From the fine Floridians at Grill Junkie, here’s a whole lot of hot info on grilling and smoking in cool spells. Yes, even in Florida, wind and weather can challenge the outdoor cook. You need to make adjustments to help ensure success. Read this excerpt, check the forecast, and get ready to BBQ with attitude all year ‘round.
The Prime Directive: Keep your BBQ hot enough to smoke, no matter how cold it is.
Smoking in cold temperatures presents several challenges. When operating a charcoal, gas or wood-fired backyard smoker, the weather is always something you need to pay very close attention to. When temperatures are very low you need to be especially careful. Reaching and maintaining ideal smoking temperatures can be difficult at best, and very hard if the wind is blowing. Metal smokers are particularly challenging because the metal acts to conduct the heat quickly away from your BBQ, grill or smoker.
The first thing to imagine is the temperature difference. On a nice warm summer day, you might find that your smoker, sitting in the sun, has an internal temperature around 100° F. without a fire in it. Open the lid to get things ready and maybe it cools down to 85° F. If your target temperature is 225 degrees F. then you need a fire that will increase in smoker temperature by 125-145° F. If, on the other hand it is a cold, overcast day the internal temperature of your smoker could be 35° F, meaning you need to increase the temperature by 190° F. This is near twice the temperature difference. This means that you will have to have better temperature control, a hotter fire, and more fuel than usual on hand.
Now we need to take into account the wind. The most important thing about wind is the direction relative to your smoker. Some smokers, like the large offset smokers, have a definite airflow path. Air comes into the smoker through the firebox and moves across the cooking chamber and out the stack. If the wind is blowing in this direction the increased airflow will burn your fuel faster and can cause high-temperature spikes. This means keeping the vents closed down more than normal. If the wind is going in the other direction it can stop the airflow entirely and keep the heat out of your cooking chamber. It is best to let the wind add to the airflow and not stop it so if possible position your smoker so that the wind is blowing in the direction of the natural smoker airflow. It is very important to keep an eye on the wind as well as your smoking temperature.
Of course, it’s very difficult to smoke in heavy rain but cold weather also brings the occasional unanticipated light rain or snow. When water hits your smoker it is going to evaporate. Evaporation pulls heat from your smoker. If, during the course of a smoke you find some rain or snow falling it is time to open up the vents, getting things stoking, and bring up the temperature to offset this heat loss. Keep a close eye on it and you should be okay.”
Read more about the technical aspects of smoking and cooking on a wood pellet grill in this article about Indirect Heat.BACK TO BLOG