If you enjoy the unique flavors of smoked foods, you probably use and own a smoker. Whenever the mood strikes, you can savor the subtle yet unmistakable aroma of smoked meats, seafood, and vegetables all year round. Smoking gives your recipes a more tender texture due to the slow, indirect heat generated by the smoker. Keeping your smoker clean, hygienic, and ready for use is a chore with the territory. It’s not enough to wipe it on the outside, you need to know how to clean a BBQ smoker, inside, behind, and underneath it.
This helps ensure that your food tastes better and improves the efficiency and performance of the smoker grill or BBQ. In addition, cleaning your appliances protects your family against allergies and illnesses.
Is Smoking Food A New Trend?
You can thank our cave dweller ancestors for discovering this great cooking method. Archaeologists presume that meats and game were hung up in caves to dry and be eaten between hunting trips. Fires were lit for light and warmth. The cave had no ventilation, and the meats underwent a process of very slow cooking over days and weeks. This made the food tastier, softer and easier to digest. The change in flavor and texture was something to be enjoyed.
Smoking meats was a way of preserving them. This was probably how the process of cooking itself was discovered. Later, salt or salty brine may have been added as a coating to cure the meat and add taste. This is different from drying the meat to preserve it. The fire is specially trimmed to create smoke by adding wood chips that provide a distinctive taste and flavor.
This is an important way of preserving fish and game in Africa. Native Americans used smoking to preserve meat and fish. For example, bacon is prepared by smoking pork, beef, game, or lamb. The Chinese and Japanese evolved their own methods of smoking.
Later, urban settlements in Britain and America had smoke houses where meats and seafood were preserved for up to a year. These were either privately owned or used by the entire community. Finally, the food industry sets up huge commercial smoke houses in several major cities.
Modern smoked meats don’t need curing, and you can enjoy the flavor in a couple of hours after you place the food in a smoker. Foods commonly smoked are roasts, ham, pork, poultry, seafood such as salmon, oysters, herring, and beef brisket. You can smoke almost any food if you experiment with this cooking method.
Different types of smoking can be used in various recipes for smoked meats and seafood:
- Cold smoking
- Hot smoking
- Smoke roasting
Cleaning Your BBQ Smoker
If you use your smoker a lot, you may not get enough time to do a thorough cleaning. On the other hand, if you rarely use it, there may be dust or build-up of grime that you need to remove. It’s very much like keeping your oven spotless.
Keeping your smoker clean improves its efficiency and performance. In addition, you can prevent unpleasant smells from burnt grease or food residue from getting into your food.
Spread old newspapers over the work area.
- Cool it down: If you’ve just used the smoker, make sure that it cools down completely before you start cleaning. If it hasn’t been used for a while, it’s important to heat it to maximum temperature and then let it cool down. This “clean burn” helps to melt down accumulated grease, making it easier to clean.
- Assemble Cleaning Materials: Get your cleaning materials together while the smoker cools down. Sponges, scraper, soft brush, scouring pad, dishwashing liquid, old soft towels, paper napkins, large tub or flat basin, and commercial grill cleaner (optional). If the grease is too thick and stubborn, you may need to soak the grill plates in a mixture of vinegar and baking soda for a few hours to loosen the grime. If you’re using baking soda, it’s important to clean it thoroughly because the residue imparts an unpleasant taste to food.
- Remove The Inner Parts: Wear gloves at all times. Removable parts such as drip tray, water pan, and racks are removed. Soak them in a solution of dishwashing liquid and water in the large tub/basin or the kitchen sink if you don’t have a large enough container.
- Scrub: Be gentle with the scouring pads and sponge. The soaking would have loosened most of the muck. Wipe dry thoroughly with a soft towel and leave it out to air.
- Remove the Ash: The wood chips box holds the burnt ash. Remove the ash and wipe the box clean. This should ideally be done after every use because ash attracts moisture and promotes rusting.
- Rust spots: Keep a keen eye out for rusty spots in the smoker. Scour with a dry scouring pad till the rust is gone. If rusty bits are on the outside of the smoker, you can use sandpaper or a metal scrubber and dry scrub the spots out.
- Clean: Wipe the insides of the smoker with paper napkins to absorb grease. Use a towel for a final wipe till the insides, top, and bottom are well cleaned. Next, clean the glass door with dishwash solution and wipe dry.
- Outside cleaning: Use a damp towel to wipe the outside of the smoker. This goes for the door seal too. Dry the entire unit thoroughly with a final wipe with absorbent paper napkins. Look out for grease smears on the paper that tell you there’s more to be done.
- Re-Assemble: Make sure that you know exactly what goes where. If it’s the first time, you’re deep cleaning your smoker, note the order in which you removed the parts to know how to put them back again. Ask someone to click photos if you feel you’ll need to nudge your memory.
- Fire It Up: Heat the smoker to the maximum. This is to burn off any remaining moisture or soap. Give it a good burn for 10-15 minutes, and let it cool down naturally. After it has cooled down, apply a thin coat of vegetable oil to the grates. This prevents rusting and grease from sticking the next time you use the smoker.
Your electric smoker is one of the most handy appliances in the house. It gives your food that extra zing and an unmistakable flavor and aroma. Spend time and effort looking after it and keeping it in prime condition. It will reward you with delectable treats every time.