I have been a fan of food smokers for many years and I have owned several, however nothing I have ever owned, can hold a candle to the cutting edge modern smokers of today. The smoker that I currently own is a Bradley Technologies IGET Hot Flavours. The particular model that I own is called the “Jim Beam”. It is an electric, 4 rack, self contained digital smoker with an automatic feed for the wood chips which are referred to as bisquettes.
They are compressed “patties” of wood that rather resemble a hockey puck. They are inserted into a smoke chamber which funnels the smoke to the food compartment and they are dispensed at an interval of 1 every 20 minutes. This self feed feature makes smoking almost a no brainer as there is no need to constantly monitor and manually feed the smoker. The digital temperature control consistently regulates the temperature at varying degrees so there is no guesswork or room for error.
Smoking foods is actually a process of cooking, flavoring and preserving foods by exposing them to the smoke of smoldering plant material. Different woods are normally used in the smoking process and different wood varieties produce different flavors. Fish and meats are the most commonly smoked foods although many other foods such as vegetables, cheeses, nuts and even fruits turn out quite tasty. Alder has been the traditional smoking wood in Europe for many years but oak is becoming very popular. In America there are many other popular smoking woods being used.
Mesquite, hickory, oak, pecan, alder, maple, apple, cherry and plum are among the favorites that are commonly used. Some American ham and bacon smokehouses even use burning corn cobs as their choice for a unique smoked flavor. Sawdust from the Manuka (tea tree) is commonly used for smoking fish in New Zealand. Historically farms in America would include a small building referred to as the smokehouse, where meats could be smoked and stored. Usually these would be separated from other buildings because of possible fire damage and excess smoke.
HOT SMOKING– exposes foods to both smoke and heat in a controlled environment. Although foods that have been hot smoked are sometimes reheated or cooked they are typically safe to eat without further cooking. Hams are considered fully cooked once they are properly smoked. Hot smoking takes place within the range of 165-185 degrees F. In this temperature range foods are fully cooked, moist and flavorful. If you smoke foods hotter than 185 degrees F the foods will shrink excessively and can split. Smoking at high temperatures reduces yield as both moisture and fat are cooked away.