Water PAN Yes Or No?

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by nepas, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Many of us smoke sausage in many different ways than others do.

    What works for one may not work for another.

    So here is my take on using a water pan while smoking sausage in an electric, LPG or Charcoal.

    My experience in sausage has been with a moist environment. True dry the casings for an hour or so to dry the surface of the casing. Smoke ad hears better to a semi dry to dry casing. Remember your smoked product will only take so much smoke, If your wanting smoke throughout the meat you may want to look at smoke powder additive such as AC Leggs or Spices Etc.

    When I start the smoke cycle i use my water pan. The moisture helps keep the casing moist and from pulling away from the meat

    (unless you have used protein lined casings) in which these will cling to the meat. The low heat will not boil the water, but keep a nice steady supply of warm steam. Larger sausage companies use soaked dust and/or warm water spray from the top down in a fine mist.


    Experiment with or without water. Its your choice and all good.

    Please post your water pan usage so we can all learn.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2012
  2. No experience yet, but thank you for the great info. 
  3. So far, I've used the water pan in every smoking project I've done, except for jerky, because of the fact that with jerky, you're trying to draw moisture out. In my opinion, the use of the water pan really helps to keep the target temperature in the MES steady and helps the temperature to recover quickly when the door is opened. I realize that everyone has their own version of what they do, including the use of sand in the water pan (which I haven't tried), but I will stick to what has worked for me.
  4. sam3

    sam3 Smoking Fanatic

    In my last experience with smoking sausage, I pulled the pan after the 2nd smoke cycle (2 hours total). It then took another 5.5 hours before it reached the 152 IT.

    The sausage had more of a wrinkled surface which I wasn't expecting. But reading what Rick posted makes sense.

    I bet if I left the pan in, it may have had more of a sausage appearance.

    I'm going to try it with the pan in the next time for the duration and post a Q View.
  5. I'm only smoking homemade sausage in my Master Forge gasser these days.  I've done it in my stick burner before, but ramping the temps and then holding the temps in my stick burner is somewhere between, science, pure luck and magic.....Like I said, I've done it and it works... but it takes some doing and I never used a water pan in my stick burner when I smoke sausage - maybe I should have tried that and I might if I ever smoke sausage in the stick burner again.  I would think it's even easier to ramp/hold in an electric, but I don't have an electric in the herd (yet).

    I always dry my sausage overnight in the garage beer fridge by hanging them my homemade hardwood sausage sticks.  Dry casings, IMVHO, are a must for a decent product.  I also always smoke my sausage on sausage sticks... never lying flat on the grates.  I also always ramp my temps while doing sausage.  First phase being more of a final dry period and then start ramping and adding smoke.

    I've converted from using water to sand in the factory water pan that came with my Master Forge and typically smoke everything with only the sand pan.. EXCEPT sausage.  I leave the water pan filled with sand in the smoker but add a disposable aluminum pan on the rack right about the sand/water pan and fill it with hot water. The sand really creates a nice large thermal mass and really helps to hold temps from swinging. Especially if you're smoking something where you have to open the door occasionally to spritz or whatever.

    I agree with you Rick, I think the warm/hot moist environment in the smoker makes for a better final smoked sausage product.  Especially with how the casing react during the smoke as well as during the cold/ice water chill and bloom.


    Edited to add:  I only use natural hog casings for my regular sized sausage, such as Italian, Kielbasa, Andouille and Brats.  Have never used callogen or synthetics for full sized - especially smoked - sausages.  

    Also, here's a quick album I threw together of one of my batches of Kielbasa and Andouille.

    Last edited: Feb 2, 2012
  6. gersus

    gersus Smoking Fanatic

    Hmmm, I may have to experiment! I have not at all used water in a pan. Ever. I don't experience any dryness in my sausage or other foods nor do I experience much wrinkling. I'm not saying no water is the only way to do it though. I consider myself very much a newb still and I look forward to learning a ton more. :) I may just try some water in the next go around of sausage. Good topic, NEPAS.
  7. sam3

    sam3 Smoking Fanatic

    gersus, here is a pic of the smoked sausage I did. Mind you, I only had water in the pan for 2 hours while smoking. Total time was @9.5 in the box. Maybe this is normal, maybe not. I think the sausage is good tasting anyway.

  8. sam3

    sam3 Smoking Fanatic

    And I agree with Salt. I should have hung these in lieu of having them rest on the racks. The bottom side of the sausages are flat and dimpled from the grating.
  9. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Those look real good.
  10. gersus

    gersus Smoking Fanatic

    Looks great, Sam!
  11. sam3

    sam3 Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks guys. I'm overthinking this now...

    But I will keep water in the pan in next time I smoke sausage, just to see if it affects the casings. I'll do a side by side comparison and take a pic.
  12. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I've never used water either, maybe it's time to give it a try.
  13. shortend

    shortend Meat Mopper

    I've never used water in the water pan either. I'm with Al and think it's time to give it a try. If Nepas is usin' it, it must be beneficial.
  14. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Forgot to post this. When i add the water to the pan i add hot water, this way the smoker dont have to heat it up. If your using a gas smoker this wont be much a problem.
  15. Thanks Rick for putting this on the Sausage Forum,  I guess my instincts have been right.  I have used a water pan for everything so far and have put hot water in the pan.  But when you look at some of the recipes, they leave out this important part and for newbies its a subject that needed to be covered.  Thanks for clarifying this.
  16. pantherfan83

    pantherfan83 Smoking Fanatic

    This sums up exactly my feelings
  17. I used the water pan when I first got my MES, but after I got the A-Maze-N Smoker, I stopped using water in the pan. I have not noticed any difference and it is easier to use without water.

  18. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Water is really just there as a heat sink, adds very little moisture to the smoke. You may get more of the steam effect in a Vertical, but a Horizontal would be minimal. I use sand alot of the times during the colder months, it will provide you with more constant and higher temps. During the warmer months, I use water.
  19. shortend

    shortend Meat Mopper

  20. ShortEnd, if you want to use the AMNPS and a water pan, I would suggest you place the AMNPS below the water pan.  Any rising steam from the water pan into/around the AMNPS is going to really hamper the performance of the AMNPS - probably to the point of extinguishing it....


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