Regardless of where you are at now, there’s one thing to remember: Seasoning an electric smoker before using it is very important. This way you’ll be able to remove any chemical residue from it.
In this article, we’ll discuss a few things:
- What seasoning means
- Why you should season a smoker
- The step-by-step process of seasoning a smoker
If you want to find the answers to these questions, let’s dive into the article now
What is seasoning
The first thing that will always come to a person’s mind when they hear the word seasoning is salt and pepper. I mean, this is what we do when we want to add more flavor to our food, right? We season them.
However, seasoning a smoker doesn’t mean ‘sprinkling salt and pepper to your smoker’. That’s not what you should do.
Seasoning, also called pre-seasoning or curing, refers to the initial burn you do in your smoker. This process involves coating the inside of your smoker with oil and setting the temperatures to very high to very long periods of time.
Why season a new smoker?
So, why do you have to season your new smoker?
There are basically two reasons why you’re doing this, and that is to remove any chemical residue from the manufacturer and to extend your smokers life. How they do this will be discussed below.
- Remove any chemicals or residue from the manufacturer
You see, the first time your smoker gets delivered to your home, it’s not necessarily ready to use yet. There will be chemical residues manufacturers have left behind. This includes uncured paint, solvents, adhesives, oils, and dirt.
By seasoning your smoker, you get to remove all of these and even creates a protective layer for the inside of your smoker.
- Protect and Extend your smokers life
Manufacturers don’t really add a rust-proof layer for your smoker. Since smokers are also very prone to moisture, it will age fast, causing it to become rusty quickly. However, as already mentioned above if you season your smoker, the smoke you release when you season your smoker creates another protective layer for the inside part of your smoker.
This is because the seasoning coats the walls with carbon and smoke. This way, any type of condensation will drip off and moisture won’t be able to sip into the metal and cause your smoker to rust.
Steps to season or cure your smoker
Now that we have established that seasoning your smoker before use is important, let us dive to the how – how do you season your smoker. It’s actually simple and it involves the steps below:
1. Assemble Your Smoker
To start, you would need to assemble your newly bought smoker. But, make sure that you properly assemble it. Try to check for any irregularities such as malfunctioned parts, dents, or lose screws. This way, you’ll be able to return the smoker and you can stay away from any possible accidents.
2. Clean Your Smoker
Once you’ve made sure that the smoker is assembled properly, you will now clean your smoker. You can follow the instructions manual on how to properly clean your smoker but usually, all you need is a damp sponge and mild detergent.
Simply wipe down all the interior surfaces of the smoker. Clean the trays and racks, too. And remember to be very careful not to scratch and damage any surfaces while cleaning. Once done, rinse off any soap and let it dry.
Now, this step is optional as the seasoning process simply cleans out your smoker in such a way that it gets rid of any residue inside. But there’s also no problem if you wish to do this step especially if the smoker came dusty.
3. Apply a Thin Coat of Oil
Now that the smoker is clean, time to coat the inside walls with a thin coat of cooking oil. However, not all manufacturers would recommend this so it’s still best to review the user’s manual.
However, if it instructs that you do, make sure that the surfaces are not dripping with oil. You don’t need to oil your racks, water pan, drip tray, wood chip tray, and other accessories so you can just remove those first in order to have easier access on the interior walls. Don’t coat the heating element with oil, too, as this will cause it to get damaged.
Once you’ve oiled what’s needed, put back all the extra accessories back to the smoker to start with the seasoning process.
4. Leave Everything Empty
Before you start, make sure to leave everything empty. No water should be on the water pan and no wood chips on the wood chip tray.
5. Plug Your Smoker Directly On An Outlet
It’s highly recommended to plug your smoker directly on an outlet, not an extension cord. If you must use an extension cord because you’re outside, it should be a heavy duty extension cord.
6. Open Up All Vents
This is another crucial process. Make sure that all vents are fully opened throughout the whole seasoning process. Why? Because you want the vapors of chemical residue you burned off to go out and not stay inside the smoker.
7. Set The Temperature to Maximum and the Timer to 3 Hours
Now, if you’re instruction manual says otherwise, then you should just follow that. But expert grillers would say to set it to whatever is the maximum temperature of your smoker. For most brands, that would be 275 degree Fahrenheit.
For the timer, set it to 3 hours. The longer the seasoning process, the better as it ensures that any chemical residue is removed.
8. Add Wood Chips After Two Hours
After two hours, add some wood chips or chunks to the wood chip tray. This is also optional but is highly recommended.
Now, don’t add a lot in the wood chip tray immediately. You can just add about 10 to 12 chips the first time. Add another 10 to 12 chips after 20 minutes, and another batch after 20 minutes. (2) Remember not to overload the tray. And you can just leave the smoker to run with those remaining chips until the time is up.
9. Turn Off The Electric Smoker
Once the timer is off, turn off your electric smoker. Expect that the inner chamber will be filled with smoke so be very careful when opening the door.
10. Clean the Smoker
Let all the smoke out, grab a clean and soft cloth and wipe everything inside.
And that’s it! You have your seasoned smoker now!
It will take you long hours but the best part about this is that you only have to do this once.
Should You Use Wood Chips When Seasoning?
Yes, you can use wood chips when seasoning your smoker. As you have seen on the steps above, they are typically added when you only have an hour left on the timer. This way, instead of the metallic smell you get every time you open the smoker, it becomes fruity or savory, depending on the wood chip you used.
Now, if you’re wondering what wood chips you can use, well, you can use anything. You’re still seasoning your smoker so the chips you use here won’t really affect the taste of your meat when you use the smoker after this.
You can put in fruit woods like apply, cherry, and peach combined with hickory and mesquite.
Tips To Maintain An Electric Smoker
Now that you’re done with the seasoning, it’s time to make sure that you maintain your electric smoker. Here are some tips that might help you take care of your electric smoker so that it lasts longer:
Smokers are generally very easy to clean. So, there’s really no reason for you to skip this part every after you use the smoker.
Not regularly cleaning the smoker will cause grease and oil to accumulate in the cooking grates which hardens and will be more difficult to clean in the future. This will also become a big problem to the heating element of your smoker as it will no longer function well.
To prevent this from happening, clean the cooking grates after you use them. Simply place it in the oven and set the temperature to 900 degrees Fahrenheit. This should melt the grease and you get a shiny and new looking cooking grate.
Rust is a very common enemy of smokers as it uses high temperatures and water. So, how do you deal with this? Simple, make sure to rub rusts off before they become a serious concern.
Once you detect a problem, grab a sandpaper and a metal brush to clean it off. Scrub the rust down to remove all debris and apply heat-resistant paint to serve as a protective layer.
Ventilation systems are crucial in a smoker’s performance. So make it a habit to always check if it’s working properly or not. You need to ensure that there are no clogs. Make sure that you also clean out all the ashes, dust, and other debris from your smoker.
Lastly, clean the thermostats and other accessories your smoker has (this includes the meat probe). All you would need for this is a damp cloth to clean surfaces. For electrical parts of the smoker, a dry cloth will do.
Never let your smoker be immersed with water as this will only get damaged. And you should always check that the smoker is not plugged-in to prevent short circuits and other problems.
These four ways to maintain your smoker won’t really work if you’re not consistent. So make sure to take care of your smoker regularly so that dust, dirt, and other residue won’t build up, causing the product to become more damaged.
Seasoning an electric smoker is important to ensure best performance. This way, you also get to ensure that the smoker will last for years.
The step-by-step process above will guide you through the best ways to season a smoker. You can also ready the user’s manual for a thorough guide on the process made exactly for the unit you have.
You should also remember that things don’t end after you season the smoker. What you do after to maintain it will also affect the longevity of the product.