Smoker Virgin here, in much need of advice.

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by clueless88, Dec 4, 2015.

  1. Well, my dad is the smoker virgin in question. I'm just posting on his behalf.

    Thanks to Drive-ins, diners and dives, my dad has recently become very interested in smoking meats and has even built his own smoker, but he's struggling to find a reasonably priced smoking wood supplier. We live in the UK and the access to smoking wood suppliers is quite limited and expensive. For a Xmas gift, I would like to get some smoking wood for my dad but I'm totally clueless about the smoking process and would be eternally grateful for some advice from the experts.

    What type of wood of would be best for smoking a pork belly/joint?

    Due to their extortionate prices, I wouldn't be able to afford Hickory or Mesquite. I was thinking between apple or cherry but have no idea which one would better compliment a pork belly/joint.

    How much wood would be needed to adequately smoke a 10 kg (22 lb) point joint???? How long would it take to smoke?

    Thanks in advance!!!!
  2. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

  3. Hey Richie, Thanks for the response. Would it be ok if I continue my thread in this forum as my enquiry is really about the choice of wood and how much wood would be required?

    No offense to the UK group but as it seems forum members living in Americas have much access to resources to do smoking than other places, I would appreciate advice from all smoker aficionados not just the British ones. 
  4. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    No problem at all And Welcome to SMF the search bar up top is a great tool, ask questions give a little time someone will answer.Up date your profile with location and signature for type of smoker

  5. Hello tropics.  Thanks for the advert buddy.

    Hello Clueless88.  Well you get the best of both worlds.  A 57 year old Texan who has lived in England for the past 15 years.  [​IMG]   I am also a Group Lead for the U.K. Group.

    Smoking wood:  Well I don't know what type smoker your Dad has built but your options are wide open.  Also the prices are wide and varied.  It is not "necessary" to use wood as a heat source.  I can offer you good alternatives for heat source and the you only add wood splits, chips, or dust ( depending on method used ) to flavour the meat.  Give me your thoughts and ideas and I will try to guide you in the right direction.  Also a location might be helpful.  We have members all over the Country and some local knowledge might be helpful.  Also if your Dad is near by I could go over ( if needed ) and help him with any problems he might be having.

    Think about joining our Group.  Good to have you on SMF.  You may even catch the smoking bug.  Keep Smokin!

  6. Aww thanks. I'll update my location and siggy
    Hey Danny, 

    Thanks for replying, I really appreciate it. Thanks for the invite and offer of help ( my dad will probably need all the help he can get).  I was just lurking in your group just now and there are so many interesting threads, I gotta a lot of reading to do. TBH, my knowledge on smoking is extremely limited. I haven't personally seen the smoker my dad constructed but from what I understand he's used a trashcan and incorporated some heating elements in into it.

    My dad is very new to this process and from watching tv shows and youtube video he seems to be under the impression that in order to properly smoke your meat, you would need a whole shipping container of smoking wood . He getting quite disheartened with his smoking project as wood sources seem to be scarce and the ones available aren't as cheap as we ignorantly expected. He's bought bits and pieces, he ordered some hickory wood chips from eBay but feels he needs much much more. I hoping a surprise Xmas gift of some wood  might help him out a bit. 

    My dad and I based in the South London area. He hoping to smoke a 10 kg pork belly or joint. I was thinking of getting him some apple or cherry wood chunks, but I'm ignorant to which wood better choice for pork and how much would be needed. 

    It's a shame because he started off so excited about smoking , but he's finding it so hard to get started. I really want to achieve his dream of smoking meat and hopefully he can do it regularly.  
  7. Hello.  Pictures would help a LOT!  WOW!  So what you are saying is Dad built a trashcan smoker with electric heating elements and neither of you know how to use it or where to start.  Does that about sum it up?  No problem.  We can work with that.  Everyone must start somewhere.

    The trashcan smoker “ works “ but is not very efficient.  BUT! That is what we have to work with.  Using electric heating elements means you need some sort of smoke generator.  It can be as simple as a cast iron pot on the elements or a soldering iron in a can of wood dust.  In my experience the more basic the equipment the more knowledge is needed to make it perform to expectations.  I have not seen your Dad’s trashcan smoker.  I don’t know if it will even work as a smoker.  Is the venting and draft correct? ETC.

    All I am trying to say is I need more info to help your Dad have a successful smoke.  You mentioned disheartened.  THAT is what we do not want to happen to folks!  This is not rocket science but certain things need to be understood.

    IF you just want an answer to your question:  Being from Texas I would smoke the pork belly with mesquite.  Mesquite is not to everyone’s taste so option 2 is a mix of pecan, oak, and cherry.  Keep Smokin!

  8. smokin monkey

    smokin monkey Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Clueless, Welcome to our "Family" and "Addiction"

    Plenty of good folk on here, ask any questions you can think of, and you will get your answers.

    Please take time to look at the UK Smokers Forum,

    And introduce your self on the UK Roll Call

    We have had our 2nd UK Smokes weekend, where members attend and cooked over the weekend, dates and plans are already in place for 2016. Please use the link below to view the website.

    Will PM you with a good supplier of wood for smoking.

    Would also be good if we can get your Dad on here to communicate direct?

    Plenty of pictures, of his smoker would also help.

    Smokin Monkey �
  9. OOPS!  I meant to say the trashcan is inefficient.

    This is a hotly disputed issue on the site but is the trashcan galvanized?

    Glad you joined us.  As Steve said it would be good if Dad also joined so we can help him directly.I will PM you with a good wood chip supplier but I am still curious as to the smoker your Dad is trying to use.  Pictures!  Keep Smokin!

  10. I called my dad and initiated a conversation on his smoker and thank God I did. Cleared a lot of confusion on my part and I'm a bit more enlightened about his situation and his intentions ( which seems to have mysteriously changed). 

    Apparently his smoker is 'purpose built'. I was wrong in thinking that there was some heating element involved, he says that the bin is what's generating the heat (don't know if that's accurate or not). There's a vent in the top of the drum and he's also included a thermostat. 

    Here's a pic of his 'smoker'

    Also, he changed his mind about what he intends to smoke. He's now planning to smoke a pork shoulder/leg weighing about 4-5 kgs in addition to a 1 kg brisket. 

    My dad would certainly agree with your recommendation of mesquite as he seems quite eager to smoke with that wood. Unfortunately, just looking at the prices from the suppliers I'm considering buying from, Mesquite and Hickory would be certainly out of my price range. I'm not that financially blessed at the moment so cost is an important concern for me so I'm really worried about how much wood  is needed. 

    Sorry for the earlier confusion. 
  11. Thanks, I'm a lil shy but I'll definitely introduce myself. Thanks for the pm, I'm in the processing of msging you back. As I'm trying to surprise him with this, I wouldn't wanna want to see this thread before Xmas but after I'm hoping he'll commodore my account and post here himself. I don't think he'll like posting under my username though lol.
  12. Thanks. Excuse my ignorance but I have no idea what a galvanised trashcan means, lol. I crudely call it a trashcan smoker as it uses a trashcan and  I don't what else to call it.

    Here's his smoker, i don't know but it seems very basic but that's what he's using. 

  13. smokin monkey

    smokin monkey Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    No one on here will take the Pea! You can ask what you think is the most stupid question out, people will come back and answer you. The only stupid question is the one not asked! Keep it under wraps until Christmas, then open him a membership on here, write it out on a card attach it to a piece of wood and give it to him on Christmas Day!
  14. travisty

    travisty Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    You could also just use to purchase chips and pellets. Depending on your heat source and such. I would think with that smoker you would want a different heat source like electric or gas, you may even be able to use charcoal, then just get a pan to put the chips in. One other smoke source option is the A-Maze-n Pellet smoker, doesn't make heat, but can generate smoke well if you are using something else to get your temps.

    Most of the time (from what I know) you only use whole wood heat source when you have a much bigger smoker like a trailer, but even then they will often use a gas hear source to keep the wood going.

    If it was me and that was the smoker I was using, I would simply purchase a camping style propane stove like this:

    To provide for heat in the can below, or like mentioned above if you didn't want to buy that and rig it up, just throw some charcoal in there, then I would use the a-maze-n AMNPS up in the cooking chamber to generate smoke.

    Anyway im not extremely experience myself, and there are many more skilled people on here, but I am all about doing things the easy way and if that was my setup that is what I would do. You would likely only need about a pound of pellets to smoke a shoulder of that size as long as you had enough heat to keep the cook going. You can get a 20lb bag on amazon for $20 or so in whatever flavor you like (apple is probably the most popular for butt). though I am not sure what shipping cost is like to the UK you may have a sporting goods store that keeps pellets in stock I would think.  
  15. Hello.  Here we go!  It looks to me that his trashcan "firebox" may very well be galvanized or zinc coated.  It could also be aluminium, which if used in this situation is not ideal.  Without starting the argument; IF IT WAS ME  I would not use the smoker, I would not eat anything cooked in the smoker and I would advise others not to eat anything cooked in the smoker. The problem is the manufacturer of the trashcan never intended it to be used in the cooking of food.  SO he never did the proper tests to see if it was safe to use to cook food.  Therefore you have no idea what metal is in that can OR the coating used on that can.  In my humble opinion, galvanised or zinc coating is not something to play around with.  I know others have their opinions   From what I gather the argument on the other side is "IF" you follow "the rules" you will be ok.  My thought is OK?  Follow the rules?  Why take the risk with people you love?  Just don't use it!  Problem solved!  Just my opinion.  Keep Smokin!

  16. travisty

    travisty Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Have to agree on this issue. Perpas you could easily replace the trash can with something else... maybe a smaller steel drum, or tru walking around a hardware store to find something not galvanized that would work. You would also just nix it and put a heat source like a pile of charcoal into one side of the cooking chamber and do it like you would on a regular grill, and again use the AMNPS for smoke
  17. Thanks for the advice, I still intend to buy him the wood as a Xmas gift, but I'll put a condition on the gift that he has to change the firebox trashcan before using the wood and I'll inform him of the issue. At this moment, the most important thing for me is the how much wood would be needed so I can order it and it can arrive before Xmas.

    If my dad had the right trash can, how much wood do you think would be required to smoke a 4-5 kg pork shoulder? Also maybe a 1 kg Brisket?
  18. Thanks, I'll start looking for some alternatives. What's AMNPS
  19. Thanks for answering my question, when you say 'enough heat to keep the cook going'  , do you mean like charcoal and non flavoured wood ?
  20. Hello.  The question has been answered in a PM.  A few handfuls is all that is needed for flavour.  Use the Heat Beads for heat and then the chips for flavour.  1/2 bag is more than will be needed.

    You say Dad is eager to try mesquite.  I LOVE it being from Texas but it is not to everyone's taste.  I would recommend trying it on a couple burger before using it on a shoulder and brisket.  It is strong stuff.  He may not like it so no need to waste a shoulder and a brisket.  If I were to recommend a smoking wood ( other than mesquite ) I would say pecan without a doubt.  I mix my pecan with cherry.  Roughly 70-30 pecan.  The cherry adds a sweetness and a beautiful color to the meat.  Keep Smokin!

    clueless88 likes this.

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