MES in Extreme cold.

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by reeko, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. Guys,
    My Canadian Bacon Cure will be done this weekend and I need to smoke Sunday. And, oit needs to be outside on my deck.

    But, a cold spell has moved into Oregon, it was 5deg this morning at my house. Highs are going to be in the 20's to low 30s this weekend.

    So, I think the CB is smoked at a fairly low temp (recall 190-200) , will the MES be able to maintain that temp?

    I am sure glad that it is double walled at least.
  2. rhage2

    rhage2 Fire Starter

    Hi reeko,

    I am up in Spokane and it was about 8 here this morning..finally getting up to 10

    I have an ECB and last week when it was about 5 I smoked a fattie and had trouble holding temps up. You might want to try wrapping an old blanket or some insulation of some sort around your smoker to hold the heat in if you are having troubles...just a thought...[​IMG]

    ..for my 2

  3. oneshot

    oneshot Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I just got my MES so I can't help ya much as I'm still figuring it out myself but one of the other members or Ronp (The MES God) will be here to help you soon....Good luck with yer smoke...[​IMG]
  4. chainsaw

    chainsaw Smoking Fanatic

    I smoked with my MES the last 2 weeks in 30-40 degrees with no problems, except when I opened the door to spray with juice or add other meat the recovery time was much longer than warmer weather. Mine is on the back porch out of direct wind. Don't know about 5-10 degrees.
    Everyone advises to keep the vent wide open, but I closed mine a bit to help the temp get back up, and reopened it. At least the MES has some insulation. I also keep my temp control box inside when not is use.

    Good luck!
  5. kurtsara

    kurtsara Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    If I am going to smoke something like on a Saturday or Sunday I will bring the MES in the entry way or the heated shop and then back out to the garage to smoke the next morning, I leave the overhead door open a little though, until I get a kitchen hood mounted.
  6. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have a MES 40" and it is pretty much useless below 40 degrees, and you throw any wind at it with no sun and you can forget it. I will say that I've discussed my problem with the MES folks and they say it's not working properly so yours may work fine in those temps. You'll just have to give it a try and see. I just installed vents to smoke in the garage this winter. I wouldn't even attempt to use mine outside in the cold. Been there and it didn't turn out for me.
  7. ronp

    ronp Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I can get by with mine but can't get over 250' most times. Just pre heat and use boiling water in the water pan.

    Good luck!
  8. placebo

    placebo Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Some folks here have had to pre-heat the thermo that is built into the MES in order to get past the error so it would turn on. The thermo is located on the upper left of the back wall, round thingy bout as big as a nickel.

    I have had great success using a refridgerator blanket wrapped around my MES during windy cold nights. Kind of a pain when you need to open it for anything but at least it holds temps then!
  9. pitrow

    pitrow Smoking Fanatic

    Mine worked just fine in the 20 degree weather we had last winter. The element did kick on a few more times than normal, but if you can resist the temptation to open the door it should work without any problems.

    I'm right there with you though, it was 8 degrees at my place this morning. Too dang cold for these parts! But I'm planning on firing up my MES this weekend for a smoke too. There's a couple tricks I've heard for getting it to fire up in the cold:

    1) Take the control panel off and into the house and let it warm up before starting the smoke
    2) Use a hair dryer or heat gun to warm up the temp sensor "button" inside the MES before starting it.
    3) Use a lit piece of charcoal in the chip tray to bring up the internal temp a little before starting it.

    It's been a couple months since I've fired the old MES up, so I'll probably start with #1 and see where we go from there.

    Good luck!
  10. Yep,
    I live outside Forest Grove, Oregon.
    Was 5 degrees at my house this morning. Hate it.

    I think that since CB is a low temp smoke (175 deg probably) that the MES should be able to keep up if I keep it closed.

    I image that the heater will be on more, resulting in more smoke than if it were warmer out.
  11. Your bacon will turn out fine no matter how hot your watt burner gets. Since its been cured you can cold smoke it quite for a while and it will be even better than it would be if you smoked it at 250, because youll have time to put more smoke on it. If you cant get the meat's core temp up to 140* to finish it you can put it in that box shaped thingy that lives in the kitchen for a while.

    Dont worry about the meat spoiling, if its cured correctly with some niterite and was fresh from the begining there shouldent be a problem with that. I have cured fish, for example, many times with using salt and sugar only for the cure and let it dry at room temprature for 8+ hours and never had a problem with spoilage. Hope it turns out good for you.
  12. kurtsara

    kurtsara Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I have 2, a 30" and a 40" and on Tuesday I did a rack of spare ribs and 4 pork tenderloins in my garage when it was about 10° outside, I set it at 275° to preheat and put the meat in after about 50 minutes, the temp stayed right at about 245°-255° even when it was set to 275°, once the tenderloins were done and I took them out the temp climbed so I had to turn it down to 250° to get it to run at about 235°

    I have never tried hot water in the pan, I'll have to give that a try.

    Also, that is runnung my smoker in my non insulated garage, the walls are but the ceiling and garage door are not and I leave the overhead door open about a foot.
  13. Cool,
    For some stupid reason I didn't think about finishing the cooking in that indoor cooking device.
    So, it will be a true "Cold Smoke" given that it was 5 deg out this morning. :)
    Even if the heater can't get the smoker over 100, it will produce plenty of smoke, especially if the burner is on a lot.
  14. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Not sure if you saw the Monster Turkey I posted on Monday, so here are some details:

    32+ lbs of Turkey (mistake! Stuffed)
    Outside ambient at 3:30 PM 37-38 F
    1 hour later 35 F
    2 hours later 33 F
    5 hours later 29 F ( I had a small thermometer that said it was actually colder buy I'm going by a guys weather station a couple of blocks away.)

    MES location outside under roof eve, in 8' high brick wall backyard (we are backed up to a major street), so very little wind chill.

    • 40" MES (1.5 years old no-port window).
    • Set temp 270 F,
    • Max temp achieved according to the MES controller readout, 198 F.
    • After 1 hour remote internal probe said inside MES temp was 230, and eventually remained steady 240-250.
    • Every 30 minutes I checked the MES Controller temp, two Taylor remote temps (one in bird, one at base of bird in middle of cabinet), plus the outdoor ambient. The red light was ALWAYS on.
    • I pulled the turkey at 140 deg and finished in the oven.

    Conclusion: My MES struggled due to the cold outdoor ambient and never achieved the desired set point 270 deg, this was due to both the outdoor ambient and possibly the size of the meat as some heat is drawn into the meat during cooking process. (That bird was a 30+ lb heat sink). I have done ribs as many as 9 racks at around 40-45 F, and although the outdoor ambient was higher I was able to achieve the desired 225 cooking temp after about 2 hours. (In cold situation I normally preheat for 2 hours +, however with the turkey I didn't. I couldn't because I didn't know how I was going to get that bird in there until right before I started, and didn't want to deal with burning myself on hot metal, so there was no preheat.)

    I have never smoked or used the MES below 40 deg before. If I lived in a cold climate area where winter temps are regularly in the sub 40-30-20 deg range, and using the garage via vent hood is NOT an option, I would build a plywood, insulated enclosure, hinged door. It would easily work for me because I never baste and try to make it a hard rule, start to finish to not open the MES hatch.
  15. desertfox59

    desertfox59 Fire Starter

    anyone ever put a fire brick in the bottom? if so does that help hold the internal heat better?
  16. ronp

    ronp Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I use a 12x12 floor tile above the chip box to the right wall and to to the back wall. It works very well.
  17. desertfox59

    desertfox59 Fire Starter

    I'm not worried about the hot corner as much as I"m worried about losing heat when I open the door to check on the prime rib. It's currently 8* in Iowa and I'll be cooking for 15 on christmas day. what do you think?
  18. ronp

    ronp Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Use a remote temp probe and don't open the door.
  19. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    2nd that what ron said,

    In fact I would use 3 remote probes, 2 in the meat at different ends, and one for internal cabinet temp.

    You can simply buy extra probes and switch them.
  20. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    2nd that what ron said,

    In fact I would use 3 remote probes, 2 in the meat at different ends, and one for internal cabinet temp.

    You can simply buy extra probes and switch them.

    You also will need to deal with not knowing how long it will take to cook. What I mean is if the outdoor ambient was 60 + you know that the MES will usually perform as designed, and the cooking times are what they should be. In extreme cold the cooking times are much longer due to heat loss, etc. So leave yourself a bigger than normal window to get everything on the table.

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