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How to Use an Electric Smoker

Posted on Sep 30, 2013 in Electric Smokers, Featured

Smoking meats is one of the first methods humans developed that would help them preserve foods for longer periods of time. Back in the day, before electricity and refrigerators existed, people faced the problem of maintaining a diversified diet in the winter, when hunting animals and growing vegetables was difficult, or impossible. For vegetables and fruits, we invented jar preserves, and for meat, smoking was the solution. Today, we still employ much the same methods to smoke meat, but we don’t do it just for its preservative characteristics, but for the incredible taste and aroma as well. You can still build your own smoker and do this in a traditional way, but it is much simpler to invest in an electric smoker.

In what follows we are going to show you how to use an electric smoker and thus be able to preserve your own meats. This can be especially useful for those who like to have a full pantry, as well as for those who like to make their own meat preparations, such as sausages, hams or jerky. First of all, you need to know there are advantages and disadvantages to using an electric smoker; the bad news is that a traditional smoker can give a lot more flavor to your meats depending on what wood you use. The good news is that an electric smoker allows you to smoke meats without having to monitor them constantly and make sure everything is in norms.

That being said, here is what you need to know about how to use an electric smoker:

  • Choose your electric smoker – There are basically two types of electric smokers: vertical water electric smokers and electric cabinet smokers. The first type is less expensive, but it is more to deal with because you have to check on it more often. The most important thing when smoking is to maintain the core temperature, and this is more difficult with water electric smokers when outside temperatures are lowered. If you only want to smoke meats during the summer, you can choose this type of smoker, but if your plans are bigger and you’re keen on perfect results, then perhaps the electric cabinet smoker is more appropriate. This is shaped like a small refrigerator and it maintains its core temperatures easier.
  • Learn about your smoker – Each electric smoker comes complete with an instruction manual. Read it thoroughly if you want to learn how to use an electric smoker properly, otherwise you might damage the machine and lose your investment, or spoil the meat. For example, each manual will instruct you on how to season the meats, but on how to prep the smoker as well. Most manuals require you to coat the racks and other indoor surfaces in cooking oil first and let it run for a couple of hours.
  • Season the meat – By now, you will have chosen your meats and recipes and decided on what and how you want to smoke. Make sure you follow the recipes in detail, especially if you don’t have experience with smoking, otherwise the results might be disappointing. There are many ways to season the meat, such as rubbing it with salt, spices, sugar, letting it marinade over night and so on.
  • Start the proceedings – When you learn how to use an electric smoker, first you have to turn it on. If it is the water type, you need to fill its reservoir with water, and then add the wood chips which you previously bought from a specialized store. Your recipes may have indicated what kind of wood to use, but you can also ask advice at the store and choose from wood chips from cedar, alder, cherry, hickory, maple or plum.
  • Adjust the core temperature  – Depending on what types of meats you smoke, you will have to either adjust the temperature from time to time, or set it to a stable level and maintaining it that way. When the temperature has reached expected values, you can add your meat and wait for it to get ready, which may last between three and eight hours.

These are the basic steps you need to know about how to use an electric smoker; you will learn more as you gain experience, and you will get to know your machine and how it responds to adjustments. From here on, you will only improve your techniques and your meats will be tastier and tastier with every new try.