When looking at different types of smokers and preparing yourself to become a part-time chef for you, your friends, and your family, you have to really do some research.
Whichever appliance you choose to purchase, you’re going to be making a statement. You’re effectively telling all of your friends that you’re serious about cooking and want everyone to know it.
But what are the different things you need to consider when looking at buying a smoker? We’ve made a complete guide for you on all things smoky, so you can decide for yourself what you need to look out for and what may affect your decision.
What Is A Smoker?
First of all, we need to make sure that you know what a smoker is and just what they do. Well, it’s simple, smokers are used to cooking food using smoke, rather than using your more traditional methods of using electricity and simple heat. Because of this back-to-basic approach, smokers have been around for years.
The first-ever recorded use of a smoker was in 17th century China where they were used to preserve meat. The Chinese would wrap their meats in bamboo leaves and then place them into a pit filled with wood chips.
This method was later adopted by the Europeans who continued to use the same method as well as adding other ingredients such as salt or spices.
Smokers today are still very much the same as they were hundreds of years ago. They are still used to add flavor to foods and help them explode with different flavors in a smoky tone.
After the Europeans used smokers hundreds of years ago, they then appeared in America. In fact, many people believe that American BBQ is the best because of the use of the smoker.
So now that you understand what a smoker is and how they work, let’s talk about what they actually do. A smoker will take any type of food and allow it to be cooked in a smoky environment.
This means that you don’t have to worry about overcooking your food because it’s done automatically. It also means that burning your food is a lot harder because the food is cooked over a longer period of time, which also affects the texture.
The texture of smoked food is often described as tender, moist, and full of flavor. These are qualities that most chefs strive for, but without the use of a smoker, it’s not easy to achieve.
Grilling food can often take a lot of the softer textures out of certain foods, with many people preferring to take full advantage of the qualities that a smoker has to offer.
Using a smoker is a great way to get your hands on delicious smoked meats, fish, vegetables, and even desserts. There are two main ways that you can smoke food: wet smoking and dry smoking.
Wet smoking involves soaking the food in liquid before placing it inside the smoker. Dry smoking does not involve soaking the food beforehand. Both methods are effective, but there are pros and cons associated with each one.
Wet smoking is usually recommended if you’re planning on smoking large amounts of food. For example, if you’re planning on serving a whole hog to a group of guests, wet smoking is ideal.
By doing this, you’ll be able to keep the moisture levels up while allowing the food to slowly cook. This process takes a long amount of time, but once the food is ready, it’s to die for.
Dry smoking is perfect for smaller quantities of food. You won’t find yourself having to soak food in water before putting it in the smoker, so this method is better suited for smaller crowds and numbers of people. If you want to try dry smoking, you should try using applewood chips instead of hickory chips. Applewood is known for its sweet flavor, which makes it perfect for flavouring small pieces of food.
Choosing Your Smoker
If you’ve decided that you’d like to buy a smoker, you may not realize that there are two main types of smokers available to you. The first is an offset smoker and the other is a kettle-style smoker. Each of these styles has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at both options and see which is right for you.
An offset smoker is similar to a regular grill except that it sits above the firebox. This allows heat to come from underneath the food, which helps create a more consistent temperature throughout the entire cooking process.
Another benefit of an offset smoker is that you can easily move the food around during cooking and this makes it easier to flip to ensure even cooking throughout your meal.
This type of smoker works by surrounding the food with hot air. This creates a hotter area directly below the food where the meat cooks, and a cooler area above the food where the air cools down. This design allows the food to cook evenly all the way through, much like the offset version of the smoker.
Although these two types of smokers work in different ways, they come out with the same smoke flavor and finish that so many people desire when they look to cook food. Deciding your type of smoker is a good place to start and will often send you down the right route when looking into your purchase.
What Is An Offset Smoker?
What makes an offset smoker so unique from other types of smokers? Well, it’s basically just a grill placed over the top of a firebox. It doesn’t have any direct contact with the flame or coals, so the heat stays relatively constant throughout the cooking process.
This is different from other types of smokers because it means you don’t need to worry about keeping the lid closed as much as you would with a kettle-style smoker. This also means that you can leave the offset smoker open during cooking, which gives you access to the food without worrying about losing heat.
When choosing a good smoker, you have to remember that they are better to be seen as an investment into good memories. Smokers can be at the center of any good gathering and will therefore be directly in the middle of great times with great people.
Of course, you shouldn’t go above and beyond to get your smoker, so set yourself a budget and ensure that you stick to it.
At the end of the day, you’ll have to buy the food for your smoker as well, so make sure you don’t break the bank to get your cooker. However, if you see a smoker out of your range and you’re still tempted, then this could be a product worth saving up for.
Choosing A Reliable Brand
When looking at a new smoker, a lot of people will have seen ads on their TV or over social media and will have some sort of opinion on these different brands. One huge brand that many people will recognize when thinking of a smoker is Memphis Grills.
They are considered one of the best manufacturers of smokers in the world and offer a wide variety of models that suit any budget. Their products include grills, smokers, and outdoor kitchen appliances.
Another popular option is Big Green Egg (BGE). BGE was founded in 1984 and now produces a line of smokers that are designed specifically for high-end chefs and home cooks alike. These smokers are made from cast iron and feature porcelain coated burners that make them extremely durable.
Other companies that produce quality smokers include:
Charcoal Grill Company – A company based in California that offers a number of charcoal grill options.
Crown Royal BBQ – This Texas-based company manufactures several different kinds of smokers including the famous Smokey Joe.
Hobart – This American manufacturer offers a large selection of smokers ranging from inexpensive to expensive, suiting whichever financial situation you have.
Size Of Your Offset Smoker
Finding the right size of smoker for you is essential for anyone looking to put one of these bad boys in your backyard, or wherever else for that matter. You need to make sure that the size of the smoker matches up well with the amount of space you have available.
If you’re planning on having this in your garden, then you’ll want to consider how big your garden is and what kind of space you have available before making your decision. Your standard size of a smoker is usually about 24 inches by 18 inches by 12 inches deep, but there are smaller sizes available if needed.
The larger the dimensions, the more room you will have inside the smoker. However, keep in mind that bigger isn’t always better. For example, if you live in an apartment building, you might not be able to get away with a larger model.
The best way to find out exactly what size you should go for is to measure the area where you plan on putting the smoker. Once you know this, you can shape your appliance around this area.
Your Smoker’s Material
Offset smokers can come in all types of different shapes and sizes, but they can also come in different materials. Some of the most common materials used include:
Metal – These kinds of smokers tend to be heavy-duty and long-lasting. They are perfect for those who want something sturdy and reliable, making sure you definitely get your money’s worth over the years.
Wood – Wood offset smokers are great for those who like the look of wood and enjoy using it as part of their cooking experience. They are also very easy to clean and maintain, which makes them ideal for those who don’t have much time to spend maintaining their equipment.
Porcelain – Porcelain offset smokers are often preferred by those who love the look of ceramic and appreciate its durability. It’s also important to note that porcelain is non-toxic, so you won’t have to worry about it leaching into food or affecting the taste of your meals in any way.
When choosing your smoker’s material, you may want to note that some materials are more water-resistant than others and will be able to withstand more types of weather and conditions. Metal offset smokers are generally considered to be more durable than other materials, while wood ones are more likely to warp or crack over time.
Colour Of Your Offset Smoker
This can also be a massive deciding factor for those interested, with lots of smokers being versatile enough to suit a certain environment or style. There are many colors available, including black, white, red, blue, green, brown, grey, yellow, orange, pink, purple, silver, and even gold!
If you’re looking to match your kitchen decor, then you might want to choose a color that goes well with the rest of your appliances and furniture. If you’re going for a rustic vibe, then maybe a dark charcoal grey would work well.
If you’re after a more modern feel, then perhaps a bright neon orange would complement your home’s design perfectly. Whatever colour you decide upon, just remember that you can change the appearance of your offset smoker at any point in time.
Sometimes, the perfect way to make sure you get the most out of your smoker is to ensure you have all of the right features to go along with it. This includes accessories such as grills, racks, shelves, and heat deflectors.
A grill is a very useful accessory for any type of smoker, but especially for offset smokers. A good grill allows you to cook multiple foods at once, whilst keeping the same cooking temperature, which can be monitored using a temperature gauge.
A temperature gauge is another essential feature to have on your offset smoker if you plan on smoking meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, and other items. Without one, you’ll never know exactly how hot your meats are getting, and this could lead to burning or undercooking your foods.
Another useful accessory for offset smokers is a rack system. Racks allow you to place different foods onto the same shelf, allowing you to smoke several dishes at once without having to move around the cooker. Smokers are all about versatility and ensuring you get the most out of your cooking appliance.
There are lots of different things to consider when looking to buy a new smoker, which can be daunting at first. However, we’re hoping our guide has at least given you somewhere to start and move forward from. Smokers offer something that any old gas grill can’t, and will make sure that you have different flavours and textures from gas grills.
On top of this, they can look great in anyone’s backyard, with many people building cooking areas around these cooking appliances.
There’s no real order in which you need to consider things, it’s all down to personal preference. At the end of the day, smokers will allow you another option when making food, adding a whole new bag of flavours you may not have known to exist. Stick with your gut and make sure that you get the product that is perfect for you.
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