Please help me understand

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by stckthrwr, Jun 24, 2016.

  1. I am new to using an electric smoker.  

    I have used propane and charcoal smokers in the past.

    I had thought that I would get a smoke ring, but have heard now I won't.  I can accept that.

    However, I end up with a lot of water around the smoker (have been putting water in the water pan).  I have read a few posts that say not to use any water.

    I am also having a problem that I am not getting any smoke flavor in my meats.  I do replenish the chips quite a bit.  About every 30 minutes to an hour.  However, they don't all burn through.  I leave the vent open.  

    Can someone please help me to make this smoker work?  I spent more on it than I planned, and so far, I can't get good results.

    Also, what temperature would you typically run, say, baby back ribs?  I've been currently running them around 235 degrees.  Am I going too hot?  Should I be going at a lower temp?

    Any help would greatly be appreciated!  i am really frustrated trying to do the electric smoker, and I really want to enjoy it.

    Oh, I have a Boulder Creek electric smoker.

    Thank you!

  2. joel11230

    joel11230 Smoke Blower

    Nathan, your temp is fine for the ribs, I am not familiar with your smoker brand but I have a masterbuilt electric smoker and I use the water pan every time. I use apple juice or just plain water. Can you post a picture of your setup? That would help us figure out what's going on, Joel
  3. I'll get some pictures tomorrow. It was sold by Sams club around the holidays.

    I might be putting the meat too high.

    I've seen videos on YouTube of people getting great results and smoke rings. I'm not even getting bark at this point.

  4. redsmoke

    redsmoke Fire Starter

    In my masterbuilt when making ribs I crank it up to 275 it's max and they turn out great. The lower temps just don't work for me. I never put water in. The glass has condensation on it the whole cooking time so their is moisture.

    Use the amazing smoker pelet tray instead of the chips in my opinion you get better smoke.
  5. mtnman68

    mtnman68 Newbie

         I have not heard of your smoker. I have a master built 40 inch electric smoker, and when I smoke meat I set the temp. at about 260 degrees to 275 degrees depending on the size or amount of meat. and preheat it and add the wood chips,and open the vent which is on the top to about half way. I add wood chips about every hour. When I add the wood chips the first time the smoker fills up with smoke, then it thins down so there is a very light smoke comes out of the vent. I try to keep it that way. For my smoker the hotter it is the more smoke there is. I have smoked brisket, pork ribs, chicken, and pork butts, and different sausages ,corn on the cob, and potatoes. All have turned out very good, Just remember if you get too much smoke the meat tastes like creosote.

          I have had three different smokers, one I made my self, an off set, and the electric and I like the electric one the best. I do not use any liquid in my smoker

  6. bauchjw

    bauchjw Master of the Pit

    I think putting the water in is a personal preference unless you need a heat sink. I've read people's posts breaking down the science of why it doesn't change meats moisture or taste, but even if it's only psychological I taste a difference.

    I'm not sure about your model, but a lot of people modify their electric smokers because they are not happy with factory chip trays. A-Maz-n pellets are very popular here (essentially a metal maze you put pellets in and light like a cigar). You put it right in your smoker. I think they really work great and most people on the forum are fans. You can also look into various smoke generator attachments.
    On the right is a masterbuilt smoke generator, a small black box with heating element at bottom of a 12" tube you put chips in. I attached 8' of pipe from smoke gen into the chip tray port. This helps clean the creosote out of the smoke and gets hours of clean smoke pumping in reliably. Others here have done similar "mailbox mods" you can search.

    I'm not sure about the ribs. Are you sure temperature probes are accurate? Boil water and stick probes in, see how close to 212 degrees they are (sea level temp). Otherwise crank up the heat more on your smoker.

    Sorry to hear your not enjoying your new toy, I hope this helps a little!
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2016
  7. snakyjake

    snakyjake Newbie

    I've heard electric smokers don't burn wood chips the same way other cookers do.  Therefore you won't get the same smoke flavor, nor the smoke ring.

    Not sure how well the A-Maz-n works inside of an insulated, tight, electric cabinet since there might not be enough oxygen for good combustion.  Unlike propane and other cookers that require O2.

    Maybe you can get the smoke at higher temperatures, but then you might not get the same meat you want when cooked at a lower temperature.
  8. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I also have a Masterbuilt 30" electric digital smoker. I haven't put water in the water pan in over four years because it isn't necessary in that and in the 40" model. Masterbuilts are so well insulated you don't lose any moisture in the smoking process. It looks like the Boulder Creek electric smokers are similarly well-insulated. The water in the pan actually serves to cook the meat by steam which is not what you want if you're looking for good, solid bark on the ribs or on a beef brisket. I foil over the empty water pan and use it as another drip pan. Some guys fill it with clean playground sand, foil it over, and use it as a heat sink. I tried that and saw no difference in temp stabilization.

    As for getting good wood smoke flavor, it's also been over four years since I used wood chips in my smoker. Like many of us here I use the A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker (AMNPS). Many of us love it, a few--not so much. But I'm no longer refilling the chip loader every 20-30 minutes. One tray of wood pellets can last up to 14 hours or so. There can be problems with the pellets flaming out but there are ways to resolve that. You can get as much smoke flavor as you like depending on how long you leave the AMNPS burning during the smoke. It can also depend on the wood pellets you use. Hickory, oak, mesquite, even apple impart strong wood smoke flavor. Pecan, not as much but then it's apparently the most popular wood in the South for smoking pork.

    For baby back ribs, I smoke from between 225-245°. If you read enough smoking books you find out that the pros have their favorite set points. The most popular temp for many cookbooks is 225°. With Ray "Dr. BBQ" Lampe it's 235° (so you're right on point there). Myron Mixon cooks in expensive offset barrel rigs and in his expensive electric water smokers and prefers 275°. Bill and Cheryl Jamison, who wrote "Smoke & Spice" like setting the smoker temp at 200-220°. It's all a matter of personal preference; how slowly or (fairly) quickly you want the ribs done.

    It is possible to get a smoke ring in an electric smoker. A few of us have posted links to articles describing how to do it. Basically if you put a lump of charcoal in the chip tray and ignite it from the heating element (some guys may get burning ahead of time, I don't know) the heat and carbon monoxide and nitric oxide interact with the myoglobin in the meat to form that pink smoke ring over time. By themselves electric smokers don't get hot enough (unless you cook at the 275-300° of most electric smokers all the time) and you need those gases that only wood chunks or charcoal briquettes can provide. I was also disappointed when I found out I couldn't get smoke rings without doing some extra work. It just wasn't worth it to me since they're merely cosmetic. I realized a couple of days ago that I've always forgotten to check if I got smoke rings inside b-backs and St. Louis ribs when I cook them on my Weber charcoal kettle grill over indirect heat. I might try it out this summer in addition to cooking ribs in my MES.
  9. snakyjake

    snakyjake Newbie

    Regarding the A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker (AMNPS)...

    Where do you place it so it doesn't get soaked from meat juices, placed where the smoke will circulate and not vent out?
    Why not use wood chunks instead of chips?
  10. Following, I have a MES but didnt like it after the first few cooks. But this A-Maze-N thing might change that.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2016
  11. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Snakyjake, placement of the AMNPS depends on what smoker you're using. In the MES 30 Gen 1 there are twin rails running across the bottom of the smoker which the chip tray/heating element sit on. The AMNPS sits on the far left of the twin rails near the smoker wall. In that spot the water pan partially protects the pellet tray from meat drippings. Since the 40" version is wider the AMNPS is more exposed to meat drippings. The fix for that is below the photo.

    In any smoker if meat drippings were an issue all you'd need to do is tent the AMNPS with foil. Smoke will still rise from the tray but the drippings will never fall on the pellets. I leave the top vent wide open--despite what the manual recommends--and if I want even more air circulation I pull out the chip loader a little bit, but I don't always do that. Believe me, the AMNPS produces so much smoke that losing it all through the top vent (in some MES Gen 2 models the vent is on the left side wall, not on the top) is not an issue. When you open the smoker door a cloud of smoke floats out and after you close the door the cloud quickly builds up again. Someone in this forum also pointed out that there are holes at the rear of the drip pain and the smoker that also provide for air circulation.

    The MES was designed to use wood chips and that's what the owners manual recommends. The chip loader was designed to load wood chips, of course, and it's easy to measure 1 cup of wood chips. Wood chunks are larger and you'd have to manually place them on the chip tray. They would burn hotter, I imagine, than chips which could possibly damage the heating element--if they were hot enough to fully ignite the chunks. I don't know because I've never tried it. A few guys place a lump of charcoal in the chip tray along with wood chips in an attempt to get a smoke ring. I haven't tried that either.

    The AMNPS can be frustrating because under certain conditions and in some poorly-designed electric smokers the pellets flame out after about 15 minutes and have to be re-lit. I have that problem primarily in cold smokes. But for hot smokes, the AMNPS, after being lit correctly, burns for hours which means no more loading wood chips every 20-30 minutes. I've also found that for the most part you can control the amount of smoke flavor from the pellets by the amount of time whatever you're cooking is exposed to the smoke. I can give more info on effectlvely using the AMNPS if you like.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2016
  12. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've read that creosote buildup in electric smokers isn't really an issue because the smoker doesn't get hot enough (average cooking temps are 200-250° and wood chips/pellets don't produce smoke with much creosote. I can find the site/page where I read this. That being said, I admire you guys with the know-how and tools to build these mods. Why did you use an 8' pipe? Why not a shorter one? For my MES 30 Gen 1 I've never modified it in any way. I just use the AMNPS.
  13. bauchjw

    bauchjw Master of the Pit

    I don't know if it's creosote, from what I've read seasoned hardwood has very little of that, but I do know I've mismanaged hardwood in my offset, MES, and kettles with terrible tasting results.

    As for mods, I think it's personal/wife's taste. I do have AMNPS and use it often with awesome results too, but have not used it with the mod yet. The longer pipe was for my smoke generator and mellows the smoke flavor more and reduces my stress over billowing white smoke pouring directly into MES and going stale. The pipe allows more surface for smoke to cool and deposit stuff along the way while allowing my damper to work managing smoke output from smoke generator.

    I could have gone shorter, but I have the space and the initial setup was for smoking cheese. The guidance given to me being the longer distance to travel helped smoke reach ambient temp and eliminate a change in cheese's consistency due heat source proximity to my product. I also didn't need to let cheese rest after smoking due to " bad stuff" being left in pipe as smoke cooled and not on my cheese. My wife liked the results so much I started to use the mod for smoking meats too.

    I guess the mod went on for cheese and just stayed because we like the finished taste better. I read on a thread that smoker mods are no different than hot rods, they are often due to personal taste and opinions on enhanced performance can be debated.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2016
  14. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Your type of mod is very attractive for cold smokes like cheese or salmon. It's with those that I have problems with pellets in the AMNPS flaming out and some cold smokes have been a nightmare till I was finally able to keep the pellets lit and burning to the end of the smoke. I was advised to try Dust but haven't yet. And for me, if I were to buy the MB Smoker thing I'd want it closer to my MES. Another reason I don't do mods is because I store my MES in my garage on a small hand truck. It's enough to just wheel that out without having to set up and connect peripheral smoking gear.

    Yes, I prefer wood pellets because when I used wood chips over smoking was a constant problem. My wife (like me) prefers that smoke enhance and not overpower food with bitterness and, well, smoke taste. Many beginners feel that they want to get as much smoke taste as possible, that some foods don't turn out smoky enough. I think that long term smoking and experimenting help to educate the palate.
  15. link

    link Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Cool setup Bauchjw,  but I think you need to water your grass. [​IMG]  
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2016
    bauchjw likes this.
  16. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    A palm tree in Seattle ???   Come on...
    bauchjw likes this.
  17. bauchjw

    bauchjw Master of the Pit

    I love my AMNPS and use it for a lot. I'll probably completely convert some time, but Like the hot rod analogy I've found for personal taste and with physical evidence, a longer run cleans the smoke better. I started with 2' and increased length. As For portability, It's only one extra 15' trip to carry another 5 lbs of pipe and smoke gen from car port I store my MES in to set up in less than 2 minutes. Storage space is 3" wide and 8' tall. So a tiny corner behind other crap.
  18. bauchjw

    bauchjw Master of the Pit

  19. bauchjw

    bauchjw Master of the Pit

    Seattle? I've heard they never get above 110 degrees there and have a strange thing called rain that happens often?
  20. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That's pretty cool. Unlike you I place my MES on an old children's card/activity table. With my bad back I can't continually bend down or get on my knees to open the smoker door for whatever needs to be done during a smoke. If I bought the MB Cold Smoker unit I'd have to place it on the ground and then find some kind of flex tubing to connect it to the MES, something I'm not willing to do. That's why I have the AMNPS. I also recently won a A-MAZE-N holiday drawing so now I own a AMNTS which is the tube smoker. I can experiment with that too in my MES and in my Weber charcoal kettle grill.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2016

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