How To Season A New Smoker
Prepare Your Smoker for Countless Uses
Congratulations on purchasing your new smoker! Taking this action has moved you to another level of outdoor cooking. You aren’t going to simply grill. You are going to create meals filled with aromas and flavors you have savored at many barbecues and restaurants.
You Can’t Start Cold
Unlike a gas or charcoal grill, you can’t simply coat the cooking surface of the smoker, add kindling, and start things up. Necessary prep work is required. Not only to allow for the even distribution of the cooking elements but also to set the smoker up for many years of use.
Laying the Foundation
By going through these seasoning steps, you create a foundation for fantastic barbecue from the first brisket to the last Applewood-smoked chicken. Plus:
You remove unwanted odors – Throughout the production process, the smoker absorbs odors from paint, adhesives, and smells from the manufacturing floor. Without preparation, these odors are absorbed into whatever food is placed inside the smoker.
You protect it from the elements – Most likely, you won’ move the smoker into the garage or another covered area after each use. The correct seasoning help protect it from various weather extremes.
Extending its life – Your smoker does not come with rust-proofing. Since water or another liquid are main components to keep your meats and meals from drying up, its humidity and condensation speeds up your smoker’s aging after each use. In the end, rust can start to form.
Seasoning creates a protective coating that layers its interior surfaces with carbon and smoke. Not only does this allow condensation to drip off it also cures the paint. This makes your smoker look like new after numerous uses.
Step-by-Step Smoker Seasoning
Properly seasoning your smoker should start at the assembly stage. Though it seems strange, running through all these steps as you put things together saves time. In addition, it allows you to clean and coat all surfaces.
- First, clean the smoker’s equipment. This includes the interior, racks, grates, and pans. Others say simply use water. However, a bit of mild dish soap acts as a degreaser.
Using a soft cloth to avoid scratching the finish, wash down that equipment to remove oils and grime created during production. Rinse everything with warm water.
- Next, air dry all the cleaned surfaces. Manufacturer’s instructions normally say to do this. Nevertheless, there are others who dry the areas with a cloth or towel. Air drying removes any residual odors that cling to the smoker’s surfaces.
- Once completely dry, spray or wipe down the interior areas with flourless cooking oil. Cooking spray is the best way to ensure all the edges and corners are covered as you put things together. Furthermore, doing this during assembly gives you more room to maneuver
Don’t apply so much that the extra must be mopped up. Apply a thin and even coat. When you put everything together, carefully handle the pieces so you don’t remove the coating. Any oil on the smoker’s exterior can simply be rubbed in to give the area an extra dose of water-proofing.
If you want to season your smoker like you’re about to immediately use it, then forego the vegetable or canola oil. Instead, use something like bacon grease to infuse its interior with the smells of smoke and meat.
- Place the water pan in the smoker but leave it empty. Or not. It depends how much seasoning you have already done. Adding another liquid like beer provides an extra nuance of flavor. However, if you feel it’s enough for the time being, place the pan in there sans liquid.
- Open the vent and set the temperature to maximum. Others recommend keeping the vent close. Review your user’s manual to see what they say.
- Run the smoker for three hours or what your manual determines as a full cooking cycle. Apply the wood toward the end of this process to eliminate any remnants of metallic odors.
Variations While Seasoning
Besides standard cooking oils and bacon grease, expert pitmasters have other recommendations to coat the smoker’s interior. They include olive and sunflower oil, suet (raw beef fat), or lard.
As you would do when smoking a cut of meat or other food item, complete the seasoning process with a mix of woods. Pitmasters recommend a combination of hickory or mesquite with fruit woods such as apple or peach.
And when it comes to the smoker’s initial heating, the experts recommend a slow warmup to prevent warping of the metal. For instance, maintain a temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours. Then, raise it to 350 for another six.
There may be a point in the smoker’s use that the build-up of soot or grease on its interior walls starts to change the flavor or moisture levels of your food. In this situation, treat it like it’s a brand-new part of your outdoor cooking gear. Wash all the interior pieces, air dry them, re-coat the surfaces with oil or grease, and heat the smoker up again to return it to its previous glory.
Now, you’re ready to season your smoker for the best meals in your neighborhood. Don’t rush. Follow all the steps and make variations where desired or needed. The time you take will result in a meal with fabulous flavors and aromas.