Reasons to get a quality commercial smoker
When it comes to smoking, and when it comes to laying on a great spread at family gatherings and parties, upping your game by going for a commercial grade unit will reap fine rewards. Commercial grade machines will generally give you more capacity for volume and you’ll be able to smoke more meats and foods in one session. You can expect more control in terms of temperature too.
Commercial quality is basically going to be a massive step upwards in terms of what sort of results you’re going to be able to get while you’re smoking in the back yard. These machines are generally far better with regard to build quality than domestic level smokers, they’ll have more capacity inside in terms of cubic inches or feet to smoke food, and you tend to get a much more controllable unit, with better heat retention and more access than some of the cheaper units.
If you’ve already done a bit of smoking, then going to commercial grade will take your smoking game up several levels. There can be a bit more work to do in terms of tending to your fire (if you don’t go for a gas or electric unit), but what you’ll usually get in return for your efforts will be a far more professional result when it comes to the ultimate test of any smoker, and of any smoking technician – the eating.
If you’re new to smoking, then going commercial from the start isn’t a bad idea either. The learning curve may end up being sharper than with an easy-to-use lower grade unit, but the tradeoff will be that once you’ve gotten the hang of all the information and ability that you’ll need to get smoking properly, the commercial unit will give you way more scope to apply that knowledge and skill to better ends.
In short, you tend to get what you pay for, and just like buying tools, for instance, commercial quality will see you able to do more for longer, and get professional results – if you put the effort in. Commercial quality tools or smokers will more often than not cost more money to buy, but they’re an investment that will last longer, take repairs more easily, and remove the ceiling when it comes to being able to achieve great things once you’ve mastered the basics.
Features to consider when choosing a commercial smoker
You’ll need to figure out what you want to do with reference to fuels and flavors. The type of fuel that your stove burns is going to have a massive impact on the type of flavor that comes out once you’ve done with your smoking. Wood fires are generally and widely considered to produce an extra dimension of flavor because you can get additional tones from the actual firebox, and most diehard smoking enthusiasts will only ever consider running on wood when trying to achieve authentic and deep flavors every time they fire up the box.
The size of your smoker is going to be a factor for a lot of you. As is having a suitable place to site the smoker. Some of these units get extremely hot, and they’ll need to be placed in a safe area, away from children, and on a non-combustible and level surface. Don’t buy a wood-fired smoker and set it on your back deck, for instance – because that’s just not going to end in a very good way at all. Size wise, you’ll need to take into account the volumes of food that you’re regularly going to need to produce. Make sure it’s oversize, rather than being too small for your needs.
If it’s a thing that you may want to throw this thing on the truck occasionally and head for the hills. If you do a lot of gatherings in remote areas then portability and weight are going to be a factor for you. You’re going to want to consider access to electricity if the thing runs on that, so you may need a generator. If it’s wood-fired, then you’ll also have to think about spark suppression if you intend to pack it up and take it into the country or the woods. You won’t want any sparks flying around on a dry and breezy day.
Type of fuel
As we’ve already touched on, the hardcore traditional smoking community really only consider one fuel when they’re looking to get deep and tasty flavor into meats and other foods with their smoking. For you, you need to think carefully about what you want from your unit and weigh up the benefits of each fuel option.
100% authenticity is probably only going to come from stick burning. Using logs gives you multiple extra dimensions of flavor and a really nice smoke.
But that comes at a cost, and you tend to have to put in some yards to achieve good results this way. For a start, you’ll need a regular and reliable supply of some decent burning wood, and in the right sort of dimensions so as to be suitable for the smoker that you choose.
There is more maintenance and cleaning when you opt for wood, so it’s a case of looking at all that. You’ll also need to tend a wood fire more regularly and keep it burning. If you’re the type of animal that wants to host the party, be the greatest cook ever, but also be the life and soul of the gathering, then wood is going to take up more of your time. For some, the act of smoking is the fun at a party, so you have to figure out which smoker you are. If you want great food and not to be doing hardly any tending during a gathering or party, then maybe look for the best propane wood smoker for commercial use – because that will have a far more set-and-forget nature.
This is basically as simple as it sounds. This is the flat space available to you in square inches where you can place food within the smoking area. There are two main things to consider when it comes to the cooking area and what you require from your smoker. The first thing is the overall volume of meat you want to be cooking in each session. The second thing is going to be the actual sizes of the cuts, or even the birds, that you want to smoke. There’s no use having lots of cooking area available via a narrow stack and lots and lots of racks and hooks – if you mostly want to smoke big old hunks of brisket. The best commercial bbq smoker may be the best way to go for you if you cook massive birds or cuts. Another option that will give you a single but larger cooking area than racks would be to look at some of the best commercial smoker grills on the market.
Number of racks
This is a similar consideration as with the cooking area. It’s about how the volume of your smoker is divided. You’ll need more racks to cook a lot of smaller items and cuts, and fewer racks to cook more volume in sizes of cuts. It’s a great idea and always an advantage to have more racks available than you usually need. It’s easier to remove a rack than it is to find one.
Dimensions and weight
This is applicable to a couple of things that you need to be thinking about when you’re buying your smoker. Where are you going to place it? And are you going to be wanting to move it?
Generally, more weight suggests a better build and maybe even more cooking area. That’s great to have, but not if it makes the thing an immovable object and you either want to take it on trips or excursions, or you want to use the area where you cook as a dual purpose area.
If you’re never going to move the smoker, then go for a sturdy build and massive cooking area every time. Weigh up the weight.
A good warranty is often a sign of quality and manufacturer confidence in their product. Never a bad thing. As with anything, always look at and compare warranties on different products.
How to clean and care for your smoker
Weather can be your enemy with smokers, because the bigger units tend to be left outside in all weathers and conditions. Buying one with a cover included is great, but if that’s not possible, then get an optional extra cover. This will save a lot of heartache in terms of cleaning and the overall longevity of the smoker. Well worth doing.
Apart from that, then commercial smokers should be cleaned and maintained like other smokers and grills. It’s also always a great idea to check out the manufacturer guidelines, to see if they recommend anything specific for their smoker.