Smoker humidity and Hot Dogs

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by 2grit, Sep 19, 2015.

  1. 2grit

    2grit Fire Starter

    I have read a lot of threads/comments on smoker humidity today and need to ask a question since most of what I read doesn't seem to pertain to my situation. First of all, my smoker is a propane fired, homemade smoker I built 20+ years ago from a commercial double door aluminum freezer. It is fully automated temp and smoke controls. The one persistent problem has always been a tough casing on hot dogs, kielbasa etc. and I think it is from lack of humidity. If I could look at the build of a Koch steam generator I would build one. I use natural casings on my product and am consistently dissatisfied with the toughness of the casing. I've used every supplier of natural casings and it's always the same. Any ideas?
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Add a pie tin of water into the smoker, to up the humidity.....
  3. 2grit

    2grit Fire Starter

    Should I just place the tin in the smoker and let the water naturally dissipate with the heat or put the tin over the burner and make it boil producing steam?
  4. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hey 2grit, I've had the same issues since I went with an electric smoker. I need to much air to keep the pellet burner smoking that the casings dry out. (that's my theory anyways)
    I intend to build a steam generator to add the humidity, just not sure when that will happen.
    From what I've read you want 60% during the drying phase (110-120), bump it up to 80% during smoking @ 150-160 then 100% @165-175 to get them up to finished temp.
    Where abouts upstate are ya, Near Syracuse here.
  5. 2grit

    2grit Fire Starter

    Near Ithaca. Let me know if you ever do attempt the build. I typically don't buy anything I can build just because I love the challenge AND a Koch steam generator would be very expensive. I've built everything I have now and it works great. Do you possibly have any ideas/plans for a generator now?
  6. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'm using an Auber instrument 210 now in my curing chamber that I think I could make work with an external steam generator, but to be honest I haven't had a lot of free time to think about it.
  7. 2grit

    2grit Fire Starter

    I just looked on ebay and you can buy a stem generator pretty reasonable made for a sauna. I have to do  little more digging to see if it will do the trick. I also just finished ready an old thread from SMF that you commented
    I just looked on ebay and you can buy a steam generator, made for a sauna, pretty reasonable. I'll do a little more digging to see if it will work. I also just finished reading an old thread on SMF that you commented on that basically talks about smoking sausage for a couple hours in the smoker and then finishing the cooking in a hot water bath
  8. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Many of us here do the hot water bath, Works good, But I'd like to do it all in the same unit. A sauna steam would be a little large for my smoker :biggrin:
  9. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Try it several ways... something will work.... cheaper than a steam gen... unless you stick a piece of copper tube in the cap of a tea kettle..
  10. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    IMHO adding steam to the cooker is not going to solve your problem.... Under stuffing, casing quality (freshness) and casing handling is the main cause of tough casings. I have made a lot of hot dogs with success with that perfect snap..... I get my sheep's from butcher and packer. I soak the casings thoroughly The idea is to make the casing pliable and strech it to make it thinner,  right after stuffing hang the dogs and place a fan at them and dry them for a few minutes until you feel a pellicle (the casing becomes tacky) Place them in the smoker and cold smoke for 2 hrs then add heat and take them to 135 degrees. Remove them from the smoker and place them in a 180 degree par boil and take them to 160 then into a water bath to cool.......

    My 2 cents
  11. 2grit

    2grit Fire Starter

    Great advice. You're not the first to suggest this. I am pretty sure the commercial processors use only the one step and I know the commercial smokers employ a steam generator. I have used a hot water bath before and got good results. I'll try your method and see what it produces. I appreciate your input a lot. Thanks
  12. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  13. 2grit

    2grit Fire Starter

    How does water vapor affect taste? It has nothing to do with what I'm after
  14. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    When cooking with steam, the temperature in the cook chamber is at least 225 if not higher.... Most of us cook our sausage at 140 - 160 so they don't fat -out....
  15. lancer

    lancer Smoking Fanatic

    2grit and DanMcG, I'm tinkering with plans to turn a SS upright commercial freezer into a unit I can cold or hot smoke with and use as a temperature and humidity controlled unit for fermented sausage-kind of a Swiss Army smoker.  I've been thinking about building and controlling a way to generate steam/humidity.  I wonder if it's something to do with needing something to do during the long winters that makes three of us CNY guys think of these things at about the same time?

    For things like hot dogs I prefer something like what boykjo described.  I use sheep casings and Cure #1.  I cold smoke with light smoke at about 120 degrees for an hour or two and finish cooking by poaching.  With poaching at just 8-10 degrees over my desired finish temp I'm done a lot faster than I would be with the smoker (usually about 20 minutes for poaching) and can't overcook them so I get the same good texture every time.

    To prevent case hardening and to reduce the risk of overcooking sausage when smoke cooking I use an electric smoker and set the temperature no more than 20 degrees hotter than my target internal temperature.  I've had custody of a sons digital MES 40 for nearly a year and it has been pretty handy for that.

  16. 2grit

    2grit Fire Starter

    Good stuff. Just what I'm looking for
  17. Hey All,

    I was reading the post about adding humidity to smoker cabinets and I have been working on the same issue.  I have a custom built smoker that I use an Allen Bradley PLC to control and I've been looking for a good way to inject steam during the finishing process.  I came across this little gem.  It's a steam generator from a Samsung Washer.  All these new fancy wash machines now are using steam during some of the cycles and they have this little self contained heating unit that has it's own temp controller built in.  You just give it 120 vAC and it heats up immediately and starts burping steam.  I found it on ebay for 30 bucks used but in great shape.  It looked like it had never been used.  I'm still testing with it so I don't have any completed photos to share at this time but I figured it would fit the bill for some of the projects that I was reading about here.

    Here's a link on ebay for one selling at 70 but I found the same unit for 30.

    Hope this helps!!

    Lee Warren

    Gardner, KS.
  18. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Lee, morning..... I did not know that..... Tell me..... Can I gravity feed water to it, put it on a timer to generate steam when needed... Is there a valve that is actuated by some voltage to let in the water.....

    I'm thinking about using one for humidity control in a curing chamber......

  19. Dave,

    Here is a little better picture of the unit I got off ebay.  You can see on one end there are white plastic things inline on the intake side of the heating chamber.  One is a check valve only letting water flow in and the other thing sticking out at a 90 deg angle is a pop off valve in-case something blocks the outlet.  I tested mine by hooking up a small tank on the inlet and letting water flow down into the unit but then another hose coming out of the outlet creating a u shape with the heater at the bottom of the u.  This way water just doesn't flow out of the heater.  When you plug it in it takes about 30 sec and then sounds like a clothes steam iron.  It blasts steam out of the outlet and with that draws more water in through the check valve which keeps steam from burping back into the water tank.


    900 Watt 120vAC element

    Inlet and outlet is 3/8 hose barb.  Like a fuel line.

    There are screw holes on the heat unit for mounting but the whole big aluminum thing gets way hot so it will take a little figuring to come up with a slick mounting system and enclosure.

    My thoughts on how to set it up operation would be a timer circuit cycling the unit on and off when more humidity is required.  Like run 4min - Off 20 - Run 4min - off 20 and so on..

    Being that the unit has it's own temp control to prevent overheating and it pumps it's own water from a gravity feed source (little tank) not much else is required for it operation.

    I found these at different prices on Amazon and ebay so do a little sniffing around and make sure that it has the inlet side parts of the check valve (won't work with out it) and the safety pop off.

    Hope this helps,


    Last edited: Nov 19, 2015
  20. lancer

    lancer Smoking Fanatic

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