advantages and disadvantages of a water smoker
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a water smoker? My understanding is a water smoker is just a smoker with a water tray in it that keeps the air moist. It is also my understanding that some people that use this type of smoker will put aromatic liquids in the water tray like beer or apple juice.
On that show "Pit masters", they spritz their bbq a lot. Is that in place of a water smoker and for the same purpose?
I'd appreciate anyone's expertise on this.
Regarding using aromatic liquids in the water pan, don't waste your money. You won't taste any difference. There are much more efficient ways of getting those flavors into the meat.
Regarding spritzing barbecue, that is a personal choice. If there's one absolute in barbecue it's that there is no absolute. I've never seen any barbecue shows so I can't speak to those, but I can speak from experience in competitive barbecuing. Some winning competitors employ spritzing, many other winning competitors do not spritz. Some like to spritz there meat to keep the outside from drying out, but I don't. I want a nice bark to form and judges look for bark. If the meat is drying out so much that is goes beyond bark and becomes tough and hard, then something's wrong. Properly smoked meat doesn't need outside help from a spritzer to stay moist. Another thing it can do it deposit certain flavors on the outside of the meat, such as apple juice (a very popular spritz). Again, I think there are better ways of incorporating this flavor with the meat other than spritzing which restricts it simply to the outer 1/16" of the meat. Not to mention, you have to open the smoker every time you want to spritz. I like to keep opening the smoker to a bare minimum. The less I open the smoker, the more control I have.
The advantages of using water while smoking:
- The water acts as a heat sink helping to even out the air temperature.
- Smoke vapors are deposited more efficiently onto moist surfaces.
The disadvantages of using water while smoking:
- Clean up (which is not that big of a deal).
- Sometimes the heat sink feature can work against you when you're trying to achieve higher temperatures.