Winter is known to get in the way of a lot of activities we enjoy, and BBQing is no exception. The whole process takes longer periods, the taste is compromised, and the overall quality is nowhere near the pinnacle of freshness. Meat smoking shouldn’t have a specific season. Being able to enjoy that delicious piece any time of the year is what we crave.
Cooking over flames doesn’t go well during winter. That’s why we need to know how to properly insulate our smokers. These appliances do not function properly in cold weather, thereby reducing the meat quality. Now we’re left with manual methods of insulating to ensure they serve us as expected, no matter the season. You love BBQing and hate it when your hands are tied during frosty weather? Then read along as we’ll be telling you how best to insulate your smoker.
Whether it’s a charcoal, gas, or pellet smoker, it needs to be preheated to a high temperature before use. Oxygen is a key element for combustion, but since the surrounding air is cold and the meat condenses the inner chambers with its moisture, your smoker will not meet the set temperature. Not to talk of the number of resources you’ll use to both preheat and smoke your meat. So if you have doubt about insulating, I’m sure you now know why it’s essential.
There are various smoker insulation methods, and we’ll be discussing a number of them here. So, make sure you opt for the most convenient one:
A smoker insulation blanket is one of the best insulating materials you can get out there. It helps retain heat during cold weather and reduces fuel usage when smoking. This makes it ideal for a BBQ smoker insulation.
The aluminum layer, which the is a key element is in the inner part of the fabric. As it comes in “one size fit for all,” you don’t need to worry about getting a customized blanket for your smoker. All you need to do is tightly wrap the blanket around your smoker, excluding the firebox. Getting that in will cause a burn.
Another popular method of insulating is the use of Jackets. They contain aluminum foils, which are the main insulating materials known for maximum heat retaining capacity and thermal radiation. Insulation jackets are easy to get, and you can even get one directly from your smoker’s manufacturer. If available, the jacket will certainly stay in place. If not, you’ll have to make or buy a custom fit.
Unlike Insulation blankets, one size can’t be used for all types. The positioning of the aluminum layer also differs. In a jacket, the material is outside and not on the inside. This difference, however, doesn’t have any impact on the performance. Just wrap the fabric around your smoker and avoid the firebox.
A welding blanket is a perfect material to derive high temp insulation for smokers. It’s designed with heat resistant fibers that do not flinch even at temperatures between 400° and 2500° F. It contains vermiculite, and the materials are machined with fiberglass.
They’re common among welders who use them for heat retention. Since this is the main aim for insulating, why not go with welder blankets. They work using the same mechanism as insulation blankets. You don’t need a custom fit, just wrap it around your gas or charcoal smoker and secure a tight fit. And yes, exclude the firebox.
Throughout this article, you’ve been advised to use not the blankets and jackets on a firebox. This doesn’t mean that insulating a firebox is unrealistic. It only needs different materials and specific procedures. To retain heat in your firebox, materials featuring fire-resistant fibers must be used. We’ll be telling you the best alternative and how to use it.
Cement board is the perfect material you can use to insulate your smoker firebox. It is fire resistant and has a high heat-retaining capacity making it an excellent insulating material. Cement itself has various constituents including, iron ore, chalk, clay, limestone, and even silica sand.
After purchasing a brand, keep in mind that the cement board will be placed in your firebox. So it has to be custom fit. Make an accurate measurement and mark the dimensions on the board. Cut it out and make the excerpt your firebox protective lining. Alert! Be sure your box has no burning fuel before placing it in the board.
Smoking in cold weather requires a lot more process than in summer. The cold air is a huge disadvantage, and the poorly insulated smoker doesn’t make it any better. Twice the usual resources are needed—more fuel and charcoal. If you’re a fan of electric smokers, we advise you to go for well-insulated brands to reduce your workload in winter. Initially, choosing a model with an enhanced insulation design like the Bradley Smoker BS611 isn’t a bad idea. It has maximum heat control and clears out moisture damage ensuring top-notch durability.
While grilling or smoking in cold weather is exhaustive, it is not impossible. Below are the guidelines you should take note of to ensure a smooth “smoking-in-winter” experience:
Opening the lid every minute to check what’s going on will only decrease your smoker’s inner temperature. Being tired of waiting and choosing to peek is a bad idea. After placing back the lid, it will take time to work more and gulp extra fuel to return to the optimal temp. So shut that lid and prevent an unnecessary drop in cooking temperature. Raindrops also step down the smoker’s temp. Be sure to go with an umbrella to avoid them sizzling in when it’s time to check your meat.
As stated earlier, smokers burn slowly in cold weather. You have to prepare more fuel to smoke during the cold winter days. Preheating takes so much, and increasing the temperature of the inner chambers takes more. With heating, the surrounding air included, running out of fuel is the last thing needed.
Propane in tanks converts to gas during winter, so it flows as expected. The only downside, when compared to summer, is the quantity. Pellet and charcoal smokers burn slowly and use up more fuel than normal. To increase the entire smoking process by two-fifth, you should have enough amount of fuel in stock.
Preparing an ideal location for winter smoking is essential. Placing your smoker in an area with air flowing in a direction opposite to your smoker’s is not advisable. Your smoker’s airflow and that of the wind should coincide. Putting this in action will maintain your cooking temperature, reduce time spent, and lower fuel usage. If you have space outdoor that can protect your smoker against rainfall and wind flow, be sure to make use of it. You can also use your windbreaker or build one.
If you like being aware of your cooking temperature and want to steer clear from opening the lid every now and then, here’s good news. Remote thermometers are available in stores at affordable prices. They help ensure that your meat isn’t undercooked before turning off the heat. You also get to prevent overcooking without having to open the lid.
Their functionality is top-notch, and the measurements are accurate. With that, you can say no to the temperature drop that comes with peeking. We hope you’re informed about smokers with inbuilt digital thermometers. You can opt for such models and make the dynamics of smoking in winter work in your favor.
According to an article in Washington Post, “The best time to grill is fall.” We couldn’t agree less as a sunny day grilling is more convenient than winter’s. The unique taste is preserved, and the smokey aroma is sealed in. Not to talk of the less fuel and fast smoking processes. Those delicious pieces should be available all year round. To bring this motive to reality, all we need to do is follow simple guidelines.
Insulating your smoker is the number step forward. That is why in this guide, we explained how smoker insulation works. If you always wonder about how to insulate a smoker, we’re sure you now have different methods to choose from. Be sure to set an ideal location, prepare enough fuel, and stop unnecessary pecking. Complying with these guidelines will not only improve your overall cooking process, but it’ll also make your winter smoked meat taste nothing less than summer’s.