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Winter-time No-Smoking Meat Blues

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by calis, Dec 31, 2010.

  1. I am grasping at straws. First, let me say that I am broke, so I must work with the equipment at hand.  I have a Kingsford offset smoker that has served me well for a few years now. It is not insulated and therefore is nearly worthless in the winter. I am really craving some smoked butt. What I *do* have is a roaster that will dial down to 225. My thought is to put my butt in there like I would on the smoker, and then maybe put a few foil packs of wood chips in the bottom of it. Any chance at all this will work?

    What do the rest of you do when the weather won't allow the smoking?
  2. ellymae

    ellymae Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    One option is to throw it on your pit for a couple of hours to get some smoke on it, then throw it in your oven.
  3. meateater

    meateater Legendary Pitmaster SMF Premier Member

    No such thing as bad weather, I'd make it work no matter. [​IMG]
  4. porked

    porked Smoking Fanatic

    Where there is a will, there's a way.
  5. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I don't see any reason why your idea wouldn't work. You may have to set the temp higher until you start to smell smoke venting from the lid seam, and then back it down to 225*, but it wouldn't be much different than those mini stove top smokers. Maybe just crack the lid so it vents out the smoke before it gets stale and nasty if it's a tight fitting lid?

    I'd go for it...the best creative and inventive thinking comes from neccessity.

    I do know exactly where you stand...smaller smoker, burning charcoal, side fire box and no insulation in winter weather...not the best combination. I don't have exactly the same circumstances, as I have several rigs at my becon call, and can fire up a gasser if weather conditions get bad enough. I have fired a gasser even though I really wanted the mistique and flavor of a charcoal fired smoke. I don't see that your situation is any different, you just have different equipment to accomplish what is a compromise of sorts, but with the hopes for acceptable results.

  6. I agree the weather id fine by me, but I can't keep the temp up in my smoker to do any good.

    I think I am going to try it. At worst I'll have some tender pulled pork I suppose.
  7. porked

    porked Smoking Fanatic

    I am sure you thought of or tried this, but have you tried burning just wood in the offset? You should be able to get temps up no matter the weather.
  8. taweste

    taweste Newbie

    I have a vertical charcoal smoker with no insulation, and I did a 18lb turkey last week with no problem. I was able to keep the temps in the 235-250 range without much work, even with a classic Nor'Easter moving in, with wind blowing, and temps in the teens. Is keeping temps up that much more difficult with an offset smoker?
  9. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Horizontal smoke chambers have much more surface area exposed at the top side, and a side fire box has it's top side exposed to open air also, along with a less efficient means to transfer the heat into the smoke chamber, being side-flow instead of vertical. These situations combined together create an inherently inefficient thermal design. To compensate, much higher BTU output is required from the fire box, and unless a near perfect combination of mods have been done to the typically less expensive models of stock offset smokers, you won't get a hot enough fire to cook with using charcoal or lump. My Brinkmann SNP suffers the exact same problem, but while mine was modded with a full custom tuning plate enabling me to use over 90% of the cooking grate with only 15-20* max grate temp variances, it was a very inefficient design, especially for cold weather.

    My Brinkmann Gourmet charcoaler, as heavily modded as it is, has no trouble getting into the 300* range if I so feel inclined, but can do it with far less fuel than my SNP would burn. Yes, there is a huge difference between the two as far as cooking grate surface area (about double for the SNP), but my Gourmet, being a vertical smoker, can run on 0.5-0.75 lbs/hr of briqs in fair weather when the SNP was using 2-3 lbs/hr. I only fired my SNP a couple times in cold weather and thought I'd go broke buying briqs (2-20lb bags for an 18-hr brisket smoke). In sub freezing temps, my Gourmet uses just over 1 lb/hr @ 225* chamber temps, and this is with my intake air dialed in at about 40%.

    In terms of fuel use and fuel efficiency, horizontal smoke chamber vs vertical smoke chamber is no contest, IMO, and once a side fire box steps onto the playing field of a horizontal smoker, the point spread gets even bigger. If you can't overcome the inefficiencies in cold weather with a particular fuel source, you either have to go to a hotter burning fuel such as changing from charcoal briquettes to lump, insulating the smoke chamber, or adding a propane burner, which incidentally was my main heat source in my SNP for over a year.

    Last edited: Jan 1, 2011
  10. I have contemplated a switch to propane, but I also am leaning a bit towards building a large vertical smoker. I have had dreams of making one from an old refrigerator and a couple of large electric elements in the bottom, but I have been searching for the fridge for a few years now without luck.
  11. smoke dawg

    smoke dawg Fire Starter

    I see old refrigerators in the free section of craigslist all the time.  I got a great working fridge and another that works great drilled out for a kegarator. I use them both. Working ones are less common but non working are plentiful.
  12. uncle kenny

    uncle kenny Fire Starter SMF Premier Member

    Offsets not so difficult once they get up to temp, but it does take more fuel to keep 'em there. I have found that wind is more problematic that cold. My little insulated M50 worked well in the wind in Idaho, but I haven't needed to use it here in Hillsboro.
  13. uncle kenny

    uncle kenny Fire Starter SMF Premier Member

    i have a friend who used a big commercial propane smoker for his smoked salmon business. He had to convert it to electric because the propane added so dan much moisture to the smoke. He would never recommend a propane smoker. I have sen real nice electrics made from small refrigerators (steel interior-hard to find those old ones but worthwhile) and a double hot plate. Simple, cheap, ugly, and they work!
  14. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

     If you have the material available to you build a UDS.  Even with buying parts they can be done dirt cheap and they will work in the cold. If not, come on over and we'll cook up some pig for ya.
  15. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Nice thing about the cheaper horizontal offsets is the metal on the main chaimber doesn't get to hot, so you can insulate it with a lot of differant stuff: wool blankets, natural fiber sleeping bags, welding blankets, canvas tarps, water heater jackets. Once you get it insulate a bit it will run a lot more efficiently.