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Newbie help please...?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Good news... my wonderful wife has bought me my first smoker!! Hurray!!

Bad news is... I have no clue hot to use it and the set didn't come with any instructions.

 

I am a pretty good BBQer and enjoy good proper smoked food. So I know what I am aiming for but I have no clue how to get there.

 

This is the setup, not very big but a good start:

 

Smoker_1.jpg

Smoker_2.jpg

Smoker_3.jpg

Smoker_4.jpg

 

Kind of guessing here, so I am looking for someone to point me in the right direction.

 

A: Adjustable hole for smoke to exit, as well as controlling the temperature.

B: Not sure. Either a drip tray or a place to add water to help keep the meat moist and/or control the temperature?
C: Again, not sure. Same as above?
D: Tray for the charcoal.
E: Adjustable holes for air to come in, for feeding the fire and helping to alter the temperature.

I have lots and lots of questions.
But I guess my first one is, (1) can someone check I have the right idea of what does what... and detail the stuff I have missed?

My other confusion is around the fire tray itself.
I like to think of myself as a decent BBQ/fire guy. (2) I was expecting to have a 'grill' in there, so the fire/coals can have plenty of air round them to stay burning for longer.
(3) As well as possibly another grill on top of that for the wood chips or do they do directly onto the coals?

 

Please excuse the mess in the fire tray, I read I was supposed to season/christen the smoker by running it up to temperature but I filed to do so with the weather turning for the worse last night. Will be retrying tomorrow (Looking to cold smoke this afternoon!)

 

In other good news, my wonderful wife has also bought me a cold smoker kit, so I am starting with that, while I wait for info on "How Too" hot smoke from here. As well as waiting for my newly ordered Chimney starter.

Looking forward to hearing what advice you guys have. (Other than move to the states and buy a PROPER smoker!)

Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 17

Hello slimjim.  First, welcome to our forums!

 

Although I've never seen a setup quite like your smoker, I suspect you are correct in your guesses as to what purpose each labeled part serves.  

 

A - is certainly the exhaust damper...my advice is to mostly leave it wide open for proper air flow.

 

B - appears to be a water pan...and you are correct...provides a moist environment in the cook chamber and act as a heat sink for temp control.

 

C - I'm not positive, but this appears to be a heat shield/deflector...a buffer between the fire and the food to provide a more indirect cooking.

 

D - This appears to be the fire box.  I assume there is not an electric heating element?  Or a gas-supplied burner?  If not, then this is the box where you add charcoal and wood chunks.  I agree with you that this box would be more efficient if there was a grate to put the fuel on...would allow better air flow around your coal.  That may be a modification you'll want to add to improve the performance of your cooker.

 

E - I believe you are correct that this is the intake air damper...although it's hard for me to tell form the photos how it is adjusted.  I assume the extra piece of riveted steel will pivot over those air slots?  This is the main mode of controlling your cooking temps...by controlling how much air gets to your burning fuel.

 

One thing I'm not seeing in your photos...cooking grates?  All I see are hooks/bars for hanging meats and/or foods.  I suppose you could manage without grates by hanging anything you put in there, but cooking grates/racks would be more convenient for most meats.

 

One tip for easier cleanups...you can cover surfaces B and C with foil.  This keeps those surfaces from getting gummed up with grease.  After a few cooks, simply remove the greasy foil and discard.

 

Hopefully I've answered all the questions you've asked...if you have other, more specific questions, please ask away!

 

Have fun with that new cooker...and Happy Smoking!

 

Red


Edited by SeenRed - 4/7/16 at 7:11am
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks Red!!!

 

So, it looks like I am kind of on the right track.

...and yes, you are spot on. The intake damper is on a rivet hinge, so open and close the holes.

 

VERY happy I am right on needing some form of grate, making the fire burn better in the firebox. From my fire making/BBQ experience, it seemed obvious to me.
No, there is no electric or gas... all charcoal fired.

 

Again, you are right, there are no grills for meat. Something I will need to source to make hot smoking meat easier.
But I suspect, long term, if I get into doing this, I will upgrade to a bigger smoker. ;)

 

I have some teflon sheets which I was looking to put into B & C, so along the same lines as your foil suggestion.

 

Really appreciate your detailed response. Keeping me sane.

 

Just having a go at my first cold smoke, while I work out what to try first as a hot smoke.
Have a look here ... http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/244722/1st-cold-smoke  I THINK it is looking OK. Hope so!

post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by slimjimUK View Post
 

Thanks Red!!!

 

So, it looks like I am kind of on the right track.

...and yes, you are spot on. The intake damper is on a rivet hinge, so open and close the holes.

 

VERY happy I am right on needing some form of grate, making the fire burn better in the firebox. From my fire making/BBQ experience, it seemed obvious to me.
No, there is no electric or gas... all charcoal fired.

 

Again, you are right, there are no grills for meat. Something I will need to source to make hot smoking meat easier.
But I suspect, long term, if I get into doing this, I will upgrade to a bigger smoker. ;)

 

I have some teflon sheets which I was looking to put into B & C, so along the same lines as your foil suggestion.

 

Really appreciate your detailed response. Keeping me sane.

 

Just having a go at my first cold smoke, while I work out what to try first as a hot smoke.
Have a look here ... http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/244722/1st-cold-smoke  I THINK it is looking OK. Hope so!

 

Great!  I'll pop over and check it out!  Thumbs Up

 

Red

post #5 of 17

a-f-o


Edited by Mauser - 4/12/16 at 8:33pm
post #6 of 17

I'd say Red has you pretty much covered.  As he said, leave the exhaust vent wide open--that will ensure good smoke circulation.  As for the water pan, some use it, some don't.  I filled mine with sand and covered with foil.  It now acts as a heat sink to help regulate temps.  You will definitely want to get some cooking grates!!

I have a MES 30, and yours looks to be about the same size.  Unless you'll be cooking for a crowd, that should be plenty big enough.  Just remember, the bigger the cook chamber, the longer it takes to heat up and the more fuel you'll be burning.

 

Gary

post #7 of 17

First :welcome1: to our group lot of great guys and gals here with tons of info. Surely there is a brand name and model number on that cooker somewhere I would retrieve that info and try contacting the maker for a manual. Most likely they have a web sight.

post #8 of 17

Welcome and congratulations on the nice shiny

new smoker.

 

                           Ed

post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hey peeps!

 

Thanks for all the welcomes and info.

 

Unfortunately (and weirdly) there are NO marks on the smoker at all!
No model, manufacturer. Nothing! Which is why I came to this

 

This is it:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Smoker-XL-Smoking-thermometer-Shipping/dp/B011OLD2YE/

post #10 of 17

Hi Jim

 

It does look like an interesting smoker. From its design I think it was built more with cold smoking in mind than hot, but it should do both. I see your link pointed to the galvanized steel version of the smoker however I see that there is also a stainless version too. Which one do you have. From the photos it looks like the galvanized one but it is hard to be sure.

 

Whichever it is it will be great for cold smoking. If it is the galvanized version then you will have to be careful with it when hot smoking. It is not recommended that food be cooked either in direct contact with galvanized surfaces or where juices/moisture can drip off galvanized surfaces back onto the food. If you do hot smoke with it then I would recommend placing foil on a rack above the food to prevent condensation dripping from the lid back onto the food. What are the racks that were supplied with it made of?

 

Red and your guesses as to what the parts are seem right on. Whether they are water trays or drip trays you will probably want to foil line them both before you use the smoker extensively as even cold smoked food (especially fish) can drip and make a mess.

 

When burning charcoal you will probable need to put in a low fire grate to help with the air flow. The bottom slots are the air dampers and should be fine.

 

As Gary mentioned, you could fill the tray "B" up with sand as this will act as a temperature buffer to help minimise rapid changes in the cooking chamber as the charcoal burns.

 

Where I do disagree with both Red and Gary though is with the use of the top vent. With most smokers of this type the temperature is controlled by balancing the air flow over the burning coals with the heat loss through the walls and flue of the unit, When starting to get the unit up to temperature then yes, leave the top vent wide open, however as the temperature reaches about 3/4 of where you want it to be, close the top vent to about 1/4 open. This way you will get a much finer temperature control through adjustments made with the bottom air intake vents. Some people think that by not leaving the top vent completely open you get a build up of "stale" smoke and tar. This is not the case with most smokers, and from the size of the flue vent here it will not be a problem either.

 

I hope this helps.

 

Wade

post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 

SO much great info here gents, not sure where to start.

 

Firstly, I am not 00% sure which smoker Tamsin bought but I do know it was under £100.

From that, I am guessing that is is the galvanised version.

So I need to make sure that the inside is 'lined' with say tin foil for hot smoking?

 

Any specific reason for this?

post #12 of 17

Zinc if ingested is toxic and can make you feel very ill in relatively small amounts. When using galvanized components in a BBQ/smoker the zinc can be ingested either through inhaling the vapour when it is heated or as zinc compounds when it comes in direct contact with food.

 

The problem with zinc vapour is somewhat speculative, however it is mentioned widely in BBQ circles. It mainly comes from the experience of the welding community where zinc vapour poisoning is well known. Theoretically it is possible to get zinc vapour produced if the firebox is galvanized. Is this sufficient to be a problem though?...  I don't know as there are no credible official sources that I have seen that support this as being something to be concerned with.

 

The problem with cooking food directly on galvanized surfaces is officially recognised though, as are the hazards of allowing juices that have been in contact with zinc to become in contact with the food. There seems to be little guidance about it in the UK however it is specifically referred to in the American National Standard for Food Equipment Materials, where it says that  "Galvanized materials and other zinc coated materials shall not be used on surfaces intended for direct food contact." It defines the food zone as "equipment surfaces intended to be in direct contact with food and equipment surfaces that food may contact and then drain drip, or splash back into food or onto surfaces that are intended to be in direct contact with food."

 

Notice their use of the word "shall" which is compulsory. Whenever it is a strong recommendation they use the word "should".

 

Providing you take steps to not let your food come into direct contact with the zinc or allow splashes from the zinc to drip/splash back onto the food you should be fine. I don't want you to take this issue out of proportion but it is important that you are at least aware of current concerns.

post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 

OK.... Cards on the table...  I will not be replacing the smoker anytime soon, so it being Galvanized is something I just need to cope with.

 

So... How exactly do I get round this, in prep for my first hot smoke. (Planning for the new 2-3 weeks)

Just make sure no liquid can drip from any galvanized surface onto the food?

Think I can make some kind of internal canopy of tin foil, to re-direct the liquid dripping from the roof onto the food I am smoking.

 

Been out and bought some cheap burger 'cages' that are supposed to make it easy to BBQ & turn burgers.

Basically a flat bigger version of a fish cage for BBQ-ing.

Going to split the two halves and use them as racks for putting meat onto. Stainless steel, so nice and safe.

 

Long term, if I really get into it, I will be upgrading. There is no point in me replacing the one I have for an identical stainless steel one (another £120) if I can use this one, for now.

 

What do people think about my canopy idea? :icon_redface:

post #14 of 17

Never mind - someone already brought up the fact that it's galvanized..

post #15 of 17

a-f-o


Edited by Mauser - 4/12/16 at 8:16pm
post #16 of 17

Hi Jim - So long as you avoid food coming into contact with galvanized surfaces and take steps to avoid any drips from galvanized surfaces from dripping onto the food you should be fine. The American National Standard for Food Equipment Materials is quite specific that it only refers to galvanized surfaces that come into direct contact with food. As far as we can see the UK do not have any equivalent official warnings, although the hazards of zinc coatings coming in contact with food are mentioned in the food safety training courses that I have attended. 

 

Regarding the gases that are given off when the metal is heated, we have seen no credible published evidence that this is a problem when it comes to cooking/smoking. There are many people re-quoting others who have posted the warnings in forums such as this one, however when asked to provide evidence of these hazards under usual BBQ conditions so far none has been forthcoming. If anyone has seen any formal guidelines on this then I would be very interested in seeing it. As I mentioned above, most of these fears appear to have come from experience of toxicity in welders working with zinc and the problems are then being extrapolated backwards. The temperatures involved in BBQ and welding are very different and I am not aware of any studies that have tried to compare zinc concentrations found in BBQ smoke compared with those found in welding gasses.

 

Yes, zinc in some forms and at certain concentrations can be toxic, however in small quantities it is also essential for some of our metabolic processes.

 

Based upon the lack of supporting evidence that the use of galvanized steel is toxic when used in a non food contact BBQ situations I do not think that anyone is in a position to tell you not to use it. You are now aware of the official recommendations that we have been able to find and also the concerns (which may be valid or may be urban myths) that some in the BBQ community share. Given a choice of using galvanized or non galvanized, personally I would go non galvanized, however this is based more on the practicalities and also me erring on the "safe" side.

post #17 of 17
Hi,I am a union sheet metal worker and work with alot of different alloys galvanized being one. Ive had galvanized poisoning before while welding. It pretty much feels like a horrible flu. But with smoking your talking over a thousand degree difference in temp. I know people who made galvanized fire pits and the zinc still didnt break down with s camp fire burning in it. However if you see a white flakey powder or residue on the metal that means its breaking down. If you see that i would start getting concerned.
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