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Temperature Control

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    Temperature Control

    I am new here, but not new to cooking or BBQ So Cal Style. I consider myself a more than competent backyard cook. I have however, decided try my hand at meats that I have not cooked before, several of which I have not even tasted before.

    In November, I decided to add a SnS Grill with the SnS basket to my gear. Over the last 5-6 months, I have taken my tri tip from good to something I would put up against anyone’s. I’ve dialed in the temperature for these short cooks (230-ish for about an hour and 15 minutes), but am beginning to branch out into longer cooks. And here is the question:
    When does a temperature "trend" (either up or down) become something that you must address?

    I was setting up a long term cook for pork shoulder and was expecting a roughly 8 hour time frame. I had two pieces of pork shoulder (Boston butt), one at about 3.5 pounds and one at about 4.5 pounds. The meat went on the kettle at 9:00 am, I was shooting for a 260-280 temp range, as my lone previous experience with a small pork shoulder at 230 took way longer than I thought it should (8+hours).
    At about 12:30, the temperature dropped 15 degrees in less than 10 minutes. I haven’t seen a drop like this in any of the dozens of short cooks, the one other long cook, and the two long test runs I have done. After 10 minutes, I decided this "trend" was worrying. I opened the kettle, there was plenty of fuel, so the fire wasn’t dying due to lack of fuel. I closed up the kettle and opened the lower vent for a few minutes, and right back to target temp. I had a few other variations that I made, including adding more fuel at the 6 hour mark.
    If food wasn’t involved, I think I would have just let it go to see what would have happened. It would have been interesting to file away that info.
    When I first got the SnS, I did a couple of test runs without meat, and on both tests, got very consistent temps over two separate 6 hour runs. The second run, the temp never varied by more than 3 or 4 degrees in either direction.
    So where do you draw the line? Or is there one?
    Obligatory pics attached.
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    I do have a Jumbo Joe with an SNS basket, but I have not used it for smoking or long cooks. I have a pellet pooper which holds whatever temp I've chosen pretty tightly. However, from what I have read from many, many posters here on The Pit, temp swings are not a huge concern unless it is really indicating that your heat source is failing or out of control. Swings from setpoint of +/- 25* are not a big deal. Running from 225* to 300* mainly impacts cooking time, not result.

    So, if not an indication of heat source failing or out of control, I would say you are fine. Just keep monitoring the way you are with those temp probes.


      Strongly agree with GolfGeezer - temps don't really matter to quality if they're 200-300. HOWEVAH... obviously the faster the cook, the less time for smoke. That won't really matter if you're doing long cooks - the difference in smoke between a 9 hour cook and a 14 hour cook is marginal at most. This is likely different for pellets, where you get much less smoke at hotter temps.

      PS: "...I closed up the kettle and opened the lower vent for a few minutes, and right back to target temp. "

      One thing to be aware of is that the kettle takes some time to adjust fully to changes. So you can get in a 'chasing the temp' loop where you open a vent to get it to go higher... then it overshoots 20 mins later so you close it and it drops... but undershoots.... aiiieee!

      BTW - your regular oven doesn't tightly control temps. 50 degree swings around the set temperature aren't atypical.
      Last edited by rickgregory; June 7, 2021, 11:34 AM.


        Agreeing with both Rick and Golf Geezer. 15* temp swings are nothing to worry about. In fact, almost any charcoal cook you do is gonna vary in temps to some degree. As they also mentioned 25*-30* temp swings aren’t uncommon and will only affect your cook time, not quality. It’s my opinion you can’t really compare temp swings, or lack of, in a grill without meat in it, to one with meat in it. The meat sweating and moisture inside the grill might affect the temp inside the cooker.
        Last edited by Panhead John; June 7, 2021, 11:56 AM.



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