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Electric vs Propane

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

So whats the difference? I use a barerll smoker w/charcoal and wood. Im looking to get a smaller more portable unit for weekend travelin, Thinking a propane unit for that, but lately ive been noticing some real cheap electric units on the market. My question is do they do as good a job as any open flame types? I mean heat is heat right? ...

post #2 of 13

Electrics work great and are cheaper than Propane to operate. The only difference is the lack of meaningless Smoke Ring. What you get will depend on availability of Electricity. If every where you travel has electric service or you take a generator go electric. If not Propane may be a better option...JJ

post #3 of 13
It's much easier to accurately control the temperature with an electric smoker.
Coupled with an A-Maze-N smoker makes a great set-up.

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

So you wont get a smoke ring at all with Electric? Im confused (sometimes easily done) Isnt it the "smoke" that makes the ring?  Concidering the travel asspect of it all I think ill get a propane. But the price of those electric ones....Might be worth checking out. Im gathering there more like an oven than smoker but you add "packets" of chips? is this right?

post #5 of 13
Just another idea for portability is a mini-WSM, easy to build and very mobile and you still get to use charcoal and wood. Also doubles as a grill. grilling_smilie.gif

See the link.

post #6 of 13
Originally Posted by Smokin JayNH View Post

So you wont get a smoke ring at all with Electric? Im confused (sometimes easily done) Isnt it the "smoke" that makes the ring?

Here's a good explanation of how the smoke ring is formed, by Meat Extension Specialist, Joe Cordray, of Iowa State University.

"Smoke Ring in Barbeque Meats:
How to Get That Coveted Pink Ring With Your Cooking
by Joe Cordray

Slow cooked barbecue meats often exhibit a pink ring around the outside edge of the product. This pink ring may range from 1/8 inch to 1/2 inch thick. In beef the ring is a reddish-pink and in pork, chicken and turkey it is bright pink. This pink ring is often referred to as a "smoke ring" and is considered a prized attribute in many barbecue meats, especially barbecue beef briskets. Barbecue connoiseurs feel the presence of a smoke ring indicates the item was slow smoked for a long period of time. Occasionally consumers have mistakenly felt that the pink color of the smoke ring meant the meat was undercooked. To understand smoke ring formation you must first understand muscle pigment.

Myoglobin is the pigment that gives muscle its color. Beef muscle has more pigment than pork muscle thus beef has a darker color than pork. Chicken thighs have a darker color than chicken breast thus chicken thigh muscle has more muscle pigment (myoglobin) than chicken breast tissue. A greater myoglobin concentration yields a more intense color. When you first cut into a muscle you expose the muscle pigment in its native state, myoglobin. In the case of beef, myoglobin has a purplish-red color. After the myoglobin has been exposed to oxygen for a short time, it becomes oxygenated and oxymyoglobin is formed. Oxymyoglobin is the color we associate with fresh meat. The optimum fresh meat color in beef is bright cherry red and in pork bright grayish pink. If a cut of meat is held under refrigeration for several days, the myoglobin on the surface becomes oxidized. When oxymyoglobin is oxidized it becomes metmyoglobin. Metmyoglobin has a brown color and is associated with a piece of meat that has been cut for several days. When we produce cured products we also alter the state of the pigment myoglobin. Cured products are defined as products to which we add sodium nitrate and/or sodium nitrite during processing. Examples of cured products are ham, bacon, bologna and hotdogs. All of these products have a pink color, which is typical of cured products. When sodium nitrite is combined with meat the pigment myoglobin is converted to nitric oxide myoglobin which is a very dark red color. This state of the pigment myoglobin is not very stable. Upon heating, nitric oxide myoglobin is converted to nitrosylhemochrome, which is the typical pink color of cured meats.
When a smoke ring develops in barbecue meats it is not because smoke has penetrated and colored the muscle, but rather because gases in the smoke interact with the pigment myoglobin. Two phenomenon provide evidence that it is not the smoke itself that causes the smoke ring. First, it is possible to have a smoke ring develop in a product that has not been smoked and second, it is also possible to heavily smoke a product without smoke ring development.

Most barbecuers use either wood chips or logs to generate smoke when cooking. Wood contains large amounts of nitrogen (N). During burning the nitrogen in the logs combines with oxygen (O) in the air to form nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Nitrogen dioxide is highly water-soluble. The pink ring is created when NO2 is absorbed into the moist meat surface and reacts to form nitrous acid. The nitrous acid then diffuses inward creating a pink ring via the classic meat curing reaction of sodium nitrite. The end result is a "smoke ring" that has the pink color of cured meat. Smoke ring also frequently develops in smokehouses and cookers that are gas-fired because NO2 is a combustion by-product when natural gas or propane is burned.

Let’s review the conditions that would help to contribute to the development of a smoke ring. Slow cooking and smoking over several hours. This allows time for the NO2 to be absorbed into and interact with the meat pigment.

Maintain the surface of the meat moist during smoking. NO2 is water-soluble so it absorbs more readily into a piece of meat that has a moist surface than one which has a dry surface. Meats that have been marinated tend to have a moister surface than non-marinated meats. There are also a couple of ways that you can help to maintain a higher humidity level in your cooker; 1. Do not open and close the cooker frequently. Each time you open it you allow moisture inside to escape. 2. Put a pan of water on your grill. Evaporation from the water will help increase humidity inside the cooker.

Generate smoke from the burning of wood chips or wood logs. Since NO2 is a by-product of incomplete combustion, green wood or wetted wood seems to enhance smoke ring development. Burning green wood or wetted wood also helps to increase the humidity level inside the cooker.
A high temperature flame is needed to create NO2 from nitrogen and oxygen. A smoldering fire without a flame does not produce as much NO2. Consequently, a cooker that uses indirect heat generated from the burning of wood typically will develop a pronounced smoke ring. Have fun cooking. A nice smoke ring can sure make a piece of barbecued meat look attractive."

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

very interesting....I was just saying how i wish i was more of a metal fab guy so i could just make my own portable...cool.  Think theres any way to make it propane? Want to be able to take it to festivals and camping and not babysit it so much....Hmmm smoked meat for thought.

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

look at that now, im a bit more educated already. That is some real technical stuff, seemingly. However i do understand the process. No flame=no NO2...?  Thank you very much Martin. 

post #9 of 13

Thanks Martin I have always wondered about the smoke ring. Great explanation!

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

so I did some window shopping and found a little charcoal smoker at Home Cheapo for like 40 bucks and now Im thinking about making my own propane smoker out of this and old side burner from a propane grill...going to do some more figuring but  I think it might work...http://www.homedepot.com/Outdoors-Grills-Grill-Accessories-Smokers-Fryers/h_d1/N-5yc1vZbx92/R-100606041/h_d2/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10053&langId=-1&storeId=10051  Any thoughts?

post #11 of 13

I use the Smokin' Sidekick as a portable smoker. I had to strip the side burner off of an old BBQ as a heat source but it sounds like you may have one already. They are compact and well built and do a nice job once you have them set up right. i don't have a link to their website but recommend you check it out. It is a cabinet style smoker with dimensions of 18"h x 13"w x 10" d. I, also, use this as a cold smoker cabinet with my smoke pistol.

post #12 of 13
I love my gosm. Many people here have one they are a great smokers. yahoo.gif
post #13 of 13

There was a portable, electric,unit donated by Bradley, given away at the N. FL Gathering, this past weekend. A proud member of our USAF was the winner, and it was pretty neat!

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