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Lighting Questions

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    Lighting Questions

    I have a question for those of you experienced with this cooker.

    I’ve watched numerous videos and also read and re-read the SNSK manual, and it looks like invariably they light the coals in the kamado - whether in kamado mode or SNS mode. Is there a reason for this? Maybe to let the ceramics heat gradually?

    I guess I better know the answer to this before I light coals in a chimney and dump a chimney of flaming coals into the kamado and mess it up or something. I’ll do the burn in today using the recommended method in the manual (a few handfuls of charcoal in the bottom with a lighter cube), and wait to hear back here before using a chimney to light coals for the SNSK.

    #2
    It's going to be fun to see you work your way through the ins and outs of this kamado and come quickly up to speed.

    It makes me feel good that such a devoted Pit member won the monthly Grand Prize. You're in good company with Mr. Bones on that, as I recall.

    Can't help with your query, but just wanted to let you know how much I'm vicariously enjoying this.

    Kathryn

    Comment


      #3
      I am also followin, with eager anticipation of what might come to be...

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks Kathryn fzxdoc and Mr. Bones - one thing is for sure - just lit a couple of handfuls of charcoal for a "burn in" a few minutes ago. The inside of this cooker won't be this pristine white ever again, I imagine!

        The funniest thing so far was Yvonne's questions last night when she got home and saw it, as to the WHY of this grill - WHY would someone make a grill out of potentially breakable ceramic, and so on. WHY was that a good thing, etc. I tried to explain to her my limited understanding of the subject, not having used one before myself - i.e. heat retention, high temperature cooking, the multiple levels of cooking and making a fire, good temperature control, and so on. I think I'll just have to cook something on it and let the results speak for the grill!

        Click image for larger version  Name:	IMG_4121.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	3.62 MB ID:	976510
        Last edited by jfmorris; January 19, 2021, 08:41 AM.

        Comment


          #5
          David Parrish might know the answer...
          Last edited by RonB; January 19, 2021, 09:29 AM. Reason: Corrected name - thanx

          Comment


            #6
            I would do the burn in and do your first couple cooks lighting in the kamado. The manual says something about keeping the heat low and gradual the first couple cooks so the gasket can settle in or something. Tighten the bolts on the body of the cooker down after it cools following these cooks too.

            I had a lot of issues with getting my temperature up inside of two hours following the manuals instructions. I started lighting coals separately and dumping them in and now it’s about a 60 minute preheat. I would recommend lighting the chimney on a kettle or something because the handle and or felt gasket seem susceptible to damage.

            I think the lighting method and starting vent settings were not written for MN in winter so I am open 1.25 for 250-275 and 1.75 for 350 on top. I do all adjustments with the slider at the bottom. From what I understand this is contrary to general Kamado advice but this cooker’s top damper design allows much more airflow than comparable cookers. If it’s too open I lose all my heat. It’s environment dependent so try a couple things.
            Last edited by jhapka; January 19, 2021, 08:46 AM.

            Comment


            • jfmorris
              jfmorris commented
              Editing a comment
              Well - the 2-3 handfuls of lump charcoal was never going to get me to 350F for the burn in. I added a couple more handfuls, opened all vents wide again, and am hoping to see an improvement. Checking every 10 minutes to see where its at. I would use my Smoke, but with no grate installed, nowhere to clip the probe.

            • jhapka
              jhapka commented
              Editing a comment
              I think you’re right about needing more fuel. Try closing the top damper first after letting the new fuel ignite and see how it responds

            • jfmorris
              jfmorris commented
              Editing a comment
              With the added fuel, it got to 300 on the dome thermometer, so I set both vents to 2, and will check again in a bit. Just want to hold 300-350 for 30+ minutes, per the directions.

            #7
            I believe the lighting method of starting in the coals is focused on a low and slow cook. If you start with too large a fire you will have a runaway Kamado and cooling it down will take for ever. Your only alternative will be to shut it down. You can speed up the cooling process by adding a pan of ice cubes when you shut it down. I don’t cook on your style Kamado, but that is my experience with a BGE.

            Comment


            • LA Pork Butt
              LA Pork Butt commented
              Editing a comment
              jfmorris I do it a variety of different ways, but here is the basic way. I fill the entire fire box with lump charcoal. I bury a lighter square on edge in the center horizontal to the intake vent and light the two exposed corners. I leave the bottom and top vents wide open until I reached the desired temperature and then I put in the diffuser and grill.

            • LA Pork Butt
              LA Pork Butt commented
              Editing a comment
              jfmorris If you want to speed the process up to get to higher temperatures like 350, place lighter squares on edge at 2, 10, and 6 o’clock and light. If you have a propane tour here you light the afore mentioned spots for about 25 seconds each instead of lighting the squares.

            • LA Pork Butt
              LA Pork Butt commented
              Editing a comment
              jfmorris one other tip always fill the fire box up to the same level for every cook, so you will have consistent heat with the same vent settings. Keep in mind when cooking with coals in the firebox distance from the fire is a factor as to the heat at the diffuser plate.

            #8
            I'll be watching this thread with interest.

            On my ancient Kamado, I start virtually every fire the same, with a fairly large load of lump and a single Tumbleweed in the center. Here's a photo from a few weeks back, where I was going to be doing a long smoke of brisket, and so you can see that I also loaded up with a lot of mesquite chunks that would slowly come into play as the fire progressed out from the center:

            Click image for larger version

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            Having had this cooker so long, I now have what is essentially an internal clock for how long to leave the cooker top open and the lower vent pulled entirely out based on my target cooking temperature. That period can range from as short as about ten minutes or until the Tumbleweed burns out for low and slow to an additional ten minutes to get to a vigorous flame with the lump popping and cracking for cooking at 350 or so.

            At that point I drop in the Baking Steel deflector if I'm using it, drip pan if using and the grill. The CyberQ Cloud gets hooked up and the lid closed, lower vent put in and closed and upper vent adjusted the known spot for the target temp. The fan then takes over and gets me to the point I want to be, although these days it gets there pretty much by coasting from when I close the cooker and has very little work to do for the first 3-4 hours of the cook.

            For low and slow, putting some boiling water in the drip pan has me ready to put on the meat in as little as 15-20 minutes from lighting the Tumbleweed. Only 5-10 minutes get added to that time for higher temp cooks.

            As LA Pork Butt mentions above, with ceramic cookers it's very easy to raise temperatures quickly and virtually impossible to lower them. So the key is to know just when to go from full feeding of the fire to the settings for your target temperature. It's kind of like getting a feel for the sound of an engine revving while driving a stick shift...

            Comment


              #9
              Here is some history on the "Why". This is from the old Imperial Kamado site prior to Makosan selling the business to Augie.
              All the imbedded hot links still work. Though your new SNS is light years ahead of these clay Kamado's or Hibatchi Pot's the history and cooking concepts remain the same.
              Kamado cooking has given me enjoyment since 1977 when I bought my first Kikuya Hibatchi Pot which I still have. The only Kamado I ever bought that I don't still have is an old RJ Nr7. Sold it due to weight and household good shipment restrictions.
              Here is the link:
              http://web.archive.org/web/200908200...acing%20Parts:
              At top of page go to the history for the why. Sorry...
              Last edited by tiewunon; January 19, 2021, 10:51 AM.

              Comment


                #10
                Well, I had a single 15 minute window when the heat was just over 300F on the dome thermometer. While charcoal is still smoldering, and the temp has been over 250F in the dome for hours, I've not found the magic settings that let the "2-3 handfuls" described in the SNSK manual for burn in do the trick. Hopefully I've done some level of burn in though.

                I'm not ready to cook, but did wash all the stainless stuff in the kitchen sink earlier (well ABOVE the sink in some cases). I'll probably do another dry run in Kamado mode with more charcoal later today.

                The family is demanding stir fry, for my daughter's last meal before going to the hospital at 11PM to be induced, so the griddle will be what I cook food on tonight. They are hanging out here until time to go to the hospital, and I'll be feeding them.

                Back to the SNSK - I am wondering since they recommend the first few cooks be under 350, if I should be doing low and slow Kamado style, and not using the SNS for the first few cooks. Using the SNS to get 225 on the indirect side will have a lot more than 225 on the direct side of the lid.
                Last edited by jfmorris; January 19, 2021, 12:50 PM.

                Comment


                  #11
                  Hi Jim, I used the SNS for all of my initial cooks. I actually had the cooker for a while before I even used in "Kamado mode". You should be able to easily get it to 350 and keep it there once you get the hang of it. The higher temps using the SNS is the challenge. You will find that the lower vent will spend more time open and the top vents more closed.

                  Comment


                    #12
                    One thing I've started to do my Broil King Keg keeping in mind its a metal lined Kamoda style cooker is lining the charcoal around the edges of the fire box and keeping the center open.
                    My thinking being its easier for air to flow up an opening not being impeded by charcoal.
                    Start my fire with Zip cubes at 10 and 2 with a shot of, don't hate me, lighter fluid.
                    Open my dampers wide open and let it build temp.
                    Now as Jim White indicated you have to get a feel/sense for when to start closing the damper(s) or risk the runaway.
                    Kamado's are like people and have good n bad days or hot n cold days, sometimes mine locks in at 280, last Sun locked in at 317 for the whole cook.
                    Most cooks its a YO-YO, I have to constantly monitor the temps and be 15-20 mins ahead of where it looks like its trying to go....if that makes sense.

                    Comment


                      #13
                      I have a large BGE that I've had for years and here's how I light it. If I'm going to cook below 300, I'll light a full load of lump in one spot in the front part of the charcoal with my Mapp torch, for about 30 seconds. Leave the bottom vent wide open and the adjustable top vent completely off. When I get within 75 degrees of my target temp., I close the bottom vent to about 1/4 inch and put the top cap back on and close to about 1/4 inch. From that point on I'll wait till the VOC smoke clears (about 30-45 minutes). Any fine tuning I do with just adjusting the top vent.

                      For cooks above 300, I light in 3 spots with the torch (10, 2 & 6 on a clock face) 30 seconds each. Again the bottom vent wide open and the top vent off. When I get within 75 degrees of the target, I'll close the bottom vent down to about 1/2 inch and leave the top vent completely off. After the burn off time (same as above), I'll adjust temp only with the bottom vent, since the top vent is off. Using this method my temps remain rock solid for the entire cooks. I think this would be the same for the SNS Kamado. I'm at an altitude of 200 feet, so there would be some adjustments need for higher altitudes, I'm sure. Smoke wood I add right before I put the meat on.

                      I use the adjustable rig from CGS and cook at that elevated height most of the time, my grate temp runs about 25 degrees hotter than the dome thermometer.

                      Comment


                        #14
                        Thanks for all your advice. I did a new test run (just charcoal) after 5pm yesterday, and it went VERY well.

                        I poured a lot more lump into the bottom of the SnSK than I had tried the first time around, not enough to fill the fire bowl, but 3-4 pounds worth I think. I then nestled 3 fire starters in there, and lit them all, and left the lid open, and the bottom vent fully open. In 15 minutes I came back, and had a nice little amount of flame on some of the lump, so I installed the upper charcoal grate and plate setter, and the cooking grate, so that I could clip my temp probe from the Smoke to the cooking grate.

                        Since I was shooting for 300-350, I ran with all vents fully open until the grate level probe read 250F. Interestingly, the dome thermometer and the digital thermometer at grate level were within a couple of degrees of each other throughout this entire dry run. That's good, as it means I can spot check with the dome thermometer and also feel good that the upper cooking rack will be at similar temps as the main cooking grate. Anyway, at 250F, I closed the top and bottom vents to a setting of "2", per the SnSK manual, and the rate of climb slowed, and we eventually came to a stop at 327F - where it then sat for 3-4 hours, before starting to drop. It was rock solid on both digital and dome thermometers that entire time, without touching the vents.

                        I'm starting to get a feel for opening the bottom and closing down the top some to increase temps, and close the bottom and open the top to decrease temp as well.

                        So far, this second run makes me feel much much better about how to control things and how to build a fire, and what to do with the dampers, at least in Kamado mode. I feel like temps will be rock solid once you get where you want to get, even without a fan controller, and I am so impressed with the quality of construction.

                        Maybe I will eventually put food on this thing, haha. Today we eat leftover stir fry from the flat top that I made last night!
                        Last edited by jfmorris; January 20, 2021, 10:20 AM.

                        Comment


                        • jhapka
                          jhapka commented
                          Editing a comment
                          What’s the weather like?

                        • jfmorris
                          jfmorris commented
                          Editing a comment
                          jhapka it was probably 40-50 degrees outside, drizzling, low winds. The kamado is under a metal roofed pavilion, and the house, trees and privacy fence serves to help reduce wind out by the pool where I've got it.

                        #15
                        I understand you're doing a burn-in so it makes sense not to go with a full load of charcoal. But I've never understood the SnS Kamado concept as I fill up my Primo like I do my gas tank, fill it until it's full. Then I light either dead center or centered on one half of the kamado. When the cook is done I shut the vents and before the next cook, I stir the coals. Often I get 3 cooks in on one load of charcoal.

                        Comment


                        • Attjack
                          Attjack commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Does ABCBBQ talk about kamado mode in their literature?

                        • jfmorris
                          jfmorris commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Attjack yes they cover lighting and setup for both modes in their manual as well as in some of their videos. The manual recommended vent settings for 300-350 in Kamado mode, which put me right at 327F on both my Smoke probe on the cooking grate, and the dome thermometer a foot above that level.

                        • Attjack
                          Attjack commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I've always thought that good support on how to use their products was one of the company's strengths.

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