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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 07-07-2010, 02:10 PM   #1
Howtobrew
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Default UDS and Water Pan?

Okay, I am seriously considering building a UDS instead of buying an BGE for $1000.

The question that occurs to me though is that the plans for building a UDS do not call for a water pan, such as the WSM has.

Do you not need a water pan for a) temperature stability or b) humidity in desert climates to keep the food from drying out?

Also, when using a UDS I see comments that users just tossed a couple chunks on hickory on the fire basket for smoke. Are these chunks dry or soaking wet? Don't they catch fire?
Would an alternate design be to put the wood in a seperate pan above the fire basket but below the food?
Thanks,
HtB
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Unread 07-07-2010, 02:40 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howtobrew View Post
Okay, I am seriously considering building a UDS instead of buying an BGE for $1000.

The question that occurs to me though is that the plans for building a UDS do not call for a water pan, such as the WSM has.

Do you not need a water pan for a) temperature stability or b) humidity in desert climates to keep the food from drying out?

Also, when using a UDS I see comments that users just tossed a couple chunks on hickory on the fire basket for smoke. Are these chunks dry or soaking wet? Don't they catch fire?
Would an alternate design be to put the wood in a seperate pan above the fire basket but below the food?
Thanks,
HtB
You don't need a water pan in a UDS. Temp is easy to control since it's tight as a drum and if you try using a water pan you'll find you need much more fuel and oxygen to the coals than otherwise. I already tried it.

Don't soak the wood chunks. They'll be plenty of smoke when they start smoldering. They won't burn up unless you leave the top off long enough. Of course, then you'll be more concerned with the ensuing temp spike than the wood chunks.
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Unread 07-07-2010, 02:50 PM   #3
Howtobrew
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Thanks Dave!
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Unread 07-07-2010, 03:12 PM   #4
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I use a water pan in one of mine for my butts and brisket. I just don't like the massive infusion of burning fat flavor. A little gives it that great old-school taste, but beyond a little is too much for me.

John
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Unread 07-07-2010, 03:16 PM   #5
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Some folks use a heat diffuser in their UDS's, myself included, for certain cooks. The heat diffuser can be helpful if you want to avoid flareups and helps if you like less "bark" on your meat. Mine is a giant colander I place upside down over the charcoal basket, but I have seen others use a clay pot dish filled with sand placed on an additional grate between the food grate and charcoal basket...the latter will definitely use more fuel.
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Unread 07-07-2010, 03:19 PM   #6
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I don't use one, but here in Louisiana, low humidity is never a problem,especially in the summer. I have seen 100% humidity and not raining.
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Unread 07-07-2010, 03:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatioDaddio View Post
I use a water pan in one of mine for my butts and brisket. I just don't like the massive infusion of burning fat flavor. A little gives it that great old-school taste, but beyond a little is too much for me.

John
You can just foil the water pan and leave an air pocket so all the collecting grease doesn't burn. I've cooked ribs with and without a foiled pan in my UDS but prefer the wsm for butts and brisket for exactly the same reason you use the pan. If I had to cook more than four at a time I guess I'd get the drum out.
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Unread 07-07-2010, 03:36 PM   #8
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i use a pizza pan with holes in it(it came that way). since i've started using that my q has been better and fire control is better. no need for water pan. you will have so much moister you will not know what to do with it. i tried a soup can of water and wow i had so much moister that i had a puddle in the bottom of the uds. man these cooker are great and cheap.
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Unread 07-07-2010, 03:54 PM   #9
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I built my UDS two years ago (love it), do not use water pan, but have been conteplating to get a diffuser not to keep the grease of the fire, but to difuse the heat more evenly (my fire box is rectangular). I do not soak my wood chunks, but if i use wood chips, i usually soak those.

No issues with fire/temp control. Love the cooker! You should definitely do it.
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Unread 07-07-2010, 04:20 PM   #10
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I don't use a water pan in mine but, at times, I do add a foiled second grate blow the cooking grate with some holes in it. This works as a drip pan and heat diffuser. If you use a quality lump charcoal you are actually burning 100% wood with no binders or fillers like the briqs. The lump alone can give a nice flavor to your cook. The chucks add that extra touch, though.
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Unread 07-07-2010, 05:04 PM   #11
Howtobrew
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How far above the top of the firebox should the diffuser or grease catchpan be?

What is the minimum distance between the top of the firebox to the food grate?

Thanks!
John
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Unread 07-07-2010, 05:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howtobrew View Post
How far above the top of the firebox should the diffuser or grease catchpan be?

What is the minimum distance between the top of the firebox to the food grate?

Thanks!
John
I think you'd be pretty safe with the diffuser about midway between the top of the firebasket and food grate...I'm sure others can chime in here as well, esp since I use a cheap colander!
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Unread 07-07-2010, 06:03 PM   #13
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I have an original BDS which is built without a water pan or any type of diffuser. The cooker is designed to not use anything between the fuel and the meat so to allow the fat drippings to vaporize when hitting the fire imparting additonal flavor into the mix.
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Unread 07-07-2010, 07:59 PM   #14
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Are you married?

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Unread 07-08-2010, 08:11 AM   #15
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I built by second UDS earlier this year. At first I was all about the water pans, but did not like the texture it gave the meat. I was going thru TOO MUCH water, and it was making the meat super moist and mushy.

When meat fibers cook, they turn to gelatin- too much moisture gives you meat flavored gelatin. Not appetizing at all.

Now, I use a 1/8" thick steel diffuser plate with a couple large holes cut out, mounted 5" from the top of the coal basket. It keeps the heat more even from the top of the cooking area to the bottom, catches most of the drippings while still allowing some to fall thru to the coals, and keeps the flare-ups to a minimum.

If you're seriously concerned about retaining moisture in the meat- foil it 2/3 way thru the cook. It will do the same thing only better, plus it will do what a water pan can't- collect some of the juices for later use.

That's my humble .02
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