Help! Bitter taste!

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by grizzog, Apr 15, 2013.

  1. grizzog

    grizzog Newbie

    Hi All,

    I have the Smokin-it model #1 electric smoker.  

    It seems no matter what I make, and no matter how much wood I use, there is always a bitter aftertaste to the meat.  I used 1.2oz of applewood for a couple racks of ribs.  The smoke flavor was pretty light, but there was a slightly bitter aftertaste.  I did a meatloaf with 1.4oz of applewood, which resulted in a strong smoke flavor, but a very bitter aftertaste.

    Any suggestions?  I'm using dry applewood chunks you can get from the big-box stores like Home Depot.

    I've read perhaps putting the chunks in foil and poking some holes in the top of the foil could do the trick...

    I also have the a-maze-n tube smoker, but there isn't too much room in the tiny model #1 for it, and it also doesn't take kindly to being dripped on.

    Thank you!
  2. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    I'm not real familiar with your smoker, but this sounds to me like creosote buildup on your food.  Depending on how well ventilated your smoker is, and how you adjust the vents to control air flow, heavy smoke can sit in your cook chamber and bathe your food in this chemical, which does lead to a strong bitter-tasting food.  Can you describe the smoke coming out of your exhaust?  Is it is a heavy, billowing white smoke?  That heavy smoke could be the culprit of your bitter taste.  Talk to Todd at Amaze-N Products about which of his generators would work better in your rig.  Perhaps you need the AMNPS instead of the Tube smoker.  Todd's a member here as well (TJohnson), and you could PM him for some advice.  His smoke generators will produce hours of perfect, thin blue smoke, with no creosote.

    Maybe others who are more familiar with your particular smoker will weigh in.  Good luck, and let us know how it goes.  BTW, it looks like this is your first post.  When you have a chance, stop over in the Roll Call Forum and tell everyone a little about yourself.  It'll give the members a chance to give you a proper SMF welcome.

    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013
  3. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Please keep in mind that I am new to smoking too but I own a cabinet electric smoker (Bradley Digital) and had the same problem. At first I was closing the damper down believing it would give more smoke flavour. I kept having the same problem you are having. I started opening the dampers full and letting more air flow and it mostly went away. Then, I started giving my smoker a quick clean with soapy water once a month and it went away totally. I don't know if this will work in you but you can give it a try.
  4. smoke happens

    smoke happens Smoking Fanatic

    I just had the same problem with some Apple Wood I got at Home Depot on a whim (impulse buy really). I noticed it was really dry and somewhat odd looking, used it on some CB (against my better judgement) last weekend and had the same results. I have never had a problem with any other wood I used in the SI getting a bitter flavor, so for me I am blaming it on the wood. I'm going to do another run to be sure, but after many smokes in the SI #3 this is the very first time I have had that bitter flavor. I let the CB mellow for a week in the fridge, and I sliced it as thin as possible so it's not too bad on the finished product, but I know it's there and it should not be. Sucks to finish a 2 week curing process with a crappy smoke, but live and learn I suppose. I just have not ordered the wood from a reputable source like I should lately, the box stores are notorious for having crap wood for smoking and I should have known better.

    Also, welcome to the forum. Be sure to head over to Roll Call and introduce yourself so we can give you a proper welcome here at SMF.
  5. grizzog

    grizzog Newbie

    Thank you for the responses.

    Unfortunately, the Smokin-it doesn't really have any dampers to open/close.  There is a small drain hole in the bottom - maybe 1/2" or less in diameter, and then about a 1" chimney hole up in the top of the box.  

    The smoke coming out of the top is generally pretty thin, but I opened the door to check the meatloaf was staying in form, and the entire chamber was filled with thick smoke.

    I have one of the a-maze-n pellet smokers, but I'm not entirely sure it's going to fit in this tiny smoker.  I'll probably give it a try if I can't get this Smokin-it to do any better...but I'm hoping there is some trick so I can use this smoker as intended :-(.

  6. grizzog

    grizzog Newbie

    hmmm...that's an interesting situation.  Perhaps I'll order some wood chunks somewhere else and see what happens!

    I have some hickory that I got from Smokin-it...but after bitter tastes with apple, I'm fearful.
  7. does the smoke inside compare to whats  coming out the top, like others have said maybe not enough flow. i know it doesnt have dampeners or anything, but r u sure there isnt anythng blocking or hindering that exhaust?...? maybe a small film or something? idk, just a thought. hope you get it figured out.
  8. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    It's not easy to make the decision to modify your smokers by cutting into it but you should consider putting in a better vent control.   One thing that will help is opening it up say every hour or so and  doing a "smoke exchange" so to speak.   

    Grizz i really don't think it has anything to do with your wood you're using except w/ the possibility you're using too much but rather poor air flow. 
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013
  9. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Don't know about your Apple wood, but you're right---I think your smoker is too small for the Amazing Tube (AMNTS). You should get the AMNPS (Amazing Pellet Smoker). The smoke shouldn't be thick & white when you open the door.

    I know my Son used to have a "Cookshack" smoker. It had one exhaust vent in the top of the smoker, in the center. It use to drip liquid crap on the food.

    It looked similar to your smoker.

  10. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Could be that the apple wood you are using is heavy with sap.  Try another type of wood or if you want to continue using the wood you have, cut back on the amount even though you aren't using very much.  Your smoker has a moist environment so it wont take much smoke to get a smoky flavor.
  11. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I think others have identified the problem. .. air needs to move thru the chamber and / or you need to cut down on the amount of wood. Smokin it unit is very tight and efficient with low air flow. If that heavy smoke is hanging aroung the meat too long its going to make it bitter. You don't need a lot of wood to get a nice flavorful smoke.
  12. smoke happens

    smoke happens Smoking Fanatic

    Give those rounds that came with it a shot, just 1 piece, to see if it helps. May want to run your smoker @ 250* empty for a few hours to "burn" any bitterness out of it before trying the hickory.
    Even if you get it to fit, it will not work well in the chamber as it's just too tight to provide adequate airflow to the AMNPS/AMNTS.
  13. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    These guys have all given good info but just for the heck of it...What's in your rub? There are a few spices that can be bitter as well...JJ
  14. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    grizzog, morning....  Below is a smokin-it owners forum.....   I think I have read where only one or two chips are used in the smoker.....  Read the owners manual...  I think the amount of wood to use is spelled out in there.....  

    They do not have much in the way in vents....  I will take an educated guess that the wood you put in the smoker comes out black, there is no white ash left at the end of a smoke.....  If that is happening, you are making charcoal....  more air is needed....  

    Below is a thread started by SnorkelingGirl....  Her SmokinTex is basically the same as a smokin-it.... It needs air.... there are mods described to get rid of the "creosote" taste...  Dave
  15. sound1

    sound1 Smoking Fanatic

    I was thinking that the airflow/smoke may be the issue but JJ's  post reminded me of a recent batch of paprika that I threw away because it tasted like **** and bitter as hell. I'm in the habit now of tasting all my spices before I add them to the mix. Amazing how different brands/batches of the same spice can be so different.
  16. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Suggest before modifying your smoker or buying more equipment. Take the time to experiment and learn your smoker.  Play with different types and amounts of wood along with the temps and times while keeping detailed notes.   Don't worry about the color of the smoke or how the wood is burning for now, but do record it.  You can practice on a few bacon strips or chicken wings for instance.  After you learn the smoker then you can make adjustments if you feel the need.

  17. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Good call, chef. Its happened to me a couple of times over the years. Herbs and spices do not have an unlimited shelf life and sometimes are just bad quality.
  18. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Paprika is notorious for getting bitter with age as well as Dry Mustard Powder and stale White Pepper...JJ
  19. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    That's good to know... my white pepper and mustard powder are both old... thinking I'm gonna throw em out and get new... just cuz I can....
  20. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Good call on those spices, i learn more every day....i'll put those spices in my freezer to make them last longer.  Grizz i did see your smoker shouldn't have more than 8 oz of wood or you could have bitter taste.  You probably know that but just in case...

Share This Page