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In recent years, the popularity of propane smokers has continued to increase, with more and more people embracing cooking at home - specifically the cooking of high quality, delicious meat.
This trend has undoubtedly been influenced by media personalities like the comedian/podcaster Joe Rogan, who himself is a confessed meat fanatic, and a vocal proponent of the modern smoker.
But what exactly is a propane smoker, and how should you use them?
A propane smoker is used for browning, flavoring, cooking, or enhancing meat.
Working very much in the same way as a barbecue, the only difference is that - as its name suggests - smokers use the hot smoke of smoldering materials to cook the meat.
While there are numerous reasons, one prominent one is the rise in online influencers talking about the benefits of smoked meats - not to mention the rising popularity of carnivorous diets in general.
As mentioned above, this trend has been influenced by people like Joe Rogan - himself a budding hunter and meat enthusiast, who promotes the benefits of naturally sourced meat, and responsible, sustainable methods of culling animals for food.
While the classic barbecue has always been a popular garden accessory for people all over the world, the smoker is just the latest step in human beings and their love affair with the great outdoors and cooked meat - harking back to a time in our distant evolutionary past, no doubt.
To the uninitiated, smokers might seem like a waste of money, especially if you have a perfectly good oven in your home.
However, while an oven will perfectly cook meat to your liking, it is the range of flavors that smokers can achieve that has led to their popularity.
As those who love smoked meat will attest, the flavor is really different from traditionally prepared meat, and once you go smoked you will never go back.
With home smoking, there are several fuel sources you can choose from, ranging from wood pellets, electricity, and propane gas.
When it comes down to one being better than the others, the answer is not so simple.
The fact is that all the sources of fuel have their benefits, and while pellets might produce the richest flavor palette on the cooked meat, fuels like propane are a much simpler and less time consuming method of smoking.
Propane smokers work using heat convection - a process wherein air is used to transfer heat from one area to another.
In the case of propane smokers, the propane burner inside the smoker introduces heat into the smoker itself, and then the introduction of air moves the heat around the space - cooking the internal and external parts of the meat using circulated hot air.
The benefit of a modern smoker is that they are considered a ‘set it, and forget it’ piece of equipment - which unlike the regular BBQ, means that you can literally set it smoking and go about your business for a while.
That being said, there are still ways and means to use a smoker to ensure you stay safe and get the best outcome.
When it comes to the actual process of using a propane smoker, it really couldn’t be simpler.
First, you simply connect the propane canister to the smoker.
Then, once everything is hooked up, you can turn the dedicated tap to light the fire on the smoker.
This flame can then be controlled - in terms of intensity - using the temperature knobs on the exterior of the smoker itself.
When smoking meat, it is best to preheat the smoker - and the temperature control is a great tool for this, as it means that you can set it to maximum to allow it to get hot enough.
This is also a notable advantage over wood burning smokers, as you can set a propane smoker to a high temperature, which it can then reach much more quickly.
Once you have the smoker up to temperature, and the meat is inside cooking, you can effectively leave it unattended for a much longer period of time than other cooking methods.
What’s more, the fire doesn’t need to be attended or bolstered, as the gas will continually keep it fuelled while turned on.
As you can imagine, propane smokers have several benefits over more traditional cooking methods.
Firstly, propane models are much easier to use than, say, smokers that use wood pellets. This is because you can simply turn on the gas and let it go.
They are also quick - albeit not in a bad way that would ruin the meat.
The benefit of propane smokers is that you can reach high temperatures quickly, and achieve the perfect degree of cooking in no time at all.
There are no fires to keep an eye on, and there is little risk of charring or blackening the meat beyond edibility.
Most notably though, smokers give a great smoky taste to meat - something that can be enhanced by adding wood chips into the burner, and essentially providing you with the best parts of both cooking methods, i.e. the quickness of the propane and the taste of wood chip smoking.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about propane smokers and the ways and means of using them at home.
It’s true that smokers have become more and more popular in recent years, with more people taking the time to prepare their food at home, and explore new methods of doing so.
So if you are looking to get into smoking meat, then why not try a propane smoker?