Are you looking for a great new way to add a new flavor dimension to your foods? If so, consider buying a smoker. Smoking is a technique that has been around for thousands of years and used primarily as a preservative method, however, smoked foods also taste great. In recent years, as more and more people have become obsessed with barbecue and grilling, some have also become interested in purchasing separate smokers to add to their arsenal of cooking tools. Smokers are like cars in that they can cost a little bit of money or a whole lot of money depending on the model and the brand of the smoker. You can buy or construct your own smoker for as little as $50, but you can also spend over $10000 on a high end, commercial smoker such as those used in barbecue competitions across the country. Before you spend any money on a smoker, you’ll need to consider a few things to help you to make the right choice for your situation.
The first decision that you have to make when purchasing a smoker is to think about what type of fuel you want to use to power your smoker. Traditionally, there are three main types of smokers available on the market. They are charcoal, gas, and electric smokers. Ultimately, the choice that you should make depends on the level of involvement and control that you want to have in your cooking. Charcoal smokers are the most traditional types of smokers and are often the least expensive kinds that you can buy. They are fueled by either charcoal briquettes or hardwood charcoal and are thought to produce the best smoking flavor in food, according to barbecue experts. In a charcoal smoker, you throw soaked wood chips onto the coals, which begin to smolder and release smoke. The only problem with a charcoal smoker is that smoking is a long and slow process, meaning that over the course of several hours, you will have to change the coals and wood chips out with new ones, which can be a tedious and laborious process. Also, the temperature in charcoal smokers is harder to control. The next kind of smoker that you will find is an electric smoker. These are great for novice barbecue cooks, because temperature is easy to control with the turn of a knob and there is no need to replenish the fuel source. Electric smokers are also often programmable, which allows for more versatility and ease of use for the novice smoker. The main drawback to an electric smoker is that barbecue aficionados feel that the smoke flavor produced from an electric smoker is inferior to that from charcoal smokers. Finally, you can buy a propane smoker, which are as easy to use as electric smokers, but heat up quicker.
Next, you’ll have to decide on the size of your smoker. Ask yourself how often you will realistically use your smoker and how many people usually eat at your home. If you have less than 10-15 people that will be eating regularly from your smoker or if you don’t plan to use it very often, consider buying a smaller smoker. If on the other hand, you throw large parties or are a caterer, you will want to buy a larger smoker. When you’re shopping for smokers, you’ll notice that many smokers give the capacity of food that can be smoked at one time. Use this as a rule of thumb for deciding on what to buy.
You also need to consider the versatility of your smoker. Contrary to popular belief, smokers and grills are not the same thing and are not always interchangeable. True smokers are constructed in a way that the heat source is set too low inside the device to effectively grill foods. If you want to smoke foods and grill at the same time, look for smoker/grill combination units.
Finally, consider the construction of the smoker before you make your purchase. You want the smoker to have thick walls, a tight seal around the lid, and a good temperature gauge so that your foods will cook evenly and so that the smoke will permeate completely.