A Beginner’s Guide to Smoking Meat

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 a small building, which are called smokehouses, 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 only cooking surface is affected. This means that after smoking, the meat need to be chilled or packaged to extend food preservation.

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    4 Best Ways to Smoking Meat

    Cold Smoking

    The obvious difference with cold smoking is the food remains raw. Typically, smoking temperature is kept between 68 degrees to 86 degrees. Meats are frequently hung in a dry place first to develop a pellicle. Afterwards, the meat would cold smoked for up to several days. Some meats are baked, grilled, roasted, or cooked before being served.This process adds the 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 ideal for you Z Grills wood pellet grill. Smoking temperature should be around 126 degrees to 176 degrees. Similar to cold smoking, meat should be hung first to develop a pellicle. Afterwards, the meat is smoked from as 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. 

    Recommended reading: Smoking Meat 101

    About The Author

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    Z Grills

    Z Grills is a grill manufacturer with over 30 years of experience within the industry. With over 650,000 pellet grills sold and 85 million cooks made, trust us.

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    1. david harvey says:

      what is the temperature of the grill internally in the “smoke” setting?

      1. z grills Author says:

        When you use the Smoke setting, the temperature can range anywhere from 158 to 194 degrees.

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