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A Beginner’s Guide to Smoking

Smoking isn’t just about grilling your food using a certain method. It’s also a means of preserving food. Food is smoked by exposing it to smoke from a fire or smoldering heat source. Generally, meat or fish are smoked. The smoke usually comes from a wood fire, which makes wood pellet grills an excellent option for smoking.

In the U.S. hickory, mesquite, oak, pecan, alder, or maple wood are used as the source of the smoke. Many farms include small buildings, which are called smokehouses, which are used to smoke meats.

There are four basic methods to smoke food: cold smoking, warm smoking, hot smoking, and liquid smoking in this beginner’s guide to smoking. The problem with using any of these methods for preserving is that only the cooking surface is affected. This means that after smoking, the meat needs to be chilled or packaged to extend food preservation.

Cold Smoking

The obvious difference with cold smoking is the food remains raw. Typically, the smoking temperature is kept between 68 degrees to 86 degrees. Meats are frequently hung in a dry place first to develop a pellicle. Afterward, the meat would be cold smoked for up to several days. Some meats are baked, grilled, roasted, or cooked before being served. This process adds a smoking flavor to the meat while keeping it moist. Because this smoking process doesn’t cook meat, smokers should ensure the meat is fully cured before cold smoking.

Because of the risks of food poisoning, it is generally recommended to leave this kind of smoking to the pros.

Warm Smoking

Warm smoking is a much safer and easier method of smoking. The basic principle of this kind of smoking is that the temperature should be kept around 77 degrees to 104 degrees. No other process is needed for this method of smoking; however, it generally is a good idea to refer to a credible recipe to ensure the warm smoking is done properly.

Hot Smoking

Hot smoking is the most common method of smoking meat and is ideal for your Z Grills wood pellet grill. The smoking temperature should be around 126 degrees to 176 degrees. Similar to cold smoking, meat should be hung first to develop a pellicle. Afterward, the meat is smoked for an hour to as long as 24 hours. Once the smoking process is finished, the meat is typically safe to eat. Hot smoking fully cooks meat, moist and flavorful.

Liquid Smoke

Liquid smoke, unlike its latter cousins, is not a means of cooking or preserving food. Instead, it is the process of creating a juice made generally through condensing wood smoke. It is used in place of smoking to add the smoke flavor to the meat.

It is a water-soluble yellow to red flavoring liquid, which can be sprayed onto foods or used as a dip. It can be used to flavor any meat or vegetable.

Z Grillers be aware that our pellet grills only offer a “smoke” setting for hot smoking. Regardless, you can be assured that whatever kind of smoke food you have, it’s going to be amazing. 

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