Not everyone realizes this, but smoking foods are somewhat of an art. That smoky flavor that the food gains is a result of the combination of moisture and smoke, along with the low and slow heat that is used. Judging from their name, it should be easy to guess that the smoke happens to be an integral part of the process.
The distinct flavor that gets infused into foods by smoking them cannot be obtained from a grill or an oven. In the past, meats and other foods would be smoked in a smokehouse. Today though, you can choose from various different types of smokers, all of which offer their own distinct advantages.
How Many Different Types Of Smokers Are There?
To make your choice easier, below are brief overviews of the most common and popular types of smokers that are easily available these days.
If you want your smoked foods to taste truly authentic, the way smoked foods are supposed to, then charcoal smokers are worth considering. Of course, they tend to be costlier and using them can be quite a hassle. You have to light the charcoal on fire, stoke them and watch them, and once you are done smoking, you also have to get rid of them. On the other hand, though, flavored charcoal can be burned together with wood chips to infuse the foods with an additional woody flavoring. For varying flavors, you may even use different types of wood.
Electric smokers are the most convenient since they can be started with the mere push of a button. Of course, they are not exactly portable since they have to plug into an electric socket. You can choose from an analog or a digital electric smoker. As their name suggests, the analog ones have dials and the digital ones have digital screens and push buttons for making adjustments. However, while the foods are smoked quicker, their smoky flavor does not tend to be as rich.
Gas Or Propane Smoker
Unlike electric smokers, propane or gas smokers never spoil the meat by not infusing them enough of a smoky flavor and they do not have to be plugged into an electric socket. The latter means that they can be carried around and used just about anywhere, as long as you have access to gas or propane. Compared to charcoal and pellet smokers, using gas or propane smokers can also prove to be more convenient. They can even be compared to gas or propane grills. Like electric smokers, they too can be ignited with the push of a button and a temperature gauge is usually built into them.
Wood Pellet Smoker
Pellet smokers are as convenient to use as electric and gas smokers, but the foods gain the same smoky flavor obtained from charcoal smokers. While a lot of wood pellets are required to be able to use these smokers, you can just set them on fire and just forget about them. Furthermore, different wood flavors can also be mixed and matched to infuse varying flavors into the foods. Although similar, the smoky flavor is still not as deep and rich as when using charcoal smokers.
Ultimately, the food smoker that you choose will depend on your own personal preference, including how deep and rich of a smoky flavor you want to taste once you eat the smoked foods. Of course, your budget will matter as well, and if you can only afford to buy the cheaper style of smokers, while still gain a great deal of convenience and flavor, you should consider choosing from the gas or propane smokers.