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Temperature control - new user but loving it already

Hey all,[p]I've read the archives and there's some great advice there but I have a couple of follow up questions on controlling the temperature on the BGE. I got one for Christmas (Santa Loves Me).[p]I don't have a daisy wheel top on mine YET but I've been doing pretty well with the cap. I started with a load of charcoal in the bottom and got the temp up quickly (man it heats up quick). I brought it down to about 350 by shutting down the damper on the bottom to about an eighth of an inch, top was canted on as "closed" as I could get it. I had trouble with keeping it in the 300-350 range, kept going to 400 or so. I thought I had too much charcoal in it so next time I took a bit out and was able to get the temp to about 300 and hold it there with no problems.[p]My question is, how do I get the temps. at about 200-225 for slow cooking brisket or anything else that takes long cooking times at low temps? If I use a little charcoal, the fire will go out too soon. If I use a full load, the temperature will stay too high for long slow cooking. How do I resolve this dilema with the current setup? I'd love to get a daisywheel top but don't have one yet. Can I do it with what I have now?[p]Thanks for the advice and thanks for a great forum. It's a blast to read and learn from all of you.


  • Troy,[p] Congrats on being Egged by Santa (beats the hell outta being egged by those kids next door . . .), and welcome to the forum! It should be quite possible for you to control temperature with what you've got, though I would suggest getting a metal top when you get a chance. I say this not because it's absolutley necessary for temperature control, but rather because I found the ceramic top to be a bit too willing to fall off when I opened the dome, and then very quickly thereafter found it to be a bit fragile![p] AS far as controlling temperatures goes, here's an excerpt from the BGE FAQ I'm trying to put together in my spare time. Hopefully, I'll be able to get these up on a website sometime in the next month. I apologize in advance if it comes up formatted poorly, but I'm pasting over from "another application". There are also a couple places that may seem strange because they are supposed to contain links to other sites -- again, sorry about that. Here goes:[p]How do I light a fire in my BGE?[p]Under most circumstances, getting a fire going is pretty much a no-brainer – just ask your kids! However, here are a few tips to get you going on the BGE. For most short-duration cooking, just dump some lump charcoal into the firebox and shut the dome, leaving the top vent uncovered and bottom vent open all the way. Then put something flammable in through the bottom vent door so it’s underneath the firebox grate and charcoal. Fire starter cubes are my favorite -- you don’t need a very big piece, plus you can make your own with some paraffin, some sawdust, and a cardboard egg carton. Newspaper will work OK, too, but it’ll leave a bunch of ash and you may have to poke at it a bit to keep it going if you put too much in at once. Light the firestarter/newspaper in the bottom and watch the thermometer. Close things down when you get a little above the temperature you want (see question below on getting the temperature you want).[p]For those times you want to keep a fire going for an extended period, it will help to be a bit more careful with how you get things going. Elder Ward has a great description
    of how to light a fire for long-term cooking. Basically, it involves sorting through your lump so that the biggest pieces are on the bottom of the firebox and the smaller pieces are on top. Then you light the top of the pile. This keeps the holes in the firebox from getting clogged with small pieces of charcoal and ash, and will help keep your fire burning for a long, long time. His process, from his opus on pulled pork, can be found here (link to Elder's PP recipe).[p]How can I get this thing to maintain a constant temperature?[p]One of the great advantages of the BGE is that, with a little training, it can learn to maintain a fairly constant cooking temperature for an extended period of time.However, not unlike obedience training for a puppy, this training is more for the owner than it is for the BGE! Here are a few quick tips:[p] 1.The BGE is all about ceramic mass. Once the shell is hot, it ain’t coolin’ down very fast.
    2.You’re playing with fire. Fire eats charcoal, but it breathes air. So, you’ll get all kinds of advice on what to do with the top cap (whichever one you use) and the bottom vent. Some folks, for example, leave the top cap off entirely and only adjust with the vent on the bottom. I use the both openings. My belief is that the bottom vent is the best way to make most temperature adjustments and the top cap is a good way to fine-tune. Additionally, when I’m smoking, I use the top vent as a way to regulate the amount of smoke that flows out the top. Find what’s best for you and stick with it– after all, it’s workin’, ain’t it?
    3. Patience is a virtue: The best way to approach this is to spend the time up front. Get the fire going, and let the dome temp get up above the temperature you want to stabilize at. Start closing down the BGE. Since it won’t be warmed up all the way, the temp will drop as energy is used to heat the shell. If you haven’t overshot by too much, the temperature should drop to below your desired final temperature. Now all you have to do is slowly open things back up until you slide right on in to where you want. Fire’s going, ceramic mass is bufferin’, life is good!
    4. Chill out, man! Don’t micromanage your fire. You’ll end up driving yourself crazy over 5-degree fluctuations, then fret over your 10-degree fixes! Take it easy – after all, this is supposed to be fun. Just think, some home oven thermostats let the temperature get to 50F below your setting before turning the burner on and don’t turn the burner off until the temperature is 25F above your setting. Think of how much better you’re doing than that![p]That's what I got so far. I would invite anyone and/or everyone on the forum to give me some feedback on this as I really would like it to be useful when I'm done. When I get there, I'll post the rest of the questions to a website for further perusal.[p]MikeO

  • RhumAndJerkRhumAndJerk Posts: 1,506
    Congratulations on what Santa Left you and Welcome to the forum.[p]The process of temperature control is greatly aided by the use of a daisy wheel or one of the new Dual function tops. [p]One of the things that temperature control is not related to is the amount of lump in the firebox, but rather the amount of lump that is burning in the firebox. I always start out with a full load of charcoal. The trick is to not get too much lump burning. When you get within 50 degrees of your target temperature, start closing up the vents until you get the temperature that you want.[p]Elder Ward describes a method of building a fire for low’n’slo cooking that will allow for 20 plus hours of burn time. His process can be found in his North Carolina Pulled Pork recipe that is listed in the recipe section. It works very well.[p]On other method that I use is the placement of the fire starter in the lump when I initially light the egg.
    For temperatures in the 200 range, I simply set the fire starter on top of the lump.
    For Temperatures in the 300-400 range, I place fire starter halfway between the top of the lump and bottom grate.
    If I am going for high temperatures, I place the fire starter close to bottom grate and place the lump around it after I light it. [p]Hope this helps,

  • Troy,[p]Congrats on the great present.
    Temp control is a little tricky in the beginning. You can do Lo n slo without the Daisy, but the Daisy does make it easier.[p]The key is to begin regulating the temp early. Don't skimp on the lump or your fire will go out. In fact for pulled pork, the entire firebox should be filled.[p]You mentioned how quickly temperature build on the egg. It begins to rise slowly from 100-150, then really takes off at 250+. It is important to begin regulating the temp as soon as the temp begins rising past 100-150. If you wait until the temp is 300 to begin regulating, the fire is too big to get back down to 200-225. Beging closing the bottom vent early and you can definitely do Lo n Slo without the daisy, but you will probably see the temp rise as time elapses past a few hours, but it should not be so much as to hurt what you are cooking.[p]My only criticism of the BGE is the way they sell this thing. Daisy wheel should be included as should the Auto-Lock band.

  • Troy,
    I'm a relative newcomer to the BGE, just under a year. I'm definitely a newbie to the forum, just under 2 weeks!(my fault, believe me!)
    I cooked a butt, for EW's 'pulled pork' over NY's eve and NY's day, for 21.5 hrs. I'd never attempted to keep a 'burn' going that long. I've got a whole hog cooker that I've kept going that long,(in fact 26 to 28 hrs) but never on the BGE's. I'd noticed before, it is a whole lot harder to control at lower temps than it is at high or medium range temps. When I started my fire, it zoomed up to 300+ degrees almost instantly! I shut everything down, totally and let the temp get below 150 degrees, before I started again. I never had the fire go out entirely, but it took me 3 or 4 tries to get it where I wanted, then I let it burn like that for an hour or so to confirm my setting. Then about 13 to 13.5 hrs into the burn, my temp started dropping. I couldn't get it back up to that 210 to 230 range I wanted. I pulled the butt and wrapped it in foil, and checked my fire! Sure enough I had very little lump left. I restoked the fire box and Whamo! in 5 mins. it was back above 300 degrees. I shut it down, til it was at 180 - 200 degrees, then started cookin' again. Gradually working the temp back up to my target of 210 to 230 degrees. Look at Elder Wards complete recipe and instructions for North Carolina pulled pork. He goes into it in detail, even how to build the fire for lasting that long. Also, "Spin", "KennyG", "Tim M" and "Cat" can give you some tremendous pointers!(and a whole lot of folks not mentioned here!) That's where I kick myself it my "big butt", for not investigating the forum earlier. The folks here will help you all along the way, so your "fat" ain't in the fire! I do a lot of instructional work in my own business, and I always say at siminars, "The only dumb question, is the question that don't get asked!" That goes here, 1000%! Even though you don't have a daisy wheel for the top, you can still make it work! Just go at it slow & easy. Don't wait til the temp gets up to 300+ before you start backing things down! Start closing things at 200 degrees, and I think you'll see it works a whole lot better and easier. There ain't a single one of us that hasn't made mistakes, (look at "I carved the wrong turkey!" Or Elizabeth's posting on needing a license to fire up the Egg. We all have done them things, and we laugh with them! Because we know where they're coming from!
    I haven't said it before, but welcome to the "clan"! It's great, and it just keeps getting greater! Jump right in there and give anything a try! If you hold off like me, you'll only be the one to suffer! These folks are great friends, and even more, terriffic family! It don't get no better than this! WELOME! WELCOME! WELCOME![p]Dr. Chicken

  • CatCat Posts: 556
    Troy,[p]Welcome! It's good to have you join us.[p]My experience echoes what you've heard from several others:[p]- Always start with a full firebox; you'll get better fuel efficiency that way.[p]- For low-and-slow, start closing down the Egg as soon as the dome temp hits 150-180. It's much easier to control a fire on the way up than to ratchet down one that's gotten too big.[p]- Unless you're going for high temps, start with a small fire. For me, that means two firestarter cubes placed atop the lump, each about 1/4 of the way in from the edge. Starting the fire under the vent lights a lot more lump and results in a bigger fire.[p]- I control temp almost exclusively through the lower vent alone (again, this works only if you start with a small fire); I rarely use any cap at all, unless I need to bring down a too-hot fire fast. I'm not typical in this, but it gives you a sense of how versatile the Egg is and how many routes there are to success.[p]- Practice is the key. The more you Egg, the faster you'll learn what works best for you.[p]Cathy
  • Char-WoodyChar-Woody Posts: 2,642
    MikeO, Thats a lot of typing..! I am one of the non critical temperature advocates. You can do pulled pork in the 200 to 260 range bracket for instance. What will the difference be? Very minute in crusting, and a bit shorter time in the cook on the higher end. Poultry, anywhere in the 300 to 350 range..! Porl Loins, Ham, etc..the same zones. Once ya got the temperature locked in somewhere in those have it made IMHO. I agree, trying to lock in to a 212 precision temperature is foolish and a waste of time and effort. After some usage of the BGE, one can almost automatically, (at least I do) preset my top vents and lower vents, and come back in 20 minutes and my temperature is within 10 degrees of where I wanted it. And it stays there. Maybe I got a extra good gremlin with mine?

  • Char-WoodyChar-Woody Posts: 2,642
    Troy, If you haven't already purchased a metal top, get the new combo daisy/slider top. Tim M's website show's the combo and how to adjust it accurately. Cheers..C~W[p](its expensive, but you get two tops for the price in versatility)

  • Troy, when I first got my egg I used a 28 ounce tomato can. It set neatly in the neck of the vent just below the top surface. I was able to tilt the can to control airflow.
    I did a couple of briskets and pork shoulders this way and was able to keep the temp in the 230-250 range. Might help.
    Happy eggin' Bob

  • Cat,[p]Nice pointer about where you place your starter cubes. I always started mine in the middle. When you start your two cubes, i assume that they are in the same spot i.e. next to or on top of one another, and not in two different spots. Correct?

  • CatCat Posts: 556
    Teslamania,[p]Two different spots. Each placed halfway between the center & the edge, on opposite sides. So the result is two tiny fires.[p]Hope that makes sense![p]Cathy

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