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Horrible taste when made in custom wood smoker

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Built a smoker out of wood after looking around at different plans. We use 2 portable cook tops, 1 for the wood chips, and 1 additional for heat. We stay around 145 - 155F. The jerky looks good, but tastes horrible. Has a very nasty wood / bitter / sour taste.


If made in the store bought dehydrator, it tastes like heaven. Are we doing something wrong? I've tried wood chips, wood chunks... All 3 times I've done this the jerky comes out tasting horrible.


Is it possible I do not have enough ventilation? Right now I have no holes in the unit at all.

post #2 of 11

I have two guess's for ventilation.........and maybe the wood you used to build it with.

If it has a bitter taste, I'm going to say venting is your problem. Too much smoke...



post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

It is made out of regular untreated lumber you would get from Lowes. Nothing special or fancy.

post #4 of 11

Smoke needs to just kiss the meat not engulf it....yea lack of adequate exhaust is a likely problem. 

post #5 of 11

you need proper exhaust like the others are saying...what is happening is a condition called creosote, here is a link that will hopefully help to explain your issue

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

I've also noticed that the wood is "burned" when I am done, like black as black... The cook tops maybe too hot?


Thanks for the advice so far!

post #7 of 11

echo.......   air flow is critical to good smoked foods.....   black ash means you made charcoal...  charcoal is made burning wood in the absence of oxygen.....   Even in your dehydrator there is air flow to dry the meat.....    with wet meat, no air flow, the smoke condenses in the moisture, on the surface of the meat.....   smoke and moisture make acid rain....


Soooooo....   you have acid rain soaked wet jerky......


Now that you know where things went astray, fix it and show us some great jerky.....    There are no mistakes, as long as you can learn from them...


Pictures required.......



post #8 of 11
Agree with everyone that it sounds like airflow issue
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

Excellent support here! So I will make some intake / exhaust holes.  Should I use a forced intake / exhaust by using small fans, or is them being open good enough?


I have 2 120mm computer fans inside the smoker to move air around, should I add one to pull in fresh air, and 1 to push out used air?

post #10 of 11
I would not start with fans. For me it is just something else to go wrong.

Without knowing the design, size and other specifics it is hard to tell how big your openings need to be.

My smokehouse is approx 6' x 3' x 2' and I have a 4" exhaust and 2ea 6"x8" intakes. I wanted more air flow and options based on wind direction. Even with 1 vent completely covered and the other 80% covered, I get a little too much air at times. I am going to make some adjustments here soon and cover the vents and add 2ea pie vents to either side for better control.

Hope this helps.

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 


The vent holes fixed the issue. Jerky looks identical to the batch in the dehydrator and takes nearly identical as well. No nasty bitter dirt taste. Incredible! Thank you!

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