Here you are with your brand new investment- an electric smoker! You’re excited at the same time impatient to put this bad boy to the test. Sure! But hold on just a minute.
There’s one more little step before you can dive right into those yummy BBQ recipes, and that is pre-seasoning. Yes, the subtle art of curing your smoker and getting it ready for the work ahead. That’s what today’s read is all about. We’ll be showing you how to season your new electric smoker, some top maintenance tips, and why it’s even necessary in the first place.
Why Seasoning New Smokers is Necessary
You may be wondering “what’s the whole point of pre-seasoning”. Or “What’s the worst that could happen if I decided to skip past the process and cook right away?”
If anything it’s time-consuming and only slows you down from cranking up that pork butt you have in your fridge. But as we’re about to see, this seemingly small step might be a savior both health-wise and in prolonging the lifespan of your smoker.
Here’s why pre-seasoning is important;
1. To Get Rid of Dangerous Chemicals and Solvents
Manufacturing is a whole process that combines metals, solvents, fumes, and that kind of stuff. And no matter how credible your supplier is, there will always be some amount of residue and debris that are left on, even after industrial cleaning.
When these find access to your food, it could open the door to infections and life-threatening diseases, the kind that land you in the ER. To add on, poisonous fumes rubbing up against your food could produce a foul smell and make the whole meal inedible.
So to steer clear of all these potential hazards, it’s a good idea to season your smoker accordingly.
2. To Keep Your Unit Running Longer
Anyone who’s put money into an electrical gadget expects to get the most value out of it in return. Given, electric smokers are not cheap, even the fairly affordable ones still cost a pretty penny.
So why not do the prep work and set up your smoker for a lifetime. It’s going to serve you longer while producing amazing results only if you were careful to start on the right foot.
Apart from killing germs, curing the unit creates this fine black coating on the inside that’s going to infuse a deep smoky flavor in your BBQs. This is something you want because it’s the whole reason for buying a smoker and not just any other appliance.
On the plus side, the same layer works to fight off the rust. This annoying buildup is why so many metal cookers come to an unexpected end. And when not enough groundwork is done to prevent the formation of the same, there’s no telling when your smoker will be unfit for use.
The Process of Seasoning an Electric Smoker
The good news is that this is a simple process to follow, and neither will it last the whole day. You can also do it by yourself or have someone to help you around. You’re going to need;
- Piece of cloth
- Vegetable oil or any other with a high melting point
- Spray bottle (optional)
How to Get Ready to Season the Smoker
Before you can get into the act;
Assemble your smoker
Let’s start with the obvious. It’s worth pointing out that all the parts should be available and in the right condition. You don’t want to season a faulty smoker so double check on this. And in case the assembly proves challenging, refer to the manufacturer’s guide for assistance.
Wipe it down
There’s a lot of debate as to whether this is necessary or not. Typically, before the units leave the manufacturing firm, a general cleaning protocol is observed. However, how deep and thorough the cleaning is, remains unknown.
It, therefore, makes sense to cover all your bases, which will only take a few steps at most. Grab some soap and warm water, do a quick rinse and let it air dry. While at it, be careful not to scratch the surfaces.
Here comes the oil coat
Remember, it’s the inside of the unit that we are majorly targeting. That means the walls and not so much other accessories such as the chip loader, water pan, or drip tray. Yes, these are part of the smoker but if you go ahead to coat the heating element then you might provoke a fire.
Stick to thin layers because that’s all you need unless you’re looking to have a pooling problem. To help you do this, apply the oil with a piece of cloth and wipe it down whenever there seems to be an excess.
After getting all the spots, return the racks and trays that you had put aside earlier on back into the smoker.
How to Start up the Electric Smoker
Find a power outlet
It’s as simple as plugging into a power source and turning the switch on. Avoiding using an extension cord in this case and if absolutely necessary go for one labeled heavy-duty, and has an earth pin.
Open up the vents
For this dry run, you’ll need to open the air vents to the maximum so that there’s as much airflow as possible for combustion. Also, by doing so, you provide an escape route for the smoke. You want it going out rather than accumulate inside the chamber.
Set the smoker to the highest temperature possible
Depending on the model you have, this may be average around 275F or somewhere close to that figure. Just to be sure, refer to your manual and see the highest available temperature.
The seasoning should last about 2-3 hours on the lower side. Given to choose, it’s better to exceed the duration than come up short of the required time, otherwise, you may abort the results.
Again, if your manufacturer already set out the seasoning steps for you in the manual; most of the work is already done. It takes away the guessing and becomes tailored to your specific smoker. But even without a guide, the above procedure applies, as the basic standard, across.
Here is yet another controversial area that needs some explaining. Judging by Masterbuilt standards, (one of the biggest electric smoker manufacturers) adding wood a few minutes to the end is an important detail. Their competitors CharBoil on the other hand seem to have no use of this extra step. So who is right?
Ultimately, both ways hold weight but most importantly, the brand you have should guide your decision. Adding wood produces thin whips of smoke thereby forming the carbon coating that’s going to elevate the cook to a whole new level.
For customers with a Masterbuilt back at home, here’s how to go about it.
- Start by soaking your wood chips for 30 minutes (optional). Hickory, pecan, apple, the list is endless.
- After draining the wood, load the wood chip tray with about 8-12 chips at first.
- Give it 20 minutes before refilling the tray with a handful more.
- At this point, a good amount of smoke should be circulating within and coating the inside.
- Finalize with a third refill but be careful not to overdo it.
- All the while, maintain your smoker at a high 275F and keep a count of 3 hours.
How to Take Care of the Electric Smoker
The brown-black coating should last a while if you handle your smoker gently. Avoid tough brushes and scrubbers while cleaning the inside because this will only remove the layer you worked so hard to build. Instead, when you need to tidy up, do this
- Empty the ashtray to remove the excess.
- Dampen a bunch of paper towels and fold them in together.
- Dab the towels into the ashtray while the smoker is relatively warm and collect the remainders.
- Moisten another fresh batch for the viewing window (if you have one).
- Wipe it down before finally drying it with more paper towels.
Tips for the First Time You Smoke
When it’s your first time smoking on a new gadget, the margin of error is high. Not to worry. As you get familiar with your appliance, it gets less complicated. In the meantime though, here a few tips and tricks to help you maneuver;
- Start with cheaper cuts that are not so technical ie: chicken or pork butt.
- Use your water pan during the cook to avoid drying out your BBQ.
- Invest in a digital meat thermometer even if your smoker comes with one. A lot of these are unreliable so you might want to get one that gives accurate readings.
- Experiment with cheese. It’s quick, easy, and adds a rich flavor altogether. Word of caution, do this only if your smoker facilitates cold smoking.
Related: Tips to Get the Most out of Your Electric Smoker
There you have it! Your wholesome guide to seasoning a new electric smoker. Have a go at it, and let us know how you did. Remember to go easy on the oil and keep those temperatures on maximum. Good luck!