Being able to smoke meat the proper way is a process that takes time to learn and master. Buying yourself a smoker is the obvious first step, but after that, the maintenance and operation of the unit can come with a learning curve. Here we are going to talk about the 3 best ways you can clean out your smoker with hopes of maintaining the unit, and the taste of your food for a long time to come. From the initial seasoning to the cleaning of the racks, these 3 tips should get you started.
Season the Smoker Before Operating with Meat
You are likely to be quite excited to open and assemble your brand-new smoker, but precaution should be taken after assembly and before the meat goes into it. In order to get the “factory” smells out of the unit, it is highly recommended to fill your drip tray with water, open the damper on the top and pre-heat the unit to 150 degrees. Once you add the wood or chips, smoke will start to fill the tower and you should allow this for about an hour. That will bake the factory smells out of the smoker and allow a good base for the “seasoning” to start.
Aluminum Foil Is Not Recommended
In the beginning you might be tempted to use aluminum foil on the racks to help you with the cleaning of the unit. That is not recommended because the foil can seal the cooking racks and that can damage them over time. Most units, including the ones compared on Electric Smoker Center, will come with stainless steel racks made for easy cleaning.
Do Not Use Appliance Cleaner
After your first use, the electric smoker is going to look and feel dirty. Getting all of the parts clean takes a little time, but these tips will help you along the way. One thing that is strongly recommended against is the use of application cleaner. The strong odors can actually hang around inside the unit for a long time and could contaminate your food during the next smoking process. In order to get the best taste, over time, the inside walls should have a thin layer of black on them.
Using a Damp Cloth is the Best Method
While you are trying to keep the black finish on the inside of your new smoker, it is still necessary to clean up the food particles that might get stuck on the walls and other parts of the smoker. Take notice with any grease and make sure that it is removed as it can cause a fire inside the unit if neglected for too long. Taking your damp cloth and gently wiping down the inside of your smoker will keep it just clean enough and prepared for the next round of BBQ you have planned for it.
People that have used smokers for a long time might say that it does not matter what the inside of your smoker looks like, as long as the food tastes good. While this does make sense with the seasoning of the unit, poor maintenance can shorten its lifespan.