By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Guidelines to smoking food for beginners
Smoking is a popular way to cook foods over an open flame. Smoking may involve some initial trial and error, but the results are well worth navigating one’s way through the learning curve.

There’s no shortage of ways to impart flavor to foods when cooking at home. Smoking food is one method that has grown increasingly popular in recent years.

Smoking imparts unique flavor to a wide variety of foods. Like other approaches to cooking, smoking involves a learning curve that may include some trial and error. Grilling enthusiasts who want to try their hand at smoking food can keep these tips in mind.

Remember the mantra “low and slow.” Low and slow is the preferred method among cooks experienced in smoking. The method involves cooking foods at low temperatures for long periods of time. When smoking, unlike with traditional grilling, cooks want to ensure the food is not directly over a flame. Smoking stones can be used to absorb and deflect heat, and similar products can accomplish the same. That absorption and deflection allows foods to cook slowly, which in turns helps impart the smoky flavor people love.

Consider adding water to create moisture. A water pan inside the smoker can ensure foods remain moist while smoking. Long cooking times can dry foods out, but the water in a water pan can make the environment inside the grill more humid.

Add flavor with wood. Seasoned wood chunks and wood chips can add flavor to foods, and such products are readily available at many grocery stores and home improvement retailers. Choice of chunk or chips depends on which type of smoker individuals have. The grilling experts at Weber advise using chips when light smoking for less than an hour. If smoking for an hour or more, Weber advises using chunks.

Consider accessorizing an existing grill. Smokers or grills that can accommodate smoking can be expensive, and cooks who already have reliable charcoal or gas grills may not be able to justify such an investment. In such instances, smoker boxes, which sit right on an existing grill grate and make it easy to transform grills into makeshift smokers, can do the trick. In addition, smoker attachments that can be attached to gas and charcoal grills can enable a less expensive introduction to smoking foods.

Monitor temperatures. Temperature is important when smoking foods. If temperatures rise too quickly, foods can quickly become dry and overcooked. If temperatures do not rise, foods can sit on the grill for hours on end. Each recipe is unique and will suggest an ideal temperature range when cooking foods slow. That may require staying home and monitoring the grill temperature, periodically adjusting vents to maintain a steady temperature. Many smokers now enable users to monitor temperatures via a smartphone app, and those can be useful for cooks who cannot stick around the house for the duration of the smoking.