"Sterilizing" the smoker??

Discussion in 'Beef' started by kaustin13, Jul 2, 2016.

  1. kaustin13

    kaustin13 Newbie

    I've seen several posts now that people prep, sterilize, clean, ect the smoker before putting meat on. Fairly new to the world of smoking and am madly in love. Have done sooooo many things on it already and just warmed her up to make up my jerky. So what is this prep of the smoker I keep hearing of and why do you do it??? I'm using a Green Mountain Grills electric pellet smoker.
  2. GaryHibbert

    GaryHibbert Smoking Guru OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I don't do much in the way of prepping my MES.  After each smoke, I clean and wash the grates and the probes for my Maverick Therm.  The day of the smoke, I preheat the smoker and let it run for about an hour--just to make sure its planning to maintain temp for me.  I light the AMNPS,  put it in the mailbox mod, and put the meat on.

  3. jcbigler

    jcbigler Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    There's no need to really clean or sterilize the interior of the smoker. We call all the stuff on the metal "seasoning". If you have a build up of grease or creosote then you will want to scrape that out as it can cause a grease fire. 

    Before each smoke, I do run a steel grill bush across the grates and then I put the grates in the firebox right above the fire for about 5 minutes on each side to get them good and hot and burn off any left over grease and kill any bacteria that may have accumulated since the last smoke. But, I have cast iron cooking grates for my smoker. I probably wouldn't do that with aluminum or porcelain grates. 

    Once the smoker is up to cooking temp, the heat will sterilize anything that is inside it anyway. 
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2016
  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

     To sterilize a Smoker...Heat it up. There are decade and century old Pits in the South that have NEVER been cleaned, even the Grates. You see the pitmaster open the doors and add meat. You can see goop, glistening fat and burnt mop sauce inches thick, on every surface. The preheating kills any nasties and frankly you don't even need to preheat, as soon as the unit is fired up everything alive in there dies long before the meat is cooked...JJ
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2016
  5. kaustin13

    kaustin13 Newbie

    Ok thanks, that's what I was thinking but wasn't sure if I was missing something or not lol Like I said still kinda new to the smokin life but wanted to ask. I usually let mine heat up to 150 and let it run for a few then put it up to whatever temp I'm planning on cooking at and once there I take the grill bush to it just get any left over eewww from whatever we smoked the night before. The grates in mine are pretty hefty stainless so if they get too bad I just take em inside and give em a quick scrub. Try to vacuum the underneath, burn box area about every 20lbs of pellets so it doesn't get all fired on me other than that we just cook or smoke away 😊
  6. jcbigler

    jcbigler Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    You know, I have always wondered about stuff like that. 

    What we do in our own back yards is one thing, but what commercial operations do for retail and sale to the public is another.

    Is there an actual FDA or USDA or set of state health codes that state that not cleaning the smoker is acceptable? Or is it just sort of overlooked because of tradition, or because those old pits were grandfathered in?

    And what do they do about cold smokers that are used for cured meats and cheeses and stuff? (accepting that the meat itself is okay because of the cure, what about the actual cook surfaces that only get to like 120 degrees or less?)
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2016
  7. kaustin13

    kaustin13 Newbie

    I'd never really thought about it. I always just assumed, around here anyway, that they were cleaned at the end of the day like any normal restaurant. We don't have a ton of bbq pits around here, there have been a few more popping up here and there but probably no more than 5 maybe 10?? We do have a place to get the best the cold smoked salmon, not sure what else they do but Oregon Lox out here is amazing!! But no idea about their cleaning process In between batches or days. Definitely the best salmon I've had.
  8. q3131a

    q3131a Meat Mopper OTBS Member

  9. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    All I ever do with my Cast Iron rack in my Gas Grill is Brush it when it's good & hot.

    However the Shiny Metal Racks in my MES get washed before any meat gets put on them.

    I also check if any loose stuff is hanging from the walls or ceiling, and wipe any off that I find, before they fall on my food.

  10. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    My MES 30 was cleaned about 3 years ago....    I decided then that I would run the temp at max (275) for 2 hours before I smoked anything and after the smoke, it would run at max temp. until smoke residue from any fat etc. was gone...   sometimes 5 hours to drive off the fat...   The drip pan will bet dumped...   but I never have too much stuff in my smoker because I smoke meats at a temp that "fat rendering" is at a minimum and it stays inside the meat to keep it moist....... 

    So, basically it's sterilized before and after each smoke...  all the pathogens are killed... 

  11. grillin_all_day

    grillin_all_day Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    When I had to move with my old pits (government will not let me ship them dirty), I would use some degreaser, wire brush and paint scraper on the grate and bottom only.  I didn't want to mess with the other parts that were seasoned if I didn't have to.  Normally I would get everything up to a high temp, use the wire brush on the grate and that was it.  Every now and then I'd scrape out the bottom if the grease buildup was too much.  When I would fire it up after for the first time after that type of cleaning, I would run it a high temps for a few hours to clear out any chemical remnants.  On my Lang however, either that morning or the day before I'll get everything up to over 300 degrees, spray it out with a hose, brush the grate off, close the door and repeat the process again.  Once the Lang has to get put into storage later this month, I'll take degreaser and spray the grates and tuning plates, scrap it off with a plastic paint scraper, run a carboy brush from my brewing kit down through the drain and rinse.  Hope this helps.
  12. kaustin13

    kaustin13 Newbie

    We have the Jim Bowie. No wifi stuff. I do notice that at lower temps it doesn't puff too much but still has good smoke flavoring. It is easy to use and I like have the potion of direct or indirect heat. I have yet to do anything on there and not had it be awesome. The meat thermometer does suck, ours worked the first time or 2 then stopped. I just got a handheld thermometer and that works fine for me. We've done several tri tips, burgers, dogs, brats, bacon-cooked that one a little too hot, pizza, my fully loaded scalloped potatoes, bread, chicken, pork you name it I use it for just about everything and am loving it. Especially the fact that I can set the temp and I know it'll stay there throughout the entire time, I don't have to adjust or tweak or watch anything other than making sure the pellet box is full.
  13. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

     NSF equipment, like Ovens, are designed with surfaces and joints that will not harbor or grow bacteria. The outside of the oven can contact food, so they get cleaned. The interior is at 300 to 500 degrees for 12+ hours a day, 6-7 days a week. Nothing in there can make you sick. Additionally, Bacteria needs Water to live and multiply...How much Water is found in food residue inside an Oven or Smoker run daily?

    FDA 2013 Food Code...From Chapter 4 section 6, Cleaning Equipment and Utensils

    4-601.11 Equipment, Food-Contact Surfaces, NonfoodContact Surfaces, and Utensils. 

    (C) NonFOOD-CONTACT SURFACES of EQUIPMENT shall be kept free of an accumulation of dust, dirt, FOOD residue, and other debris. 

    4-602.12 Cooking and Baking Equipment.

    (A) The FOOD-CONTACT SURFACES of cooking and baking EQUIPMENT shall be cleaned at least every 24 hours. This section does not apply to hot oil cooking and filtering EQUIPMENT if it is cleaned as specified in Subparagraph 4-602.11(D)(6).

    (B) The cavities and door seals of microwave ovens shall be cleaned at least every 24 hours by using the manufacturer's recommended cleaning procedure. 4-602.13 Nonfood-Contact Surfaces.

    Subparagraph 4-602.11 (D) (6),,,

    (6) The cleaning schedule is APPROVED based on consideration of: (a) Characteristics of the EQUIPMENT and its use, (b) The type of FOOD involved, (c) The amount of FOOD residue accumulation, and (d) The temperature at which the FOOD is maintained during the operation and the potential for the rapid and progressive multiplication of pathogenic or toxigenic microorganisms that are capable of causing foodborne disease;

    4-602.13 Nonfood-Contact Surfaces.  

    NonFOOD-CONTACT SURFACES of EQUIPMENT shall be cleaned at a frequency necessary to preclude accumulation of soil residues.

    Note: These requirements are broad and often open to interpretation. One Inspector's Filthy is anothers Acceptable...What a Chicago Inspector might write up a Smoked Meat Restaurant for...A Missippi Inspector has seen all his life and totally ignores...All Inspectors know that Bacteria is killed with heat and the inside of a Smoker or Oven is sterile, so they are lax at enforcing debris removal. So YES they frequently Overlook a dirty Smoker or Oven.

     I have been through Many Health Inspections. The interior of Stoves, Ovens, Smokers, Steamers? The inspector has rarely even opened them up. The most Critical Warning I have ever heard?...

    " Chef, you might want to get somebody to scrape the ceiling of that Oven. We don't want stuff falling on the food..."

    They go over the Dish Washer, prep tables, reach-in and walk-in refrigerator interiors with a fine tooth comb. Cold Smoke equipment and Curing rooms, fall under the same requirements as the process rarely Heats to the point of sterilizing the surfaces...JJ
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2016
  14. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Chef JimmyJ, you left out the ice machine. :yahoo:

    I used to live in the Houston area and remember the old-timer named Marvin ZIndler, now deceased, who gave the TV station's reports on what it found in restaurant 'inspections.' His favorite tag line, because it was found so frequently, was "Slime in the ice machine!'
  15. kaustin13

    kaustin13 Newbie

    👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 I have only worked in pizza kitchens, Papa's Pizza for those of you who may or may not know Oregon, Eugene, Springfield, Corvallis, Bend area. And ya I don't remember ever having to do more than scrape the burnt stuff off the insides. As for everything else my crew cleaned like mad at the end of the night and if they made me mad they scraped kegs lol, beer kegs were in the same walkin with pizza supplies and they would be nasty real quick especially after a Friday or Saturday night. But we never failed one while I was running the kitchen, now if only I could train my kids that well hahahahaha 😂
  16. kaustin13

    kaustin13 Newbie

    And q3131a, tried the link but said it was no longer found. I haven't found that there isn't enough smoke flavor actually the night I put the bread on it the bread was super smoky. Almost too much for me but everyone else liked it.
  17. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    The latest Code 2013, goes into great detail on Ice Machines and Beverage Dispencers. Honestly, back in the 90's Ice Machine cleaning was limited to using a Clean Scoop, No filling Glasses directly in the bin and weekly emptying. There was no mention of Mold and Slime accumulation on the ice maker...JJ
  18. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    As the Brits say, I was just takin' the piss, Chef JJ.

    Thanks for posting the CORRECT info cleaning as required by codes.
  19. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Lol...I had no idea how nasty Ice makers got. Kinda Gross when you see the reality. My middle Cheffie Daugter worked in a chain restaurant that never heard of cleaning the Iced Tea dispencer beyond a nightly rinse. She took theirs apart and showed the Managers what accumulated. They were Shocked and later amazed that the Tea tasted so much better after...JJ
  20. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sounds like you taught her well in addition to her having so much on the ball!

    Congratulations to you both!

Share This Page