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MES moisture question

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by ajb2320, Dec 13, 2010.

  1. ajb2320

    ajb2320 Fire Starter

    I own a masterbuilt elecric smoker,i love it for cooking. i use it more than my gas grill now.  My problem is when making jerky it takes for ever, 16-18hrs.  I get a ton of moisture in the window and throughout the smoker.  I take the drip pan out and open the vent full.  I have the temperutre around 155.  What i ended up doing to get it done faster was pull out the wood chip cylinder and use a fan to blow the air in to the smoker.  i do a batch of jerky now in about 8-9 hrs.  my question is why would i get so much moisture, it was like i was steaming the jerky instead of drying it?


    Last edited: Dec 13, 2010
  2. smokeamotive

    smokeamotive Smoking Fanatic

    Well ,seeing that I just got my MES 40 and haven't even plugged it in I dont have any experience with it .....YET. But my first question would be   How much Jerky are you trying to do in one batch? Up till now I have been making mine in the oven with it set at 190 deg. and it would take 8-9 hrs for it to finish. That is 3 jerky screens worth or @ 5lbs. You may want to set your temp higher in your MES. As far as using the fan, Its not a bad idea but just don't run so much air thru that you lower your temps.
  3. ajb2320

    ajb2320 Fire Starter

    One batch of jerky is 7lb and I use antennas to hang the jerky. I cut tue jerky 1/4" thick. The temperature stays pretty close to what I have it set. I don't know why I get the moisture though? I noticed that when I don't use the fan and turn the temp up it seems like I bake the jerky and lose all the flavor. I also noticed that Alot of the juice is in the pan when I check it, it almost seems like it cooks it to fast or bakes out the flavor..
  4. plj

    plj Meat Mopper

    Was the meat in a liquid marinade before you put it in the smoker? If so, drain it and dry it with paper towels before you smoke it, otherwise you're just putting a lot of extra moisture into the smoker that needs to be removed.

    The process of making jerky is removing the moisture, and the quicker you do it the more moisture you will see. No I dont think you were steaming it. My first thought was air flow, so I think you did the right thing by adding a fan.

    fyi it takes me about 12 hours to make a batch of jerky in my electric smoker. I've never seen moisture buildup, BUT I open the door often to swap the racks around, which has a second benefit of removing moisture. 

    Sounds to me like you're doing ok.  Also I agree with you about the lower temps, I know a guy who makes his jerky at 200 degrees, I think its more like dried out steak than jerky.
  5. ajb2320

    ajb2320 Fire Starter

    I hang my meat. Will I still get tue same flavor if I lay it on tue racks instead hanging it. I do not use anything to dry the meat off , I never thought of that. I will give that a try
  6. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

     I'm not sure but when you say you removed the drip pan , Do you mean the water pan ?

     If it is the water pan ,i wouldn't remove it just foil it and fill it w/ sand . The water pan acts as a heat  baffle besides providing moisture to the unit.
  7. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    What Eman & plj said, plus:

    I don't understand the fan part. If I'm reading that right, aren't you blowing cold air into a hot smoker?

    Wouldn't that in itself cause a clash between hot & cold, causing a lot of condensation, plus make your smoker run all of the time?

  8. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I would raise the temp a little at a time and see if I could find a happy medium. Too much humidity will sour the meat. It could also have to do with the humidity level in the air where you live. I'm also thinking I wouldn't force air into the MES. Seems like blowing cool air in the unit would play havoc on your element kickin on and off trying to compensage. Raising the temp will create more draw... so if you take it up a little at a time, I think you will find a spot that doesn't dry the meat out too fast but keeps your humidity level low so you don't accumulate moisture inside the MES. A few degrees could make the difference in your humidity.
  9. ryanhoelzer

    ryanhoelzer Smoking Fanatic

    I do my jerky in the MES at around 120.  At 1/4" it does take quite a while but I've never had your moisture problems. 
  10. fourthwind

    fourthwind Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Air flow is problematic with the MES.  The method I came up with was to drain and dry the meat for about an hour.  Put it into the smoker, and smoke for about 2 hours.  I then pull the tray out of the side to allow for more air flow.   It does require turning up the heat and using a digital temp probe mounted at grate level.   Another method is to hang and dry, smoke for a couple hours, then move to a dehydrator.
  11. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Fourthwind is correct about the airflow issue in the MES.  I remove the chip loader in mine to get better air flow.  Some guys even crack the door.

    Outside temps and humidity also affect the humidity inside the MES.  I very rarely use water in the pan because there seems to be plenty of moisture without it.

    I Like the fan idea, but it's just as important to circulate the air as replace the air, to remove the moisture.  If you wanted to add smoke to your jerky, maybe smoke for an hour or so outside, and once the smoke is done, move your MES into the garage, to continue drying.

    Last edited: Dec 16, 2010
  12. ajb2320

    ajb2320 Fire Starter

    If I remember, the first time I made jerky in the mes someone told me to set it 200 and go from there. That was when I was getting the moisture prblem almost like I was baking the meat, I think i even at 180 I was getting the same thing. I went down to 155 and it seemed like it was taking for ever12-18 hrs. Which I thought was extremely long time but I guess it really wasn't by what you guys are saying. Then I got to thinking, when I make it in the dehydrator it only takes about 7-8hrs. That is why I thought of the fan idea, I had themtemperture in the smoker tue samemthe only thing different was no fan. I can do my jerky now with no moisture at 160 and it be done in about 8-10hrs. But whoever said anoint the heating element is right it is always calling for heat. If I was to not use the fan what would you guys Recommend for me to do. The way it sounds is, if I drop the temperature and be more patient I could do away with the fan and get the same solution at the end?
  13. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member


    I'm not sure of exactly what you're asking, so I'll just put my take on it.

    If the jerky was "cured" in the marinade, you don't have to worry how long you slow-smoke it. Then I personally would dry it real good before smoking it. Squeeze as much juice out as you can, before smoking. Then I would put it in the smoker for an hour at 160˚ without any smoke (hanging or laying on the racks, but not touching each other). Then after that hour, I would put the smoke on it for a long time (keeping it at 160˚) to get them good and smokey.

    The longer you do that, the smokier they'll get. I wouldn't worry about the moisture, as long as I have my exhaust vent wide open. Eventually that moisture will subside. Then I would get the heat up to 190˚ until you get the jerky the way you want it, and hopefully up to between 155˚ & 160˚ internal temp (I know it's hard to measure jerky internally).

    I would not run a fan from outside into the smoker. The only way the moisture is going to leave is through the exhaust vent. I wouldn't pull my chip dumper out either, but it wouldn't be as bad as running a fan through it.

    This is all just my opinion---Not some kind of rule, and I'm not trying to tell you this is the way you should do it. It is just how I would do it.

    If you don't put cure in your marinade, that would be a different story, and my way might not be a good way.

    I know many don't cure their jerky, and that seems to be OK, but I wouldn't do it.

    I don't make a lot of jerky, so that's about all I can say---The part of my brain that knows about jerky has now been drained on this post.

  14. ajb2320

    ajb2320 Fire Starter

    Thanks bear. I think all I was asking was why it takes so long? I do use insta cure 1 in my marinade. The guy that was telling the temp he used was 200 had a homemade smoker big one, he builds a fire for his. So his is very differnt from what I used. He told me that his only takes about 6hrs to be done. So I figured I should do the same and it should take the same amount of time but I guess not. I don't smoke my jerky it doesn't seem to have as good of a taste when I do. Maybe I was doing something wrong with that. I have another junk of meat that I will be making jerky soon. I'm going to try the lower temps with no fan and see what happens. Thanks for everyone help
  15. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    OK---Now there's a statement we can work with:

    That "not so good taste" could be because it was too wet on the surface when the smoke was applied.

    If you keep it in there at 160˚ or so, until the outer surface of the pieces are dry & a little tacky, the smoke will adhere better, and it should not taste bad. That "not so good taste" you got before is what shows up if you put smoke on wet meat. Since you're having moisture problems, it could easily take a much longer time to be ready to smoke than that "hour at 160˚" I mentioned earlier. 

  16. ajb2320

    ajb2320 Fire Starter

    I'm cutting a batch up now to get ready to marinade. I really think now from talking with you guys that the first time inaas doing i cooked it at to high of a temp. That was with no smoke. It had no taste to it and the water pan was full of my jerky marinade. It seems like I bake out the flavor and all the juice was sitting in the water pan. I never tried it since with out the fan. From that point on I went with a temp of 160 took out the wood dispenser and stuck a fan in the hole blowing air in, with the draft open the whole way. That has been what I have been doing since i talked with you.. It seemed to work and didn't no any better. Basically what I did was make my smoker into a big dehydrator. When I did it this way I had the same flavor as when I would make it in the dehydrator. Thats why I have been doing it that way ever since. Do you feel that if I keep the temp at 160 and dab the jerky off with a paper towel that I will still get the same taste? I am going to try a smaller batch like this and seemwhat happens. I could never figure out why it had no flavor and all my marinade was sitting in the water pan. To high of temp?
  17. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    I never used a dehydrator, but I would think if you don't use smoke it in your smoker, no matter what temp you use it would taste the same as in the dehydrator, because you're doing the same thing (drying it out), but if you do smoke it, the important thing is to get it all dry on the outside surfaces before putting a few hours of smoke on it. The smoke is what really makes it good (IMO).

  18. ajb2320

    ajb2320 Fire Starter

    I will give it a shot. Thanks
  19. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you marinade for 24 hours, the flavor of your marinade is going to permiate the meat. It won't all run off in the pan. If your not getting enough of the flavor your wanting you may need to make a stiffer marinade. One of the things I do when I make jerky in the MES... I put lava rock in the water pan. You want to introduce dry heat. I don't think your loosing your flavor in the drip pan. I've never had any problem with excessive moisture in the MES when I'm drying jerky. I keep it anywhere from 160 to 180. You may just need to experiment more...
  20. ajb2320

    ajb2320 Fire Starter

    Alright... I put a batch of jerky in smoker this morning. I hung it on my antennas and dabbed most of the juice off. I have the drip pan or water pan in. The temp is 160. I have the vent completely open.
    Hopefully it turns out great..
    What does the lava rocks do..