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Help!

Isaac R

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Joined Oct 29, 2018
Hey guys!
First of all, I would like to welcome myself to what appears to be a wonderful forum of enthusiastic smokers :)
Now, on to more pressing matters:
HELP
I have a smoker at home and whenever I try to smoke a brisket or steak without any dry rub, (for dietary reasons or whatnot) the meat always comes out with the outside being wet and "slimy" with a rubbery texture. Would love an opinion on why that's happening and how to fix!
Problemo number two:
No matter what chips I use (yes, I have a wood chip smoker), be it applewood chips, hickory, mesquite, etc.. the meat always comes out tasting the same. The chips aren't really having much of an effect. Can someone help me please!!!
I have a masterbuilt electric wood chip smoker
Thanks in advance guys and gals!
Also, side note, I used to work in a smokehouse as a pit master but my meat never came out like this and I can't understand what's wrong. Granted, their smoker was a massive one that ran on huge chunks of wood with an automatic exhaust system, but still...
 

oldsmokerdude

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Sorry to hear about your smoking woes, Isaac. Both the symptoms you shared above seem to relate to the airflow (or lack of) in your smoker. You mention you have an MES but do you have any mods? How old is it? Can you share pictures? And lastly, how do you measure the temp in your smoker?

I'm hoping with a few more details, I or someone can help you out.
 

Isaac R

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Joined Oct 29, 2018
For reference, this is the smoker I am currently using
Masterbuilt 20071117 30" Digital Electric Smoker amazon" style="max-width:120px">As you can see, it has a small adjustable airflow valve on the top, and and has a digital thermometer built in for the internal temperature along with automatic temperature control.
Additionally, I check the internal temperature of the meat itself using a handheld digital thermometer.
I've had the smoker for just over a year, but I'm not sure how old the actual model is.
Let me know if you need any additional details.
Thanks so much for your help!
-Isaac
 

browneyesvictim

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Yeah definitely need more information about how you set up your smoker. I realize I am jumping on some conclusions here, but for many that own the electric MES there are some general SMF advice that may not fit with what the manufacturer suggests.

1. Always leave the top damper open.
2. Never trust the built in temp probe. They are notoriously off. Buy a dual probe remote therm- One for the meat and one for the clipping to the grate at meat level.
3. Forsake the chiploader. Get yourself an Amazen pellet tray= way better smoke control and results!
4. Never put water in the water pan. There is planty of moisture retained with this well insulated smoker even with the vent always open.
 

Isaac R

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Joined Oct 29, 2018
Thanks for the tips!
So, regarding the damper, I adjust manually depending on the situation. If say, I just flared the flame on the bottom to build up smoke, I'll close the damper somewhat to allow the fire to die down a little, but for all other purposes, I'll keep the damper most of the way open
Regarding putting my own temp probe in there, that's definitely something I'll consider especially for the meat itself which would elimanate the problem of opening the smoker door whenever checking the temp.
For the chip loader, does the pellet tray really change things? I'll definitely switch to a pellet loader if that's the case.
For the water tray, I absolutely never use it unless I'm smoking chicken, which in that case I'll fill the tray with either beer or whiskey for a unique take on beer-can chicken
Regarding soaking the chips before using them, I've found largely mixed opinions and was wondering if anyone could give me a definitive answer on the topic. As of now, I've used dry non-soaked chips .
 

browneyesvictim

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Well that's the problem with using chips- you are relying on the heating element to control the burn. You tend to get too much bad smoke or it goes out all together. You cant "cold smoke" with it like that either.

You want airflow and not stale smoke lingering around so the vent should always stay open. Even if you use chips, it is best to always leave it open. The only time I close my vent is to either pre-heat it or after I am done and its put away to keep bugs and critters out.

That's good that you don't soak your chips, and you shouldn't- ever. You want a THIN BLUE SMOKE. Soaked chips will not burn cleanly and will produce white and grey smoke that is very much full of creosote. Can you say "Ashtray"?

There are many options for dual probe remote digital therms on the market. Maverick, Therm Pro, Thermoworks are just a few. Check out the reviews, but is a "must have" for most smokers. Highly recommend, and disregard what your MES therm says other than a reference once you see how far off it really is.

The pellet tray IS a game changer! I cant say enough good about it and the many added benefits. No need to keep reloading chips with 10-11 or 12 hours of continuous reliable clean smoke- no getting up in the middle of the night. Cold smoking is another added benefit. Its known as an ANMPS around here, and worth every penny. Normally you just set the lit pellet tray in and forget it

Now what model you have there is a Gen 2 MES, and is known to be prone to have airflow issues to allow enough oxygen in to sustain the burning pellets in a tray. In other words some owners have a hard time keeping pellets lit with that model. You have a couple options, but me personally I would lean toward a mailbox mod with that unit. Don't worry, its a lot simpler and cheaper than it sounds. I'm sure Bearcarver Bearcarver will be around soon to point you to his very detailed explanation and testing he has done with MES smokers and recommendations.

Even with chicken you don't need water in your pan. I should say ESPECIALLY with chicken I wouldn't use a water pan. Its hard enough to prevent from getting rubbery skin even at the max 275' setting. Whisky in the pan sounds a little dangerous to me with the % of alcohol for a potential for explosion or fire. Beer I understand, and in general just about any other liquid is great for a BRAISING step, but that is in the same pan with the meat- possibly on a rack, and I am generally foiling.

I think that addresses each of you questions. But most of all WELCOME Isaac!
 

Jeff Wright

Smoking Fanatic
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Joined Jul 12, 2018
Welcome Isaac. I am a MES 30 user as well. I will offer advice as follows:

Everything Browneyes said. Nailed it. Give em a shot and I bet your results will be spot on. Good luck and enjoy practicing!!!
 

Isaac R

Newbie
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Joined Oct 29, 2018
Thanks so much! browneyesvictim browneyesvictim Jeff Wright Jeff Wright
I will definitely be switching to a pellet smoking technique. I've also never actually experienced the famed "blue smoke" for myself unfortunately :( .
Any recommendations or techniques on how to achieve it? Or just any recommendations or techniques in general for a better smoking experience.
Also, I've been thinking of cold and hot smoking salmon. How would I go about doing so with the smoker I have currently?
Also, thanks for the welcome! I already feel right at home :)
 

smokerjim

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I to use the master built 30, all I use is the mailbox mod, it's very easy to set up as browneyes said, I've tried putting the pellet tray in the smoker with the chip loader partially pulled out, but that was unreliable , mailbox is the way to go. I always leave the vent on top wide open.
 

Bearcarver

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Thanks for the tips!
So, regarding the damper, I adjust manually depending on the situation. If say, I just flared the flame on the bottom to build up smoke, I'll close the damper somewhat to allow the fire to die down a little, but for all other purposes, I'll keep the damper most of the way open
Regarding putting my own temp probe in there, that's definitely something I'll consider especially for the meat itself which would elimanate the problem of opening the smoker door whenever checking the temp.
For the chip loader, does the pellet tray really change things? I'll definitely switch to a pellet loader if that's the case.
For the water tray, I absolutely never use it unless I'm smoking chicken, which in that case I'll fill the tray with either beer or whiskey for a unique take on beer-can chicken
Regarding soaking the chips before using them, I've found largely mixed opinions and was wondering if anyone could give me a definitive answer on the topic. As of now, I've used dry non-soaked chips .

Hi Isaac!!
Everything said so far is Great Info, but the Smoker you have (Shown in your post above) is actually a Gen #1, which is the one of the better MES units.
You don't say where you live so I can't tell which Amazing Smoker to recommend to you.
If you're at a High Altitude, you should get a Tube Smoker, and if you aren't the AMNPS (Tray) would be best.
That should solve your smoking problems.

Here are a couple Links I made to help tell which MES is which & some info about them:
Masterbuilt Smokers (Bear's Thoughts & Findings)
MES Generation Number Recognition Pictures & Pics (Digital Units)

Also If you want some ideas & tips on what to make in your MES, and how to do it, just click on my Link @ the bottom of this post.

Note: Like Jeff, I never needed a Mailbox for anything other than my mail.

Bear
 

smokerjim

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Hey bear, not to change the subject but I've been going through your step by steps it's pretty amazing all the different items you have on there and how detailed you are. Now if I can talk the wife into prime rib instead of turkey for thanksgiving . Again sorry, I don't want to change the subject .
 

browneyesvictim

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Without taking away anything what Bear says about MES units...

You are right. I retract my statement that you have a gen 2. I didn't look close enough. However I am a little perplexed. My Gen 1 30" looks nothing like the 20071117. In fact his looks more like a hybrid, or similar to the latest gen without BT. If it were a true gen 1, then it should have the metal rods that go across from the heating element that the AMNPS was designed to sit on.

In any case, where would you suggest the AMNPS placement on this unit Bear? On the floor on the left side with added legs or standoffs?
 

GaryHibbert

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Welcome Isaac.
First off, congrats on landing a MES 30 Gen 1. I've been using one for years and, IMO, it is the best smoker Masterbuilt ever made.
Everything you've been told here is the absolute truth. I've been using the AMNPS for years with the mailbox mod and absolutely love it. Unlike John (Bearcarver) I could never keep the AMNPS burning inside the MES. I just don't have John's magic touch with it. But try using the AMNPS in the smoker first, then if it isn't working you can always look at the mod.
Most important of all:
--keep the top vent open ALL THE TIME
--don't trust the stock therms. Get a 2 probe digital remote therm
--DON'T put water in the pan
Gary
 

Bearcarver

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Without taking away anything what Bear says about MES units...

You are right. I retract my statement that you have a gen 2. I didn't look close enough. However I am a little perplexed. My Gen 1 30" looks nothing like the 20071117. In fact his looks more like a hybrid, or similar to the latest gen without BT. If it were a true gen 1, then it should have the metal rods that go across from the heating element that the AMNPS was designed to sit on.

In any case, where would you suggest the AMNPS placement on this unit Bear? On the floor on the left side with added legs or standoffs?

I only went by the Pic in the post, which shows a Gen #1.
Now that I opened it up, I see it is a "Hybrid", which is a Gen #1 exterior, with a Gen #2.5 interior.
This is even better than a Gen #1.
The best place for an AMNPS in that one would be the same place I put mine in my Gen #2.5, which is to put the bottom rack in place & put the AMNPS on the far right end of that rack. Then you can pull the chip dumper out about 3", and rotate it 180° to allow more air to flow through, and push it back in for less air.

Bear
 

Bearcarver

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Welcome Isaac.
First off, congrats on landing a MES 30 Gen 1. I've been using one for years and, IMO, it is the best smoker Masterbuilt ever made.
Everything you've been told here is the absolute truth. I've been using the AMNPS for years with the mailbox mod and absolutely love it. Unlike John (Bearcarver) I could never keep the AMNPS burning inside the MES. I just don't have John's magic touch with it. But try using the AMNPS in the smoker first, then if it isn't working you can always look at the mod.
Most important of all:
--keep the top vent open ALL THE TIME
--don't trust the stock therms. Get a 2 probe digital remote therm
--DON'T put water in the pan

Gary

Isaac,
If I'd have had more time, i would have explained it the way Gary did.

Bear
 

Isaac R

Newbie
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Joined Oct 29, 2018
Wow! I'm learning more about smoking than I did in my year of working as a pitmaster. So I'm definitely going to opt into getting a pellet tray and if that doesn't work, I can build the mailbox mod (I always knew pursuing an engineering degree would be useful someday ;) )
I do live in new york, where smoking is actually very difficult as it is, regardless of the altitude, because of the many restrictive laws and pesky neighbors.
To all that have been replying to my thread, I thank you wholeheartedly and feel free to keep sending me all your hardearned tips and tricks, so that I can become a better smoker :)
 

Bearcarver

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Hey bear, not to change the subject but I've been going through your step by steps it's pretty amazing all the different items you have on there and how detailed you are. Now if I can talk the wife into prime rib instead of turkey for thanksgiving . Again sorry, I don't want to change the subject .

She'll not be sorry.
A prime Rib is one of the easiest Smokes I ever do, and the Greatest Reward.
And any one of those on my Index will do fine. I like the newest ones best, because I got better at writing them up as I went along.

Bear
 

browneyesvictim

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Thanks so much! browneyesvictim browneyesvictim Jeff Wright Jeff Wright
I will definitely be switching to a pellet smoking technique. I've also never actually experienced the famed "blue smoke" for myself unfortunately :( .
Any recommendations or techniques on how to achieve it? Or just any recommendations or techniques in general for a better smoking experience.
Also, I've been thinking of cold and hot smoking salmon. How would I go about doing so with the smoker I have currently?
Also, thanks for the welcome! I already feel right at home :)
Give the AMNPS pellet tray a whirl and you will achieve TBS nirvana! That simple. But I will also recommend 100% smoke wood pellets. No blends, no fillers or flavors added etc. The pellets sold by Amazen (same manufacturer of the tray) are just the kind you want. In fact you can get a sample of their pellets when you buy the tray.

As for the salmon... this too will come. There are plenty of good recipes here. Use the search tool, or browse the forum categories. This site is very proactive in promoting only "safe" recipes and techniques. Read lots and educate yourself about how to protect yourself and your family or anyone else that eats the food you create, from getting food poisoning- parasites, Botulism, Listeria, etc. It can be deadly! Learn the proper safe food handling temps and times. Learn about the use of Cure #1, and once you are knowledgeable and confident with a known safe recipe and practice, you can try you hand at cold smoking salmon. Actually, I might suggest starting with cold smoking some cheese first. But just be careful of what you find on the interwebs. There is a lot of bad info out there. But definitely post up your smokes and ask questions.

Again WELCOME!!!
 

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