keep the oven's temperature under 250F.
  15. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I can't give a definitive answer as to exactly how much more.    Even in your example of burning the AMPS from both ends, if you continue to let it smoke after the meat reaches 170, it will continue to take on even more smoke.     If you really want to get froggy, light both ends of the AMPS then light up the center of it as well and have 4 times the amount of smoke. 
  16. drewed

    drewed Meat Mopper

    If you adjust the air flow to match the increased consumption of oxygen due to more fire, then yes, you will still have TBS, just a larger volume of it, in theory.   In real life, I don't think you could keep 10 AMPS burning CORRECTLY at the same time in a MES, but it would fun!  

  17. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    You are fighting an uphill battle with this one. In theory, lighting both ends will give it more smoke flavor. In practice, you will probably just loose more smoke out of the vent since there is only so much surface area to absorb the smoke.

    Yes meat is more porous at lower temps and absorb smoke better. As the outside surface cooks further it will absorb less smoke. But trying to determine some sort of scientific way to calculate the smoke time is overkill.

    As I mentioned before, you just need to start trying different things to see what you like. I know I like a pork butt that has gotten 4 hours of good smoke so if I need to wrap I'm not worried about it. I also know that I like them that are in the smoke the whole time. It is a different finished product with a much more flavorfull bark. Until you have tried multiple ways you won't know what you like and the whole point is to cook things to your taste and your families taste not to some set standard/method/recipe. 
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2015
  18. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

  19. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Light both ends of the tray.  You might also try using straight hickory instead of Pitmasters as it has a stronger flavor.  
  20. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Oh you guys.......... <Chuckles>

    What you have asked is drawing many more of the never endding discussions out. Its all a can of worms.

    Lets take the smoking device completely out of the discussion. There are numerous aux. smokers most of which deliver quality smoke. AMP's is one of them.

    Smoke rings, smoke rings are casued by a chemical reaction, they make a pretty presentation, but evidenced by the lack of with an electric smoker, its not a taste advantage.

    Smoke is smoke, they will all give a taste. They will all give a good taste if properly applied. White or blue smoke. Its the time and application that matters.

    Heres what I have read, I don't know its true but with me believeing it, and doing most all my smokes this way for over 30 years in both analog and digital, vented and closed smokers, I tend to believe it. I have read and even seen it said one here that, as mentioned above food will always take smoke but there is a sweet spot from approx 100 to 145 IT. This is where the meat holds on to the most smoke. It still takes smoke above and below but at a dimished capacity. 

    What happens is there are so many different ways to smoke a meat, and every persons bends their way to best coexist with their smoker type suddenly any rule can be proven right or proven wrong by territorialy thinkers. Seriously not only is a stick burner different than an electric, then you hot and cold smokes, then add wet and dry and digital and analog while taking into whose and what flavor split or chuck or chip or pellet and you still are only half way to looking all all the MAJOR differences.

    Back to the original question:

    "Do you guys look at internal temps when deciding when not to add more smoke?  Is it a function of hours?  Whats the general rule of thumb to prevent excess pellets from being wasted?  Thanks!"

    Yes, I think that IT is the most important number to a new smoker. I smoked over 50 years and never even heard of IT, it was for resturants who's cooks needed the help. I know better now, its just a good working tool. You'll note when foiling (to help break the stall time), you'll normally see the foiled around 155/165, yes its a stall temp but its also within the upper limit of the smoke absorption.

    Yes I do try to maintain smoke from 100 to around 150 IT, I do a preheat, or dewater/ drying cycle on nearly every smoke which involves high temp causing a jump start, for 45 mins. to an hour THEN I had smoke, either chips shells or pellets. I would love to try dust someday soon also.

    No, it can't be a function of time because different folks use different chamber temps normally reflecting to what type smoker they have and their smoking style with it.

    When you are finished smoking, just close the vent. No draft/no oxyen means the pellets will starve out and die out.

    Lastly all this is my opinion and in smoking its all about, opinions, cause there is only what you want to believe and do for yourself.

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