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Nhenson
02-05-2015, 04:14 PM
Alright, I bit the bullet and bought myself a Kamado (Kamado Joe Classic) this past weekend. I had previously been using a Pit Barrel Cooker that I bought a couple years ago. The food off the PBC was great, but the PBC has been inconsistent at times (I think due to the cold weather of the Midwest).

I've cooked twice on the Kamado (both time with Kamado Joe Lump). The moisture and tenderness of the food was exceptional! The first cook was chicken, and the second was a cookie that I found on YouTube. The problem is that both came out with a bitter charcoal/gasoline flavor that was not good.

After the first cook, I did some research and learned that this was not uncommon due to the user not letting the new charcoal burn long enough. I chalked the bitter taste up to user error because I put the chicken on right away. For the second cook, I let the fire get going, and let the kamado regulate for about 45 minutes up to 350. It was night time, so I'm not 100% sure that the smoke had gotten to the point of beeing clear, but I couldn't see it when I put the food on. Regardless, the cookie did not come out any better than the chicken.

I can't beleive that if the food I'm pulling of this kamado is normal, everyone would think so highly of them. Again, I'm sure it is user error, but what exactly am I doing wrong? I talked this thing up to my wife so much before Ibought it, and now I'm just getting laughed at. That about par for the course in married life though (I half joke) :grin:!!!

Thanks for the help in advance!

donmiller
02-05-2015, 04:44 PM
How are you lighting the charcoal?

Fwismoker
02-05-2015, 04:45 PM
That will happen...especially with chicken when the fire isn't hot and it's smoldering.

I don't use a kamado but i can tell you that if you get a hot fire going in one spot and just let that spread to light the other coals then you'll be fine.

ETOH
02-05-2015, 04:56 PM
Were you using any wood in with the lump? I have gotten bitter results when I used certain types of wood.

Nhenson
02-05-2015, 05:01 PM
I lit the coals with a Kamado Joe fire starter. Let it burn 10 or so minutes and then shut the lid. Made sure the vents were open, and let it come up to temp.

I did not know about the requirement of letting the charcoal burn off before putting the food on. Knowing that is the practice, it does make me wonder how the kamado is capable of smoking for such long periods of time when your not lighting all of the charcoal at one time and burning it all off?

In my present situation, I did fill the firebox with a lot of charcoal. I actually had to remove some to set the divide and conquer in. There was also one huge piece that was much bigger than the rest included. Could any of that have contributed to the problem? Could it just be a batch of bad charcoal? Should the food have any of this flavor at all?

Nhenson
02-05-2015, 05:02 PM
No additional wood used, just that lump.

Cajun Ty
02-05-2015, 05:23 PM
I never used the Kamado Joe brand but did read it was a quality lump, all i can think of is a bad bag or coals were not ready. You have me scratching my head on this one lol. I don't have a KJ but all the food on my Primo taste great using Ozark Oak lump

oldbill
02-05-2015, 05:33 PM
I don't have a Kamado and have never used the charcoal either but it seems strange to me that you're getting the bitter taste that you are from it, especially after it's burned for 45 minutes. Based on your description of what you're doing and how you're doing it I'm kinda thinking that it's the charcoal.
I'd suggest trying another brand of lump and see what happens.:wink:

Nhenson
02-05-2015, 05:39 PM
Are there occassions where a bag of lump can go bad? Also, does lump have a taste different to briquettes? if it does, is it anything like what I described? I hate to say it, but is it my tastebuds - I don't think so, because the few people that tasted the food all said the same thing?

oldbill
02-05-2015, 05:46 PM
Are there occassions where a bag of lump can go bad? Also, does lump have a taste different to briquettes? if it does, is it anything like what I described? I hate to say it, but is it my tastebuds - I don't think so, because the few people that tasted the food all said the same thing?If anything lump should taste cleaner than a briquette charcoal because there's no chemical additives or binders like there are in briquettes.
If the lump was a little damp before you used it and it smoldered rather than burned as it should then you could have gotten the bitter flavor. Lump is after all just carbonized wood and to an extent the rules for burning wood apply to lump as well,... keep it dry and have good airflow in your cooker.:-D

ssv3
02-05-2015, 06:12 PM
I'm with Smitty and Oldbill. I'm too scartching my head as a kamado owner and have cooked on it plenty. You got it down on getting the fire going and the only culprit I can think of is the KJ lump. That's weird but people swear by KJ lump.

I can tell you that I stopped using mesquite lump in my kamado due to the bitter flavor in food but I know KJ lump isn't mesquite either. I would just try another brand of lump.

If you light most of your lump on start up then you'll have grilling temps. I would do as you do, fire up with lid open for about 10 mins until you get small fire going and close lid with both dampers wide open. Within 50* of reaching you desired temp bring down your dampers/vents accordingly. Don't put your meat/food on until you get trasparent to light blue smoke.

Keep us posted.

16Adams
02-05-2015, 06:20 PM
I never used the Kamado Joe brand but did read it was a quality lump, all i can think of is a bad bag or coals were not ready. You have me scratching my head on this one lol. I don't have a KJ but all the food on my Primo taste great using Ozark Oak lump

This ^^*^

Also there are fire starters that have a very strong petro aroma. Some are labeled for charcoal-still a powerful petro aroma

SmokinAussie
02-05-2015, 06:31 PM
Top vent regulation.

I do not think you can blame the lump. The "bad bag" theory doesn't wash... if you see the size of the mountain of charcoal that your bag was filled from, it will be obvious.

First, I suggest ditching the fire starters and using a chimney. It's possible that you used the starters and had the lid closed for a period before everything was burned clean. Make a small fire from a chimney with lump, open the bottom and top vents and burn that kamado up as hot as you can. Burn all that taste out of it. Then wipe and dust it all out and start again.

Next time just use the chimney also, build your fire and let it settle to temp, always leaving the top vent wide open to promote a clean burn.

I just figure the combination you may have had would have led to the bitter taste. A choked fire is a dirty fire and if you used a fire starter too, then it will be worse.

I've made a few assumptions here. I hope it helps though.

Good Luck.

Cheers

Bill

lantern
02-05-2015, 06:45 PM
I'll +1 what SmokinAussie said and add one more thing for later.


The next time you cook don't put anything on until the smell coming from your exhaust smells like something you like. This is especially important at night when you can't see very well.




......I put my hand in the exhaust and smell it instead of sticking my face into it. Don't ask how I know to do this. :oops:

SGH
02-05-2015, 07:01 PM
I have been cooking on a Kamado for years. I have probably tried every lump out there at one time or another. That said, some are far better than others no matter what anyone tries to say. In my honest opinion, the 2 best lumps out there at the moment are Ozark Oak and Rockwood. You will not have a bitter taste with these 2 lumps. If you let your Kamado stabilize as long as you said above, the VOC'S had more than ample time to burn off. I'm of the opinion that you just do not like the flavor imparted by your particular lump. I do not like the taste of certain lumps either. I now use Rockwood and Ozark Oak exclusively for this reason. They both cost a little more than other lumps, but it's money well spent in my opinion. Before you give up on your Kamado, at least give Ozark Oak or Rockwood a try. I think that you will be very pleased with the results and your dilemma will be solved.

Cajun Ty
02-05-2015, 08:35 PM
I have been cooking on a Kamado for years. I have probably tried every lump out there at one time or another. That said, some are far better than others no matter what anyone tries to say. In my honest opinion, the 2 best lumps out there at the moment are Ozark Oak and Rockwood. You will not have a bitter taste with these 2 lumps. If you let your Kamado stabilize as long as you said above, the VOC'S had more than ample time to burn off. I'm of the opinion that you just do not like the flavor imparted by your particular lump. I do not like the taste of certain lumps either. I now use Rockwood and Ozark Oak exclusively for this reason. They both cost a little more than other lumps, but it's money well spent in my opinion. Before you give up on your Kamado, at least give Ozark Oak or Rockwood a try. I think that you will be very pleased with the results and your dilemma will be solved.

I been wanting to try Rockwood but can't find it around here guess I'll have to order a bag but i can get Ozark Oak around the block for 7.99 a bag

SGH
02-05-2015, 09:02 PM
I been wanting to try Rockwood but can't find it around here guess I'll have to order a bag but i can get Ozark Oak around the block for 7.99 a bag

For a "Neutral" taste, Rockwood is king. For a delicate smooth smoke taste, Ozark Oak is king. If you like to make bread and pizza, this is where Rockwood really shines as its near tasteless. For beef, nothing rivals Ozark Oak. That's a great price you are getting OO for. If we were closer, I would trade you a pallet of RW for some OO.

TXLX
02-05-2015, 09:32 PM
Good suggestions on the lump, I'm out and looking for something new.

For what it's worth, I had some random bitter tasting Q from my drum (not the same of course). I attributed it to using too much smoking wood, not letting the smoker fully burn clean, and or grease dripping in the fire. I addressed all of these issues and back to good tasting Q. And I run the exhaust full open, good flow is very important I hear.

captndan
02-06-2015, 09:53 AM
Make your own lump with red oak. You will never have another problem. Unless you use kerosene to start.

Nhenson
02-06-2015, 11:50 AM
Gave it another go last night and cooked some ABT's. I used the same charcoal, but before doing so I did a high temp (700+) burn out to try and get an evidence of the previous bad cook out. I then followed the same procedures as before, but did not fill the firebox with as much charcoal and waited until the smoke smelled good (no visual clue because it was again nightime). I did kind of build a hill of charcoal in the middle of the kamado so that more of it would start from the firestarted at one time. The ABT's turned out great! My Wife said she "could only taste the slightest bit of the charcoal, and that they were really good." I think is to be expected anytime you cook over it?

This experience brought up a few additional questions though:

1. Prior to putting the food on, there was no visible smoke (but it was nightime). Once a put the food on, a white cmoke returned. I did have to adjust the temp considerable prior to the cook because I overshot my desired. I attributed the smoke after placing the food on to the bacon drippings onto the heat deflector. Thoughts?

2. As I mentioned, I built a little mini mound of charcoal in the middle of the firbox prior to lighting the firestarter. Once the charcoal was going, I kinda knocked the lit coals around the grill in an effort to catch any unlit coals too and burn off any additional unwanted elements from those coals. Is this necessarily a good practice or even warranted?

3. I let the kamado get up to about 350 and regulate there untile the smoke smelled good. This seems in line with what I had read as far as the appropriate temp to burn off any unwanteds before cooking. What do you do for low and slow cooks, just wait longer for everything to burn?

Thanks for all your responses so far, and your continued help!

Nhenson
02-06-2015, 04:09 PM
Gave it another go last night and cooked some ABT's. I used the same charcoal, but before doing so I did a high temp (700+) burn out to try and get an evidence of the previous bad cook out. I then followed the same procedures as before, but did not fill the firebox with as much charcoal and waited until the smoke smelled good (no visual clue because it was again nightime). I did kind of build a hill of charcoal in the middle of the kamado so that more of it would start from the firestarted at one time. The ABT's turned out great! My Wife said she "could only taste the slightest bit of the charcoal, and that they were really good." I think is to be expected anytime you cook over it?

This experience brought up a few additional questions though:

1. Prior to putting the food on, there was no visible smoke (but it was nightime). Once a put the food on, a white cmoke returned. I did have to adjust the temp considerable prior to the cook because I overshot my desired. I attributed the smoke after placing the food on to the bacon drippings onto the heat deflector. Thoughts?

2. As I mentioned, I built a little mini mound of charcoal in the middle of the firbox prior to lighting the firestarter. Once the charcoal was going, I kinda knocked the lit coals around the grill in an effort to catch any unlit coals too and burn off any additional unwanted elements from those coals. Is this necessarily a good practice or even warranted?

3. I let the kamado get up to about 350 and regulate there untile the smoke smelled good. This seems in line with what I had read as far as the appropriate temp to burn off any unwanteds before cooking. What do you do for low and slow cooks, just wait longer for everything to burn?

Thanks for all your responses so far, and your continued help!

ssv3
02-06-2015, 04:39 PM
I fill the charcoal about this much (5lb-ish) and up to the firebox holes but you can go a bit higher as well. This will burn easily for 12-14 hrs if not more. Light her up.

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-4dzEdPRFfK4/U9yGB9dXd2I/AAAAAAAAKGU/6zc0CFmcaco/w702-h395-no/20140801_165628.jpg

You don't have to knock over lit coals around. It'll just start slow burning and you wont get very high temps that you def don't need. The purpose of smoking basically.

Once you got a small part of charcoal or small fire going, you just close the lid and open the bottom vent and top vent wide open. The white billowing smoke will come though the top vent first.

Like so --- The below is NOT GOOD

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-ToVwz7PQb24/UwqYHTudTjI/AAAAAAAAKFE/u2Sh8q98Srk/w463-h581-no/2014-02-23%2B16.53.08.jpg

When you reach with 25-50* or the target temp (depeding on the kamado) adjust both vents accordingly to stall at the desired temp.

The smoke shoud clear to transparent or thin blue like this. THIS IS GOOD.This is a pic with the food on since I don't have one right before I put the meat on but it's similar to this.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-PJwAVqBCCYs/UwqWoYdd6BI/AAAAAAAAJqM/DeuJje64NE0/w702-h527-no/20130704_063051.jpg

Don't have a decent pic but this kind of clear white smoke at night is good as well coming out of the top vent at times. Completely normal.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-DObnxJhebtA/U4lwKELoMZI/AAAAAAAAJmY/cmVPC9QBNlk/w702-h395-no/20140530_215542.jpg


Hope it helps. It could also be that some family members just do not like smoke flavor at all. Even the good smoke flavor. My sister in law for example.

Nhenson
02-08-2015, 09:18 AM
Thank you everyone for all your help. Your advice has really made a difference. Now it's just down to playing with some different brands of charcoal. That's going to be fun!