Smoking meat can be very tricky, especially for beginners.
In fact, you may over smoke your meat and it the first few times you use your new smoekr.
It’s a common mistake, don’t worry. Learning how to smoke meat takes time.
There are a lot of things that you’ll need to keep an eye on throughout the smoking process. For example, you’ll need to monitor:
- the internal temperature of the cooking chamber
- the internal meat temperature
Not paying attention to one of this variables may lead to over smoked meat.
We are going to show how to avoid creosote plus an easy way to fix your meat if its been over smoked.
So, What’s Creosote?
Have you heard of something called ‘creosote’?
It’s what we use to refer to the substance that forms when there’s not enough airflow throughout a smoking session.
It’s one of the most common smoking mistakes that everyone makes.
We all love that smokiness that that adds to the flavor profiles of our meat but not the bitter flavors.
The bitter taste actually comes from the formation of creosote. Creosote is what makes the meat look black.
It doesn’t just form on your cuts of meat, or over-smoked brisket. You can also often find creosote in charcoal smokers.
It doesn’t matter if you use a pellet smoker, bullet smoker, or electric smoker, it will still form.
You’ll find a build-up of this stuff if you don’t clean your type of smoker between cooking sessions. It doesn’t matter what unit you’re using. You have to keep it clean.
But it isn’t the smoke that causes the build-up of creosote in a smoker. Wood chips can cause it too.
It doesn’t matter what kind of wood you use in your smoker — be it cherry wood, fruit wood, milder wood, green wood, or apple wood. If the wood is too dry and ignites too much, it can also add to the amount of creosote produced.
Whats The Difference Between Creosote and Bark
Do not mistake creosote and dark bark; even though they both kind of look like the same.
Bark refers to a piece of smoked meat’s black, crispy (albeit sometimes chewy) outside texture. It is created by the smoke from a smoker and the spices from a dry rub or marinade. The flavor and texture are a guilty pleasures of most pitmasters.
You can often tell these two apart, because a meat’s bark is pleasant to eat, while creosote just tastes like burnt toast.
How to Avoid Creosote
You need your grill to be clean. That way your meat is only exposed to clean smoke.
We have a solution to get rid of the build up of black creosote in your grill.
You can get rid of it with; Oven cleaner or apple cider vinegar. These are cleaning substances that should always do the trick.
Proper ventilation is also key. You want to ensure that the smoke and air are properly flowing through.
Hot Tip: Things like brisket and pork shoulder can take a lot of smoke, but after the meat temp hits about 150 and after about 4 hrs the amount of smoke absorbed is reduced.
The Easy Solution for Over Smoked Meat
Okay, but what happens if we’ve already over-smoked our lovely meat? (Be it a smoked pork tenderloin, pork shoulder/pork butt, pork ribs, pork roast, or even crispy smoked chicken wings)
What do we do then?
The solution is simple. Like how you would use a knife to scrape away the burnt bits on a piece of toast. You’ll also need to cut the black bits off of your over smoked meat. This may seem like a waste, but it’s really the only way to salvage the overdone meat.
7 Ways to Prevent Over Smoking from Happening Again
Not a lot of people know this, but white smoke isn’t good. In fact, it contributes to over smoking.
If you expose your meat to it for a long period of time, then it’ll develop that bitter taste.
Instead, the smoke that you should be looking out for is blue smoke. When meat absorbs blue smoke, it gets that wonderful smoky flavor — without the unpleasant bitter taste. That is just one of ours tips to prevent over smoking, see the other 6 below!
Pick Your Wood
Some woods have strong flavors. Hickory, mesquite and walnut. produces a really strong smoke. There is a fine balance between excessive and delicious smoky flavours.
Be Sure to Balance Your Flavors
If you do decide to use a stronger wood like mesquite or walnut. You can try balancing them with a milder flavor such as applewood. This way the flavour of meat won’t be dominated. Some mild woods we recommend are maple and cherry.
Regulate Air Flow
You might find that during your first few smoking sessions, you get a heavy smokey flavor. Many people will recommend not opening the chamber and disturbed the temperature. However, you might get a build-up of smoke. You want the smoke balanced and flowing within the chamber.
If the smoke is unable to escape during the cook, it may penetrate the meat too much. See here to learn more about airflow.
I recommend brining your meat before smoking it. If you find the meat too salty, you can add sweeteners such as molasses or sugar to balance the flavors
Keep An Eye on Your Fuel Source
You should keep an eye on your fuel source. Sometimes during a cook, you may need to change the wood. If you don’t sometimes the wood will release a white smoke, which can give the meat a bitter flavor.
Preheat Your Smoker
Make sure you always preheat your smoker. You want to have the smoker at the right temperature before you put in your meat. Otherwise, your meat may have to be in the chamber longer than needed and it may absorb more smoke than you wanted.
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
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