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Need help to get lighter smoke flavor - Confirm which woods, and length of smoke changes?

Danabw

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Got an important problem to solve. My wife is just not as fond of smoked food as my son and I. For meats like brisket and ribs smoked w/hickory she's saying that it's just too much for her. She does like salmon that I smoke with apple. Apple is a lighter wood and salmon is done in around an hour or so, so lighter wood and shorter smoking time.

So seems like I can change two key variables - the wood, and the length of time it's under smoke. Also wondering if using the top vs. the bottom rack would have a significant impact.

The wood: Right now aside from Hickory, I have:
  • Pecan
  • Apple
  • Cherry
I can get some additional types, but would like to use some of what I have, of course. I've smoked salmon w/apple so I know how that is, but have no experience with pecan and cherry. Would appreciate hearing how you guys find it compared to apple or hickory, and how "heavy" pecan and cherry are.

Time under smoke: Right now I typically have smoke going the entire time the meat is in the smoker. I'm wondering how much impact reducing the amount of time I'm using smoke will have on the intensity. It seems like the majority of the smoke flavor would be imparted during the first 2-3 hours so wasn't sure how early I'd have to stop adding chips. (Masterbuilt electric.) Does anyone have experience w/reducing the amount of time they are using smoke, e.g., keeping the meat in the smoker for 6 hours, but only using smoke for the first 2-3?

Upper vs. lower racks: Would there be any significant affect on smoke from using the bottom vs. higher racks? I typically smoke salmon on the top rack, and larger things on the second rack.

Thanks for any suggestions (aside from the obvious "Time for a new wife" ;-)) on this thorny problem.
 

Winterrider

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May have to just experiment a bit. Try only a couple 2 or 3 loads of chip and try the smoke profile. If she likes, your good. Can add an extra dump each smoke if need be. Apple and pecan are fairly mild in my opinion.
Rack position won't matter much.
 

Danabw

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Joined May 29, 2020
May have to just experiment a bit. Try only a couple 2 or 3 loads of chip and try the smoke profile. If she likes, your good. Can add an extra dump each smoke if need be. Apple and pecan are fairly mild in my opinion.
Rack position won't matter much.
Thanks. Not sure what you mean by "Can add an extra dump each smoke if need be." Can you clarify that? :)
 

noboundaries

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If you're using water in the water pan, that can increase the intensity of smoke flavor. My wife is a super taster, and back when I used a water pan, she'd refuse to eat the meat. I tested her without her knowledge and she was 100% correct if I used water. She loves dry-smoked meat, fish, etc.
 

JC in GB

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I usually go for the "time for a new wife" ploy but I see that isn't an option here. :emoji_laughing: :emoji_laughing:

I have found that reducing the amount of wood used to smoke is all I need to do to control the smoke flavor.

I usually use 3 or 4 wood chunks for a 5 -6 hour smoke. That is all I need to get a pleasant smoke flavor on the meat.

IMHO some pit masters use way too much flavor wood and they have a product that comes out with a heavy smoke flavor which hides other flavors and really turns off those who don't like that heavy smoke flavor.

Not sure if this was of any help.

JC :emoji_cat:
 

Danabw

Smoke Blower
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Joined May 29, 2020
If you're using water in the water pan, that can increase the intensity of smoke flavor. My wife is a super taster, and back when I used a water pan, she'd refuse to eat the meat. I tested her without her knowledge and she was 100% correct if I used water. She loves dry-smoked meat, fish, etc.
Thanks, I would never have realized the effect of not using water. Unfortunately, I accidentally did not use water on the ribs I smoked this weekend (that she didn't like), just totally forgot to add it, so that isn't going to be enough for her. I think my main issue/fix is going to be using less wood.

I usually go for the "time for a new wife" ploy but I see that isn't an option here. :emoji_laughing: :emoji_laughing:

I have found that reducing the amount of wood used to smoke is all I need to do to control the smoke flavor.

I usually use 3 or 4 wood chunks for a 5 -6 hour smoke. That is all I need to get a pleasant smoke flavor on the meat.

IMHO some pit masters use way too much flavor wood and they have a product that comes out with a heavy smoke flavor which hides other flavors and really turns off those who don't like that heavy smoke flavor.

Not sure if this was of any help.

JC :emoji_cat:
Thanks, very helpful. Unfortunately for you my wife was reading over my shoulder and saw your reply. I suggest you change your name, move to a new state, and lay low for a few years. My wife has a VERY long memory... ;-)

I'll go w/the reduced wood on my next smoke. Easy to manage since w/the Masterbuilt I'm using chips and need to add more frequently. I'll just stop adding chips early on the next smoke, and see what she thinks.
 
Last edited:

GaryHibbert

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Never forget "If the women are happy, we're all happy."
I have the same issue with Miss Linda. Hickory is too strong for her, so I use Pecan. It's a somewhat similar flavor, but much milder. She's quite happy with that--actually it's her favorite wood now. I keep the smoke going for the entire time the meat is in the smoker and she never complains about too much smoke.
As far as apple and cherry go, personally I don't like apple so I never use it. Cherry, like all fruit woods, is mild. Alder is one of the best woods for fish, followed, surprisingly, by willow.
I use an AMNPS with my MES, and my favorite wood for all things pork is Orange--also a mild wood.
You never mentioned if you use the water pan in your MES. A MES is so air tight that it produces all the moisture you need without added water. Also, keep your top vent open wide at all times.
Gary
 

JC in GB

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Thanks, I would never have realized the effect of not using water. Unfortunately, I accidentally did not use water on the ribs I smoked this weekend (that she didn't like), just totally forgot to add it, so that isn't going to be enough for her. I think my main issue/fix is going to be using less wood.





Thanks, very helpful. Unfortunately for you my wife was reading over my shoulder and saw your reply. I suggest you change your name, move to a new state, and lay low for a few years. My wife has a VERY long memory... ;-)

I'll go w/the redued wood on my next smoke. Easy to manage since w/the Masterbuilt I'm using chips and need to add more frequently. I'll just stop adding chips early on the next smoke, and see what she thinks.
My apologies to the Mrs... It was merely a jest. :emoji_laughing: :emoji_laughing:

You both can come by for ribs if that will get me out of the dog house. :emoji_smile_cat:

JC :emoji_cat:
 

bill1

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...Right now aside from Hickory, I have:
  • Pecan
  • Apple
  • Cherry
Apple by far is the mildest of the 4. My wife has never complained with Apple. (Personally I only prefer it for turkey, FWIW.)

What I find with my Mrs, is that it's not so much the meat flavor as the smells in the patio and leaking into the house while I'm preparing it--she's turned off before the meat comes off the grill. So part of the "...happy life" is to pay attention to smoker location, wind direction, trips into the house, etc, to minimize her "pre-exposure".

I have short hair, still I'm amazed how much smoke it takes on...I can tell when I shampoo the next day after a smoke.
 

JC in GB

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Apple by far is the mildest of the 4. My wife has never complained with Apple. (Personally I only prefer it for turkey, FWIW.)

What I find with my Mrs, is that it's not so much the meat flavor as the smells in the patio and leaking into the house while I'm preparing it--she's turned off before the meat comes off the grill. So part of the "...happy life" is to pay attention to smoker location, wind direction, trips into the house, etc, to minimize her "pre-exposure".

I have short hair, still I'm amazed how much smoke it takes on...I can tell when I shampoo the next day after a smoke.
Good point Bill.... I get the same thing. I stink like smoke all day when my pit is going. Kind of turns off the Mrs. even before I serve the food....

JC :emoji_cat:
 

Danabw

Smoke Blower
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Joined May 29, 2020
Never forget "If the women are happy, we're all happy."
I have the same issue with Miss Linda. Hickory is too strong for her, so I use Pecan. It's a somewhat similar flavor, but much milder. She's quite happy with that--actually it's her favorite wood now. I keep the smoke going for the entire time the meat is in the smoker and she never complains about too much smoke.
As far as apple and cherry go, personally I don't like apple so I never use it. Cherry, like all fruit woods, is mild. Alder is one of the best woods for fish, followed, surprisingly, by willow.
I use an AMNPS with my MES, and my favorite wood for all things pork is Orange--also a mild wood.
You never mentioned if you use the water pan in your MES. A MES is so air tight that it produces all the moisture you need without added water. Also, keep your top vent open wide at all times.
Gary
You speak the truth - happy wife, happy life. :D

I think Pecan and Apple will be my next attempts w/pork butt, and I'll also reduce the portion of the time in the smoker when I'm applying smoke a little bit. She's eaten smoked ribs and brisket all her life w/me (from restaurants) but I think part of the issue is that I've been overdoing the smoke. I've been staying exactly on top of the MES, stock up chips immediately when the current load of chips is going down and smoke gets a little thin.

I do keep the vent open at all times thanks to you and others who have pointed that out! :)

Apple by far is the mildest of the 4. My wife has never complained with Apple. (Personally I only prefer it for turkey, FWIW.)

What I find with my Mrs, is that it's not so much the meat flavor as the smells in the patio and leaking into the house while I'm preparing it--she's turned off before the meat comes off the grill. So part of the "...happy life" is to pay attention to smoker location, wind direction, trips into the house, etc, to minimize her "pre-exposure".

I have short hair, still I'm amazed how much smoke it takes on...I can tell when I shampoo the next day after a smoke.
Good point Bill.... I get the same thing. I stink like smoke all day when my pit is going. Kind of turns off the Mrs. even before I serve the food....

JC :emoji_cat:
I didn't think about this, but the general pervasiveness of smoke on me, the backyard, and leaking into the house does seem to very likely be part of the issue. I was out on our back yard patio smoking from around 11AM to 5:15 PM, and the prevailing winds blow the smoke towards our door into the family room. I was sitting next to the smoker to watch smoke/temps all day (as I noted I was having problems w/the MES control panel and heating element) so I must have stunk to high heaven. We also ate outside in the same general area. Hmmm...I may move the smoker to the other side of the patio "down wind" so that exaust blows towards the next house (presumably they will enjoy the aroma), and doesn't have as much chance to get inside.

Great feedback, lots of things that I didn't consider on my own!
 

mike243

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You need to try a pellet smoker, my wife don't like heavy smoke which I do , its a decent trade off imo.
 

JckDanls 07

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I agree with the pellet smoker instead of chips... But first try fewer chips (pecan) in each dump and less time... maybe just try two dumps on the next smoke and then go from there... Keep adding length of time (three dump's next smoke) until she says that's enough....
 

Winterrider

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Thanks. Not sure what you mean by "Can add an extra dump each smoke if need be." Can you clarify that? :)
I mean just add another chip loader full until you get your desired smoke flavor.
 

Danabw

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You need to try a pellet smoker, my wife don't like heavy smoke which I do , its a decent trade off imo.
I agree with the pellet smoker instead of chips... But first try fewer chips (pecan) in each dump and less time... maybe just try two dumps on the next smoke and then go from there... Keep adding length of time (three dump's next smoke) until she says that's enough....
Thanks, I am planning on moving to AMNPS, but wanted to use up the chips I have first... Hate to waste stuff.

I have heard there are some issues with using AMNPS with the 30" inch MES. Does it work well with smaller units like mine?
 

Inscrutable

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Similar situation here with wife and daughter ... I use those 3 fruitwoods almost exclusively ... if I use the chip loader (it’s a PB not an MB) I load it lightly and more frequently, and not for the whole cook. An a-maze-n tube seems to also yield a lighter smoke taste.
 

EdP

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Hickory has a strong flavor, mesquite is strong too.

From your list, I’d try all apple.
 

bill1

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...I didn't think about this, but the general pervasiveness of smoke on me, the backyard, and leaking into the house does seem to very likely be part of the issue...
I'm hoping someone will chime in with the clever expression (I've forgotten it) that describes how we get somewhat desensitized to strong smoke smell (and flavor) after tending these smokers for hours before chow time. When I take leftovers to work, I'm amazed at how powerful they smell in the communal microwave oven during reheat yet I know that's only a fraction of the intensity it was the day before. (I've already mentioned how strong your hair and clothing appear to smell the next day!)
 

smokerjim

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Thanks, I am planning on moving to AMNPS, but wanted to use up the chips I have first... Hate to waste stuff.

I have heard there are some issues with using AMNPS with the 30" inch MES. Does it work well with smaller units like mine?
Some people have luck with the amnps inside smoker but some don't, I had to go to the mailbox mod for mine , also you could try the dust instead of pellets
 

Bearcarver

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Thanks, I am planning on moving to AMNPS, but wanted to use up the chips I have first... Hate to waste stuff.

I have heard there are some issues with using AMNPS with the 30" inch MES. Does it work well with smaller units like mine?

With an AMNPS you will forget about the problems you're having with the chip burner.
Much more Mellow Smoke, and no more adding chips every half hour or whatever,
No problem at all with an MES 30 or MES 40.
You don't mention where you live in your Profile, but if you are at a high altitude 2000' +, that could be a problem for an AMNPS. High altitude needs the Tube Smoker, Low Altitude should be an AMNPS (Tray).

One more Tip: There is nothing positive about adding water to the water pan in an MES. Only Negative. I haven't put a drop in mine for over 9 years.

Bear
 

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