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A question about water pans, moisture, and bark

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    A question about water pans, moisture, and bark

    I've smoked all of your standard stuff, from brisket to loins, ribs to butts. I have been highly successful and have also failed miserably. All part of the learning process, I reckon.

    One thing I have been unable to achieve is a good bark when using a water pan. I haven't had to throw anything out with either mothod, but it seems that once the water pan is put in the smoker, all hope of a nice crust goes out the window.

    So what's the trick, or is there one? Should I start with the pan for a couple hours, then remove it? Is two hours with a pan better than none?

    Edit: I think I put this in the wrong forum. Maybe a nice mod will move it to the appropriate location.
    Last edited by Usernamevalid; May 18, 2015, 10:35 AM.

    Hey User, what are you cooking on? That will let me know where to move this.

    I've always preferred a moist cooking environment, and thus have always cooked through the stall unwrapped to attain the bark I want. Never really worried about withholding water to see if I attain the bark I want sooner.

    I've read about one competition cook who prefers to cook without water, until he gets the bark he wants, then adds water to the equation.

    Though I have had some close calls with briskets, I have never had a problem getting the bark I want before they get to probe tender in the flat aka 203-205 internal.



      The last couple of butts I did were small. One was just for dinner, and the other was a test piece for my smoker. In both cases I let the Maverick dictate, medium at 150 (if memory serves). Also in both cases, the bark failed to form. One I used the crutch, the second I let cook through the stall.

      In looking at meatheads pulled pork recipe as an example, he says his target is 203. Ok, that'd be a significant difference and probably enough to form the bark, but it seems like we'd be approaching drying-out territory. Second question is, why so done? Does it help the meat shred more easily?


        Taking the PB to 203 will make it pull better and it will also make it more tender. As for the water pan, I can't speak of the profane cooker but I never use a water pan in my stick burner and have yet had a dry PB.
        Last edited by DWCowles; May 19, 2015, 12:01 AM.


          Originally posted by DWCowles View Post
          Yes it pulls easier and more tender. I've never smoke a butt using profane only wood and have never used a water pan. Never had a dry butt yet.
          Now that right there is good info.


            You can always put the butt back on to firm up the bark after the wrap.


              What rub are you using?

              I have the most experience in the WSM. I've smoked with and without water in the pan. Success with both.

              I really like low n slow, and i'm very generous with the Memphis dust, so I get a really crusty, beautiful Mrs. Brown on there.


                I have a BGE... Egger's don't use water pans, ever.


                  Originally posted by PaulstheRibList View Post
                  What rub are you using?

                  I have the most experience in the WSM. I've smoked with and without water in the pan. Success with both.

                  I really like low n slow, and i'm very generous with the Memphis dust, so I get a really crusty, beautiful Mrs. Brown on there.

                  This has happened with pork butts and brisket alike, so the rub isn't a causing factor.

                  I suspect the entire thing boils down to time. I am going to try a butt this weekend and shoot for the higher number, see what happens.


                    Definitely shoot for the higher temperatures stated here, you will get a much more tender result and the bark will form with or without a water pan.



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