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Smoker gone bad....

Discussion in 'Food Safety' started by wes w, Nov 1, 2013.

  1. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    This is something I'm not proud of, but at the same time I felt it would be an informative post.  

    Early in the spring with the lose of a family member I didn't use my smoker for a period of a couple months.  Once I felt I needed to return to what I love I opened my smoker to what I would call a disaster.   It only added to the grief at hand.   My smoker was totally white inside.    I had left the water pan in my smoker for 2 months.   After all, my smoker was the last thing on my mind.  I was 4 hours into a smoke when the call came in.  I had shut down my smoker, put content into freezer and walked away.  

    Here is what I opened the doors to.

    I thought my smoker was done.   I've been a member at SMF for several years and thought if anyone would know what to do it would the the folks at SMF.  I contacted Dave via PM and ask what to do.  His advise was what I needed.

    Before doing anything you have to kill the mold.  I fired the smoker up and ran a temp of 500 for about 3 hours.  I then pulled the racks and began to clean.  Oh, what fun.  With wire brush in hand I scrubbed the racks down and burnt them off again with my weed burner.  If there was anything alive on them  it had to be from hell

    The next task was the smoker itself.  I started at the top and scrubbed it down from top to bottom.  It did need cleaning, but I had rather done it on my terms.  Well, by the time I got done I was as black as the smoker itself.

    Once done, I put the racks back in and fired it up to 500 again for about 2 hours.  I didn't want to rinse it with water.  It wouldn't have hurt anything,  I just didn't want  that much water running into the foundation of the smoker.

    I have done several smokes since, I can only assume it was clean,  no one has gotten sick.

    Dave advice.  Don't leave the water pan in the smoker....  leave a vent open so the smoker can breath when not in use.  Good advice.

    Not sure this post is useful, but I felt it to be a major part of food safety.   We don't always have control of what happens, we have to keep moving forward.

    I'd love to hear other horror stories involving smokers.  

    Hope everyone has a great day!!

  2. Thank you for this info. I am sorry to hear of your loss. Do not mean to sound callous, however we, the living, can't stop our lives. I am glad you were able to recover your smoker, that thing is awesome! 
  3. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thank you BH.   Love my smoker.  It has served us well.
  4. Thanks for the informative post Wes.  I'm new to smoking, so for me this brought up something interesting.  How often should the smoker be cleaned and do you need to reason it after cleaning?  I always clean the racks after smoking.
  5. foamheart

    foamheart Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Wes sure glad you could reno and just clean and burn. Yours has to be my favorite pit pictures. Since we are comming into winter again are we going to see somemore of the snow covered pictures? My first thought was what a great Christmas card that would make.

    Glad your back in business, nothing sader than a cold smoker.
  6. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Fish, I burn the racks off with a weed burner before every smoke.   I scrub them down after every smoke.  Its a whole lot easier to clean when its hot.   As far as cleaning the whole smoker I think it would depend on each smoker.  I burn strictly wood and a few briquettes.   My creosote build up would be more then most.   When the build up looks like it could start falling in the food, its time to clean..   Anyone with other ideas please chime in.   I did not season it again.   Not sure for me if there would have been any benefit.  
    Thanks FH.   I'm sure if theres snow on it there will be more pictures.    Haven't thought about a Christmas card.  Nice idea, thanks.    It feels nice to be back smoking awesome treats.
  7. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    It happens.

    I had a WSM do something similar one time.  We live in the humid south, and like you I had left the water pan in.  I also left the top vent open and after the smoker cooled apparently some rain got in.  At some point after the pit burned out, I closed the smoker vents and put a cover over the smoker.  Got the mini-mold farm going good.  When I opened it back up later, the ash was all wet and clumped (from the rain that came in through the top vent) and it had mold on the inside walls, water pan and racks (although not as thick as what you showed).

    Like you I did a high temp burn out and scrubbed it all down.  That is the only time I have ever "scrubbed" the inside of the WSM in 7 years.   Shortly after that we had to replace the roof on our house and I had the contractor extend a 20'x10' portion over half my deck.  I now have no issues with rain and don't cover the WSM.  Never had an issue since.  And no one has gotten sick so high heat and a good cleaning seems to work if anyone else runs into this.

    Moisture in a closed cold smoker is not your friend.....
  8. foamheart

    foamheart Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hang a big holly wreath in the recess above the fire opening, then drap sausages and hams all around....now that would win a SMF throwdown!
  9. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    LOL!  Awesome idea.

    Foam, a friend of mine says gator is really good eatin.   Have you ever smoked any?    I'd love to try it sometime the only problem is, we don't have any gators up here  :-)
  10. foamheart

    foamheart Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    LOL we used to eat gator occasional, then we figured out the tourists would buy it. So we sell it and buy steaks at Sam's...LOL When I was very very much younger we hunted gators but now the hides and the meat are mostly all farmed. Those guys you see on TV are the exception to the rule. They hunt the BIG gators for money, don't believe that save the kids from nuance gators stuff.

    I personally like a Gator sauce piquant. Its cooked low & slow which the gator needs and its really hot and spicy. Its one of the few really hot foods we cook. Well cleaned gator tastes alot like frog. But the frog doesn't have all the blood and fat.

    You either have to do low and slow or fast and hot with gator, like squid there just is no middle ground. But the big bull frogs are easier to catch, more plentiful, easier to clean and legal. Besides I just like 'em better. When we are frogging, and there gets more red eyes in the water than there is of us, we know to give it up and go home. Its usually only a camp hunt/meal anyway. That means night time hunting, grabbing slimey thing in the dark, booze and loaded weapons. Its amazing we lived thru it.

    After a 1/2 hour of babbling, your question,  no never tryed any smoked gator that I remember. There was a guy from near here earlier this year who said he smoke alligator gar and his kids ate it like candy. Alligator gar is not alligator though.
  11. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Wes, when I picked up my Grandfathers Casa Q that had been sitting outside at the coast since the 80's I thought I'd never get that thing clean again. But a little elbow grease and some perseverance she's good as new again!  Could'nt use the weed burner (gonna stash that trick away for grate cleaning). I used a bunch of Mr Clean erasers, scrubby pads and lots of soap.

    These pictures don't show the green slime very well that coated everything. You can see some of the green slime on the bottom of the Blitz can. Which I believe might have been my dads, he was a Blitz guy. Also on the towel is a rusted bottle cap. That was mine thrown in there at a 4th of July party back in 90's. Like father like son I guess, see a smoker chug a beer!

    And as She sits today, all dolled up and ready to smoke thanksgiving dinner just like she used to back when my grandfather had her.

    Last edited: Nov 7, 2013
  12. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Case, awesome photos.    I'll have to agree with you.  When the smoker fires, there has to be beer!  or in my case mixed drinks.      Weed burner.  I always use it to santi the racks before I put meat on.  I may over do it.  I usually have a good grease fire going. :-)
  13. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Glad to hear you've recovered enough to get back to smokin'. Here's wishing you a strong day.
  14. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thank you geerock.   Folks like yourself have been a great support to me.   I'm beginning to understand your feelings.    Its a day to day struggle.   Thank you my friend!
  15. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Anytime, brother....... anytime.
  16. bluewhisper

    bluewhisper Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    When I had the New Braunfels Big Texas, I let it sit for a while with the intake vent open. Then one day I opened the lid and found a bird nest in it.
  17. shtrdave

    shtrdave Smoking Fanatic

    Great to see you revived the family member smoker. Because that is what yours appears to be it looks to have been built with family in mind.

    My worst case was when I had moved. I moved to a place where I didn't readily have a place to put my little cookshack, so it sat in the back room of the garage for a couple of years, well it is a garage and there are critters, mice and spiders mostly. I finally decided I had gone long enough without using it, been using my gas grill to smoke on, and dug it out, the foil had not been taken out prior to the move and I had so many people helping that it just slipped my mind, the mice and spiders invaded it and shredded the foil and left me a mes of webs, shredded foil and mouse dirt.  It only weighs maybe 70 pounds so I loaded it up and grabbed a bottle of simple green and off to the car wash. Made it as good as new and learned a lesson to always change out the foil if I plan on not using it for a period of time.
  18. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've started leaving my vents cracked open a little.   I've suspected varmints getting in, but have never seen any.  Been waiting on something to jump out at me on day.  :-)
  19. bluewhisper

    bluewhisper Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Well, back when I was taking care of someone's cabin, I started the propane grill and baby mice scrambled out of the bottom.