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Temperature Control

bhuggbhugg Posts: 183
edited November 2011 in Forum List
So, this is only my second time to fire-up my Egg, and I am trying to control the temp.  I am not trying to re-invent the wheel, so what do I need to know.  I lit the coals, and once they were going, I shut the lid.  At this point, the temp sky rocketed to around 450.  I then shut down all vents, and I have not been able to get a temp below 350.  Any pointers are greater appreciated and needed.  I have been asked to smoke the Thanksgiving turkey, and if I cannot control the temp, might as well decline the challenge.
Large BGE
Dallas, TX

Comments

  • ShiffShiff Posts: 1,174
    It takes a long time to cool off the egg, so you need to close the vents up as the temperature rises. If it gets too far above your target temperature, you'll have to wait for it to cool down.  Here is some info on controlling the temperature:

    http://www.greeneggers.com/index.php?option=com_simpleboard&func=view&id=746823&catid=1
    Barry Lancaster, PA
  • Don't decline, whatever you do.  You've already found that the BGE heats up quickly, so stick around until it hits your target temperature and close off the airflow to stabilize the temps.

    I've found airflow is the key.  When I'm cooking brisket, I usually wait until it hits around 200F, then shut the vents (top and bottom) until they're open only a sliver...and it sticks at 200 all day long.  The more oxygen moving through the egg - the hotter it gets.

    Once the egg is up in high temps, it is hard to bring it back down without just extinguishing it and starting over.  Which, if you have time, is a perfectly good solution as well.

    Good luck!  Experiment - cook yourself a turkey!  :-)

  • FxLynchFxLynch Posts: 433
    If you are going for lower temps, don't light a whole lot of coals on fire.  If I am smoking at 250, I only use one small lighter block.  Then as soon as a few coals are lit I close the lid with the bottom vent open and top vent off.  I let the temp start rising and put the top vent on at 200, start closing it and the bottom till the temp levels off at 250.  I never let it get super hot if I am using low cooking temps. 

    Good luck, it takes a little while to figure it out. It took me a couple times to get the temp control figured out, and thats after using a weber grill for 16yrs. Until you are pretty comfortable, I would stay right with the grill while stabilizing the temperature. 
  • bhuggbhugg Posts: 183
    When you first light your coals, when do you shut the lid and focus on the temp?
    Large BGE
    Dallas, TX
  • FxLynchFxLynch Posts: 433
    Thats the part that requires some trial and error.  If you are going a low temp cook, I'd say within 5 minutes of lighting I have the top closed.  You really only need a couple of them going to get started.  Then it will very slowly heat up.  

    If I am cooking at 700 degrees, let it burn for a while open then when I close the lid the temps shoot up super fast.
  • bhuggbhugg Posts: 183
    I think that is where I made my mistake.  I will try again tomorrow.  
    Large BGE
    Dallas, TX
  • It is better to have bottom closed and top at a sliver. I shut it down at 200. 1//4 inch on bottom and sliver at top.

    If it gets too hot I close the bottom.

    I grill therefore I am.....not hungy.
  • Keep playing with it, and you will get the hang of controlling the temp.  I suggest cooking cheaper meats at first.  One tip I will give, never close the  top, Daisy Wheel, completely.  This is for low and slow.  If you are cooking steaks or burgers and are searing, you will close the wheel.  But that is just for a short time.  During long cooks, the particulates need to escape.  

    Paul
    thebearditspeaks.com. Go there. I write it.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    The daisy is a dimmer switch. Too hot? Shut it a bit. Too cold? Open it.

    No idea why some wanna make it difficult.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • Sometimes when I light my BGE, I partially close the vents before I walk away.  This way I dont have it "wide open" and if I get distracted doing prep or having a few beers, I dont return to a red hot kiln ;-)
  • "a few beers". So unlike you. ;))

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • Just into my second smoke on my BGE and learned quickly how fast it can heat up and how long it takes to bring temps back down if you don't stay close by.  Great pointers BakerMan - very helpful - thanks.
  • If you are using starter cubes don't shut the dome until they are burned out. They put off a high amount of heat and cause false temp readings.
    Low heat smoke - full load of lump, light 2 cubes & 9 & 3 o'clock, walk away and have a beer. Once flames are gone and you have glowing embers shut the dome When you get within 50-75* of target temps start closing your vents. For a 250/275* smoke my bottom vent is open about the thickness of a quarter and top vent pedals are barely open.
    If this is only your second cook I would recommend that you play around with temps. Just fire up the egg(no intention of cooking) and aim for 250* and let it settle in for an hr or so then open vents a bit and aim for 350* and so on intervals of 100*. Each time let the egg settle in Make mental notes if where your vent are during each stage. This helped me the most. I am in the process of learning this on my small which is way different than my large.

    -----------------------------------------


    Large BGE. Small BGE Henderson, Ky. Waitin to find a Sasquatch to Egg.
  • As several others have already noted, air flow and the control of it is key. Low temp cooks (200-300), I often have my lower vent open only a sliver once the coals get burning. My opinion is to use the bottom vent as your main control rather than try to control with the daisy wheel. Others find the top works better. You just need to find what works best for you. Keep trying - I got frustrated a couple of times early on after coming to Eggland from a gasser. It is easy to over think temp control at first. After a few cooks, you will just seem to "know" what is going to work for whatever temp you are going for.

    Also, I have found that the weather - both in the days leading up to a cook and the day of the cook - will change how you set your vents. I have found that having a lot of rain or humid weather leading up to a cook seems to add moisture to my Egg. It seems to take more air to get/maintain a given temp under these conditions. We have been hot and dry here for the past couple of months and I'm finding myself having to keep my vents closed down more to keep temps under control. I am also having a lot less issue with mold in the Egg when going several days between cooks lately due to lack of moisture.
  • Keep at it, I was asking the same question recently and had a lot of good info from the eggers on the forum that helped me out. I have found that if using fire starter blocks you need to use two at 3 & 9 o'clock (as suggested above) every time and need to wait for the flames to go out before closing the lid. I also seem to have better luck controlling the temp by either opening the DW fully or taking it off and then using the bottom vent to control the temp, especially with the plate setter in. Someone else also pointed out that the screen on the bottom vent will effect your air flow, found that to be very true.
  • I, too am a new BGE user and have one question I can't seem to find the answer to.  I have had great success cooking  foods that don't need long smoking/cooking times. However, on two occasions when trying to cook a brisket, after starting the coals, waiting for the white smoke to die out, and closing the lid right before it reaches around 200 degrees when I have the vent open about an inch and the daisy wheel open enough to keep the temperature around 225 degrees, my coals die out and the temperature plummets.  The second time I tried I waited and when I saw the temp drop, I opened the vent just a tad.  I could not get it to stabilize and it ended up dying out again (I had to go to bed and hoped that it would continue to cook).      How do I maintain low temps without the coals dying out? 
  • SoCalTimSoCalTim Posts: 350
    bhugg said:
    I think that is where I made my mistake.  I will try again tomorrow.  
    Hey brother, I've been where your at. fact is we've all been there. I can remember my first 4-5 cooks going thru what your going thru. I almost said 'screw it' and threw in the towel.

    I can proudly say, a year has passed ... I now have tons of cooks under my belt and thou no expert I have them temp control issue under control.

    I control the temp ... it no longer controls me.

    Best of luck, you'll get there. 

    Tim
  • SoCalTimSoCalTim Posts: 350
    edieeason said:
    I, too am a new BGE user and have one question I can't seem to find the answer to.  I have had great success cooking  foods that don't need long smoking/cooking times. However, on two occasions when trying to cook a brisket, after starting the coals, waiting for the white smoke to die out, and closing the lid right before it reaches around 200 degrees when I have the vent open about an inch and the daisy wheel open enough to keep the temperature around 225 degrees, my coals die out and the temperature plummets.  The second time I tried I waited and when I saw the temp drop, I opened the vent just a tad.  I could not get it to stabilize and it ended up dying out again (I had to go to bed and hoped that it would continue to cook).      How do I maintain low temps without the coals dying out? 
    225 is hard to hold not using a temp control device. Bump the temp to 250 and look what happens. I think you'll be very surprised and happy.
  • I asked the very same question last Friday on my first post on this forum and got a lot of the same good advice.

    I intended to smoke a pork shoulder Saturday, I thought I had the time, silly me, I should have known  that plans had been made for me, so I went back to the original plan and did ribs using the tricks I got here to control temps.

    I put on fire starter cube on a lump pile that I knew was enough to last the 5 hours and then some required, once that side of the pile was lit fairly well I closed the lid and when the temp reaced about 205 I started to shut the vents down.

    It did get above my 225/230 target, but I was able to halt and lower it a lot easier than the full blown fire I was struggling with in the past, once in the sweet spot it stayed perfect, my I-Phone I-Grill app has a running temp graph and the line stayed straight as an arrow between opening the grill to warp and unwrap the ribs.

    A lot less stressful, thanks all for the advice.  

  • BojanglesBojangles Posts: 112
    when I first started on my BGE, the most important lesson that I learned (the hard way) was:

    It's very easy to quickly raise the temp on your egg, it's damn near impossible to quickly lower it.

    I mostly do low n' slow, I like to start a small fire and creep up to temp, that way I don't overshoot.
    Large BGE | BBQ Guru | Maverick | British Racing Green ThermaPen | 36" Blackstone Flat Top | 22" Custom Dísco
    my Big Green Egg has saved many a Sunday that my Miami Dolphins attempted to ruin.

  • jhl192jhl192 Posts: 659
    It helps to know what your two vents look like at your target stabilized temp. This way, when it gets close to your target temp, you can shut them down to where they will need to be and then walk away for a while. When you come back your fire should be stabile close to where you want it. Even if you come back two hours later they should be close to your target temp!
    XL BGE; Medium BGE 
  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,249
    SoCalTim said:
    edieeason said:
    I, too am a new BGE user and have one question I can't seem to find the answer to.  I have had great success cooking  foods that don't need long smoking/cooking times. However, on two occasions when trying to cook a brisket, after starting the coals, waiting for the white smoke to die out, and closing the lid right before it reaches around 200 degrees when I have the vent open about an inch and the daisy wheel open enough to keep the temperature around 225 degrees, my coals die out and the temperature plummets.  The second time I tried I waited and when I saw the temp drop, I opened the vent just a tad.  I could not get it to stabilize and it ended up dying out again (I had to go to bed and hoped that it would continue to cook).      How do I maintain low temps without the coals dying out? 
    225 is hard to hold not using a temp control device. Bump the temp to 250 and look what happens. I think you'll be very surprised and happy.
    Yup.  225 is tough to get.  Don't sweat it either.  The Egg is very forgiving.  I haven't seen anything that cooks at 225* that doesn't also cook great at 250*.  
    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
  • DieselkWDieselkW Posts: 136
    I have to agree with the 225 vs 250 crowd. I had a fire go out and had to remove everything, keep the bugs off, and start over. Dinner was an hour late... that's an extra hour with in-laws I will never get back. ;-)
    I find it helpful to ensure the entire lower box is vacuum clean (use a shop vac, or your wife will not be happy). I always start with a clean egg, and fill to the same level even if all I'm cooking is a burger. 
    Consistency is the key. If you smoke both on Monday and Tuesday and don't have the same coal level and cleanliness conditions, how can you expect the same results? It's truly about air flow, so the air flow path must be the same day to day to get the same vent position equal to the same temperature. Same with fuel load - if you light half as much coal you will get a different temperature. I know my long (12 hour) smokes end up at a lower temp than when I started. My guess is ash buildup and lower fuel level results in a temperature change. 

    My pinky finger is exactly the correct width for 300 on the bottom vent. The top vent is a bit more forgiving - I find the daisy mostly closed with that same pinky opening a half moon to maintain 300f.

    More or less than 300 is then a simple matter of tiny adjustments. I needed 425f for a Poppa Murphy's pizza and got it dead nuts on 425 by luck increasing both vents to "thumb". I suppose a small metal pocket ruler would be a good thing to keep in the drawer with my matches. 

    If I had a recipe that needed 225f for an hour per pound, I would cook at 250 for an hour per pound and not worry about it. I think it's around 100f when meat stops taking on smoke anyway. The rest of the time needed to cook can be done with heat and foil without smoke. 

    BBQ is a celebration of culture in America. It is the closest thing we have to the wines and cheeses of Europe. 

    Drive a few hundred miles in any direction, and the experience changes dramatically. 



  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,249
    DieselkW said:
    I

    My pinky finger is exactly the correct width for 300 on the bottom vent. The top vent is a bit more forgiving - I find the daisy mostly closed with that same pinky opening a half moon to maintain 300f.

    More or less than 300 is then a simple matter of tiny adjustments. I needed 425f for a Poppa Murphy's pizza and got it dead nuts on 425 by luck increasing both vents to "thumb". I suppose a small metal pocket ruler would be a good thing to keep in the drawer with my matches. 

    I use a similar measuring system. :) 
    I thought about adding some notches to the draft door frame every1/8" to make it easier to tweak.
    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
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