When you smoke food, you might think that the more smoke you see, the better. In reality, this isn’t the case. In this article, we are going to address how much smoke you should expect to see—and what the benefits of different smoke levels are.
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What is the Smoke Setting?
The SMOKE setting is for smoking and adding smoke flavor to foods being cooked. It is a special mode that your Z Grills produces maximum smoke. In this mode, the temperature will swing between around 158F to 194F with cycles of smoke released every 5 to 10 minutes.
The first hour of cooking is a great time to use the SMOKE setting to ensure your meat gets that delicious smokey flavor. After one hour (or your desired length of time under an hour), bring your grill to a higher temperature to ensure your food is properly cooked. Check out our video to learn about how to set up your Z Grills pellet smoker.
Understanding Hot vs Cold Smoke
Something that often surprises people about the smoking process is that there are actually different kinds of smoke—and this is true in various ways. From a temperature perspective, there is hot smoking and cold smoking, and each process has its own interesting benefits.
Hot smoking is what you would expect from traditional smoking. Hot smoking can be carried out at high temperatures and is used to cook food in addition to adding flavor to it. The lower the smoking temperature is, the longer it will take the food to cook. This process is known for preparing succulent and juicy meats with plenty of flavor.
Cold smoking is a process that requires a specific smoking box. Within this box, smoke is used over an extended period of time, generally kept around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Smoke is generated from a distance to allow it to cool down to this temperature. In most cases, the food is exposed to smoke for anywhere from ½ a day to 2 days. This process is best embraced with food that has been cured to keep it fresh and allow it to absorb more flavor. It can be used to preserve the food as well.
Understanding White Smoke vs Blue Smoke
In addition to smoking at different temperatures, smoke can also come in different colors—kind of. You will commonly see differences in smoke that come down to white and blue colors referenced. In reality, these different smoke types are less about color and more about what they offer.
White smoke is the billowing type of smoke that many of us associate with open fires. This smoke is very hot and thick, and it can be used to smoke food, but that doesn’t mean that it should be. This type of smoke can be a bit much and overwhelm the flavor of any food that you put into it.
Blue smoke is considered a more thin type of smoke. It has a similar heat and flavor that any other form of smoke will offer, but it is much more appropriate for cooking. While white smoke is too much, blue smoke embraces the less-is-more approach to bring enough heat to cook and enough flavor to improve anything that you put into it.
How to Get More Smoke from Your Pellet Smoker
Creating high-quality smoke in your smoker is easy with the appropriate steps.
- The first step to creating good smoke is to choose high-quality pellets. Be sure to choose solid and healthy-looking pellets.
- Check to ensure that your pellets are not moist. Moist pellets can increase the amount of white smoke in your smoker.
- Check to ensure your fire pot is clean. Too much ash in the fire pot will make the pellets hard to ignite and produce blue smoke.
- Start your fire.
- Check your ventilation to ensure that not too much is escaping and not too much is building up. You shouldn’t see an abundance of smoke in your smoker.
Read our 8 pro tips to get more smoke flavor from your pellet grill here.
How Much Visible Smoke Should a Smoker Produce?
When starting up, your pellet grill typically produces a large amount of smoke. Once the flame has been established and the temp has settled in closer to the set point, you should see a minimum amount of smoke. Too much smoke will lead to a bitter taste.
Why Isn’t Any Smoke Coming Out of My Smoker?
When the temperature is too high, your smoker may not produce visible smoke. However, if you see barely any smoke, that isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes the smoke is so light it is hard to see.