The Waterpan in MES

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by wayoung, Apr 6, 2016.

  1. wayoung

    wayoung Fire Starter

    So after going through a bunch of threads I've noticed people don't use the water pan. When I got my smoker a couple years ago the instructions said that it helps keep the meat moist and a number of recipes I found online also used it, to the point that many suggested different liquids to put in it to enhance flavour. So, what do you all think, are the water pans useless or do they help with moisture? Does filling them with apple cider really make any difference to the meat?
  2. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I use my MES for fish only and do not use a water pan.
  3. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    If a water pan made a difference, then why is there not a whole bunch of Ovens, built and sold in the last 100+ years that came with one? Two years of college level Culinary School and over 20 years working with some fine very experienced Chef's and other than baking Custard and Cheese Cake, not one ever said, " Put a pan of Water or Apple Cider in the oven to keep that meat juicy or give an Apple flavor to that Roast Pork..." As long as cooking has existed, if you want to concentrate flavor in a liquid you simmer or boil it. This removes Water. Yes a very small amount of flavor comes off in the steam because, well, you can smell what is reducing, but IF you could get any significant flavor in the steam by simmering, the result would be an Empty Pan. Instead you get a pan of concentrated flavor, like when making Maple Syrup. Water Pans in smokers can protect meat from the high heat of a charcoal or wood fire like in a WSM, and it's cheaper to put one in than a big heavy ceramic plate like a Big Green Egg. But is a water pan needed in an Electric or Gas Smoker with small coils or burners? I can't help but think some things in modern smokers are just carryover or traditional from past designs and people just expect them to be there. Just like back in the day you had to Soak Wood Chips to toss on a Charcoal fire so they had a chance to give off smoke before igniting...Now...Many Electric Smoker Manuals say." add soaked chips to the chip tray."  Soaked chips in an Electric Smoker is pointless. The hot Coil is not in contact with the wood and the wet wood chips don't Smoke until they dry out...No water in the pan of my MES40...JJ
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2016
  4. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I only use my MES for sausage, bacon, etc.

    Low or no heat.

    No need for a pan of water at those temps.

    In my gas & charcoal smokers I do use the water pan, with lava rock & water.

  5. mike281

    mike281 Newbie

    If you find that your meat is getting too dry, then add water to the pan.  I think this would be more important if you are smoking somewhere with low humidity.  A smoker, unlike an oven, is designed to cycle air through it and if that air is dry it can act as a dehydrator. In my opinion it is particularly useful to add water to the pan if you are smoking something with a high surface area to volume ratio and lower water content such as ribs.

    As far as adding flavors to the water, I can't imagine it would make much if any noticeable difference in the flavor, but I haven't ever tried it.

    In the end, I think you just have to experiment and develop a method that works for you and makes the food taste the way you like

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