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How to "Sterilize" inside of smoker

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

I have an MES 40 electric.  I recently bought it.  I have always smoked meat on a trailer mounted 8 ft. smoker.  I found with it that if after a days cooking and the grease gets all down inside I clean all the renderings  and meat droppings out I heat the pit up to about 300 degrees, open the pit and splash about !/4 cup water inside. close the door and all the vents it creates steam inside and completely "sterilizes" the inside.  Pit is clean, no more odors and I am ready for next cook.

 

If I did this with the MES would it work?

post #2 of 25
Phil, morning.... I run my MES at 275 for a couple hours to sterilize it... A pie tin with some water in it for steam would work... Get the temp up with the pan in it and then close the exhaust.. 30 minutes the steam should have done it's job and loosened up anything you want to remove with a paper towel... then remove the water and keep the temp up to remove any additional moisture...
The concerns I have with steaming the MES is there are electronics buried inside the insulation layer.... In the bottom left of the floor, the master electronics are buried there... at least in the older units....

Dave

Edit.....
After reading Martin's post, I am guessing it is sterile for 1 millisecond.... maybe.... because the inside will still be susceptible to growing bacteria etc.... as the temp is lowered or something like that...
Edited by DaveOmak - 12/28/13 at 7:37am
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks Dave, I am looking for ideas as how to do this, to "sterilize" the MES, after getting the meat renderings out of the cooker! This is one way!!  Any others!!

post #4 of 25

 Every time you heat the MES above 165°F it is " Sterilized " (By definition) because all active Bacteria that can cause food borne illness are destroyed. In the remote event that any Bacterial Spores have found their way into the smoker during a previous Cool or Cold Smoking session, they can be eliminated by heating the Smoker to the common Hot smoking temperature of 225°F or higher. 

The heat kills any mold and Bacteria that may be in there. Now if you are talking about " Cleaning " the MES, cover the drip pan in the base and the water pan with foil, cover the top of the housing around the coil also. After the cook, wash the racks and change the foil and you are good to go. The smokey build up on the walls is " Seasoning " and contributes to the flavor. It is Supposed to be there and unless excessive only needs cleaning once a year, followed be Re-seasoning...JJ

post #5 of 25
You can't sterilize your smoker unless you can completely seal it and ensure that it maintains a temperature that's high enough and long enough to do the sterilizing.

You can temporarily sanitize your smoker but that doesn't ensure that any remaining gunk won't grow nasties.



~Martin
post #6 of 25

Just a Newbe here but I also kinda do what Dave does.  Turn it on at 275* for a few hours with some water in the pan and let it go.  I don't wipe the walls down or anything but at least I "feel" it's clean.

post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by DiggingDogFarm View Post

You can't sterilize your smoker unless you can completely seal it and ensure that it maintains a temperature that's high enough and long enough to do the sterilizing.

You can temporarily sanitize your smoker but that doesn't ensure that any remaining gunk won't grow nasties.



~Martin

Below are three sources that are specific. Some people repeatedly bring up the very few Bacteria that form Spores. In this light I will amend my previous answer of, " Every time you heat the MES above 165°F it is " Sterilized ", to the following statement...

 

Every time you heat the MES above 165°F it is " Sterilized " (By definition) because all active Bacteria that can cause food borne illness are destroyed. In the remote event that any Bacterial Spores have found their way into the smoker during a previous Cool or Cold Smoking session, they can be eliminated by heating the Smoker to the common Hot smoking temperature of 225°F or higher." 

 

  • ster·il·ize
  • [ stérrə lz ]
  •  
  1. destroy microorganisms: to kill all living microorganisms in something in order to make it incapable of causing infection
  2. make infertile: to stop a person or animal from reproducing, e.g. by surgical removal or alteration of reproductive organs.
ster·il·ize  (stebreve.gifrprime.gifschwa.gif-limacr.gifzlprime.gif)
tr.v. ster·il·izedster·il·iz·ingster·il·iz·es
1. To make free from live bacteria or other microorganisms.
 

 

ster·i·lize

  [ster-uh-lahyz]  Show IPA
verb (used with object), ster·i·lized, ster·i·liz·ing.
1.
to destroy microorganisms in or on, usually by bringing to a high temperature with steam, dry heat, or boiling liquid.
2.
to destroy the ability of (a person or animal) to reproduce by removing the sex organs or inhibitingtheir functions.
3.
to make (land) barren or unproductive.
 
 
 
 
For reference, here is a list of the Bacteria that causes Food Born illness and the Temperatures they are destroyed or inactivated...
 
Bacteria Responsible Description Habitat Types of Foods Symptoms Cause Temperture Sensitivity
Staphylococcus aureus Produces a heat-stable toxin Nose and throat of 30 to 50 percent of healthy population; also skin and superficial wounds. Meat and seafood salads, sandwich spreads and high salt foods. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea within 4 to 6 hours. No fever. Poor personal hygiene and subsequent temperature abuse. No growth below 40° F. Bacteria are destroyed by normal cooking but toxin is heat-stable.
Salmonella Produces an intestinal infection Intestinal tracts of animals and man High protein foods – meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Diarrhea nausea, chills, vomiting and fever within 12 to 24 hours. Contamination of ready-to-eat foods, insufficient cooking and recontamination of cooked foods. No growth below 40° F. Bacteria are destroyed by normal cooking.
Clostridium perfringens Produces a spore and prefers low oxygen atmosphere. Live cells must be ingested. Dust, soil and gastrointestinal tracts of animals and man. Meat and poultry dishes, sauces and gravies. Cramps and diarrhea within 12 to 24 hours. No vomiting or fever. Improper temperature control of hot foods, and recontamination. No growth below 40 degrees F. Bacteria are killed by normal cooking but a heat-stable spore can survive.
Clostridium botulinum Produces a spore and requires a low oxygen atmosphere. Produces a heat-sensitive toxin. Soils, plants, marine sediments and fish. Home-canned foods. Blurred vision, respiratory distress and possible DEATH. Improper methods of home-processing foods. Type E and Type B can grow at 38° F. Bacteria destroyed by cooking and the toxin is destroyed by boiling for 5 to 10 minutes. Heat-resistant spore can survive.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus Requires salt for growth. Fish and shellfish Raw and cooked seafood. Diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, headache and fever within 12 to 24 hours. Recontamination of cooked foods or eating raw seafood. No growth below 40° F. Bacteria killed by normal cooking.
Bacillus cereus Produces a spore and grows in normal oxygen atmosphere. Soil, dust and spices. Starchy food. Mild case of diarrhea and some nausea within 12 to 24 hours. Improper holding and storage temperatures after cooking. No growth below 40° F. Bacteria killed by normal cooking, but heat-resistant spore can survive.
Listeria monocytogenes Survives adverse conditions for long time periods. Soil, vegetation and water. Can survive for long periods in soil and plant materials. Milk, soft cheeses, vegetables fertilized with manure. Mimics meningitis. Immuno-compromised individuals most susceptible. Contaminated raw products. Grows at refrigeration (38-40° F) temperatures. May survive minimum pasturization tempertures (161° F for 15 seconds.)
Campylobacter jejuni Oxygen sensitive, does not grow below 86° F. Animal reservoirs and foods of animal origin. Meat, poulty, milk, and mushrooms. Diarrhea, abdomianl cramps and nausea. Improper pasteuriztion or cooking. Cross-contamination. Sensitive to drying or freezing. Survives in milk and water at 39° F for several weeks.
Versinia enterocolitica Not frequent cause of human infection. Poultry, beef, swine. Isolated only in human pathogen. Milk, tofu, and pork. Diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting. Mimics appendicitis. Improper cooking. Cross-contamination. Grows at refrigeration temperatures (35-40° F) Sensitive to heat (122° F)
Enteropathogenic E. coli Can produce toxins that are heat stable and others that are heat-sensitive. Feces of infected humans. Meat and cheeses. Diarrhea, abdominal cramps, no fever. Inadequate cooking. Recontamination of cooked product. Organisms can be controlled by heating. Can grow at refrigeration temperatures.
Bacterial Reference Table

The information given herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service is implied.

Educational programs of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, or national origin.

Publication Revised November 2008

Additional information can be found here...http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/food-technology/bacterial-food-poisoning/

 
 
 
post #8 of 25
That's a general definition from a dictionary.
We're talking food safety and sanitation here.
From a food safety and sanitation standpoint, sterilize means to be made incapable of proliferation....that doesn't occur unless live spores are also killed.
Technically, prevention of recolonization should also be added.
I don't consider anything less than that to be "sterile."


~Martin


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef JimmyJ View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by DiggingDogFarm View Post

You can't sterilize your smoker unless you can completely seal it and ensure that it maintains a temperature that's high enough and long enough to do the sterilizing.


You can temporarily sanitize your smoker but that doesn't ensure that any remaining gunk won't grow nasties.




~Martin

Below are three sources that are specific. Some people repeatedly bring up the very few Bacteria that form Spores. In this light I will amend my previous answer of, " Every time you heat the MES above 165°F it is " Sterilized ", to the following statement...



 



Every time you heat the MES above 165°F it is " Sterilized " (By definition) because all active Bacteria that can cause food borne illness are destroyed. In the remote event that any Bacterial Spores have found their way into the smoker during a previous Cool or Cold Smoking session, they can be eliminated by heating the Smoker to the common Hot smoking temperature of 225°F or higher." 



 



  • ster·il·ize


  • [ stérrə lz ]



  •  





  1. destroy microorganisms: to kill all living microorganisms in something in order to make it incapable of causing infection

  2. make infertile: to stop a person or animal from reproducing, e.g. by surgical removal or alteration of reproductive organs.


ster·il·ize  (stebreve.gifrprime.gifschwa.gif-limacr.gifzlprime.gif)

tr.v. ster·il·izedster·il·iz·ingster·il·iz·es
1. To make free from live bacteria or other microorganisms.


 

 




ster·i·lize



  [ster-uh
-lahyz

]  Show IPA



verb (used with object), 
ster·i·lized, 
ster·i·liz·ing.

1.

to destroy microorganisms in or on, usually by bringing to a high temperature with steam, dry heat, or boiling liquid.



2.

to destroy the ability of (a person or animal) to reproduce by removing the sex organs or inhibitingtheir functions.



3.

to make (land) barren or unproductive.

 



 


 


 


 



 

 




post #9 of 25
Clostridium perfringens, bacillus cereus and clostridium botulinum all produce heat-resistant spores that can survive normal cooking temperatures.





~Martin
post #10 of 25
What I've read, and in my very short experience with my MES, I just take the pieces of the smoker that have food residue and throw them in the dishwasher. Normal cycle and they are "sterilized" according to the local health department. Smoke residue is just what JJ says, seasoning.
post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by DiggingDogFarm View Post

That's a general definition from a dictionary.
We're talking food safety and sanitation here.
From a food safety and sanitation standpoint, sterilize means to be made incapable of proliferation....that doesn't occur unless live spores are also killed.
Technically, prevention of recolonization should also be added.
I don't consider anything less than that to be "sterile."


~Martin

So three on-line Dictionaries are wrong???

 

Quote..." We're talking food safety and sanitation here. "

 

I don't have a Scanner so I am unable to scan in the definition of Sterilize from my " Sanitation and Food Safety Instructors Manual "...The Definition is the same. th_dunno-1[1].gif

 

Of course, you are free to follow any definition you choose...

 

Quote..." From a food safety and sanitation standpoint, sterilize means to be made incapable of proliferation....that doesn't occur unless live spores are also killed.
Technically, prevention of recolonization should also be added.

 

I thought I covered the Spore issue with this statement...JJ

 

" In the remote event that any Bacterial Spores have found their way into the smoker during a previous Cool or Cold Smoking session, they can be eliminated by heating the Smoker to the common Hot smoking temperature of 225°F or higher." 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #12 of 25
I prefer to stick with the proper definition of sterilization when it comes to food and sanitation because it's a very serious issue.
"You are free to follow any definition you choose"...is some extremely dangerous advise.
I think it's wrong to add to the confusion by not using the proper definition.

This question came up not long ago.....someone asked.....

"If I heat food in a pressure cooker at 15psi of pressure is the resulting food then sterilized?"

What would you tell them?

~Martin



Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef JimmyJ View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by DiggingDogFarm View Post

That's a general definition from a dictionary.

We're talking food safety and sanitation here.

From a food safety and sanitation standpoint, sterilize means to be made incapable of proliferation....that doesn't occur unless live spores are also killed.

Technically, prevention of recolonization should also be added.

I don't consider anything less than that to be "sterile."



~Martin
So three on-line Dictionaries are wrong???

Quote..." We're talking food safety and sanitation here. "

I don't have a Scanner so I am unable to scan in the definition of Sterilize from my " Sanitation and Food Safety Instructors Manual "...The Definition is the same. th_dunno-1%5B1%5D.gif

Of course, you are free to follow any definition you choose...

Quote..." From a food safety and sanitation standpoint, sterilize means to be made incapable of proliferation....that doesn't occur unless live spores are also killed.

Technically, prevention of recolonization should also be added.

I thought I covered the Spore issue with this statement...JJ

" In the remote event that any Bacterial Spores have found their way into the smoker during a previous Cool or Cold Smoking session, they can be eliminated by heating the Smoker to the common Hot smoking temperature of 225°F or higher." 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 


post #13 of 25

 I only know that Pressure Cookers and Pressure Canners are not the same. Beyond that I don't know a thing on the subject. So I would not get involved in the conversation.

 

Martin, If you feel you can and/or should provide additional information, than do so and back it up with Documentation. There is no benefit or learning for me or anyone if instead you choose to be argumentative,( I am just as guilty here) and make Vague statements. I am getting older and miss or forget some of the details occasionally. It requires a lot less typing for us all if we work together to get the info complete and accurate...JJ

post #14 of 25
Argumentative?
Vague statements?
C'mon!!!
I provided an easy to understand definition that's actually applicable to food and sanitation.

Anyway, the answer is NO, the resulting food is not sterilized.
Once the cooker loses pressure and is no longer sealed the food is susceptible to reinfection.
Now, if the food was in canning jars and properly processed in a pressure canner....the resulting food would be sterile as long as the jars remain sealed.



~Martin
Edited by DiggingDogFarm - 12/28/13 at 5:56am
post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 

Wow!!  I thought this thread would generate some discussion. Very good info.  Should have used the word sanitize!  But then the thread would not have received this amount of info. Thanks!!

post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef JimmyJ View Post
 

 Every time you heat the MES above 165°F it is " Sterilized " (By definition) because all active Bacteria that can cause food borne illness are destroyed. In the remote event that any Bacterial Spores have found their way into the smoker during a previous Cool or Cold Smoking session, they can be eliminated by heating the Smoker to the common Hot smoking temperature of 225°F or higher. 

The heat kills any mold and Bacteria that may be in there. Now if you are talking about " Cleaning " the MES, cover the drip pan in the base and the water pan with foil, cover the top of the housing around the coil also. After the cook, wash the racks and change the foil and you are good to go. The smokey build up on the walls is " Seasoning " and contributes to the flavor. It is Supposed to be there and unless excessive only needs cleaning once a year, followed be Re-seasoning...JJ

Chef Jimmy, Tell me the reasoning behind covering the various parts with foil, please Sir!!

post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phillip P Smith View Post
 

Chef Jimmy, Tell me the reasoning behind covering the various parts with foil, please Sir!!

 

Hi Phillip...

 

I don't mean to speak on JJ's behalf, but the main reason for using the foil is to make cleanup easier.  Instead of grease and food drippings building up on you smoker parts, it falls on the foil...which you then simply remove and throw away.  Then put fresh foil down, and you're ready to go the next time.  This is much easier than scrubbing and scouring those smoker parts each time.

 

Red

post #18 of 25
Thread Starter 

Red, The question I asked was about Sanitizing the inside of the cooker after everything had been cleaned.  Why cover the various parts to sterilize or sanitize the pit? Thanks

post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phillip P Smith View Post
 

Red, The question I asked was about Sanitizing the inside of the cooker after everything had been cleaned.  Why cover the various parts to sterilize or sanitize the pit? Thanks

 

 

Phil,

 

Sometimes people use the wrong words in trying to convey their thoughts/questions.   For example, someone might say "sterilize" when they really just mean they want to clean their smoker really well.

 

In that response, JJ said this:

 

Quote:

Now if you are talking about " Cleaning " the MES, cover the drip pan in the base and the water pan with foil, cover the top of the housing around the coil also. After the cook, wash the racks and change the foil and you are good to go.

 

 

In short, part of JJ's reply addressed "sterilization", but just in case you were actually asking about "cleaning", or maybe because it's a closely related topic, he included advice for that as well.

post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phillip P Smith View Post
 

Red, The question I asked was about Sanitizing the inside of the cooker after everything had been cleaned.  Why cover the various parts to sterilize or sanitize the pit? Thanks

As Red pointed out the foil just makes the clean out easier, it has nothing to do with sanitation, the killing of any residual Bacteria. Sanitation is all done with Heat. Additionally the only parts that really need to be cleaned and sanitized are the food contact surfaces, the Grates. A smoker is like any piece of cooking equipment. There is no need to Bleach out your Oven, Stove, or BBQ Grill after every cook, same goes for the Smoker. When there is more buildup on the walls than you want, Simple Green will degrease the walls without leaving a chemical residue. Follow up with the Seasoning procedure in the manual...JJ

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