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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 12-20-2010, 03:46 AM   #1
altomari8868
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Default Help needed from all you stick burners

I have been experimenting with just using straight wood vs Lump with some chunks to smoke long periods of time. The problem I am having is things are getting over smoked and becoming bitter. I have been lighting my fire and letting it burn for about an hour to get a good bed of coals then adding to maintain heat. I have tried different woods and could use some help. Are you burning a base wood like oak then adding pieces of Say hickory or apple? I just can not seem to get it right and was hoping for some advise.... Thanks all...
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Unread 12-20-2010, 05:31 AM   #2
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If it is becoming bitter, it sounds like your fire isn't burning clean and you're getting creosote. I burn oak, apple, hickory, and peach...but it doesn't matter which one I burn and I've experimented with burning just 1 type of wood for some cooks. The key in my smoker is to split the wood small, maybe 2 inches across and feed the fire about 3 or 4 pieces about every 45 minutes. Maybe the wood you are burning is too big and isn't burning efficiently, while it does keep the temperature up it isn't burning efficient enough to give you the sweet blue smoke and you're getting bitter meat.
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Unread 12-20-2010, 06:04 AM   #3
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^^^^^What he said and make sure your top vents are wide open. Regulate heat only with the lower intake vents. I burn lots of mesquite and it is never bitter.
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Unread 12-20-2010, 07:01 AM   #4
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Bob, the guys above are correct. However, for us, as we dont pre-burn the wood,
it does tend to smoke white for a few minutes before we get sweet blue. As a
result, we mix charcoal and hardwood (mostly hickory but will swap in a piece of
oak every once in a while); mostly charcoal with the woods really for the smoke
itself. We also foil at about 4.5 hours (butts, etc) and 1.5 hours ribs. This keeps
it from getting too smokey IMHO.
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Unread 12-20-2010, 07:14 AM   #5
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Is your wood properly seasoned?

Are you pre-heating the logs before you throw them in? (not sure how much this really does, but we always did it)
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Unread 12-20-2010, 07:35 AM   #6
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Make sure the sticks are not too big or too moist. 3" across works for me, but optimum size depends on your firebox. Store your BBQ wood inside if possible. Add less wood more often to maintain a small, clean burning fire. Pre-heat the wood on top of the firebox so they'll catch and burn faster. To speed things up, start your fire with a good bed of lump charcoal before you start adding the sticks. Keep the exhaust vent wide open. When you add a stick, leave the firebox door open for a minute or two. The extra oxygen will help the new piece ignite faster. Good luck!
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Unread 12-20-2010, 07:53 AM   #7
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Although not represented in either of these vids, even in my Brazos Pit (Large one) I have been known to thrown on a bag of coal (not the paper, Okay) on top of my Initial fire. I do not even shift the wood.... this makes a very quick and intense bed of coal and wood. One that once its caught gets all that steel up to over 300-350 WHICH in my opinion is the best temp to put your meat on then let the meat mass take your temp down by itself without changing the vent settings. Then when you do, choke it down gradually. I even have to **** down one of my stacks entirely as I will lose too much heat - but thats my pit.

ON My small pit, the Meat Mama 3000, Look at about 1:17 in this vid to see how to cut your wood for the best results. In my meat mama 3000 it used to be important if I cooked at 225. as I rose up to higher temps the units simply breathe better.

http://www.youtube.com/user/Popdaddy...67/hU1nBge9yJk


Up to the point I LOad the pit REMEMBER!!!!! its a test of a stoker unit, not a vid about how to properly smoke a load of wood.

On my Medium size pit, the Brazos, watch this vid at about firing up your pit

http://www.youtube.com/user/Popdaddy.../2/0bBGG59l9XU
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Unread 12-20-2010, 12:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigdog View Post
make sure your top vents are wide open. Regulate heat only with the lower intake vents.
This was my first thought. I run mine wide open at the top and regulate the intake. I burn just about anything that I can get, mostly Oak, Cherry and Maple. I dont care what size they are my smoker does just fine.
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Unread 12-20-2010, 03:09 PM   #9
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You can burn pecan all day long and not get any bitterness....unless you're putting your sauce on while smoking. Turns sauce bitter. But we mainly use lump and add wood every hour or so. You can usually tell by the color when you're done smoking and just need heat.
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Unread 12-20-2010, 05:09 PM   #10
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We gave up and went to lump coal with pecan wood over the top. The wood really takes over and we regulate the heat with the amount of wood in the box. (along with a stoker) But straight wood was to much for our Kingfisher.
I agree with the others, your smoker and type of smoker will be its own. keep working.
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Unread 12-21-2010, 07:07 AM   #11
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A lot of good advice above.
To me, it depends greatly on the size of your smoker. It's much more difficult to burn pure wood in a smaller smoker. My guess is, if you're able to heat your smoker on pure lump, your smoker is on the smaller side and you may want to stick with lump for heat and chunks for flavor. If you're using good lump, you won't even need to add chunks. A good lump made from hickory gives plenty of smoke flavor.
That being said.. I tend to let my initial fire burn for a good two hours to get a nice hot base going, then preheat my wood on the side of the firebox..and also try to avoid bark when you can. You can't achieve perfect combpustion all the time, but the better the fire, the less likely the bitter taste.
My perfect smoke is almost non-existent. I love it when I have to look at my stack for a bit to even tell if it's lit.

One more thing... never, never choke the exhaust to control temperature if at all possible. A closed exhaust makes for stale smoke. You want the air in the cooking chamber moving freely at all times if you can help it. If you are needing to choke the exhaust, then your fire is too big.
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Unread 12-21-2010, 09:46 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roksmith View Post
One more thing... never, never choke the exhaust to control temperature if at all possible. A closed exhaust makes for stale smoke. You want the air in the cooking chamber moving freely at all times if you can help it. If you are needing to choke the exhaust, then your fire is too big.
when it comes to stickburning, that advice is key

Finding the right size fire is dependent your wood splits, you need to size your splits to give you enough heat to maintain pit temps and allow for a clean burn, it took many cooks for me to figure out the right size splits for my smoker, once you know the right size, its all good.

Some people get lucky with a new larger pits as thier wood supply matches the size of fire that is needed.
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Unread 12-21-2010, 03:14 PM   #13
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It took me about two months of trying differant things to see what worked best for me and Lena. I cook around 275 so for me I dump half a bag of kingsford in the firebox lay two hickory sticks over it and get going with my weed burner. Once the cooking areas reach 200 i close the big door and watch the temp climb to 275 it sits there nicely then after an hour and a half or so I add a stick of wood to keep the temp up and then a stick every hour... trial and error is the only way to figure it out really
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Unread 12-21-2010, 04:37 PM   #14
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I do very similar to sitnfat. For starters I put in about 1/2 bag of kingsford, I then
fire up 2 chimneys and put the coals on top of the unlit kingsford. I'll leave this for
about 45 minutes as the temps come up. While this is happening I keep a few pieces
of hickory on top of the firebox (in the warmer). I'll take a piece or two of hickory
and put them on the coals. In about 5 minutes I close it up and get it to settle in
on 245+-. That usually takes us to right at an hour. At that point in time we'll use
roughly a chimney of charcoal an hour+- and I'll put a piece of hickory on it about
every 1.5 hours+-.
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Unread 12-21-2010, 05:48 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by altomari8868 View Post
I have been experimenting with just using straight wood vs Lump with some chunks to smoke long periods of time. The problem I am having is things are getting over smoked and becoming bitter. I have been lighting my fire and letting it burn for about an hour to get a good bed of coals then adding to maintain heat. I have tried different woods and could use some help. Are you burning a base wood like oak then adding pieces of Say hickory or apple? I just can not seem to get it right and was hoping for some advise.... Thanks all...
It is helpful for posters asking for help to put in some detail about what you are currently doing during the cook and what smoker you are using.
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