Table of Contents
- – What the smokers are
- – Not only temperature: the type of wood to use
- – CHOOSE BETWEEN DIFFERENT MODELS: THE BEST HUMAN SMOKER
- – THE BEST COLD SMOKING MODELS
- – Some indications on smoking procedures
- – To conclude
– What the smokers are
When we talk about smokers we mean particular tools that allow you to smoke different kinds of food.
But why do foods need to be smoked?
Smoking is a very important process that can also be used in certain cooking modes, including the barbecue. It allows you to make always different cooking, thanks to the use of aromas deriving from various types of wood.
Smoking the meat, whether white or red, allows you to flavor them, making them tastier and always different. In the last few years it is very easy to find smokers on the market thanks to an ever-increasing interest in American charcoal cooking. There are mainly two different types of smokers, namely the industrial ones and the home or barbecue ones.
Their operation is very similar, but the dimensions and volumes, that is, the quantities of meat that can be cooked change. In a smoker barbecue, the aromatic wood is placed, already cut, on the embers or in the so-called smoker boxes, chambers that communicate with the embers and allow the fumes to get to wrap the meat in cooking.
When we talk about small smokers we must then differentiate between vertical and horizontal, hot and cold models. The difference between the vertical and horizontal models consists of the position, that is the meat support mode. In horizontal smokers the meat is placed on the embers to be enveloped by aromatic fumes. In vertical models, instead, the meat is hung.
From the point of view of flavors, the choice of one type or another is not fundamental. From a practical point of view, yes: the horizontal models, on the other hand, are more suitable for those who cook exclusively fish or small formats of meat which, arranged horizontally, maintain the best shape and do not break. Particular importance, instead, must be given to the temperature at which thesmoking.
As already highlighted, this process can take place hot or cold. The first involves the use of temperatures included between 60 and 75 ° C. In the case of cold smoking, the flue gas temperature is much lower, being included between 16 and 26 ° C.
In recent times, another smoking method has also been imposed, namely liquid smoking.
This does not include the contact of the meat with the smoke which, through a particular procedure, comes condensed and distilled. The meat is then moistened with this distillate which guarantees the flavor and fragrance of the various types of wood, avoiding the actual exposure to fumes.
Cold or hot smoker?
The most frequent question that arises before buying a smoker is whether it is more convenient – from the point of view of cooking results – a hot or cold smoker. For this reason, it is good to make a clarification immediately. Cold smoking is not used for cooking food but only for a treatment that allows more long storage.
The fumes that surround the meat, in fact, operate a chemical transformation that allows to destroy the bacteria usually present on the food: in this way the cold smoked foods, besides being characterized by a particular aroma, they can be kept longer before being consumed. Cold smoking requires medium-long times to complete: depending on the food, it may be necessary one or two days.
Cold smoking does not cook food: for this reason in some cases it is necessary, after smoking, to proceed with cooking. If foods such as cheese or salami can be consumed after cold smoking, the same cannot be said for meat and fish. The cooking mode, of course, will depend on personal tastes.
However, it must be emphasized that smoking cannot be carried out with all types of wood but exclusively with those from forests not treated with pesticides or other types of chemical elements harmful to health. Hot smoking, on the other hand, allows food to be cooked thanks to the high temperature of the fumes.
The right temperature for cooking depends on the type of meat to be cooked, since around the 45° C it is possible to obtain a good cooking for the fish while for the meat it is necessary to reach at least the 55° C, also depending on the type of meat. Hot smoking can take place through two main methods, that is, using alcohol or electric smokers. In the first case the ignition happens just like in the embers while in the electric models the fumes are produced by heating a plate characterized by a resistance.
– Not only temperature: the type of wood to use
When we talk about smokers we focus mainly on the technical characteristics and temperatures of the different models, but usually little attention is paid to the type of wood to be used. In fact, among the white and red meat, fish and cheeses of various types, there are many different nuances of taste that must be enhanced using the right wood.
Some special woods they produce fumes that leave a sweet taste on the meat, such as the alder, the apple tree, the pear tree or the mulberry.
These types of wood are particularly suitable for smoking poultry, feathered game and pork. On the other hand, red meat is highly recommended ash tree, the Oak tree or the vine. A wood that can be considered universal, because it goes perfectly with both white and red meats, with fish, crustaceans and cheeses, is that of American walnut or black walnut.
However, we must be careful not to confuse this wood with the white walnut which, instead, has a very bitter aroma and should therefore be cut with other types of wood, capable of ensuring a lighter smoking. As already mentioned above, it is essential to pay attention to the origin of the wood, focusing exclusively on logs extracted from sustainable forests and certified. It should also be remembered that the fumes of certain woods can cause poisoning due to natural substances contained in the wood itself.
When it is not possible to use wood, you can opt for the classic charcoal from embers, to which aromatic herbs will be added. Depending on the type of food to be smoked, various solutions can be considered, ranging from the most classic aromatic herbs to peat, from corn cobs to particular sawdust.
– CHOOSE BETWEEN DIFFERENT MODELS: THE BEST HUMAN SMOKER
There are several on the market hot smoker models. Below are some of the most valuable and reliable products, produced by specialized brands in the sector.
1. Monstertruck: Smoker and grill with two Klarstein combustion chambers
This barbecue is a complete and perfect product for those who ask for a semi-professional model for cooking and smoking all types of meat, vegetables and cheeses. From the aesthetic point of view it is characterized by a medium size, having dimensions of 40x160x200 centimeters. The structure is solid, thanks to a very thick steel that guarantees balance and strength. Presents a large number of noteworthy items, from the wooden handles to thermometers, from grills to wheels.
This grid is to be assembled: inside the package assembly instructions are available, characterized by a large number of images to ensure maximum understanding in each step. Considering the size of the barbecue, it is advisable not to carry out the assembly yourself.
As for the technical characteristics it should be noted that the Monstertruck of Klarstein presents a smoker with four different levels, for a total of 1250 square centimeters of surface. The smoker’s door is protected by a hook closure while the grille doors are all watertight.
To keep internal temperatures under control, both of the grill and the smoker, this model is equipped with two different thermometers that show both the gradation in ° C that in ° F. In particular, the maximum temperature recorded is 427 ° C, or 800 ° F.
To ensure correct air recirculation, various ventilation flaps are available, both on the flue and on the grill. Furthermore, there are some raceways for leakage of excess grease which is led to a special container for collection. The movement is allowed by the presence of spoked wheels. Also below the grille is a practical wood collection basket to burn to always ensure temperature maintenance.
The particular shape of this model is due to the presence of the two different grids, both of large surface, which can be used both for cooking and for smoking foods. The two grids are separate and allow independent adjustment of the temperature to be kept under control with the two different thermometers.
Klarstein’s Monstertruck smoker barbecue is sold for assembly. Inside the package is available the instruction manual, written in various languages, including Italian, for a quick understanding of all the steps necessary for assembly.
2. Wichita charcoal barbecue by Tepro
This model of smoker barbecue it is made of painted steel and is characterized by two different compartments, both equipped with a safety cover and a thermostat. It has dimensions of 63.5x115x116.5 centimeters and a weight of about 21 kilos. The movements are however made very simple thanks to the presence of two big wheels made of steel.
Presents two several rooms for grilling and smoking simultaneously. All information relating to the correct use of the various elements of the grid are shown in the user manual: it should be emphasized, however, that this is only available in English and German.
Assembly operations of the grill however they are not compromised for those who do not know the two languages thanks to the presence of a large number of illustrations that allow to perform the assembly in a perfect way simply by following the images.
Before proceeding with the first grilling, it is advisable to lightly ignite for a few hours to eliminate impurities and to assess the temperatures reached depending on the type of wood used. In case of need, it will be possible to make temperature adjustments using the ventilation window.
The smoking can be done using aromatic woods or by opting for charcoal enriched with aromatic plant leaves. Regardless of the type of wood or charcoal you use, it is important, after each use, to wait for it to complete cooling phase and then proceed with the cleaning operations. Correct maintenance, in fact, ensures greater durability of this smoker barbecue.
3. Beefbutler smoker barbecue from OneConcept
This barbecue can be used for both direct and indirect grills and is a perfect solution for those who like to prepare meat, fish or grilled vegetables. Characterized by a very robust structure, it has extensive shelves for grilling and for placing dishes and utensils necessary for grilling. Both front and side, in fact, are present two folding wooden shelves that can be raised or closed as required.
Also below the grille is a practical shelf to grid metal perfect for storing wood or anything you want to keep on hand at all times. THE three different levels allow both direct and indirect cooking, for perfect hot smoking. To allow proper ventilation inside the barbecue there are four different ventilation openings that can be opened and closed independently.
The dimensions are 100x95x55 cm and the weight of 19 kilos. It is therefore a model that is not too heavy and that can be easily moved thanks to the two large wheels and to the practical handle. The Beefbutler Smoker Barbecue from OneConcept is sold unassembled e it must be assembled: inside the package are available, in addition to the different components of the embers, a mounting kit complete and an instruction manual, in English only.
– THE BEST COLD SMOKING MODELS
In recent years the smoked flavor it is increasingly sought after not only for food but also for cocktails and drinks. For this reason, it is always easier to find on the market portable cold-smoking, perfect to make food and drink always different and taste new every time.
* The Gun Portable smoking by Sage by Heston Blumenthal
This model of kitchen smoker is a fundamental accessory for those who want to make dishes that are always different in a short time and with little space. It has dimensions of only 10x10x10 centimeters and a weight of just half a kilo. It allows you to add a smoked flavor to any type of food, such as meat, fish, cheese or vegetables. For the cocktail lovers represents a perfect solution to ensure new and different tastes.
Unlike hot smokers, this accessory is much more versatile and, above all, practical to use. However, it is a non-professional model for domestic use, so it does not have an excessive power or duration of smoke. The operation is very simple: it will be enough to introduce the chippings inside the combustion chamber and in a short time you will have available the smoke flavored in a different way depending on the type of chips used.
You can choose from a large number of different flavors, to be changed from time to time depending on the type of food to be smoked. Inside the package are available two different types of chips, one of apple and the other of American walnut. There is also an instruction sheet which also contains some recipes that can be used to draw inspiration from the versatile use of the smoker.
* Polyscience Pro Sage Commercial smoking gun
This cold smoking gun allows you to improve the flavors of a large number of foods quickly. It can be used to flavor foods that are cooked by light cooking, such as boiled meats or vegetables. Although not a professional product, it is still a very resistant model, characterized by a plastic and steel structure.
The smoking time is about one minute: for longer smoking times the brazier must be recharged with the shavings to be lit. A particular feature of this gun is that it ensures a very low sound emission, for smoking foods without creating annoying noises.
After use, it can be easily cleaned. In addition to the more superficial standard cleaning, the fan can be removed for deeper cleaning. For this operation one is provided Allen key specially. In addition, four AA batteries are required in the package for the operation of the smoker and two sawdust refills in a specific mixture of the production brand, one of American walnut and the other of apple tree.
– Some indications on smoking procedures
Smoking is a process very ancient, which was used already in historical times to improve food preservation processes. In times when there was no fridge and freezer, in fact, meats, cold cuts, cheeses and fish were smoked in order to have the possibility of preserving them longer without any deterioration processes.
Smoking foods, in fact, allows you to change its chemical characteristics and, as already mentioned, ensures the death of bacteria that are the cause of the premature deterioration of many foods. Already in the past, different types of wood were used to smoke food, choosing them above all from those that are not too resinous: these, in fact, are characterized by intense and bitter aromas which, in addition to smoking, bring a considerable variation in the taste of the food itself.
Today it is well known which types of wood are most suitable for smoking and, depending on the type of food to be smoked, some types of wood or others are recommended. It will thus be possible to aim for light, sweetish, intense or bitter flavors depending on the type of wood. Of course, in many cases the choice can be conditioned above all by personal taste, which will lead to preferring one type of aroma rather than another.
In addition to evaluating the different types of wood, it is also important to choose between the various models of smokers. Today many solutions are available on the market, different in size and technical characteristics. It will therefore be possible to opt for home models, semi-professional is professional. Beyond the different sizes, these smokers are also distinguished according to the construction materials.
When you buy a smoker barbecue to use at home, you still need to have the security of choosing a model featuring materials from high quality. Of course, especially in the case of hot smokers, construction materials must be able to withstand the high temperatures that are created inside the grill and the smoker. Another point to take into consideration is the presence of a various number of chambers, that is of the compartments present.
The best models present separate rooms for the grill and the smoker. However, there are many compact but equally valid solutions, characterized by a single relatively high chamber, within which there are several levels of grids for cooking and smoking foods. Depending on the amount of food that is usually grilled or smoked, it may be convenient to opt for one or the other type of smoker.
– To conclude
Considering that the models of barbecue-smoker and cold smoke present on the market are increasingly common and, probably, in continuous growth, choosing what can best suit your needs can become quite complex. For this reason it is essential, before making a purchase that will not be used because it does not correspond to your needs, carefully check what the parameters are most important to evaluate.
For example, a factor that should always be emphasized is the value for money. A barbecue made with high quality materials will certainly have a relatively high cost. However, if you consider that this type of appliance has a very high life expectancy, you can consider the possibility of making an investment for a barbecue that can last even a lifetime.
This type of reasoning is particularly valid especially when you make intensive use of the smoker and it is therefore necessary to focus on a high quality model to avoid the risk of it breaking after a few uses. The choice of a good investment is valid, of course, both for hot and cold smokers, even if the former require greater reflection by presenting, for the same quality, much higher prices.
Again, we must never forget to evaluate practicality of the model selected. When you have a garden or a large terrace, you should have no trouble even choosing models of barbecue-smoker with a large footprint. If, instead, you will have to use your own grill on the balcony, you will need to turn to smaller models or point to cold smokers.
Usually, in fact, those who do not have a practical and comfortable outdoor space to organize their own barbecues, make little use of this cooking method. In order to have excellent meats or other well smoked foods, in this case, a cold model may be sufficient. Needless to say, then, that it is essential to ask attention to brand.When buying a smoker barbecue it is important to opt exclusively for models made by specialized brands in the sector: only in this way will it be possible to have the security of a high quality standard of the products.
Similarly, it becomes synonymous with security to opt exclusively for wood from certified forests, to be purchased at specialized barbecue shops to have the maximum certainty on the quality and on the complete absence of chemical products that would be transmitted, through smoking, to food contaminating them dangerously.