Rookie mistake... horrible bitter aftertaste

Discussion in 'Food Safety' started by beavis, Nov 19, 2009.

  1. beavis

    beavis Newbie

    [​IMG] I am just underway with my Bradley digital smoker. However, my initial effort was a total flop due to a bitter, smoky aftertaste that left me with a bad taste in my mouth, similar to smoking a cigarette or eating burnt wood, that lingered for approximately 24 hours and was resistant to all efforts to brush my teeth or use mouthwash to contain it.

    Here is how I got to this point:

    I smoked some baby back ribs with the 321 method. The temperature was approximately 220°. I had the smoke on for the entire time, even though there was foil around the ribs during the middle two hours, because I was simultaneously smoking a turkey breast. Speaking of the turkey breast, it went in for approximately 3 hours.

    I have a couple of ideas, after reading around the forum, as to what may have gone wrong, but perhaps someone can highlight the most probable cause.

    First, I am not sure if the bitter taste came from the ribs or the turkey or both, because when I was actually eating them, they tasted pretty good. It was just a few minutes after the meal that the awful aftertaste appeared.

    I think one highly probable cause is that I did not leave the vent for the smoke open enough. In fact, I just left a small slit like opening for the smoke to escape. Indeed, the last 15 minutes or so, the smoke vent was essentially closed, as I was having trouble getting the temperature of the turkey 165°, so I thought if less hot air was escaping, the smoker temperature would rise.

    The other possibility is that I simply smoked the meat for too long, but it seems unlikely given the durations listed. Of note, I was using hickory wood.

    Please share your thoughts so that I can avoid this disaster in the future.
  2. bassman

    bassman Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I leave the exhaust vent fully open throughout the entire smoke. Creosote does not taste very good.
  3. bman62526

    bman62526 Smoking Fanatic

    Reminds me of a scene from the Chris Farley movie, Tommy Boy:

    Ray Zalinsky: Went a little heavy on the pine tree perfume there, kid?
    Tommy: Sir, it's an taxicab air freshener.
    Ray Zalinsky: Good, you've pinpointed it. Step two is washing it out.


    The point is - you've figured out the problem...step two is fixing it!

    Like others here will tell you, always keep your exhaust vent all the way open, and regulate the temp and the smoke flow using the INTAKE vent, or the vent closest to your fire source.

    Then - you will not get the nasties an more.
  4. warthog

    warthog Smoking Fanatic

    Yup never close the exhaust vent!!!! [​IMG]
  5. I'm not real familiar with the Bradley but looking at a picture of one made me think that if you wrapped the bottom rack (empty) with heavy duty aluminum foil the creosote would collect on the foil and the smoke would still travel up to the food.
    I noticed that when I wrap the top of my chip box, the foil gets all black on the interior side. The other day I accidently dropped the foil near the burner while removing burnt chips and the residue on the foil caught fire immediately. Visions of a chimney fire flashed before my eyes. I'm glad I had a silicone glove on and long tongs.

    Just an observation from a fellow noob.
  6. beavis

    beavis Newbie

    Thanks for the advice. Looks like the problem has been identified.
  7. plj

    plj Meat Mopper

    Yep, way too much smoke! I like to see barely any smoke, and only for the first half to 3/4 of the cooking. Around these parts we refer to it as TBS -Thin Blue Smoke.

    Keep the vent completely open while smoking.
    Use less wood, less often.

    And yes, I made the same mistake on a ham many moons ago, I suspect most of us did it at least once.
  8. alx

    alx Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Not just a rookie mistake....Has or will happen to possibly everybody at least once.
  9. beavis

    beavis Newbie

    Okay, thank you for your reply. Just to be clear then, on a three -- two -- one six-hour rib cooking, with the middle two hours wrapped in foil, how many hours should I run the smoke for out of a possible four hours (assuming no smoke when foiled)?

    Secondly, on a three hour turkey smoke, how many hours should I run the smoke for?
  10. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    The smoke should be thin and blue or maybe not even visible as long as you can smell smoke so can the meat. Leave the exhaust vent wide open. I usually add smoke anytime its not in foil and in the case of the Lang I have some all the time. The biggest key is keeping the smoke thin and blue
  11. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Bradley recommends that you run the smoke for 4 Hours and that the vent be left at least 1/2 open...

    If you ran the smoke for six hours you were just wasting their high priced pucks...

    Same on the turkey, 4 hrs smoke...
  12. plj

    plj Meat Mopper

    Me - I'd thin blue smoke the first 3 hours and thats all.

    Me, I'd thin blue smoke for 2 hours, but if it was still smoking for the full 3 I wouldnt worry about it. (But 3 hours, wow, I usually do 16-20 lb birds, & it takes me 8-10 hours, of which I smoke 4-5 hours.)

    As the others said - TBS matters a lot more than the time.
  13. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Ribs are gonna be a 4-6 hr. smoke, turkey breast (if your running around 225-250° for your chamber temp) will probably be around 3-4 hrs - but always go by meat temp!

    If you can just start them at the same time and apply smoke for the first 2-3 hrs. Once you foil the ribs stop with the smoke, at that point you will have gotten a nice flavor and anything else will be overkill. I have a horizontal offset, and I add 1 large fist sized chunk of flavor wood to my lump every 45-60 minutes for the first three hours. Also keep in mind differant woods have differant levels of flavor mesquite is usually the strongest flavor, hickory less than mesquite, oak kinda nuetral, then drop into alder and fruit woods.

    All else fails, its gives you lots of stuff to try out and "practice" with - oh darn![​IMG]
  14. I always fire up the smoker - fill up the box with chunks and then when the smoke has died down I put on the meat. usually takes 15-30 min but no bitter taste.

    And if I add another chunk on top of the burnt ones it seems to smoke less - just adds to the flavor.
  15. gnubee

    gnubee Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  16. 1st. time I have read this and it's an absolute hoot!! Thank you for the thread!!

    Reminds me of the first time I smoked something (I think it was chicken) and my wife takes a bite and says " and I have more of this to look forward to!!?"
  17. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    As others have said, the problem there was the smoke, too much of it. It is a common misconception of many new smokers to think that since its called a smoker, there needs to be smoke, and over smoking is common. Run the vent wide open, and just let that smoke sneak by, gently kissing the items you have in the smoker. When you are smoking something for hours, the little bit of smoke really goes a long way. The taste you had in your mouth was probably creosote. Don't feel bad, everyone has done it at one point in their smoking career. Remember, it does not take a bunch of smoke to give something a smokey taste.

    Now lets try those ribs again shall we?[​IMG] The next batch will be great....
  18. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hey... and according to the tobacco companies a little creasote is perfectly healthy![​IMG]
  19. beavis

    beavis Newbie

    Thanks again. I'll try again this weekend. The only thing I'm still worried about is that I don't know if it is possible to produce "thin blue smoke" with the Bradley smoker. You just put the puck in and whatever happens happens.
  20. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    When I first started smokin I went hog wild with the smoke. Always wondered why the back of my tongue was numb. I've learned lots less smoke over a longer period of time. I've not used a Bradley but familiar with the way they work. Keep that exhaust vent fully open and smoke 2 to 4 hours and go from there. Too little smoke is much easier to eat than too much smoke.

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