If it hasn’t already arrived where you live, it’s on the way! Chill in the air and frost on the ground. Soon, before you know it, you’ll be digging your way to your car every morning.
Keeping your smoker dry and running at the right temperature is easy in the Summer months. But most Winters require more than an umbrella to keep your smoker running hot and, most importantly, safely. Here are a few tips to keep the smoke rolling all winter long:
It’s All About Location
If you’ve got a good sheltered area outside on level ground, you should find it relatively easy to keep your smoker safe throughout the winter. The ideal location for your smoker is always outside. Never use it indoors because it can be extremely dangerous. (and your garage counts as indoors).
Find a spot that is as sheltered as possible, but still at a safe distance from the house or shed, so smoke is able to exhaust out. I have mine along the side of the house near our workshop, where the roof sticks out a couple feet and keeps the bulk of the elements at bay.
If you have the means, the space and the ability to do so, feel free to build a little outhouse-style shed for you smoker. Be certain that the walls have ventilation and are well insulated.
With an electric smoker, the dangers of an ember catching is greatly reduced. Even so, you still have to take care to build a safe structure for your smoker. Undoubtedly, not all of us (that includes me) can build our own smokers a house to live in during the Winter months. Consequently, we have to be a bit more inventive. Some great solutions I have come across include blocking out wind with plywood and a pop up sun tent.
Just remember to always leave access to your smoker door and to leave the vent free of obstruction.
Keep it Hot
Getting your smoker up to 200+°F is easy in Summer. Mine is usually half way there before I even turn it on. But in Winter, your smoker loses a lot of heat to the outdoors.
Heat escapes through the metal of the smoker and cold air is brought in to keep fueling the combustion process. On top of that, the moisture from the meat cooking and the water in the pan condenses on the inside of the smoker further cooling it.
Give yourself more time to smoke than you normally would and allow the smoker plenty of time to warm up. Keeping your smoker sheltered and shielded from the elements (see examples above) helps keep your smoker smoking at the right temperature. And most importantly, keep the door closed. I love peeking, but it’s sending all your hot air out the front door.