If you are planning to buy an electric smoker or if you already own one, it is in your best interest to search for tips that’ll prolong your usage of it. Well-maintained cooking equipment is bound to pay you back by serving you for long
Nothing smokes meat better than a squeaky clean regularly-serviced electric smoker. It might cost you a few extra dollars but this is not a big deal compared to the benefits you’ll reap thereafter.
Below are some hacks that will come in handy when caring for your smoker.
1. Clean Your Smoker Regularly
As much as it’s advisable to keep your smoker well seasoned ahead of smoking, it is also good to observe utmost hygiene if you want it to last.
Some people confuse the built-up residue for additional flavor. This filth is unhealthy and it is also likely to alter the taste of your food.
The dirt forms a layer that coats the grates and other parts that the oil may have dripped on.
Old food particles darken with time and if not eliminated, any new food that comes into contact with them will have black patches that are hard and bitter to chew on.
Your food’s flavors may also be damaged and in worst-case scenarios, food poisoning may occur.
All this can be avoided by regularly cleaning the smoker. Brands have different approaches as to how their smokers should be washed, but generally, cleaning this equipment involves scraping the dried-out food particles from the grate or other surfaces.
There are specific cleaners and detergents designed to give your smoker the sparkle it deserves after serving you with such dedication.
Some detachable parts such as the trays can be washed in the dishwasher (following the manufacturer’s instructions).
Our advice is that you can clean it lightly by scrubbing and wiping off the food remains after each smoking session, then set a general cleaning day and wash it thoroughly.
2. Season the Smoker Before Its First Use
After receiving your newly bought smoker from the shop, the next thing to do is to season it.
This step is necessary because the seasoning acts as a base and shield between whatever solvents, cleaning fluids, or chemicals that could be clinging onto the grill. Many non-edible substances stick to the smoker during manufacturing or transit.
To give it a smell that is accommodating to the cuts that you are planning to smoke, coat the cooking area with seasoning.
Start the smoker and leave it to burn without any food on it. The smoke produced creates a new layer in readiness for the incoming meat chunks.
This process starts by cleaning the surface then applying a thin layer of edible oil on the grate using a kitchen cloth.
The next step is to switch your electric smoker on and let the oil coating heat until smoke is emitted.
This takes about 3 hours with the temperature set at maximum.
3. Don’t Over Smoke Your Food
Due to the excitement that comes with smoking, some people tend to overdo it. Others prefer their meat cooked longer than necessary, causing them to use too many pellets or wood chips and a temperature higher than recommended.
As a way of caring for your smoker, this practice is highly discouraged. This is because it slowly but gradually damages your smoker by reducing its lifespan and functionality.
Using small portions of wood as directed saves your smoker from overworking. Always bear in mind that different types of woods give out different flavors. Some are stronger than others, and you should measure each according to the type of food getting smoked as well as the flavors you aim to achieve.
4. Learn to Control Temperature Swings
Temperature swings are common scenarios during smoking, regardless of how effective you deem your electric smoker to be. The good news is that this is controllable and it should not prevent you from getting the outcome you had in mind.
The heat can either go below or above the settings then settle after swinging for a while.
How does this happen? For instance, if you set a temperature of 225°F as your target, this is what the smoker’s internal sensor records. As a result, the thermostat signals the heating element to shut off.
Due to obvious factors such as time lag and heat residual, the temperature does not stop at the targeted unit and might go up to 240° F, depending on the condition of the smoker’s heating system.
The heat will then drop below 225° F after a while and the thermostat will take control of the heating element again, causing it to stay at that point for a while.
This leads to inconsistency and as a result, your food can take more or less time to get ready. Similarly, it can result in poorly smoked food as the heat range suggested in the recipe does not match the smoker’s settings.
It is important to learn how to control temperature swings for better results.
Setting the temperature at 10° F under the target range is one way to hack this. If you want to cook at 230° F, for example, set it at 220° F instead.
This creates an allowance for the swings and in the end, the final swing is likely to stop at a number closer to your target. It’ll be easy to reset it to the exact temperature after that, leading to a smooth smoking session and evenly cooked meals.
5. Control Your Vent Position
Wood and charcoal smokers are fitted with vents to adjust the flow of air and as a temperature control measure. This is different for electric smokers as the sole purpose of their vents is to create a passage for the smoke.
Keeping the vents closed for long causes the formation of creosote. This substance is sticky like gum and appears tar-like. Leaving it to accumulate can give your food an awful taste which alters the desired flavors.
Only when you are seeking to lock in some heat, after the wood pellets or chips are spent you can close the vents for some time. This works well during the cold weather or when the remaining job is not worth another round of wood.
6. Use Foil on Your Grill Racks for Easier Cleaning
This is an age-old trick to save both time and energy when it’s time to clean the electric smoker. Heavy-duty foil holds the food instead of placing it on the bare surface of the grill. This protects it from getting into contact with food particles, making your cleaning work easier.
After smoking, remove the aluminum foil in preparation for the next session. You’ll notice that your grill remains as good as new with fewer traces of dirt thus no vigorous cleaning is required.
For better results, oil the foil after fitting it on the cooking surface and turn your food at intervals to cook evenly.
7. Leave Your Wood Chips Dry
Contrary to most people’s expectations, soaked wood chips have more negative effects on your smoker than the benefits. Their wetness forces the heating system of your equipment to overwork, yet the flavors acquired are not as good.
The heat intensity reduces but the steamy smoke continues increasing. This slows down the smoking process. There is no positive impact from this process since the meat may end up soggy. This is due to the moisture released with the smoke.
In your next smoking session, leave the wood chips dry and save yourself and the smoker from the extra hustle which won’t pay off.
8. Use the Option of a Cold Smoker Attachment
If your electric smoker does not have an attachment for cold smoking, you can buy a third-party one and use it for this purpose.
Some brands are sold along with cold smoke generators suitable for their smokers. This comes in handy as the smoking equipment may not have the proper heating system to handle any temperature around 90° F.
The cold smoking attachment works together with the smoker to create the required environment for such temperatures. This will protect your electric smoker from trying too hard to perform tasks it can’t handle on its own.
9. Finish Poultry in the Oven for Crispy Skin
Poultry tastes better with a crunchy crust on them. This can be induced by finishing the cooking process in the oven after making it on the smoker for the recommended time.
Some smokers have their temperature range maxed out at 275° F. The heat is not enough to give your poultry a crispy skin, and the last 10 minutes of cooking it are better spent in the oven. Turkey or chicken gain a more savory taste when cooked this way as compared to when they are left in the smoker throughout the process.
Here are more tips on how to use an electric smoker, and how do they work
Every electric smoker owner hopes their gadget will serve them for the longest time possible. Whether the smoker lasts or not is determined by how well you take care of it.
The tips outlined above are meant to guide you on how best to handle your electric smoker and prolong its lifespan, for you to derive maximum benefits from it.
Servicing your smoker is not a hard task if you think of the benefits you’ll reap thereafter.