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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, equipment and outdoor cookin' . ** Other cooking techniques are welcomed for when your cookin' in the kitchen. Post your hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures, but stay on topic and watch for that hijacking.


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Old 09-13-2011, 04:33 PM   #1
snyper77
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Default How does food get "too much smoke"?

I am learning about different types of wood that can be used for smoking. Several sites say "too much hickory smoke will make food taste bitter". I also read that about maple wood.

What if you have dry, seasoned wood that doesn't smoke as much as non-seasoned wood? Or is it pretty safe to use these woods 100% through the cook, but foil the meat at the recommended temps?

I always here people bragging on "the smoke ring" and how much it penetrated the meat. I've always thought a "thick" smoke ring is a good thing.
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Old 09-13-2011, 04:35 PM   #2
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The closest I've been to "too much smoke" is when my fire is not burning efficiently and I get "soot" on the meat. As long as the fire has plenty of oxygen to burn clean, I don't have that problem. Hope this helps.
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Old 09-13-2011, 04:35 PM   #3
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Yes, baby backs taste hammy to me with too much smoke.

There is a difference between over smoking something and getting creosote from a dirty burn or green wood at too low of a temp. Smaller cuts can take too much smoke and it will be the dominant flavor, overpowering the rest of the flavor profile.
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Old 09-13-2011, 04:40 PM   #4
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Poultry is VERY easy to oversmoke.
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Old 09-13-2011, 04:40 PM   #5
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When I first started out smoking about 10 years ago with a Klose stick burner I ruined a lot of meat with too much smoke. Smoke should be just another flavor enhancer, just like your rub, sauce or injections. Too much smoke will overpower. Different woods blend better with certain types of meat and some woods like hickory are "stronger" than milder woods like oak. Just my 2 cents
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Old 09-13-2011, 04:44 PM   #6
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I agree that your greatest risk of bad smoke flavor is from wood that isn't burning hot enough to burn completely. That's why you look for the thin bluish smoke, and not the dense white billowy smoke.

You can often actually smell it, too, when the smoke isn't right -- at least I can. It is hard to explain, but when the fire is right, the smoke just smells right.

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Old 09-13-2011, 04:44 PM   #7
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Like mentioned above, poultry can easily be oversmoked. It soaks it up like a sponge whereas brisket can take a lot of smoke. You have to adjust the amount of smoke and the type of wood for what you're cooking.
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Old 09-13-2011, 04:44 PM   #8
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You'll usually get a heavy smoke flavor using hard wood, citrus and fruit wood impart a lighter flavor. Plus you'll find that different meats will accept smoke and taste different. We like heavy smoke flavor but not to the point of bitterness. I have a friends that smokes with only hickory and his stuff is always bitter to us.. I use a lot of fruit and citrus woods and use it during the entire cook on everything i smoke. just keep trying different woods and you'll find one that makes you palate happy! and then you'll want something different!
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Old 09-13-2011, 04:45 PM   #9
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A non-cleaning fire will give you a bitter taste. "Too smoky" is kind of subjective, but there is a point where most people agree food is too smoky. Hardwoods such as hickory and oak have a strong flavor, fruit woods a lighter flavor. Mesquite is really strong and you have to be judicious with it - at least for my taste.

I usually use hickory, but if I've had a big cut in the cooker for a long time, I may switch over to apple if I'm still cooking chicken or smaller stuff. If there's nothing else I wanna smoke, I'll just go to lump.

Dry, seasoned wood is a great way to go - especially at lower temps. I've heard you can use "wetter" woods at higher temps but I haven't done that myself.

***on edit***

Caseydog brings up a good point - it the smoke smells bad, the food will most likely taste bad and if it smells good, yer grub will taste good too.
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Old 09-13-2011, 04:50 PM   #10
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You can usually tell by looking at both the smoke and the color of the meat. The smoke should be very minimal and blueish in color. White, brown or any dense smoke is not good. The meat should look redish brown. If it starts to just look brown or worse yet black it's over smoked. The type pit you have has a lot to do with it. It just takes time to get use to it.
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Old 09-13-2011, 05:03 PM   #11
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I actually dislike more then a hint of smoke... and I'm a backyard pitmaster

I think anything besides shoulder and brisket can be oversmoked.
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Old 09-13-2011, 05:03 PM   #12
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I think I've "smelled" the smell some of you speak of. It's kinda sour/pungent/chemical type smell???
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Old 09-13-2011, 05:21 PM   #13
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IMHO: use 8 to 12 oz (1/2 lb to 3/4 lb) which is about 1.5 - 2 hr worth of burn time. After 2 hours, your smoke should have penetrated.
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Old 09-13-2011, 05:24 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snyper77 View Post
I think I've "smelled" the smell some of you speak of. It's kinda sour/pungent/chemical type smell???
Yes, very "astringent" is all I can think of. I have had cherry too green that wasn't burning hot enough. It smelled very floral and perfumy instead of sweet and burned my nose when I got a whiff.
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Old 09-13-2011, 05:44 PM   #15
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You can get a good smoke ring even if you only use charcoal. Smoke only penetrates the meat up to 2 hours or so, after that you can wrap your meat to limit the smoke intake. I have a stick burner and can't seem to find fruit woods to burn that I can buy alot of.
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