• Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

For New Members: Suggestions

pops6927

Smoking Guru
Staff member
Moderator
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Group Lead
6,862
756
Joined Jul 23, 2008
New to Smoking?  Where to start?  What do I need?  How about processing meats?  When will I be 'set'? What do I need to learn?  

The first and most important step is to take Jeff's 5 day Course:  http://www.smoking-meat.com/smoking-basics-ecourse.html 

That gives you a basic idea of what you need.  The first item is, Decide what you want to do.  What is your immediate goal?  To smoke something?  To make sausages?  Bacon?  Ham? Fatties? and so on... that is where this forum can help, because we cover such a wide range of topics!  

Let me introduce you to the Search Bar.  Click here:

or, this link, which i embedded in the text (here):  http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/a/using-the-search-bar-to-find-stuff

This is how you can find topics of a certain item.  Try it!

Now, once you determine what you want to do, what equipment do you need?  Let's make a list:

Some kind of smoking unit:

This can be as simple as your outdoor BBQ griller to as fancy as a $12,000 pit smoker.  You have to decide three things:  What you Need, What you Want and What you can Afford.  Once you get an answer to satisfy all 3 of those questions, you can proceed!  

Let's assume you will be using your BBQ grill.  You can add a smoke element to your grill simply with either some wood chips in a foil ball to the side of the grill under the grate to smolder away, poking holes in the foil, and experimenting where is the best place to put it, close enough to the fire to make it smolder but not so close they catch on fire.  Second, use only half the burner (one side) and roast the meat on the other side with indirect heat.  You can do the same thing with a charcoal grill, putting the coals on one side and the meat on the other, tossing in wood chips or chunks now and then to smolder and make smoke*.    (* how much smoke??)

You want a thin blue smoke, not too much or it will make creosote form and your meal taste bitter.  Big, white, billowy clouds are way too much.  No smoke at all you're not smoking.  A happy medium is thin blue smoke.  Enough to see it, but not enough to cloud you out.  Now, when you add more wood, it will initially produce too much, that is normal.  Just don't go feeding it more; let it smolder and use it up.

Billowy smoke.  This is my smokehouse that I use, but all equipment is basically the same.  A heat source, fuel, smoking chamber with a draft going through it.  Even 'cold smoking' has a little heat.


Thin Blue Smoke; after 5 minutes.  Won't feed it again for 30-40 minutes, Let it burn down to coals, then add a couple more chunks.  Start the process over.


Now, the second thing you need is a way to tell what your meat is doing; this is done with a thermometer.  There are several types; cheap to expensive, depending on your pocketbook.  You will acquire several, I am sure.  But, the most basic is the common stick thermometer.  The cheapest just show a range; rare, medium, well done.  Skip those, you need a thermometer that is "calibrated", with degree marks on it.  They run about $10 or so.  

A thermometer is rarely accurate; only the best are quite close.  How can you tell?  Test it!  Pour a glass of ice water.  After a few minutes letting the water and ice equalize in temperature to 32°, put the thermometer in it and see what it reads.  If it's 32, great!  Anything different that's the variable you must allow for.  Next, boil some water.  Check to see what your boiling point is for your elevation/area (starts at sea level at 212°, goes down the higher the elevation).  Once determined, check your thermometer in a Pyrex cup adding boiling water to it.  That is your upper range variable.  Now you know how to be accurate in your readings!

When do you check your temps?   Right at the start?  Leave it in or take it out?   I find the best way is to check about halfway to 2/3rds the way to being done.  The one thing you Do Not want to do is to stick a thermometer into raw meat, as 1) we cook lo'n'slo and you are introducing bacteria into raw meat that will sit there for several hours possibly and allow it to grow, and 2) always take your meat from the fridge to the smoker immediately; you know it is cold by feeling it (if not, you've got other issues).  Have an estimated time for it to be done (you cook by temp, not time, but have a general idea how long will it take) and at half or 2/3 the way through, use your thermometer to get an idea how its doing.  Push it in to the center of the meat and let it stabilize, get a reading, then pull it out and clean it so its ready for the next check, and record it, time and temp.  I am smoking turkeys today for Thanksgiving (cured).  This is a Qview of them just getting started, about an hour into the smoke:


As you can see, no thermometers hanging off them, know they've got a long ways to go, about 6-7 hours.

Next, record your results in your Smoking Notebook.  What is that?  

That is some kind of pocket or full notebook you keep records of all your smokes in.  I personally prefer a 3 ring binder myself with loose leaf paper; they're cheap and easy to modify, refill, take out pages, redo them, etc.  As you experiment and get better and better, it is a real cheap and easy record to keep and you can look back on what you've done and do it better and better, improving your skills and perfecting them!  This is your most valuable tool!  Do not rely on your memory!  Stuff happens!

As a 4 time stroke survivor, how well I know!  I have forgotten more than most people remember with holes in my brain, lol!

Okay, you've got that!  Next, a few tools.  Smoking meats makes the meat hot.  Yes, it is 'lo and slo' but "Low" is still 225° or more, too hot to handle.  You will need some gloves.  You can get Welder's gloves or many other gloves.  I prefer PVC gloves myself.  They're usually red or black with a heavy coating on them; they're washable and cheap to replace, available at most any hardware store, about $5-$7 a pair.

What else?  Ingredient shakers, containers, and so on.  With smoking, you want to add rubs and seasonings to enhance the flavors of the meats.  You can buy new, but, why not recycle?  Save jars with lids (washed and dried, of course!), esp. widemouth, like pickle jars, peanut butter plastic jars, etc.  Save shakers, like spice shakers that you use.  Don't throw them away, clean and reuse them for rubs, salts, etc., mark over with magic markers so they are NOT unlabeled in your cabinet.  Tape labels on jars, etc.

You can be as organized or as disorganized as you choose!   However you wish.  The only thing is some ingredients can be dangerous, like 'pink salt' with nitrite in it; this can kill you or your loved ones in large doses and needs to be stored in a protected place from humans or animals.  My son's daughter loves pink, she's 5, and he has to hide it very carefully so she doesn't get even close to it; she'd sprinkle it on cookies and be dead in an hour, so safety is ALWAYS our No. 1 priority!

Dishes are an item to consider, although if you are a griller, you probably have sufficient items such as platters, squirt bottles, basters and mops, tongs and knives for carving.  As you get further into the sport, you'll find need for some meatcutting knives.  You can go from the very cheapest to the most expensive; but I'd recommend a restaurant supply house for standard meatcutting knives; they do the job, they have safety handles, etc.  

Now, you've got the basics to do a smoke!  But, what are you going to decide on to smoke?
 
Last edited:

The8thfold

Newbie
11
0
Joined Oct 18, 2017
Ok I know this is an extremely old post, but as a noob to smoking meat and a complete virgin to this forum I feel it’s a great place to start! That being said, when selecting the link to the 5 day class, I get a fatal error message. Is this class no longer available? If so is there a new link? Thanks!
 

fxsales1959

Newbie
23
8
Joined Dec 17, 2019
New to Smoking? Where to start? What do I need? How about processing meats? When will I be 'set'? What do I need to learn?

The first and most important step is to take Jeff's 5 day Course: http://www.smoking-meat.com/smoking-basics-ecourse.html

That gives you a basic idea of what you need. The first item is, Decide what you want to do. What is your immediate goal? To smoke something? To make sausages? Bacon? Ham? Fatties? and so on... that is where this forum can help, because we cover such a wide range of topics!

Let me introduce you to the Search Bar. Click here:

or, this link, which i embedded in the text (here): http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/a/using-the-search-bar-to-find-stuff

This is how you can find topics of a certain item. Try it!

Now, once you determine what you want to do, what equipment do you need? Let's make a list:

Some kind of smoking unit:

This can be as simple as your outdoor BBQ griller to as fancy as a $12,000 pit smoker. You have to decide three things: What you Need, What you Want and What you can Afford. Once you get an answer to satisfy all 3 of those questions, you can proceed!

Let's assume you will be using your BBQ grill. You can add a smoke element to your grill simply with either some wood chips in a foil ball to the side of the grill under the grate to smolder away, poking holes in the foil, and experimenting where is the best place to put it, close enough to the fire to make it smolder but not so close they catch on fire. Second, use only half the burner (one side) and roast the meat on the other side with indirect heat. You can do the same thing with a charcoal grill, putting the coals on one side and the meat on the other, tossing in wood chips or chunks now and then to smolder and make smoke*. (* how much smoke??)

You want a thin blue smoke, not too much or it will make creosote form and your meal taste bitter. Big, white, billowy clouds are way too much. No smoke at all you're not smoking. A happy medium is thin blue smoke. Enough to see it, but not enough to cloud you out. Now, when you add more wood, it will initially produce too much, that is normal. Just don't go feeding it more; let it smolder and use it up.

Billowy smoke. This is my smokehouse that I use, but all equipment is basically the same. A heat source, fuel, smoking chamber with a draft going through it. Even 'cold smoking' has a little heat.


Thin Blue Smoke; after 5 minutes. Won't feed it again for 30-40 minutes, Let it burn down to coals, then add a couple more chunks. Start the process over.


Now, the second thing you need is a way to tell what your meat is doing; this is done with a thermometer. There are several types; cheap to expensive, depending on your pocketbook. You will acquire several, I am sure. But, the most basic is the common stick thermometer. The cheapest just show a range; rare, medium, well done. Skip those, you need a thermometer that is "calibrated", with degree marks on it. They run about $10 or so.

A thermometer is rarely accurate; only the best are quite close. How can you tell? Test it! Pour a glass of ice water. After a few minutes letting the water and ice equalize in temperature to 32°, put the thermometer in it and see what it reads. If it's 32, great! Anything different that's the variable you must allow for. Next, boil some water. Check to see what your boiling point is for your elevation/area (starts at sea level at 212°, goes down the higher the elevation). Once determined, check your thermometer in a Pyrex cup adding boiling water to it. That is your upper range variable. Now you know how to be accurate in your readings!

When do you check your temps? Right at the start? Leave it in or take it out? I find the best way is to check about halfway to 2/3rds the way to being done. The one thing you Do Not want to do is to stick a thermometer into raw meat, as 1) we cook lo'n'slo and you are introducing bacteria into raw meat that will sit there for several hours possibly and allow it to grow, and 2) always take your meat from the fridge to the smoker immediately; you know it is cold by feeling it (if not, you've got other issues). Have an estimated time for it to be done (you cook by temp, not time, but have a general idea how long will it take) and at half or 2/3 the way through, use your thermometer to get an idea how its doing. Push it in to the center of the meat and let it stabilize, get a reading, then pull it out and clean it so its ready for the next check, and record it, time and temp. I am smoking turkeys today for Thanksgiving (cured). This is a Qview of them just getting started, about an hour into the smoke:


As you can see, no thermometers hanging off them, know they've got a long ways to go, about 6-7 hours.

Next, record your results in your Smoking Notebook. What is that?

That is some kind of pocket or full notebook you keep records of all your smokes in. I personally prefer a 3 ring binder myself with loose leaf paper; they're cheap and easy to modify, refill, take out pages, redo them, etc. As you experiment and get better and better, it is a real cheap and easy record to keep and you can look back on what you've done and do it better and better, improving your skills and perfecting them! This is your most valuable tool! Do not rely on your memory! Stuff happens!

As a 4 time stroke survivor, how well I know! I have forgotten more than most people remember with holes in my brain, lol!

Okay, you've got that! Next, a few tools. Smoking meats makes the meat hot. Yes, it is 'lo and slo' but "Low" is still 225° or more, too hot to handle. You will need some gloves. You can get Welder's gloves or many other gloves. I prefer PVC gloves myself. They're usually red or black with a heavy coating on them; they're washable and cheap to replace, available at most any hardware store, about $5-$7 a pair.

What else? Ingredient shakers, containers, and so on. With smoking, you want to add rubs and seasonings to enhance the flavors of the meats. You can buy new, but, why not recycle? Save jars with lids (washed and dried, of course!), esp. widemouth, like pickle jars, peanut butter plastic jars, etc. Save shakers, like spice shakers that you use. Don't throw them away, clean and reuse them for rubs, salts, etc., mark over with magic markers so they are NOT unlabeled in your cabinet. Tape labels on jars, etc.

You can be as organized or as disorganized as you choose! However you wish. The only thing is some ingredients can be dangerous, like 'pink salt' with nitrite in it; this can kill you or your loved ones in large doses and needs to be stored in a protected place from humans or animals. My son's daughter loves pink, she's 5, and he has to hide it very carefully so she doesn't get even close to it; she'd sprinkle it on cookies and be dead in an hour, so safety is ALWAYS our No. 1 priority!

Dishes are an item to consider, although if you are a griller, you probably have sufficient items such as platters, squirt bottles, basters and mops, tongs and knives for carving. As you get further into the sport, you'll find need for some meatcutting knives. You can go from the very cheapest to the most expensive; but I'd recommend a restaurant supply house for standard meatcutting knives; they do the job, they have safety handles, etc.

Now, you've got the basics to do a smoke! But, what are you going to decide on to smoke?
goodpost,some things even I hadn't thought of.
 

Hot Threads

Top Bottom
AdBlock Detected

We get it, advertisements are annoying! (But that's how we keep the lights on.)

We noticed that you're using an ad-blocker, which could block some critical website features. For the best possible site experience please take a moment to disable your AdBlocker.

I've Disabled AdBlock
No Thanks