Are you in a dilemma what to purchase between gas and charcoal smoker?
I always wanted to try a gas smoker and understand the differences in the cooking techniques, but the charcoal smoker always carried my mind.
A charcoal smoker is somewhat dated particularly with the cost of gaseous petrol and propane used to fuel grills. But charcoal smokers can be incredible for getting ready simple meals.
How does charcoal smoker works, its appearance and how it used in cooking?
To distinguish between a gas or charcoal smoker, let me first explain how the charcoal smoker works. In the base of the unit is a firebox where the charcoal is placed and underneath is a vent to allow the air in to support combustion. The cooking grid sits in the upper area of the Egg, and the two are separated by what the Green Egg manufacturers call the “plate setter” – in essence, a piece of ceramic plate that ensures that no direct heat is applied to the food.
During the smoking process, wood chips are sprinkled onto the charcoal to create the smoke. This is the one disadvantage to the Big Green Egg in that to add more wood chips to your fire; you have to lift out the food rack and the plate setter to gain access. Funny enough, I’ve only ever had to add more wood chips and never charcoal because the fuel efficiency of the unit is magnificent.
Gas smoker appearance and how it’s used in cooking?
A gas smoker actually in principle isn’t that different in that the heat source is at the bottom, it’s simply about a different method of generating heat and smoke. The heat is generated by a gas burner and sitting on top of the burner is a sheet or tray of metal and into this tray is where you place the wood chips.
Usually, there’s a door close to this tray to allow adjustment for the burner and the addition of fresh wood; this is a lot more convenient than the Big Green Egg.
Technically speaking, between the food chamber in the top and where the burner is there should be a smoke spreader. This does a similar job to the plate setter in the Big Green Egg in that it disperses both heat and smoke to ensure that it spreads evenly around the food chamber. In some small gas smokers, this isn’t that necessary, but it is required in the larger models.
How similar is charcoal smoker to gas smoker?
Both charcoal and gas smokers vent top and bottom to ensure that there is a continuous draft and this serves two purposes.
Firstly the draft supports combustion and spreads the heat upwards into the food chamber, and secondly, it keeps the smoke moving – a closed environment won’t produce as good a smoky flavor as one where the smoke is continually passed over the food.
So the differences are marginal, and if you like playing with fire, then there is only one way to go. If however, you’re looking for practicality the gas is an option worth considered. Read the benefit about another smoker.