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Is it better to probe later in the smoke???

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Well I have been experimenting with probing my meat earlier in the smoke. So the question I have is it better to probe it right away or probe it later? I have two chuckies on the smoker right now and I probed the one around 2 hours in well it was stuck around 242 for several hours. I decided to move the probe to the other chuckie and it said 269 so I decided to insert another probe into the oritional chuckie in the same spot and it said 165. I have read threads where they say you need to probe you meat later because you can form a pocket or something causing your meat to read at a certain temp for a long time. I am starting to see for sure that it seems you need to probe your meet late into your smoke. What are your thoughts????? I usually wait several hours but I was trying to experiement with probing earlier and it seems to have bit me a bit in the butt a bit.
post #2 of 23
I wait a few hours, depending on the cut of meat I'm smoking. With a butt or brisket, I may not insert the probe till around the 8th hour or so.
post #3 of 23
What he said....

...that allows me to turn the meat at least once (for uniformity) before inserting the probe.
post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 
I take that back they are reading around 170 and I know both thermometers are dead on. It jumped from 142 to 172 by reprobing it. I know I didn't hurt the meat at all they look so juicy but it sucks when your temp is that far off from what you think it is at. I have been looking for an instant read thermometer for some time now so I can double check the temp but haven't found one around here yet.
post #5 of 23
Briskets and Butts I generally wait for 3-4 hours. Don't see much point in knowing my meat is cold inside. I wait until a little heat is building up. Some folks also like to wait for a while to minimize the chance of pushing bacteria and other types of crud into the meat before it gets to 145. Sounds like a reasonable thing to me.icon_smile.gif
post #6 of 23
i dont use a probe, but an instant read thermo.

I dont bother taking atemp with a butt, or chuckie until at leat 6 hours in. more like 9 hours with a butt.

i prefer to keep the smoker closed.. "iff your lookin' you aint' cookin'
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
I agree with you guys I usually don't probe until around 4 or so hours or more into the smoke but I was experimenting this time. So does anyone know the specifics why it can give you a false reading if you probe too early?????
post #8 of 23
Temps is temps. Insert when you want, just don't do it too late.
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
Why is it that when I had it in the meat it said 142 and when I pulled it out and put it back it it read 170 then?????
post #10 of 23
I don't know if it's technically a false reading. If you hit a fat vein or get too close to the bone, you will get a different reading than if you hit a spot that is primarily muscle. Reprobing the same spot lets hot juices in maybe?? I don't know but I know it can be frustrating.

Or too early. biggrin.gif

As far as instant reads go, they are a little pricey, but I highly recommend the Thermapen.


Here is a less expensive alternative which works well. It just takes longer but it is calibrateable.


post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 
I agree with probing it to close to a bone can give you a crazy reading but what about when there isn't a bone like I have now?
post #12 of 23
Fat pocket maybe?? I wish I knew. icon_redface.gif

That's where experience comes in as well I suppose. A time or two ago when I was smoking butts, I put the Taylor 1470 probes in about 4 hours into the smoke like I normally do. When they hit 165°, wrapped the butts in foil and reinserted the probes like I normally do. Well this time the temp says 195°. Cool, they're done. icon_mrgreen.gif Well, I know they're not. So I just leave them on for a couple of hours and recheck with the Thermapen. Boil tested the Taylor probes later and everything is fine. Just one of those screwy deals. But that's why it's good to have another thermo for a second opinion if at all possible.

post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
OH yea I have lots or probes its just crazy that you can get one reading then pull the probe out and put it right back in and get another reading like 3 degrees higher.
post #14 of 23
I'm guessing you take the temp then pull the termometer out or do these get left in the meat until done?
post #15 of 23

Great question

Being a newbie, I never would have even thought about this, I read in one of Jeffs letters on sm, that he left his probe in from the beginning, cause it sealed the meat around the probe, and you won't lose any juices, but I can see all of your points on waiting, thanks for the question and helping this newbie out. PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif
post #16 of 23
With the Thermapan and the Taylor instant read, yes, you take the temp then pull the thermometer out. They are not made to be left in the the meat until it is done.

post #17 of 23
There is only one reason only for injecting a probe later in the smoke, "Food Safety". Thus the intact muscle rule, that whatever pathogens or contaminates on the exterior surface of the meat are now pushed into the interior, and now require that your meat reach 140º+ in less than 4 hours "danger zone". However as soon as the surface of the meat achieves 140º to a dept of about 1/4", for 5 minutes, you can then insert your probe, this may only take a few minutes for the surface temp of the meat to hit 140º.

Note, all meat thermometers, the end should be placed in the thickest part of the meat, making sure the tip does not touch any bones. The only pocket to worry about internally might be a fat pocket, even then it should have little effect on the temp reading.

Otherwise there is no other reason to wait until later in a smoke to insert a probe, aside from some practical reasons that apply only to your situation.

The following is my own application and may not be considered safe, only follow at your own risk, I am not encouraging anyone to follow my example.

I test my temp probe in boiling water, and then insert directly into the meat prior to putting the meat in the smoker. Personally I want to know exactly what is happening between the smoker and the meat temp. If the meat temp is rising too slow or too fast, then I will be checking closely the smoker temps. This gives me a chance to make adjustments during the first hour, if necessary. I wish I had 6 probes, I would have one in all large pieces of meat, so I could move the meat around according to the different temps of meat and spots inside the smoker. I keep a temp notes during the first 2-3 hours of the smoke, this helps me on those smokes where too many beers may result in doing something in error, plus there is no guess if the meat is cooking properly or not.

I recently had a pork roast with the internal meat temp rising really fast, I checked the smoker temp it was dead on. So I kept watching and at the end of 90 minutes, I decided I had to do something or the meat would be cooked but not tender. I dropped the cook temp 30º and opened the door of the smoker to dump the heat. The meat held temp for almost an extra 90-100 minutes, before I ramped up to the desired cook temp, the extra time holding temp and slow cooking did the trick and the pork roast was very very tender.

Note it has been recommended that an swap with alcohol be used where you intend to insert the probe in the meat. If your seriously concerned then by all means do it. I figure I will change my method as soon as I see BBQ competitions telling their contestants to either not use probes until yada yada, or to swap the meat. Apparently this is a non critical issue with even the largest BBQ contests, and they are run by people a lot smarter than me. We all know that 85% of the contestants do it.

, illness due to food contamination is no joke and should be taken seriously.
I have my opinion as to why I think whole meat cuts are safer. I edited out the comment about the fattie, I miss stated so I edited out that sentence...

If you have any questions please consult the USDA Kitchen Companion, also consult SMF's stickies on Food Safety.
post #18 of 23
a fattie is made with grind and any bacteria that once was on the outside would be mixed in upon grinding, so it would need to come to 165* internally to be considered safe by VA state law. depending on the size of it though, you'd probably hit 165* in under 4 hours anyway.
post #19 of 23
I do it right away. Less likely to burn my fingers.

My Last Smoke, the internal temp was 33 degrees at the start. Gave me an idea it would be a long afternoon
post #20 of 23
Correct I wasn't referring to safe eating temp, but my statement is inaccurate too, the only necessary point is that ground meats have very high incidence rate of contamination compared to whole cuts, so every safety precaution needs to be observed, including 4 hour danger zone, and achieving safe eating temp.

I apologize, too many Newcastle Brown Ale and hours staring at online poker screens, can make the head a bit fuzzy.
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