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Uuni-3 Pizza Oven review

wade

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I took delivery of a new Uuni-3 Pizza oven last week and I tried it over the weekend.

The unit was easy to assemble and it took about 10 minutes

Assembly


After assembly we tested it with both shop bought pizzas and also home made - using the recipe in the Uuni instruction book.

The shop bought pizzas were not good - the temperature gradient inside the Uuni was so high that it burned the crust before the top was fully cooked.

The home made pizzas cooked better - probably as the base was thinner - however the flavour of the pizza was no so much of wood smoke as tar. This was the same when trying several different types of pellets.

First Cooks


The unit is inexpensive at under £200 but the resulting pizzas are not something I would proudly server to guests. Of the 10 test pizzas that we cooked ALL 5 of the shop bought pizzas were badly charred at the edges before the centre was cooked. The 5 home made pizzas cooked much more evenly and looked very presentable. The dough recipe that came with the instructions work well, as did the sauce. Unfortunately the resulting pizzas had the distinct flavour of tar which most of us found unpleasant.

General consensus was that out of 10 the Uuni 3 would score a 5.
 

molove

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The Uuni takes a bit of time to master Wade, I have the 2S and once I learned how to use it, cook fantastic pizzas pretty much every time. My first attempt was a disaster.

A laser thermometer is pretty much essential so that you can check the stone is at the right temperature, 350-400 deg C

Not all pellets are good in a Uuni, Treager pellets are not good at all, apparently, because they are impregnated with oil. I have only used 2 different types of pellet, an apple wood pellet that was meant for smoking and pellets meant for heating from Plumb Center - which are ENplus A1 certified so contain only virgin softwood and no fillers or binders.

For me the apple pellets were terrible, the temperature kept dropping due to the amount of ash they produced, and the soft wood heating pellets were by far for me the superior pellet producing less soot, more heat and almost no ash and are only £3.50 for 10 Kg. The pellets burn so hot and the pizzas cook so fast that the type of wood should have no effect on the flavour.

The Uuni is designed for making Neapolitan pizzas, ie very thin with not much topping that cook in 80-90 seconds. The Uni gets too hot to cook virtually any other type of pizza, and bought pizzas are a complete no,no.

To prevent burning you should turn the pizzas every 15-20 seconds. I also recommend a skewer for prodding the pellets with because they often get stuck in the hopper and very rarely flow properly without a bit of help.

I've never had the tar problem with the 2s, but I would recommend trying different pellets first (I'm assuming you are using pellets meant for smoking). If you are on Facebook it's worth checking out the Uuni community, there are a lot of helpful people there.

Don't give up on it just yet, with a bit of practice and learning it's foibles, you should be able to turn out some great pizzas every time.
 
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wade

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Thanks for the encouragement 
. I have some Oak pellets on order to try. I have not given up but getting bad results from 4 different types of pellets was not a very reassuring start. 
 

molove

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There's a Plumb Center in Ashford, if you want to check out the Balcas Brites which work well for me. I have to order mine click and collect because they don't keep them in stock at my local, and when I collect them they only ever seem to charge me about £3.50

http://www.plumbcenter.co.uk/product/balcas-brites-wood-pellet-bag-10-kg/

I know that BBQers recoil in utter horror at the thought of a softwood pellet but they have worked better for me than the only hard wood pellets I tried and there was no differece in taste that I could discern.

I think a lot of people's first attempts with the Uuni are pretty disappointing but it doesn't take long to get the hang of it's quirks.
 

molove

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Wade, I bought a Uuni 3 burner upgrade for my 2s a while ago but hadn't got round to fitting it yet. So seeing your post (and being at a bit of a loose end today) galvanised me into fitting it and giving it a test run.

Things I've discovered about it are:

It generates quite a lot of smoke and soot until it is fully lit, but not significantly more than the 2s that I can discern. Some people have reported the stone being covered in soot, I certainly did not experience this during this test run. I am guessing it took about 20 minutes to get fully lit and chimney to stop smoking.

The pellets can get stuck in the hopper like the 2s and need encouragement to flow using a skewer

The pellets can burn down very quickly.  If you don't pay constant attention to the amount in the hopper, which should always be full, the pellets burn down and flames/heat come up the hopper which can burn the hopper cover handle off, I would recommend using the chimney cap instead to cover the hopper, though do beware it does get hot esp if you let the pellets burn down. Also, if you let the pellets burn down and the hopper empties when you add more pellets they hit the fire and start smoking a lot and you have to wait a while until the bottom ones are lit properly and they stop smoking before you can start cooking pizzas again

.

It seems to generate much more heat than the 2s burner on the lowest hopper setting over 520ºC compared to about 370ºC, so cooking any other style of pizza than Neapolitan is going to be problematic, and I'm guessing that turning might have to happen even more regularly than in the 2s

I like the way the ash comes out with the firebox, however in my pellet prodding I did knock some of the pellets out of the box into the body of the Uuni, this happened with the 2s too in addition to having the ash to deal with

.

I didn't actually cook any pizza today but I chucked a slice of bread in to see if I was getting any tar taste, which I didn't seem to be, though I probably wouldn't recommend using a Uuni as a toaster!

I shall have a go at cooking some pizzas tomorrow and report back, I've just taken some dough out the freezer to defrost. I'll report back.

Piers
 
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wade

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You can give me some lessons on how to use it in Lincoln 
 

smokin monkey

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How did you mange to smuggle that past Guard (Joyce)?

It's like Christmas at your house, new Gadgets every week!

Can't wait to see it in action in Lincoln.
 

smokin monkey

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Not all pellets are good in a Uuni, Treager pellets are not good at all, apparently, because they are impregnated with oil. I have only used 2 different types of pellet, an apple wood pellet that was meant for smoking and pellets meant for heating from Plumb Center - which are ENplus A1 certified so contain only virgin softwood and no fillers or binders.

For me the apple pellets were terrible, the temperature kept dropping due to the amount of ash they produced, and the soft wood heating pellets were by far for me the superior pellet producing less soot, more heat and almost no ash and are only £3.50 for 10 Kg. The pellets burn so hot and the pizzas cook so fast that the type of wood should have no effect on the flavour.
Great info on the Pellets!
 

wade

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How did you mange to smuggle that past Guard (Joyce)?

It's like Christmas at your house, new Gadgets every week!

Can't wait to see it in action in Lincoln.
The supplier dropped me right in it. They were supposed to call me at work to arrange delivery but instead they called home and spoke directly to Joyce. From that point the game was up 
. It took me ages to find all the pieces again after it had been thrown out into the garden 


Piers has been giving me some good advice about getting it to work. I have some Oak pellets on order to see if they are ant better. If it can be made to produce half decent pizzas I will bring it, if not then it will stay at home. I think Piers will be bringing his Uuni-2 with the Uuni-3 upgraded fire box so you should see at lest one of them in action.
 

molove

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I cooked my first pizzas on my Uuni 2s since upgrading the burner to the Uuni 3 burner last night, here are a few observations.

It burns a lot hotter with the hopper set to minimum flow than the 2s does on minimum. I managed to get too much char on my pizza bases. This might have been over vigorous prodding of the pellets to keep them flowing, I'll have to investigate further.

I used the chimney cap as a cover for the hopper because I have read reports on Facebook of people having an issue of heat coming up the hopper and burning the wooden handle of the hopper cap off. I found that by keeping the hopper full of pellets at all times no heat came up the hopper and I was able to use bare hands when handling the cap. Obviously this will change at the end of the cook and you leave the pellets to burn out, I would definitely remove the cap for this.

I found it was quite smokey until it gets up to heat in about 20 minutes. I also found that it got smokey when I removed the door to put the pizzas in and to rotate them. I put this down to airflow, the airflow in the Uuni is created by the chimney effect which is disrupted when the door is removed. It was quite dark when I was cooking to couldn't really tell how long it took to recover.

People on the Facebook group have reported that the hopper slider can fall into the hopper, I did not have this happen to me, I just had the adjustment screw set all the way in and left it at that.

I cooked my pizzas for about 80 seconds, ie 4 quarter turns at 20 seconds each.

Whilst I didn't get the tar taste that Wade talked about, my bases were over charred and consequently tasted a bit bitter.

I think I need to find a method of reducing the temperature and few more practise runs are in order.


 

wade

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The Uuni 3 comes with absolutely no usage instructions - just assembly instructions and recipes for dough and tomato paste. Online there is/was very little useful information online about lighting it, setting the hopper feed, or how to tell when it got up to temperature. There were some videos from Uuni themselves that showed some basics on how to light the oven and showing it in operation, however important practical information was omitted. I have since played with the settings and tried different types of pellets and have now got it to work well. I will be shooting another video on what I have found soon - once I have sorted out some sound recording issues.

Some interesting information so far...

Tonight I was looking to see if different types of pellets had different burn profiles and also the economics of running the Uuni oven. I logged the temperature inside the oven using some high temperature probes with readings every 6 seconds and I burned exactly 750 grams of each type of pellet.
  • 250g of pellets were used initially to fill the fire box
  • The whole of the surface of the pellets were lit using a blowtoarch (approximately 60 seconds)
  • The fire box was then placed into the Uuni and allowed to fully catch fire.
  • The pellet guide was then opened to 1/3 and the main hopper filled up with pellets
  • As the pellet level decreased in the hopper they were continually replaced until all of the 750 g had been burned.
  • The Uuni door remained in place throughout the temperature logging
  • The Uuni was then allowed to cool until the internal temperature had dropped to below 200 C before logging was stopped.

The temperature profiles of the pellets were similar but also surprisingly different
  • The temperature curve with the oak was much more variable (spikey) than with the hickory
  • The Oak took longer to get up to 500 C and then cooled down again significantly faster
  • The highest temperatures were reached using the Oak (676 C) whereas the Hickory only had one reading that was just over 600 C
  • The temperature dip with the oak at 0:24:28 was a result of a small blockage of pellets in the hopper which then dropped into the fire box.
If we take the optimal cooking temperature range for the pizzas to be 500-600 C then the 750 g of pellets gave the following cooking times
  • Oak - 15 minutes (Cost £1.65)
  • Hickory - 20 minutes (Cost £1.39)
With the temperatures up higher in my recent cooks than in the first cook video, I have found that both the home made pizzas and the shop bought pizzas cook very well - with the centre getting to bubbling temperature before the edge of the crust starts to burn. I have not been getting the tar flavours with the higher temperatures either.
 

smokin monkey

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Great information Wade.

Have you tried the cheap pellets from Plumb Center?
 

wade

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Hi Steve - I did investigate the Brites but a couple of things put me off... 

Firstly the Uuni instructions specifically say that only food grade pellets should be used (understandably).

I looked at the Brites composition and on their Web site they state that they "are made from wood residue produced as a by-product of Balcas’ saw milling processes.  The original timber is either spruce or pine locally sourced from sustainably managed forests, accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council. No waste or recycled wood is used in the manufacturing process of brites".  This all sounds very good.... except until you remember that most commercial sawmills will use organic and synthetic oil based lubricants on their blades that will leave residues in the wood - especially in the sawdust.

Spruce and pine are sometimes used in small quantities to produce regional smoked products (often in Germany), however this is usually for cold smoking blended with other hard wood sawdust - as pine wood is high in Terpenes.

I contacted Brites Customer Services and they advised me that their pellets are recommended for use in biomass boilers only and they would not recommend them for direct food production.

So I guess the straight answer to your question is "no" 
 
 
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molove

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FYI here's what Uuni say about pellets on their website

"You often hear the phrase 'food-safe wood pellet' used when people are looking for pellets to be used with their pellet barbecues. This, however, can be a little misleading as there isn't a pellet standard that defines what's food-safe and what's not. Pellet barbecues often require pellets made solely out of deciduous trees. This is because they also utilise the smoke as well as the heat from the pellet. Using these pellets isn't necessary with Uuni, though there's nothing wrong with them. 

With Uuni, you can use pellets that are meant for heating so as long as they're of good quality. In Europe this is easy; there's a pellet standard called ENPlus A1 that defines the source wood quality, manufacturing methods and moisture levels. Those pellets are great as they have low relative moisture content, they only ever use virgin stem tree (i.e. no construction waste), there's no bark and they only use natural lubricants in the dye which extrudes the pellet. If you buy and use those, you're on to a winner. Those are what the Uuni Team uses."

https://uuni.net/pages/pellets

The Plumb Center Brites are certificated to ENPlus A1 and work really well
 
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wade

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Hmm dilemma... A pellet manufacturer who says that they cannot recommend their product for food use vs a food equipment company that recommends using them with their product 


I may get a bag to try over the weekend.
 

wade

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FYI here's what Uuni say about pellets on their website

"You often hear the phrase 'food-safe wood pellet' used when people are looking for pellets to be used with their pellet barbecues. This, however, can be a little misleading as there isn't a pellet standard that defines what's food-safe and what's not. Pellet barbecues often require pellets made solely out of deciduous trees. This is because they also utilise the smoke as well as the heat from the pellet. Using these pellets isn't necessary with Uuni, though there's nothing wrong with them. 

With Uuni, you can use pellets that are meant for heating so as long as they're of good quality. In Europe this is easy; there's a pellet standard called ENPlus A1 that defines the source wood quality, manufacturing methods and moisture levels. Those pellets are great as they have low relative moisture content, they only ever use virgin stem tree (i.e. no construction waste), there's no bark and they only use natural lubricants in the dye which extrudes the pellet. If you buy and use those, you're on to a winner. Those are what the Uuni Team uses."

https://uuni.net/pages/pellets

The Plumb Center Brites are certificated to ENPlus A1 and work really well
Unfortunately Uuni are contradicting themselves here. In the manual that comes with the Uuni-3 is has a section called "Safety Legal Disclaimer - Must be read in full prior to use". Point 12 of this document clearly states...

12. Only use pellets intended for use in cooking.

http://www.lakeland.co.uk/content/documents/53090_doc_1.pdf

Tough call ...
 

molove

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I'm guessing the manual is mainly meant for the US market where afaik they do have food safe certified pellets, unlike here and the EU.

I also imagine a heating pellet manufacturer is going to cover their backs by saying don't use them.

A lot of people (possibly most of the UK users) on the Uuni FB group use them. In a taste test between pizzas cooked using apple wood pellets and the Brites, I noticed no discernible difference. Others have reported similar findings, but conversely there are a couple of others that said they could taste a difference and have decided to only cook using hardwood pellets.

They work for me, so I'm going to stick with them.
 
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wade

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Do you see what I mean about it being supplied with no really useful instructions. That blue book was all that came with the unit. I think the Uuni-2 at least had some basic instructions on how to light it and basic cooking techniques.
 

molove

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Yes I do, Wade.

Being somewhat of a nerd, I did a load of research on the internet before I bought the 2s so I'd seen all the videos on YouTube, checked out all the resources on the Uuni site, read pizza making forums and read about any issues that people had had with them. So by the time I bought it I was pretty sure I knew what I was getting into, I knew my first pizzas would be terrible and that I would have to learn the quirks of the Uuni. Which meant apart from a cursory glance at the manual to make sure I'd put it together correctly, I never looked at the manual.

Obviously most people don't do that sort of research, but £200 is quite a lot of money to me and I wanted to be as sure as possible I wasn't buying a lemon and knew what I was letting myself in for. I tend to do that sort of research for all my major purchases.
 

wade

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OK - I picked up a bag of Brites today from our local plumb centre and tonight looked at the temperature profile on 750 g of them compared with Fruitwood pellets.


Again, if we take the optimal cooking temperature range for the pizzas to be 500-600 C then the 750 g of pellets gave the following cooking times
  • Brites - 16 minutes (Cost £0.37)
  • Fruitwood - 21 minutes (Cost £1.39)
The temperature profiles of the Brites and Fruitwood were quite similar to that of the Oak and Hickory, however the Brites were considerably cheaper. The Brites though burned with quite a sharp smell, which was not particularly pleasant compared with the hardwood pellets. This was confirmed when a neighbour commented to me that he thought I had lit a bonfire.

Heatwise the Brites performed as well as the other wood pellets, and they were by far the cheapest to use. The smell of the smoke was not pleasant, however at this point it is not known if this flavour would be imparted on any food cooked in the Uuni.
 

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