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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 01-28-2014, 03:29 PM   #16
SmittyJonz
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What is goatskin?
I'm not sure. - I'll have to Ask my STUPID IPhone.....
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Unread 01-28-2014, 03:39 PM   #17
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OK, I think I may have this figured out, bear with me.

Your Lump was either cheap, wet, or most likely both.

You switched to a reliable fuel source and your temps were fine. I think that's the, pardon the pun, "smoking" gun.

There's really only a couple of variables here to determine to figure out your temp problem. Oxygen flow and fuel. Switch to straight up kingsford for a while. Its very consistent. Lump charcoal is unreliable as it varies greatly from batch to batch, brand to brand. Take the fuel variable out of the equation. Use kingsford, and make sure its dry. If you still have issues getting temps up, you don't have enough airflow.

You have 4 1" pipes, correct? Are there elbows in them? Those can restrict airflow. If you are still having problems, remove the elbows and try it again. a 3" exhaust is fine. Just keep it all the way open and adjust air with the intakes.

Now, on to the bitter taste. The wood you were using (the fresh, not the half burned) was it green or was it dried and well seasoned? You want dry, seasoned wood. Cherry is a great smoking wood, just make sure it isn't green, that could do it.

If the wood was dry, what did the smoke look like when you added your meat? Was it thick and white? You shouldn't add food until the smoke changes to a thin blue smoke. Smoking your food in thick white smoke will give your food a creosote taste (bitter) Let the drum settle in for 45 minutes or so before adding food. I usually just wait until she picks a temp and stays there. If you are fighting the drum and smothering a fire trying to reduce your temp, this will also cause thick smoke from poor combustion and can give your food a bitter taste. I hope this helps!
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Unread 01-28-2014, 07:30 PM   #18
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Have you taken a look inside your pipes? Maybe something got plugged in there and is restricting your airflow...
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Unread 01-29-2014, 12:21 AM   #19
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I have 4 x 1 inch pipes about 2 inches from the bottom of the barrel. No elbows, and I checked to make sure they weren't plugged. The cherry wood I used came in a package. I am not sure what it means to be seasoned.

My lump charcoal was cheap but it was dry (straight from the store into the charcoal pan). The 2 pieces of oak came from the garage but they were on a shelf. I doubt they were wet. They were definitely not green. They came from some wood that had been cut more than a year ago.

i don't recall the color of the smoke.
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Unread 01-29-2014, 12:23 AM   #20
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Here is a pic of my UDS. It is currently sitting on a dutch oven table.

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Unread 01-29-2014, 04:58 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokinJohn View Post

Everyone also forgot to ask you if any of the charcoal/wood was wet or damp...
Do you mean wet/damp as in it could be moldy or decomposing? Or are you suggesting that pre-soaking chunks might also be a culprit to cause the bitterness? It's a newbie question, I'm just curious because almost all my life I was instructed to soak, soak, soak, and that does not seem to be the conventional wisdom.

And leftover wood? I am guilty of throwing half-burned chunks into a bucket of water and then reusing them next time. Really that bad?
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Unread 01-29-2014, 05:59 AM   #22
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Ok, good, more answers. I'm still leaning toward bad or wet lump that wasn't burning properly, as you put in KBB and the problem fixed itself. And just leaving the charcoal bag open in moist or muggy conditions can be enough to take on moisture. Use KBB for a while, I bet your drum runs fine.

When you start your drum, how do you do it? How many coals, how long does it take to get up to temp, and do you slowly raise it to a temp, or kinda fly past what you're after and fight it back down? The answers to this will say something about your combustion. I don't think bitter had anything to do with the charcoal. I think you probably put your food on too soon is all. When I start my drum, I'll fire up 15 coals or so. When they're ashy, I throw them on top and close it up. I know roughly where my settings should be, so I set them and leave them. Then I wait about an hour and a half. It takes about that long to get the drum up to temp and into the grove. Until it settles in, it isn't puffing thin blue, so I don't wanna cook with it. You'll see. I think you said you waited 10 minutes? That means that an hour or more of cook was in smoke filled with creosote. The first hour is pretty crucial in smoking, as your meat is taking on most of its smoke at that time.

One more thing... Looking at your picture a little closer, Your exhaust may not be enough. Open that third exhaust port up. If you cut 1" holes then your pipe is 3/4"? That give you less than 1 1/2" worth of exhaust by the time you look at the ID of the pipe. I would keep all 3 wide open the whole time you have it running. Too much exhaust is better than not enough.
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I have a bunch of stuff that cooks meat outside
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*Actual prizes may not be fabulous. It all depends on what your definition of fabulous is. You're not going to win a car or anything, so don't get your hopes up. Just trying to give you realistic expectations.

Last edited by Shagdog; 01-29-2014 at 07:34 AM..
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Unread 01-29-2014, 07:40 AM   #23
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Use mostly charcoal and only a couple of chunks of wood. A UDS is all about airflow. More air= higher temps. Try cracking your lid for a bit if you are having trouble getting up to temp. On a drum, opening the lid allows in air and will stoke your fire.
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Unread 01-29-2014, 09:54 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagdog View Post
One more thing... Looking at your picture a little closer, Your exhaust may not be enough. Open that third exhaust port up. If you cut 1" holes then your pipe is 3/4"? That give you less than 1 1/2" worth of exhaust by the time you look at the ID of the pipe. I would keep all 3 wide open the whole time you have it running. Too much exhaust is better than not enough.
I agree with the "not enough exhaust" theory.
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Unread 01-29-2014, 10:05 AM   #25
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Thanks again for the quick answers.

- The lump charcoal was an unopened bag at the hardware store. I brought it home and it went straight into the charcoal pan. I live in Utah and the air is very dry. I don't think it was a moisture problem with the lump. The oak never touched water but was stored on a shelf in my garage. It could have been bad lump.

I filled the charcoal basket about 3/4 full of lump charcoal. Then I sprinkled some cherry wood over the top. They were chip type pieces (1 - 2 inches long). They were a commercial brand for smoking. I then fill my chimney started with lump charcoal. Once it is ready - I usually wait until I can see a good amount of red coals in the starter but have never waited until all charcoal was completely covered in ash. I then dump the lit charcoal on top of the charcoal basket and then lower the basket into the drum.

* note: I have never waited an hour to add my meat. I have always added it sooner. I believe this may be the problem. Combined with the fact that the grill rack was tightly packed with chicken. This could have seriously reduced air flow causing low temps and since it was too early could have also contributed to the bitter taste.

** another note: I forgot to mention that I am not using a conventional charcoal basket. I am using the dome from my old brinkman smoker turned upside down with 1/2 inch holes drilled through out. I wonder if the holes maybe don't go low enough down the dome. Maybe I need to drill another row or two lower and add a rack inside to give some space between the charcoal and the bottom of the basket. There are no holes in the very bottom. Could this be the problem? I will see if I can get some pics of the basket.
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Unread 01-29-2014, 10:20 AM   #26
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I'd build a real basket so ash can fall thru not choking the fire and run Briquettes - KBB or Stubbs- and Wood Chunks not Chips.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=I5poqrIboAE
Plenty of YouTube videos on making Charcoal baskets - you don't need to weld them - bailing wire and stainless steel nuts n bolts - some roll them around a gas cylinder.

Or you cAn order a basket from BigPoppas- most of your problems are from the non basket basket you got.



Soaking Wood is generally not accepted as helpfull- doesn't reAlly do much.
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Unread 01-29-2014, 11:04 AM   #27
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You probably want a real basket..

Also if you are putting enough coals in to get your drum up to temp in 10 minutes, you are adding way too much hot coal. You are putting a 400 degree fire in a confined space and giving it enough air for a fire half its size. The result of this, and probably a poor breathing fire due to the basket you're using, is that your fire is smoldering for a good long while. That's bad combustion, which will give your food a nasty flavor.. You want a fire that is small and burns efficiently. Start with 12-15 briquettes in your chimney.
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I have a bunch of stuff that cooks meat outside
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*Actual prizes may not be fabulous. It all depends on what your definition of fabulous is. You're not going to win a car or anything, so don't get your hopes up. Just trying to give you realistic expectations.
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Unread 01-29-2014, 11:10 AM   #28
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Thanks guys. I really think the basket is the culprit or at least a contributor to both the low temps and bitter flavor. I am going to build a better charcoal basket this weekend and give it another try.
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Unread 01-29-2014, 11:11 AM   #29
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Yup on too much coals - I do about 15 lit - mines up to temp in 30-45 minutes.

Basket is restricting your airflow too much and ash will build up making it worse.
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Unread 01-29-2014, 01:24 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StickyD View Post
Do you mean wet/damp as in it could be moldy or decomposing? Or are you suggesting that pre-soaking chunks might also be a culprit to cause the bitterness? It's a newbie question, I'm just curious because almost all my life I was instructed to soak, soak, soak, and that does not seem to be the conventional wisdom.

And leftover wood? I am guilty of throwing half-burned chunks into a bucket of water and then reusing them next time. Really that bad?
Yes and Yes. I have had it happen to me with mulberry wood. Smelled like animals had gotten caught in the firebasket.

If your air control is dialed in, there is no need to soak your chunks. My UDS has gone over 17 hours on one firebasket load.

As to reusing the wood: It's a choice. It's easier for me to put fresh wood in each time (also because I will switch woods from time to time and don't want a mix).
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