Food smoking is one of the oldest food preparation and preservation techniques that has maintained its popularity. With the advances in technology, food smoking is now better and easier.
Electric food smokers have become a great way to get into smoking your meats at home without having to check on them constantly. By just choosing the preferred temperature setting depending on how you want your meat, electric smokers get the meat ready without going through a lot of hassle.
Do you Preheat Your Smoker?
While some opt first to preheat their smokers, others cook their meats without preheating. In this article, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on preheating your smoker, some of the reasons you should preheat your food smoker, and generally help you learn more about food smoking and food smokers.
To paint you a clear picture, we first look at the main elements of the food smoker:
- Wood chip tray
The wood chip tray/bowl is where the wood chunks slowly burn to produce the smokey flavor on the meat. Depending on the type of heat and how high you want it, you can add wood chips regularly to keep a nice steady stream of smoke going.
For our Bradley Smoker, we have the Bradley Bisquettes to flavor the food, which is dispensed in sawdust pucks of aromatic wood.
- Water bowl/pan
The water bowl above the wood chip tray would usually be there to help adding moisture to your cook while the steam emitted from the water also helps in convection cooking. On your Bradley Smoker it will serve a double purpose as your bisquettes will extinguish in water just before the wood turns to ash.
- Digital controller pad
This allows you to set the cooking temperature, time and keep track of when it’s ready.
- Dampers and vents
A lot of oxygen is used up as you smoke your meat. Dampers and vents allow air into the smoker and act as a passage for excess heat, also allowing the “old smoke” to go out giving room to the new smoke coming from the wood.
Why You Should Preheat Your Smoker
In the food smoker, the heating element is made up of metal, and when it’s cold, it cools down. Preheating your smoker warms it up, and by the time you start cooking your meat, the process starts instantly as the metal is hot.
How to Preheat Your Food Smoker
On average, an electric smoker takes 30–45 minutes to preheat from cold. Depending on what you are making, set the required temperature on your food smoker and wait for it to reach the right internal temperature before filling your smoker with food.
At Bradley Smokers, we recommend setting the temperature highest then waiting for it to attain internal temp. For instance, if you are making brisket, the highest temperature of your smoker is 225 – 240 °F (107 – 115 °C). For best results, you should wait for the food smoker to reach an internal temperature of 190 °F (88 °C).
Does This Process Apply to All Smokers?
Yes, except when the food smoker is new.
For a brand new smoker, seasoning acts as a curing process and removes any residue such as dust or oil that may have been left over during manufacturing. It also cures any paints or coating on the inside of your smoker, preventing it from rusting and, at the same time, enhancing the smokey flavor.
How to Season Your Smoker
- First, ensure that your food smoker is assembled correctly. Check to see that all screws are intact. Smokers do not always come fully assembled, and in some cases, it may need a little assembling.
- Wipe down your smoker – Carefully wipe down the interior surfaces of your smoker while ensuring you don’t scratch the inside. This can be done by using a damp sponge, mild detergent, and water. When wiping, it’s important that you also remember to wipe the racks.
- Plug your smoker into a power outlet, open up the vents and set your smoker to the maximum temperature using the wood of your preference. The seasoning should take three hours.
These steps might vary from smoker to smoker, so it’s crucial that you first check the manual.
To summarize, it’s essential to preheat your smoker as it helps you achieve a perfect smokey flavor and speeds up cooking time. As you preheat your smoker, it’s equally important that you follow the temperature of what you want to cook. This ultimate guide gives you a run-through on how to preheat your smoker.
Check out this other article about preheating your smoker:
Preheat Your BBQ Perfectly, Every Time
For more great ideas on how to get the most out of your Bradley Smoker, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog for more tips & tricks.