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Bitter Smoke?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by axpilot, Aug 29, 2010.

  1. axpilot

    axpilot Fire Starter

    Hi guys,

     I am new to this whole smoking thing. I am using a brinkman electric Old school smoker (plug it in and go, no temp control). I know i need something better, but wanted to try this out first it was free. I am getting bitter smoke. I am using hickory in a cast iron skillet sitting on top of my heating element. Two chunks seems to only smoke for about 35 min.  I could really use some advice, the meat comes out with plenty of juice, flavor, ect- except for the bitter smoke taste.


    Last edited: Aug 29, 2010
  2. lugnutz

    lugnutz Smoking Fanatic

    what color is the smoke you are getting?  if it is white I'd guess that is where your bitterness is coming from. Also is your wood stripped of bark? 

    I would suggest smaller wood or chips and add them before you put in the meat.  Let the heavy smoke "burn off" and add your meat when your getting just the smallest amount of visible smoke.

    I am guilty of using too much wood and or being impatient.  And it does make for a bitter taste.

    Your looking for a thin bluish smoke, you don't need much. As long as you can smell it you will taste it.

    Not sure how this would work out but you could buy a $6 bag of lump charcoal and light one of the bigger chunks, just on the end, and add that to your cast iron skillet.  My thought is one lump won't cause you any temp problems, it is real hardwood so you should get some smokeyness from it as well.  You might get more smoke time from this than you do from your chunks ( perhaps your chunks only smoke while the burner is running full bore trying to get the smoker up to temp, then the burner may not run hot enuff to burn your wood while it only has to maintain a cooking temp ).

    hope you followed my train, it can be hard to do!

  3. From your limited information...two things.

    You are over smoking your meat....cut back on the amount of wood and the amount of time you apply smoke to the meat.

    Try a different wood...Hickory, while delicious, can over power....Try one of the milder flavoring woods...Apple, Cherry, Pecan, Oak. etc.  HTH

  4. scarbelly

    scarbelly Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    As was said above you are most likely oversmoking - cut the amout of wood in half and replenish it more often to try and acheive a thin blue smoke - that is the goal rather than a white smoke -

    Good luck and keep us posted
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2010
  5. lugnutz

    lugnutz Smoking Fanatic

    you mentioned you only get 35 mins of smoke, is the wood burning up completely or does it just stop smoking?
  6. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Another thing to ask you is the vents on top of the smoker open because that smoke needs to leave the smoker too. If you trap it in the smoker it will go stale and bitter with a quitness.
  7. lugnutz

    lugnutz Smoking Fanatic

    Good point Mark, that could also be why the chunks are only goin 35 minutes, maybe they are being smothered if the top vents are closed.
  8. axpilot

    axpilot Fire Starter

    this smoker doesn't have any vents.  i think i am getting white smoke. i will try only one chunk next time
  9. lugnutz

    lugnutz Smoking Fanatic

    Drill a hole in the lid and then build you a flap to cover the hole.  Tin snips a beer can and a sheet metal screw should work well for a vent cover.
  10. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You need controlled air flow or you will be using stale smoke which will cause bitterness if not headaches.  You do not want billowing white smoke.  When you have solved your air flow situation, if you still have lots of white smoke, try pre burning your chunks.  Those two will usually solve your problem.

    Stick with it!  It is not as easy as the professionals on this site make it seem.  LOL

    Good luck, and enjoy this wonderful hobby!