Friday, October 16, 2009

How to cure or season your smoker



So you have acquired a new smoker and are wondering what to do before cooking in it. Well, if you're like me, you have a bag of parts left. Quickly go hide those and then come back and finish up here. No one need ever know.

 
Actually, the first thing to do is to make sure you have beer in the refrigerator, then ensure all your screws, bolts and nuts are good and tight. The last thing you want to experience while cooking outdoors is a water bowl falling into your hot charcoal pan, or worse yet, a grate of food that spills. After you have double checked for tightness, grab the salt and pepper and let's get ready to season that new grill, shall we?

 
Again, I'm kidding, please pardon my veiled attempts at humor. When we season a new or just degreased smoker, what we are doing is removing oils, dust, and other debris left over from the manufacturing process. If your new grill is like most others, it has a light coating of oil or a similar substance on it. I wash that off using a mild soap detergent and a sponge. Be careful not to scratch your smoker's interior surface. Allow it to air dry. If you have a new smoker it MUST be cured before you cook in it. (See below for a few good reasons why)

 
In the case of a degreased old smoker that needs re-seasoning, you can skip the wash step, because you have used a degreaser and thoroughly rinsed away loose material and chemicals. You should rarely need to clean and re-season a smoker, but if you have a build up of grease that has gotten to ignition stage, it's best to remove it then leave it, for safety. I have been smoking for more then 20 years and still have my very first original Brinkman pit-master. It's solid and heavy, like they used to make them. I have only cleaned it once, and that was to transport it inside a van from Virginia to Florida.

 
OK, once it is dry, go ahead and spray a can of olive oil or some other cooking oil in a spray can. Thoroughly cover the sides, top, cooking grates, racks etc. Do not coat the fuel pan or electric element if using an electric smoker or the water bowl. (My water bowl is filled with sand and covered with foil, more on that in another blog) Be generous enough to coat everything well, but not to were the oil is dripping. If you need to, you can let the smoker sit for a few minutes before the next step.

 
Our next goal is to heat the smoker up and simulate smoking in it for 2 hours minimum. If it's an electric smoker, go ahead and set it to high, which should be about 225 - 250 degrees F. For charcoal smokers, use a starter chimney and once the coals are hot, fill the charcoal pan and some wood. You do not need to use the water bowl for this seasoning step. We are going to keep our smoker empty during this curing or seasoning event.


After about 2 hours, open up the smoker and let the fire die off and air cool on it's own. Your smoker is now ready for use to churn out some awesome BBQ. If anyone is wondering why we must do this for a new smoker, here are just a few good reasons:


  • The manufacturing process will leave oils, solvents and other undesirables inside of our smoker. 
  • We want to cure the paint and promote rust prevention. 
  • Seasoning removes any odors from inside the smoker caused during manufacture

 
RaceyB


RaceyB's Outdoor Cooking Fun


25 comments:

A Year on the Grill said...

I have the worst problems with rust... must be something in the Kansas Air. I always cover, but every year I need to scrape and paint.

Good tips

RaceyB said...

I have an oil spray can I use to occassionaly cure my cooking grates. From time to time, I spray some oil on the top of the smoker (flat top) and rub it in with a cloth. It seems to work. My guess is oil and water don't mix and the oil repels. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the instructions very helpful. I do have a stupid question though. When I oil the smoker, am I oiling the outside of the smoker or just the inside? Thank you, Daniel

RaceyB said...

You want to oil the inside of the smoker for the initial cure. I occasionally use an oil based cooking spray to treat the outside of the smoker to prevent rust. Just spray, wait a few minutes, then wipe off any excess.

Eihrys said...

I just bought a simple Brinkmann smoker and this is my first time smoking anything. i have one grate that is over my ash pan and another grate that is movable, then my cooking grate. Where do I put the charcoal, wood chips and my water bowl?. which bottom 2 grates are used for what?

RaceyB said...

The Brinkmann smoker comes with two bowls and two grates. The charcoal bowl goes on the lowest level. This bowl contains the charcoal and wood. Right above it goes the water bowl. The two grates are placed above it.

You may find after using your smoker that maintaining 225 - 250 degrees is difficult. Check out my other posts and you should find one for modifying the Brinkmann. I drilled holes in the bottom of my charcoal pan and I use expanded metal to keep the coals out of the ash. I also filled my water bowl with sanitized play sand and covered it with foil to catch drippings.

Eihrys said...

Thank you for the tips but I believe we may be talking about two different smokers. My smoker did not come with any bowls. Am I supposed to put my charcoal into a bowl before putting it inside my smoker?

RaceyB said...

Please provide the name and model number of the smoker you are referring to.

Eihrys said...

Barrel Charcoal Smoker
Model # 810-3000-S

RaceyB said...

Thanks. Thats more of a grill, however if the food is not directly over the coals, it can be used to smoke meats. The charcoal and wood go on the grate over the ash pan that is removable. The other two grates are for cooking. The owners manual can be downloaded here...

Manual

Pargeman said...

Thank you so much for the tips on how to break in and cure a new smoker...being a beginner I am all over the internet looking for tips!

Anonymous said...

I just got an offset charcoal grill/smoker when I go to cure It do I put jist charcoal in the fire box or do I put charcoal in fire box and the barrel grill?

Raymond Seabolt said...

I would recommend that if the primary purpose of the grill is to smoke meats, that you not place charcoal in the main cooking area. I would simply spray it down with a vegetable cooking oil such as pam, and burn a fire in the charcoal chamber for the initial curing. You may also want to line the fire box with foil for an easier clean up.

Fiverr Work said...

So you have acquired a new smoker and are wondering what to do before cooking in it. Well, if you're like me, you have a bag of parts left. Quickly go hide those and then come back and finish up here. No one need ever know. Electric Smokr

Andra said...

A little frustrated with my instructions! I'm supposed to put 8.5 lbs. of charcoal in the cooker, and 3 lbs. in the fire box, which i did. Light and let it burn for 20 minutes, which i did. Close the lids and let it burn for 2 hours at 250, then an hour at 400. Okay, well, i kept closing the lids and seeing the temp gauge just going nuts, all the way up to 450 before i opened it again. Did this over and over for about an hour. Finally went for a walk around the block,came back and closed the lid, the charcoal was down to almost complete ashes, and the temp gauge stopped at 350. I don't know how long it stayed there because i was a little too frustrated at that point. I guess my question is this. Is it sufficiently cured? Or do i need to start all over?

Raymond Seabolt said...

Andra, at this point, I would say the smoker is cured and you are good to go.

ArtVandelay said...

Hello,

I just bought a Brinkmann Offeset Smoker, Model # 810-3016-S and I was wondering if it can also be used for grilling and not just smoking. Like can I put charcoal in the main chamber and not just in the side smoker? To do the curing/seasoning since I'm planning to use it as a grill too, is it enough to just run a cycle of charcoal in the side smoker?

Thank you in advance for your reply.

Raymond Seabolt said...

If you are going to have fires in the cooking chamber as well, I would burn a cure fire in each chamber. I would probably burn them separately as well to avoid overheating that smoker.

Thanks for reading the article.

Drew T said...

After the 2 hour curing period, is it absolutely necessary to cool down the smoker before smoking meet? Can you do the 2 hour cure and then throw in some meat without cooling it down? I also just bought the Brinkmann Offeset Smoker, Model # 810-3016-S.

Thank you for your help for this newbie!

Raymond Seabolt said...

Drew, I've never smoked meat right after a cure. I prefer to let the fire die off, clean out the charcoal ash and wipe down the grates and smoker exterior before using her for a cook. If you do try it, let me kow how it worked out.

Thanks

Ray

Lori said...

I just bought a char-broil infrared smoker/grill that uses propane. How should I season it? It has a pull out cup on the side for wood chips/pellets. Can I also add charcoal there or is that overkill?

Raymond Seabolt said...

DO NOT add charcoal to that unit. The pull out receptacle is for wood chips only. I almost bought one of those, but resisted because I have 2 grills and 2 smokers already. :)

Raymond Seabolt said...

Here is a Char-Broil video on seasoning the Big Easy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEzXI6IPlRs

Anonymous said...

I just got a Oklahoma Joes offset smoker. I heated it to 250°-300° for 3 hours. I forgot to oil the inside. Did I ruin it ? If not should I repeat the process after it cools down, but this time oil it? Or is it too late?

Raymond Seabolt said...

Great smoker! It's not too late. I'd spray it down with some canned Olive oil and repeat the process.