Need help with WSM smoker and the charcoal briquette taste in food

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Original poster
May 23, 2013
Manassas, VA
I have a WSM 18.5" smoker.  One of the issues I'm having is that when I smoke chicken or pork, I sometime get a strong charcoal briquette taste instead of the sweet taste from the apple, peach or cherry wood that I use in the smoker.  Is this problem due to the fact that I did not wait long enough for the Kingsford charcoal briquette to turn ashen gray before I put the chicken or pork in the smoker?  I found that if I wait, then the temperature tend to drop lower than I wanted, then I have to add more charcoal briquette, that then increase the heat, but it also release that strong almost lighter fluid taste.  Any help is greatly appreciated.  Thanks.
The WSM is designed to be used with the Minion method - basically start with a large pile of unlit charcoal, then dump a small amount of lit charcoal ontop of that.

I start with at least 1/2 of the ring filled with unlit charcoal and a couple of chunks of fist sized wood mixed in (4 or 5 chunks), all vents 100% open. Then dump 1/2 a chimney of lit charcoal on top, sort of piled in the middle. Wait 5 min. then assemble the smoker, wait till the lid therm hits 200° then fill the water pan with hot water, put the lid back on and wait for the therm to come back up to 200°. Close off two of the bottom vents completely, wait for the temps to get up to about 240° if the temps are still climbing close the 3rd vent by 50%, tweak the third vent as needed to get to 250°.

That set up should run 6-8 hrs. at 250° with no other input from you. Also keep in mind that if you put to much wood or green wood on you will get creasote (bad nasty tasting). Always store you charcoal inside away from the door - the back of the garage works well - charcoal acts like a sponge, if it is left where moist air can get to it, it will absorb the moisture and that will make it produce white nasty smoke and give a skunky flavor.

Start using less wood and slowly add more till you find out how much of each type to use for the desired results. Fruit woods tend to smoke more so only use one or two chunks at a time - I made that mistake several times.. lol. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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