Thermometer problems....what to do???

Discussion in 'Meat Thermometers' started by nopeda, Oct 22, 2014.

  1. nopeda

    nopeda Fire Starter

    I recently tried my first fairly long smoke. I read that a Boston Butt takes about 6 hours and that was the choice. I got a Weber Style barbecue thermometer and got the temp in the smoker to hang at about 250, and used a water pan. Everything seemed to be going pretty well for the first few hours except the internal meat temp seemed to be too high for that early in the smoke, from what I'd read and seen in videos. It was at 181 degrees within three hours. An hour later it still said 181. Three hours later it still said 181, and I was of the impression that it should soon be reaching the target temp of 205. Two hours later it still said 181 so I gave up on the thermometer and took the meat out, but left the probe in the meat as it cooled. After being out 40 minutes it still said 181. After pulling the probe out of the meat and cleaning it off in cold water it still said 181. By now it has been over 24 hours and it still says 181 sitting on the counter in the kitchen. So, should I return it? This is only the second thermometer I've bought, both digital, and both have failed me entirely. If I just get a cheap regular meat thermometer can it stay in the meat for the entire smoke, and I just need to open the lid and check it from time to time? Or would it need to be removed and reinserted every time?

    Thank you for any suggestions about how to handle this!

  2. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

  3. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    You are better off with a digital probe, opening the smoker only adds to a longer cooking time. Any meat thermo you leave in while smoking is going to be very hard to read.
  4. agree with tropics, definitely don't want to be opening the bbq

    get a decent dual probe thermometer, the mavericks are supposed to be great.  I have an iGrill which can bluetooth to your mobile or ipad which has served me well

    not a bad idea to have an instant read thermometer handy like a thermapen in case you ever doubt readings or need to spot check something else
  5. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Hi David.  First, let me address the notion that a boston butt will cook in 6 hours.  It is best to disregard time and cook your butt by temperature alone.  There is an old adage around here, "It's done when it's done", simply meaning that no 2 chunks of meat will cook at the same rate.  It's a popular rule of thumb that you can estimate a butt taking from 1.5 to 2 hours per raw pound of meat to get done.  This is usually true, but it's not a hard and fast law.  I've have an 8 lb. butt get done in 8 hours or less...but I've also had 8 lb. butts take far upwards of 16 hours.  You didn't mention how your butt came out, but if it got to an internal temp of around 200* it was probably very good.

    You definitely need a reliable thermometer...preferably one that will allow you to accurately monitor both the internal temp of your meat and the temp of your cooking chamber.  If your Weber-style therm is still stuck on 181, your suspicion that it's bad is probably correct.  Return it and follow the guys' advice about buying a Maverick or other similar multi-probe remote digital thermometer.  Once you have one, verify it's accuracy by performing a "boil test" on it.  Dip the tip of the probes in boiling water and they should read within a degree or so of 212* F.

    Hope this helps...good luck and happy smoking!

  6. nopeda

    nopeda Fire Starter

    Thank you all for your help in understanding this. I'll return the Weber, and may at some point try the Maverick but will need to learn a few more things before attempting any more long smokes of larger cuts of meat. I'm going to post a new thread about problems getting a smokey flavor in which I'll mention that particular issue associated with this particular attempt.

    Thank you folks again for your help!!!


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