So I have been making SS for a couple of years now. I have been mostly successful so far.
Yesterday I made a 5 pound batch just like normal, but I couldn’t get the internal temp (IT) to budge. Once in a while I will get hung up in the 120’s but usually it doesn’t last too long and then it moves on. Yesterday however I couldn’t get my IT above 115 for 4 plus hours. I am trying to figure out what was going on.
Here is my smoker procedure with a digital Bradley 4 rack. Hang and dry at 130 for 90 minutes, damper wide open. Smoke at 130 for 2 hours, 1/3 damper. Bump temperature 10 degrees every hour until IT goal is reached, mostly closed damper.
So I finished drying and smoking and bumped to 140 for 1 hour. Then I bumped to 150 and inserted the IT probe (this normally when I insert the probe). I noticed that my IT was a little low when I inserted the probe. It was 106 IT. Usually I am approaching 120 IT or so at this point. I stayed on 150 for 3 hours instead of my usual 1 and the IT would not come above 113-115! After watching no progress I moved the smoker to the garage thinking maybe there is too much breeze. That didn’t help. I thought maybe the cabinet was too moist so I opened the damper for awhile and that didn’t help either. So I eventually closed the damper back down and turned up the heat to 160 and then 170 before the IT started to slowly come up.
I was happy at this point that I was making progress but I was still trying to figure why these sausages were so hard to increase temperature in. I noticed the cabinet temp didn’t really feel as hot as the Bradley temperature read out was saying. I inserted the longest probe thermometer in the damper I could find. I noticed the thermometer I inserted through the damper was changing way more rapidly then the Bradley thermometer was changing and also the temperature swing was way bigger than what I was seeing on the Bradley thermometer. So I eventually just cranked up the heat and watched my thermometer in the damper and opened and close the door to hold the temperature I wanted. I basically manually controlled the cabinet temperature like the controller should be doing.
Start to finish my run time was about 14 hours, it is usually 8 hours.
So I have some questions now that you know what I was facing:
Does cabinet humidity have an effect on being able to increase IT? Is humidity something that I should be tracking? It was more humid yesterday than it usually is when I run the smoker.
The only change I made to my batch yesterday was the casings. I switched from the clear 1 ½ x 12 inch LEM casing to a mahogany 1 ½ x 12 in LEM casing. That wouldn’t make a difference would it?
Is the thermometer and the controller really that bad in the Bradley smokers? The temperature swings were at times pushing +/- 20 degrees according to my thermometer in the damper.
Of all these things listed, what caused my temperature not to move?