Do you smoke your own foods?

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Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Jon Peterson » Thu Jun 27, 2013 11:13 am

I was in the local butcher shop several days ago buying bacon. As I was being taken care of, another customer asked a clerk for a whole pork belly. I presume that he was going to take it home and smoke/cure it himself, although I didn't ask him. But it did get me thinking: I have not smoked my own meats and do not own a smoker. Just yesterday, however, I got one of the catalogs that entices me to use some credit card points and they had several smokers that I'd consider if I had a little encouragement from someone who is a serious smoker. So the questions are: do you smoke your own foods, is it complicated and is it worth the effort?
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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Redwinger » Thu Jun 27, 2013 11:49 am

I have not smoked meats in many years. I gave up due to the frustration with temperature maintenance and stuff along with very variable cooking times. Well, fast forward 20 years and I met a self-professed an "amateur BBQ/smoker expert", who does the BBQ circuit. He claims my problem was, in his words, buying a cheap-ass smoker. I suspect he was right. He further claims that for the typical backyard weekend guy or gal, the Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker is the way to go, unless you wanna lay out the really big $$$ for a ceramic cooker.

FWIW, you now got me craving a slow cooked/smoked brisket.
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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Howie Hart » Thu Jun 27, 2013 12:05 pm

Keep in mind, there are two, very different types of smoking. First, there is cold smoking, which is used for curing bacon, hams, sausages, etc., without actually cooking them. The second type is smoke cooking, which is used for BBQ, ribs, turkey, chicken, etc. I have the latter - an electric Brinkman, which has a bed lava rock under a calrod heating element. Wet wood chips or branches are placed in close proximity to the calrod unit, so they burn slowly and give off smoke. Located above the carlod unit is porcelain bowl, that is filled with water. As the water heats up, it gives off steam, which combines with the smoke and condenses on the meat while slowly cooking it. Units designed for smoke cooking can't be used for cold smoking and vice versa. I've never cold smoked, but cold smokers can be made from old refrigerators.
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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby GeoCWeyer » Thu Jun 27, 2013 1:14 pm

Have owned 2 electric Brinkmanns. They both did a nice job at the hot smoking. The only way I did any cold smoking was when it was below zero and there was a wind. I then would smoke salmon! I smoked pork and beef ribs(my favorite), corned beef, Canada Geese, and Turkey breast. They work well for all of these.
As our parties became larger I went to a larger box smoker that used propane. I like that one as well. I never smoked anything that needed the addition of nitrates.
I did learn that when smoking a corned beef to first wash and soak the brisket, changing the water 2 or three times. By the time the corned beef briskets arrived into my home I know they had been frozen and thawed at least once. I usually purchased them around St. Pats Day when they were on sale and I had many to choose from. They then ended up in my freezer. Because of having been frozen they are quite salty. the rinsing and soaking reduces the salinity.

Gernerally, anything I smoked I finished in a moist oven at low temperatures. I used the smoker usually only to add the smoke.
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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Jenise » Thu Jun 27, 2013 1:23 pm

Jon, we do.

So much so that last year we upgraded from the type of unit you see fourth from left of five pictured from Amazon.com on this link, to the one that's pictured second:

http://nortonsafe.search.ask.com/web?q=Masterbuilt%20smoker&o=15527&prt=360&chn=S1122&geo=US&ver=20&locale=en_US&tpr=111

The old one ran on propane and required us to sit nearby fairly constantly throughout in order to keep the heat constant. We also had to move the shelves around a bit during cooking because one shelf was typically hotter than the other. But we worked with it for nine years, jimmied in some extra shelves and annually smoked about 40 lbs of salmon every summer for freezing and eating the rest of the year (it's our canned tuna, in a way) plus 40 lbs of ribs every 4th of July, plus other things on occasion. However, the nature of the way it worked required us to pretty much use it only in the fairest weather when it was comfortable to be nearby. This is probably the kind of set up that wore poor Winger out.

Our new one is fairly impervious to such concerns. It's electric, so it has a thermostat as well as a remote monitor that you keep in your pocket, enabling you to keep track of the process from anywhere in the house or garage. Lacks the rusticity and romance of the other setup, but we're no longer weather-dependent or tethered to the unit while smoking.

We love it and though Bob doesn't otherwise cook he really enjoys this. (He's actually going to miss 'HAVING' to sit in that lawnchair for four hours at a stretch on a nice day. :) ) Too, we live in an area where we don't have a smoked rib joint nearby for when we get the jones--we do it ourselves or do without. But even if we didn't? We'd want to do this.
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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Brian Gilp » Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:33 pm

Do it. We have two smokers. One electric (Masterbuilt) and one that is the old fashioned kind that uses wood/charcoal as the heat source. Both are easy as can be. Heat control is an issue for the old fashioned one and I did once screw up some Salmon. It's really hard to screw up anything with the electric one.
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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Carl Eppig » Thu Jun 27, 2013 5:37 pm

We have had and use regularly an electric water smoker. We have hot smoked salmon and kielbasa, as well as the usual ribs, chickens, turkeys (even on Thanksgiving in New Hampshire) and more.
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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Mark Lipton » Thu Jun 27, 2013 6:19 pm

Jean will never let me forget giving her a smoker for her birthday about 18 years ago, and I routinely retort that no gift I've ever given her has given her so much pleasure. What we have, which we use 1-3 times per week is a traditional Brinkman smoker with offset firebox for cold smoking:

Image

It works for all manner of BBQ and smoking, and is still functional 18 years after purchase.

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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Thu Jun 27, 2013 8:08 pm

I have an old Brinkmann that I haven't used in many years now. It always worked just fine, but I got away from using it and haven't gone back.

A friend of mine had a really nice offset smoker given to him, and he makes bacon that is fantastic.

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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Alan Wolfe » Thu Jun 27, 2013 8:13 pm

Mark - Could you please provide a more detailed description on how to use your Brinkman smoker for cold smoking?
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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Mark Lipton » Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:16 am

Alan Wolfe wrote:Mark - Could you please provide a more detailed description on how to use your Brinkman smoker for cold smoking?


Alan,
You set a fire only in the offset firebox and place your food to be smoked on the far rack in the main chamber. The air temperature by the time it reaches the food is quite close to ambient, so there is little to no cooking that takes place. I've very successfully smoked fish that way, though a purist may argue that it's not "true" cold smoking (I don't have a thermometer to measure the temperature, but it is certainly well below 100°F).

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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Barb Downunder » Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:31 am

Sure do, gave up smoking cigarettes and took up smoking sausages LOL
We have a home made cold smoker (an old refrigerator and sundry bits and pieces) and a shop bought gas smoker.
Not always easy to find the time required to manage the cold smoker but really worthwhile when it happens.
The water smoker is fairly new and having mastered slow BBQ brisket will turn my attention to getting ribs and maybe pork butt on to
the menu.
Enjoy the process.
We usually smoke other things alongside when we have a smoker going, such as almonds, chickens. salt, etc.
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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Alan Wolfe » Fri Jun 28, 2013 10:07 am

Thanks, Mark.
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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Drew Hall » Fri Jun 28, 2013 7:47 pm

Yup...smoke every weekend.Chicken, salmon, pork tenderloin, pork butt, vegetables, and other food that I can't recall right now. All smoked on a Big Green Egg. Easiest smoker I've ever owned.

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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Jon Peterson » Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:23 am

I gotta say more of you use smokers than I expected which leads me to believe I'm missing out a little bit. I think I will look into this with a focus on either the Big Green Egg (it's sold right here in town) and the smoker that Jenise has, which looks very similar to the one used at my favorite restaurant. That restaurant consistently turns out the best smoked and BBQed foods I have ever tasted.
Thank you, everyone.
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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Karen/NoCA » Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:47 am

Wish I had one, but with two of us now and very little entertaining.....except when family descends upon us a few times a year. Anymore, we usually go out with friends who are all getting overwhelmed with cooking for more than 4. Gene has a huge stainless steel grill that has a side gas burner, and a smoking accoutrement. You add a handful of soaked wood chips and it smokes while you grill. We do get a pleasant smoky flavor when we use it. Do they make smaller smokers? I am not interested in doing 40 lbs of anything, maybe 10 lbs of salmon, when it is in season.
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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Jon Peterson » Sat Jun 29, 2013 1:47 pm

Karen, check Jenise's link in her post and also check out Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker mentioned in 'Winger's post.
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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Drew Hall » Sat Jun 29, 2013 2:10 pm

Karen, the Big Green Egg comes in 5 different sizes http://www.biggreenegg.com/eggs/sizes/

Jon, compare the BGE to the Grill Dome...had I known about the Grill Dome before I purchased the BGE I might have bought the Dome.
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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Jenise » Sat Jun 29, 2013 2:14 pm

Karen/NoCA wrote: I am not interested in doing 40 lbs of anything, maybe 10 lbs of salmon, when it is in season.


Can't do 40 lbs at once in any of these. We do batches! But it's why of the two electric Masterbuilt models with remote controls, we chose the larger of the two (for about the same price). We *can* do more, and we can do whole filets of salmon or whole rib racks without cutting them down.
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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Karen/NoCA » Sat Jun 29, 2013 2:47 pm

Jenise wrote:
Karen/NoCA wrote: I am not interested in doing 40 lbs of anything, maybe 10 lbs of salmon, when it is in season.


Can't do 40 lbs at once in any of these. We do batches! But it's why of the two electric Masterbuilt models with remote controls, we chose the larger of the two (for about the same price). We *can* do more, and we can do whole filets of salmon or whole rib racks without cutting them down.

I like that idea of doing whole filets, and whole rib racks, may have to rethink it. Linda Stradley smoked salmon a couple of times when we were there. She freezes what is left and loves having it in the freezer to make quick salads or appitizers. That would be a plus!
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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Carl Eppig » Sat Jun 29, 2013 3:07 pm

We are having 14 for the 4th; so we are smoking 6 St Louis Ribs. We have to do them in two batches of three; one in the morning and one in the afternoon. We sauce them afterwards so we can warm the morning batch up in the sauce.
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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Jenise » Sat Jun 29, 2013 3:45 pm

Karen/NoCA wrote:
Jenise wrote:
Karen/NoCA wrote: I am not interested in doing 40 lbs of anything, maybe 10 lbs of salmon, when it is in season.


Can't do 40 lbs at once in any of these. We do batches! But it's why of the two electric Masterbuilt models with remote controls, we chose the larger of the two (for about the same price). We *can* do more, and we can do whole filets of salmon or whole rib racks without cutting them down.

I like that idea of doing whole filets, and whole rib racks, may have to rethink it. Linda Stradley smoked salmon a couple of times when we were there. She freezes what is left and loves having it in the freezer to make quick salads or appitizers. That would be a plus!


Also a great addition to caesar salads, creamy pasta dishes or just eating thawed and cut up as part of a cold lunch platter for two (where about 90% of ours ends up). Great to have in the RV. And you already have a Foodsaver, so you're halfway there!
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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Mark Lipton » Sat Jun 29, 2013 11:33 pm

Jenise wrote:
Karen/NoCA wrote: I am not interested in doing 40 lbs of anything, maybe 10 lbs of salmon, when it is in season.


Can't do 40 lbs at once in any of these. We do batches! But it's why of the two electric Masterbuilt models with remote controls, we chose the larger of the two (for about the same price). We *can* do more, and we can do whole filets of salmon or whole rib racks without cutting them down.


40 lbs may be pushing it, Jenise, but I've put a whole side of Alaskan King salmon in one half of the main chamber of my Brinkman smoker. It fits, barely. I've been able to BBQ 8 racks of short ribs simultaneously using the full capacity of the smoker, which I would estimate is close to 20 lbs.

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Re: Do you smoke your own foods?

Postby Jon Peterson » Sun Jun 30, 2013 9:45 am

Drew Hall wrote:Karen, the Big Green Egg comes in 5 different sizes http://www.biggreenegg.com/eggs/sizes/

Jon, compare the BGE to the Grill Dome...had I known about the Grill Dome before I purchased the BGE I might have bought the Dome.


Will do, thanks, Drew.
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