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As the tantalising aroma of slow-smoked barbecue glides through the air, it invokes a sense of extreme enjoyment and brings forth images of mouthwatering delicacies that satisfy even the most cultivated palates. To help you with this experience, I am here again to master you how to use a vertical smoker.
Let’s dive into the core principles of using a vertical smoker to help you unlock its full potential. From assembling and seasoning your smoker to choosing the ideal wood chips for flavour infusion, we leave no stone unturned. Join me and let’s explore the step-by-step techniques, insider tips, and pro-level tricks that will elevate your outdoor cooking to new heights.
What is a Vertical Smoker?
Vertical smokers or water smokers, have a unique design that sets them apart. They are compact and heat up quickly, making cooking a breeze. Their consistent performance in preparing food makes them a favourite among beginners as well.
Imagine a kitchen oven, but designed for outdoor cooking. That’s what these units look and feel like. They offer the wonderful experience of savouring smoky barbecue flavours while enjoying the outdoors.
The secret to their magic lies in cooking food at low temperatures for extended periods. This technique ensures that meat, fish, and vegetables remain tender, juicy, and bursting with flavour.
How to use a vertical water smoker?
To start using the vertical water smoker, follow these easy steps:
- Take the smoker completely apart and choose your desired smoking location.
- Set up the base of the smoker, which is short, round, and has feet.
- Place the metal charcoal pan inside the base and fill it with about 6 to 10 pounds of charcoal.
- Remember, using more charcoal will extend the heat duration.
- Ignite the charcoal and let it burn uncovered until the coals turn almost entirely white and produce significant heat.
- While the coals are getting ready, heat enough water to fill the water pan about three-quarters full.
- Hot water is preferred so that the burning coals don’t need to heat the water for you.
- Position the water pan in the tall part of the smoker, known as the barrel, using the bottom hooks to hold it in place.
- Fill the water pan with the hot water to complete the setup.
- Carefully position the barrel on top of the charcoal pan section.
- Place the wire racks back inside the barrel section, with one on top of the water pan and the other on the top hooks.
- Congratulations! Your setup is now complete, and you are ready to start smoking your desired food items.
Experts’s Advice: To ensure optimal results when using a vertical smoker, pay attention to the water level and maintain a consistent cooking temperature for the best possible food quality and flavours.
Types of Vertical Smokers:
In the realm of smokers, three following types exists:
- Gas Smoker
- Charcoal Smoker
- Electric Smoker
Each variety possesses unique pros and cons and requires different handling.
Keep reading as I am going to explore each type providing a comprehensive guide for your understanding.
How to Use Vertical Gas Smoker:
- Remove the water pan located at the bottom of the food shelves in your vertical gas smoker.
- Fill the water pan with your preferred liquid for smoking, such as water, beer, wine, or other creative options.
- Connect your propane tank to the back of the smoker using the cord or hose provided. For specific instructions, refer to your smoker’s guide.
- Ignite the burner using the push button ignition on the front or by turning the knob. If unsure, consult the instruction manual to avoid any damage to the machine.
- Set the desired temperature and preheat the smoker using the front knobs.
- Add wood to the tray above the burner, choosing from chips, chunks, or sawdust. Avoid overpacking the tray to prevent wood from falling out.
- Place your food on the trays, and you’re ready to start smoking!
Be cautious about clearing the ashes: To ensure safety, it’s important to take some precautions beforehand. Don’t forget to wear protective eyewear as the fine ash can be irritating to the eyes. To add more safety, always use thick grill gloves and opt for long pants instead of shorts. I always prefer to perform this task in a non-flammable area, with quick access to water nearby for any unforeseen accidents.
How to Use Vertical Charcoal Smoker:
- Fill the water pan or bowl at the bottom of the smoker with your preferred liquid for smoking.
- Once filled, return the bowl to its designated position in the smoker.
- Utilise the chimney starter, positioned on the metal grate under the water bowl, to light the charcoal. Placing newspaper under the starter, filling it with charcoal, and igniting the newspaper is recommended for optimal results.
- Arrange the food in the appropriate chamber of the smoker.
- Regularly monitor the temperature to ensure it remains at the desired cooking level.
- Add more liquid and charcoal as needed, considering the smoker’s duration of operation and the amount of food being cooked.
How to Use an Electric Vertical Water Smoker:
- Electric smokers are simple to use; just plug them into a power outlet to start.
- Fill the water bowl and add wood chips as required, similar to the previous instructions, ensuring not to overfill to avoid interruptions during cooking.
- Use the digital controls to set the smoker and timer according to your preferences.
- Place your food on the rack inside the smoker.
- Voilà! With these easy steps, you’re well on your way to becoming a smoker pro!
Maintaining optimal temperature: I personally never used to trust the built-in thermometers until I found PBV3P1 Pit Boss Pellet Smoker which is literally the best in game. You will never need to add or lessen the wood chips to maintain the losing temperature because it never loses out!
What should you do with your Vertical Smoker:
- People usually ask: how to use a vertical smoker with wood chunks? Always use moist woods, it will help to burn the fire in a slow and controlled way which will save you from refuelling.
- Try to use pre-soaked woods for at least 30 minutes to allow moderate combustion.
- Don’t forget to put on proper smoking equipment like hand gloves, eye protection glasses, etc.
What should you not do with you Vertical Smoker:
- Never interrupt the cooking process by removing the lid off and on. Keep it close for a steady cooking session.
- You should know how to use vertical smoker pan to fill water. Never overfill it as you definitely would not like water spilling over meat and make it wet.
- Place the meat chunks with a proper gap and it should not be touching the sides of the smoker to ensure hot air and smoke is infused into meat properly.
For aspiring pitmasters and outdoor cooking enthusiasts, the vertical smoker stands as an indispensable tool in achieving perfectly smoked meats and delectable flavours. However, the art of using a vertical smoker goes beyond just fire-tending; it requires finesse, patience, and a deep understanding of the smoking process.
I recommend my pitmasters to clean your smoker thoroughly after each use, including the drip tray, water pan, and wood tray. To enhance its productivity, perform a deep clean of your vertical smoker approximately every 4 to 5 uses.
- How to use a vertical smoker with wood chips?
- Preheat your electric smoker to your desired heat.
- Add your wood chips to the smokebox.
- Position the smokebox inside the smoker, together with the meat.
- Maximise the benefits of the smokebox by keeping the lid closed throughout the smoking process.
- How to use a vertical gourmet smoker with wood chips?
Ans: Very Easily! Choose the right wood for flavour as per your taste. The most commonly used are: Apple, Cherry, Alder, Hickory, Pecan.
Fill the smoker box with your preferred wood chips and place it on the grate directly above the heat source at the bottom of the vertical smoker. I always advise to soak the woods prior to the cooking process to increase the efficiency.