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Need some major help

Discussion in 'Pork' started by curtlow, Jan 16, 2011.

  1. curtlow

    curtlow Fire Starter


    New to smoking and i'm having some problems.  I for the life of me cannot get a smoke ring at all.  I have an upright gas smoker, similar to the GOSM.  I have cooked a couple slabs of ribs, a brisket, and just did a pork butt for some PP and you cant even see the hint of a smoke ring in anything I cooked.  The pork butt I just did I put the rub on the night before and put in fridge over night, next morning got the smoker going so it was ready before I got the meat out, got the meat out put a little more rub on it and got it right in the smoker while it was still cold to give it a longer time to absorb smoke.   Before this my smoker wasnt putting out very much smoke so I jerry rigged the chip box so it would sit down a lot closer to the fire so it would get hotter hoping the chips would smoke better.  It worked, the smoker had smoke rolling out of it the entire time.  I kept water in the water pan so it had some moisture in the smoker but still no smoke ring.   What am I doing wrong?   Am I putting to much rub on so the smoke can't get thru?  Is to much of the smoke getting out of my smoker thru the cracks?   I have no clue what i'm doing wrong?

    Also every thing that I have done the rub on the outside doesn't create a bark, its moist and just turns into a mush.  Is this normal or am I doing something wrong?   Any tips or tell me what i'm doing wrong would be great cause i'm getting pretty frustrated.    :( 

    Thanks Curtis
  2. shoneyboy

    shoneyboy Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    What temp are you smoking at?
  3. les3176

    les3176 Master of the Pit

    Is there alot of moisture in your smoker? What temp are you smoking at? You don't want white billowing smoke,just nice thin blue smoke.If you can smell smoke so can your meat just small whips of smoke is good.You can triple rub a piece of meat and still be ok with a smoke ring.Not getting bark and no smoke ring sounds to me like you are either cooking at too low of temps or have too much moisture and are steaming the meat more than smoking.I'm sure more members will be along with more input for ya.
  4. As Les mentioned, it may be that you are experiencing too much moisture and there's steaming action going on. I haven't experienced that so much myself but I know that when I've put meat into the smoker when it's too "wet" that has a similar effects where the smoke is running off with the liquid. I think that rubs can inhibit smoke penetration to a lesser degree not so much as the liquid. So, you might try cutting back on the liquid used with dryer heat and reserving it till after the meat approaches 145 degrees or something like that. That or maybe doing something to position the water pan away from the heat a little bit so it's isn't as hot so as there isn't as much moisture in your smoker.  
  5. garyc

    garyc Smoke Blower

    The smoke ring is a result of the CO (carbon monoxide) reacting with the meat. In a gas or electric smoker you don't get that reaction. I have both a charcoal smoker and an electric one. I get a great smoke ring in the charcoal smoker and none at all in the electric one. The taste is the same, just no ring.

    The same goes for the bark only to a lessor degree. My bark in my charcoal grill is much dryer than in my electric one. If you foil at the end of a charcoal smoke the bark will get "soggy" anyway. I think the trade off between a moist meat and a crunchy bark is well worth not having the crispy bark.
  6. curtlow

    curtlow Fire Starter

    Hey guys,

    Thanks for the replies.  I keep the temp as best as i can between about 215 to 250.  My smoker seems to fluctuate a little bit.  There is a water pan above the chip box which is above the fire that I keep full of water.  Next time I will leave it out and see if that helps.  Should I pat dry the meat before I put the first coat of rub on it and leave it over night?     The chips in my chip box just turn black, is this ok or should they burn up into ash?   Thanks again for the replies.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2011
  7. les3176

    les3176 Master of the Pit

    your meat should be dry before you put on your rub. Yeah chips turn black...as long as you get smoke your good
  8. bassman

    bassman Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    This brisket came out of my Smoke Vault propane smoker.  I had heard that you can't get a smoke ring with propane so I don't know what happened here.[​IMG]

    Last edited: Jan 16, 2011
  9. bassman

    bassman Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

     I had heard that you can't get a smoke ring with propane but I consistently get a nice ring using the Smoke Vault.[​IMG]My qview failed to post so I'll try again later. (fixed)
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2011
  10. rdknb

    rdknb Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have a gas smoker too and always get nice smoke rings
  11. curtlow

    curtlow Fire Starter

    Do u put water in your smoker when your smoking?
  12. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    OK...where to begin...

    Smoke ring, as we call it, is formed from nitric oxide (not to be confused with nitrous oxide) in the smoke chamber, which reactes with myoglobin in the meat to form a coloring or pigment called nitrosohemochrome.

    Though we may like to think that this all happens from the smoke woods alone, it does not. As many have stated about electric smokers, smoke rings will be faint and shallow, if not non-existent. A gas or solid fuel heated smoker will generate a smoke ring in meats with or without the use of smoke wood. Yes, you can create a smoke ring without smoke woods as I have demonstrated on a few ocassions.

    I have found that if I want to optimize the reaction with nitric oxide using a propane or charcoal cooker (grill or smoker) I start with a cold chamber, building the temps up gradually over a period of anywhere from 20-60 minutes, depending on the weight and type of meat or poultry I'm smoking. Using this method allows the meat to react over a longer period of time until the sub-surface temperatures of the meat begin to rise above the point at which the reaction begins to slow and eventually stop all together.

    Though this may not be a recommended method by most experienced smokers for reasons of food safety (guidelines for intact whole muscle vs non-intact whole muscle in specific), and I wouldn't recommend it myself without instruction as to monitoring chamber temps, time and internal meat temps closely, I have used this method with repeatable results. Hands down, everytime I've used this method, I get deep reactions in the meat. On my last brisket point smoke, the beef had 3/8 to 1/2" depth of the reaction, and this was with a cold start leading to 200* chamber temps initially, while holding approx, 220* for the majority of the remainder of the smokiong time. I monitored internal temps, and my initial internal temp reading was 140* @ 3-hrs, 20-min into the smoke, so food safety wasn't an issue. And, this smoke was done in a propane fired smoker.

    That said, I will tell you the only things I know of which have hindered the reaction in meats from my own personal experience:

    1) excessive humidy in the smoke chamber;

    2) useing a cooking grate which rests directly over a water pan...this casues the meat to steam and will cause limited exposure to nitric oxode as a result;

    3) excessively high smoke chamber temps during the inital stages of smoking;

    4) external fat on the meat, which prevents nitric oxide reaction by keeping it from contacting the meat;

    5) EDIT: skin on poultry, which also prevents the meat from contacting nitric oxide.

    I have not personally used an electric smoker, but as I've read in other threads, may not be easily achieved, if at all.

    If you care to observe my latest findings regarding the above methods in which I utilized measures to ensure that items 1 thru 4 would not prevent a good smoke ring in my meat, feel free to have a look HERE.

    Last edited: Jan 16, 2011
  13. SmokinAl

    SmokinAl SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I've tried what Eric say's, starting with a cold chamber in my WSM and in my case it did result in a large smoke ring. You just have to be careful about the 40-140 rule. 
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2011
  14. xjcamaro

    xjcamaro Smoking Fanatic

    I also use a gasser and get very nice smoke rings. One thing i did a long time ago was i was having a little trouble keeping my temps up when using water in the pan, even with my burner running as hot as it could go. So i just ditched the water. i do not use water in any of my smokes. I get a more consistant temp, and have more control, instead of letting the heat of the water dictate my temps.

    And I tell you what, i have had more successful smokes with out the water, and i have yet to pull out a peice of meat that was dry. As you guys can see from all of my latest Qview. So maybe something you could try is ditching your water. Just go with heat. Because to me it also sounds like your atmosphere in the smoker is too moist and not warm enough. Try a small inexpensive cut of meat for a tester and see how it does. You might be plesantly suprised.
  15. curtlow

    curtlow Fire Starter

    Thanks a lot guys, i'm def ditching the water from now on.   Could someone explain what the 40-140 rule is?   thanks
  16. retread

    retread Meat Mopper

    Real quickly it is this.  You want the internal temperature of your meat to spend less than 4 hours between 40 and 140 degrees Farhenheit
  17. curtlow

    curtlow Fire Starter

    Ok thanks again, i'll give these things a try.
  18. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

     40-140* refers to a general guideline for internal temperatures of the meat. Unless added measures have been taken to assure that the meat can be treated as a intact whole muscle, you want to get the meat from (this changed this year, by the way) 41* to 138* (if I recall, can't find the info now) in 4 hours. If you treat all meats as non-intact whole muscle meats and follow this guideline, you should never have time/temp issues with the meat.

    Intact whole muscle refers to un-punctured, uninjected, bone-in, etc. Nothing done to the meat which violates the surface by cutting, etc.

    I gotta run and get busy cooking dinner right now, but if I don't see a better reply later, I'll see if I can find it. We've discussed this in a lot of detail recently, but I can't recall which threads it was in...it should be in food safety forum though.

  19. curtlow

    curtlow Fire Starter

    Does that mean that I shouldn't put the meat in the smoker unless it's at least 40* internal temp?  Cause I think the pork butt I just smoked was bellow that when I started it.
  20. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    No, the time/temp guideline is meant for total handling time and cooking time combined, where the meat could have likely been above 40*. Once the meat has passed above 40*, it should reach at least 138* in 4 hours or less total handling and cooking time. This is the temperature range at which harmful bacteria which could be present in the meat/poultry are known to multiply, and can reach dangerous levels if the temperature has been within this range for longer than 4 hours.

    Lets say you take a piece of meat out of a 35* fridge, trim it up, dry rub it, and wrap it to rest back in the fridge over night. If this process were completed in just a few minutes, the meat probably did not go over 40* internally, but the surface could very well have reacxhed over 40*. This handling time should be included into your time/temp totals, just to err towards safety. Then, when you put the meat on/into a cooker, the handling time which could have allowed the meat to pass above 40*, plus the cooking time to reach 138* should be less than 4 hours.

    So, if your handling time to prep was 10 minutes, you would have 3-hrs, 50-min to reach 138* internal meat temperature once you begin cooking. Bear in mind that if the meat was again at 35* when you placed it on/into the cooker, it will take some time before it even reaches more than 40* while you have actually started to cook the meat.

    The best rule of thumb in order to know your meat has not exceeded the time/temp guideline is to keep track of and make a note of your handling time for preperation before cooking. Then, when you start cooking keep track of the time when you started, and after the total of handling time plus the cooking time has elapsed to 4 hours, your meat should be above 138*.

    This guideline is for non-intact whole muscle meats (injected, stuffed, butterfied/closed, deboned/closed, ground, probed with a meat thermometer). Intact whiole muscle meats are basically exempt from the 4-hour rule, as long as recognized smoke chamber temps are used to cook the meat (225* or higher).

    Hope this clears the air for you better.

    Last edited: Jan 17, 2011