Fuel for smoker

Discussion in 'Making Jerky' started by mcguyver, Dec 25, 2011.

  1. mcguyver

    mcguyver Newbie

    Hi, I'm new to the forum and I had a question about making beef jerky in my smoker.  My smoker is just a tank with a firebox off to the side.  I wanted to know what everyone else was using to fire thier smoker to make jerky.  I tried wood and lump charcoal and both impart too much smoke on the meat before it is done.  I really wanted to do the jerky from start to finish in the smoker.  Does anyone know of a fuel or paticular brand of charcoal that I can use that wont smoke the meat so much?

    Thanks.
     
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    McG, morning... Sounds like you are closing down the damper to keep the temp lower in the smoker ???? That creates too much smoke.... Try a smaller fire with the damper wide open... less smoke with a hotter fire....  or something in between... Take pics and report back on your success or how my idea didn't work.... we could all learn something here...  by the way, pictures are VERY important to us old folks.... they tell the whole story without the need for bi-focals..... Dave
     
  3. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Yep give what Dave recommends a try.  You may also try using some plain jane briquets mixed in with the charcoal and wood chunks.  You'll produce less smoke.
     
  4. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Dave may have hit it with the exhaust damper needing to be opened up.  You might be getting some stale smoke if there is not enough flow.

    Keep us posted.

    Good luck and good smoking.
     
  5. mcguyver

    mcguyver Newbie

    Dave, The firebox actually has it's own flue/vent with a damper.  If the damper between the fire box and the smoke box closes to half or less the damper on the firebox's flue automatically opens.  This seems to work well to keep the fire burning hot.  I haven't tried the regular briquettes.  They may be a little lighter on the smoke.  I will give them a try to see how they work.  I'll get some pictures posted so you can see what I'm working with.  Every winter I build something and this winter it was a smoker.  I've been making jerky for years with a dehydrator and everyone loves it.  I was hoping to get some natural hickory flavor instead of the liquid smoke I use in one of my recipes. Definitely you can't burn strait hickory to smoke your jerky.  That stuff was so strong the dog wouldn't even eat it. The smoker does an exellent job of drying all the racks the same.  Everything was done about the same time.

    Thanks.

    -Richard
     
  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    McG,   How about drying the jerky and then put it in the smoker for real smoke flavor ??? I don't know if that is a stupid idea or not... just an idea... Dave
     
  7. mcguyver

    mcguyver Newbie

    Dave, I've read where others have smoked their jerky for a couple of hours and then finished it in a dehydrator or an oven.  That may well be what I have to do.  I was hoping to do my jerky from start to finish in my smoker but that may not happen.  I've also been looking into installing an electric element in the smoker to possibly finish out the jerky.  If my calculations are anywhere near right, an 1100 watt element should provide enough btu's to keep the temp up above 200 F if I wanted.  I only need 150 F so that would work.  The heating element would be real easy to control with the PID.  I would start a fire in the firebox and get the whole thing up to temp then just let the fire run it's course and die out while the electric element kept the heat up until the jerky is done.  Does this sound like something that would work? 
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2011
  8. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    McG, I think meat takes smoke better if it is dry on the outside... that is the drill for sausage and bacon etc.... dry the outside and then add smoke.... Just thinking here...Dave

    doesn't have to be totally dry... maybe a little... something to experiment with...
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2011
  9. mcguyver

    mcguyver Newbie

    Dave, I didn't know that.  So, if I install an electric element then I should start on electricity and then start a fire and finish on smoke.  I'll try that.Thanks.

    -Richard
     
  10. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I am not understanding the relationship between the intake dampers and the exhaust dampers?  Some pictures sure might help?

    Good luck and good smoking.
     
  11. mcguyver

    mcguyver Newbie

    Venture, there is a damper between the firebox and the the smoke box.  The firebox has it's own flue and that flue has a damper.  When the damper between the firebox and the smoke box closes (to stop the smoke box from getting too hot) the damper on the firebox flue opens so that the fire doesn't smother and create a bunch of creosote.

    The smoke box has a flue/vent also but it is just wide open and doesn't have a damper. 

    I'm going to try to get some pictures tomorrow but I'm not sure if that will help clarify everything.  I might try to get a video posted somehow and that would probably be better. 

    All it amounts to is a mechanical linkage between the firebox/smoke box damper and the firebox flue damper. 

    This may all change if I install an electric element in the smoke box to provide some heat without all the smoke.

    -Richard
     

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