Thursday, January 2, 2014

Meat Smoker Recommendations

Kenny from Shenandoah, VA wrote:

I would like your recommendation on a durable smoker that is dependable, rugged and not terribly expensive. It should be easy to use, hold a consistent temperature and have large capacity, as I would like to smoke whole hog hams and sides. I have looked at many brands and spoke to some friends but I just can't make up my mind. Any assistance would be appreciated.

Kenny thanks for the question,

I apologize for being late on my reply, hunts and the holidays have me running behind. Sorry about that! 

There are several things to consider when looking at a new smoker:

  • Gas heats faster than electric, but electric has much less maintenance and is a lot more convenient.
  • Will you be smoking in an area where electric is conveniently located, or would a propane tank be easier to use at that particular location? 
  • How well is the cabinet insulated? The heavier the steel and thicker the walls are, the less heat you'll lose when smoking during cold temperatures. 
  • The most important topic for me is the method that the house uses to create smoke. I like the smoke generator on the Bradley Smoker. Because it has a separate heating element, this smoke generator allows me to smoke products like cheese (which would ordinarily melt) and cold smoked sausage. It also allows me to smoke a lot longer at lower temperatures. The issue with many of the smokers on the market is that the heat source that creates the heat inside the cabinet is the same heat source that creates the smoke. So with that being said you have to turn up the cabinet temperature to have smoke, so you can't properly smoke salmon and other cold smoke products so you can't have smoke inside the cabinet without a lot of heat. 
  • Another great feature of the Bradley smoke generator is the way the wood pucks only remain on the heating element for a selected period of time. They are then pushed off into a pan of water and drowned out. This keeps from burning the same old wood chips over and over again, which causes that bitter, sharp smoke flavor that you don't want in your products. When you can burn fresh wood chips you'll get a smoother and cleaner smoke. Having a smoker with a separate smoke generator is a very convenient feature to have. 
  • If you're not worried about cold smoking products or smoking cheese, and you'd prefer a propane-fueled smoker, I'd recommend a Weston. They're all made of thick steel, some of them have stainless steel doors, their fuel delivery systems are solid, and they come with sausage hooks, which are mighty handy. They have different sizes, the largest being the 48", which will surely fit your hams. The thing to remember about the propane-fueled smokers is that the larger they get, the harder they are to heat and maintain. A 48" smoker is quite a beast, so you have to make sure you preheat it and monitor the temperature every so often. Anything that large is going to take some care to heat. If you look at the 36 inch and think that will fit what you're trying to smoke, then I'd go with that one since it's easier to keep hot.

I don't know how much this helps, but hopefully it will give you some ideas to consider when making your selection.

No comments:

Post a Comment