I have noticed in reading forums, and talking to people that are just starting to dabble in smoking meats and veggies, that a lot of them don’t understand basic fire and temperature maintenance. This is one of the key skills and concepts that needs to be mastered in order to achieve a successful cook on the smoker!
So, here are just a few tips that will help you on your way to successful smoking.
Tip: The first thing needed is knowing how to start a fire. I won’t go into the whole process here, because I’ve already written a “how to” for the way I start the fire in my homemade vertical smoker. Follow the link to read the “Starting a Fire for a Vertical Smoker” article.
Tip: Don’t dawdle around when you open your smoker to add or remove a probe, or stir your beans, or whatever it is you need to open your smoker for. Two things happen when you do this.
1) You are letting a lot of the heat out of the smoker. It will take time to have it build back up to temperature.
2) You are letting air, (fuel for the fire), get to the coals and/or wood, causing it to burn quicker and creating a higher temperature. So if you open the lid for 10 to 15 seconds, the temperature drops 50 degrees immediately, and within a couple minutes, it’s back to your maintained temperature. But if you’re dawdling around, and keep it opened for 4 to 5 minutes, you’ve let the fire get way too much fuel, (air), and when you close it, and the temperature regulates again, it could end up being 10 to 20 degrees warmer than it was before you opened it.
Tip: And on the same note as the previous tip, don’t open your smoker every 10 to 15 minutes to look at , or check out your meat! I’m amazed at how many people do that.
So, you want to keep the smoker closed as much as possible to avoid temperature spikes up and down.
As more tips come to mind over time, I’ll add to what’s here, and re-post this article with a modification date.
Happy smoking! And keep that temperature low and steady!