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Another Temperature Discussion (and a couple other questions)

I know much of this has been addressed quite a bit, but I haven't been able to find concise answers using the search function.  I'm relatively new to the egg.  It's been incredible so far, but the temperature thing is troubling me.  I'm using BGE charcoal starters, generally placing two in the upper section of the lump.  I light them, leave the lid open and let the fire burn for about 7 minutes--the time specified on the BGE website.  After 7 minutes, I close the lid and open the vents.  So here's where I start running into trouble.  My questions are as follows:

1)  How do I arrive at my target temperature?  I know it's a very basic question, and there's a lot of info on this, but I'm still having a hard time figuring it out.  I can get the fire going no problem, and if I leave the vents open, I can get the temperature very high.  But I saw a thread a while ago that had pictures showing where you ought to set your vents for certain temperatures.  To get a 400 degree fire, the photos showed that the bottom vent should only be open maybe 1/2 inch and the DW should barely be cracked.  After I get the fire going and close the dome, setting the vents that way doesn't get me anywhere near 400.  Instead, the only way for me to get to 400 is to open the vents fairly wide--probably around an inch and a half on the bottom and a wide open DW on top--to cause the temp to climb.  Is the idea that you have the vents wide open for the climb; then once you start to approach your target temp--say once you get within 15 degrees or so--you close them to the settings shown in those photos?  I've been trying to do that, but it's very difficult for some reason.  How do you all reach your target temp?

2)  Once you arrive at your target temp how do you stabilize it?  My temp doesn't seem to want to stay put.  The other night, for example, I was cooking a pork loin, and I thought I had the temp stabilized at 350.  I came back about 10 minutes later, and it was up at 375.  That's not a huge jump, and it didn't really affect the cook, but it made me concerned about being able to maintain a temperature.  If I'm doing a low and slow cook, I don't want to have to check the temp every ten minutes to make sure I don't need to adjust the vents.  Do you all find that once you've dialed in a temp, you are able to keep it there indefinitely?  What are your tips on stabilizing?

3)   Opening and closing the dome really seems to mess things up for me.  I try to do it as little as possible, but obviously there are times when you have to open it.  So let's say I have a 350 degree fire going.  It's been at 350 for a couple minutes and the temp dial doesn't seem to be going anywhere, so I assume it's stable.  Then I open the dome to put food on.  Let's say I'm cooking a meat, some sweet potatoes and vegetables.  Naturally, it will take me a moment or two to get all of those items on the grill.  When I finally do manage to get everything on, what often happens is I close the dome only to notice that the temp has skyrocketed (presumably because while the dome was open I was flooding the fire with oxygen).  So how do you deal with opening and closing?  Do you open at a lower temperature if you know it's going to take you a while to get everything on the grill so as to offset the temp increase that comes as a result?  

4)  When I cook indirect, I'm not sure when to put the plate setter in.  Should I put it in in the very beginning, right when I'm lighting everything, or should I wait until after I've let the starters burn for 7 minutes and I'm about to close the lid? 

5)  If I'm adding wood chips or chunks, when should I put them into the fire?  Should I load them in with the lump before I even light it?  Should I only add them right when I'm about to add the meat?  If you don't put them in from the start, how do get them beneath a plate setter when you're doing an indirect cook without having the dome open for a very long time (to take out the plate setter, add the wood, then replace the plate setter) and increasing the temperature as a result?

Anyhow, I know these are a lot of questions.  Sorry for the bombardment.  Just trying to figure it all out.  Thanks!
Southern California

Comments

  • TjcoleyTjcoley Posts: 2,853
    Let's start with getting to 400.  Bottom vent should be wide open as you light the fire. DW off.  After you close the lid, start watching the temp.  It will start climbing.  Once you hit 300 or so, start closing the bottom vent to about an inch or so open.  When you hit 350, close the bottom to 1/2 inch and see what happens.  As you get to 400, you may need to close it just a bit more.  Should stabilize around 400.  Let it sit there for 15 minutes. If it continues to climb, you may have to shut it down more, or open a bit if it starts to drop.  Once the Egg is stable (meaning it's completely warmed up and at the same temp for a while), opening the lid will have a very temporary impact.  Once you close it things should go back to temp in a couple minutes. Don't try and adjust for these short changes - you'll be chasing the temp forever. 

    I put the platesetter in as I'm about to close the lid so it gets to temp along with the Egg,

    If doing a low and slow, mix the chips (or chunks) throughout the lump, especially towards the middle.  If doing a quick cook like a steak, throw in a hand full a couple minutes before putting on the meat.  Wait til the smoke smells good before adding meat.

    Best advice is to play around with it and be patient.


    __________________________________________
    It's not a science, it's an art. And it's flawed.
    - Camp Hill, PA
  • fljoemonfljoemon Posts: 189
    @bicktrav

    I am brand new to the egg too, but have read quiet a bit and here is what works for me:

    1) I do start the fire and get it going for around 7-8 mins. Then place the raised grid, platesetter etc. and close the dome. Daisy wheel 3/4 open on top and bottom vent almost 1/2 open. Once it reaches the temperature I desire eg. 375F, I fiollow the thread that had the picutres for stabilizing the egg and can get a stable temperature ranging from 370-380F

    2) For low and slow cooks, if you are having difficulty, try to invest in a temp regulating gizmo like the DigiQ or stoker

    3) When opening the dome to put food in, I will close the bottom vent completely and then after the food has gone in and dome has been closed, I open it to the required temp setting that was in the thread with pictures. Playing with the daisy wheel on top has allowed me to control the temp. fairly accurately

    4) I put the platesetter in when I put in the grid after the initial fire has been lit (approx 7-8 mins). I have a woo2, so the platesetter goes inside it and then my cooking grid rests on top of it

    5) Wood chunks goes in right when I put in the lump charcoal even before the fire is lit. Once the fire is lit and all the grids have been put in, I wait for the wood chunk white smoke to clear as this can really impart a nasty smell to the food and look for the clear smoke coming out of the daisy wheel. Only then I put in my food.

    Hope this helps and experienced people will definitely chime in. This forum has been awesome and I have learnt quiet a bit by reading the posts in it.
    1 Yr. Egger!
    Orlando, FL
  • SkiddymarkerSkiddymarker Posts: 5,537
    Try this. 
    Start your fire, bottom vent wide open, with the lid up. After 10 minutes or so, drop in the setter, drip pan and grid, Maverick probe if you use one. Set the DMFT petals to open and the bottom vent to about 1/2". Go away for 30-45 minutes. The Vocs are gone and your egg should be heating to maybe 300º to 400º. Dial the DMFT back a bit and leave it alone. do not chase the temp. An egg will take 30 minutes to stabilize if you move the vent settings. Some guys do not use the DMFT, others like me, use the DMFT and ignore the bottom vent. Whatever works for you. 
    I mix the smoke wood through the lump before I light. You should not see much if any smoke coming from the top of a stable egg on a low and slow. 
    Good luck. 
    Delta B.C. - Vee-Gan: old Indian word for poor hunter. 
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 11,017
    Burn a few hundred pounds of lump cooking, don't chase temps and you'll learn by action-reaction.   All the advice here is good, and there's more than one way to do it. 

    Opening the egg causes a spike in temp but you don't compensate for it.  Remember the dome thermometer measures the effluent temp. The temperatures of the ceramic ramps up with time and given the same sized fire, the effluent will get slowly hotter as the ceramic heats up and starts giving back heat.  Anything you put in the egg - plate setter, food, etc. acts as an ice cube and will suck up heat energy.  So if you get a steady temp and put the plate setter in or a brisket, the temp will drop.  Don't worry about it.  Or compensate for it.  If you're math oriented - the cook time is going to be a function of the integration (area) of the temp over time.
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,194
    Relax, and don't worry too much about the temperature at any given moment. ...unless it is at 800F, in which case you had better be searing something.

    I'm supposing you saw a reference to Grandpas Grub's pictorial on vent settings. It is quite good. With comparable vent settings, I usually am within 15F. Good enough.

    But here's the thing. The Egg is sort of like a semi truck. It can take it a long while to come to speed i.e, temperature. And once it is going, don't expect to drop temperature quickly. The ceramic mass absorbs lots of heat, and does not loose it rapidly.

     As soon as the lump is burning well, put any additional gear in. Expect the temp to drop from all the cool stuff. And expect it will take some time to come back to where it was. Then expect the temp to drop again when the cold food goes in. In most cases, the dome temp will regain the earlier reading without messing w. the vents. Once in awhile, the food may block enough airflow that the vents need to be just a tad more open.

    Here's what I've observed. It may take 20 - 30 min for the dome temp to come to 250 w. the Daisy off and the bottom vent open wide., depending on how much lump I lit, and whether the Egg is damp. Then add 15 min, or so to come to 350.  Then 7 to 450.  Then 3 to 550. Etc.

    If you started the lump w. the vents closed enough that the temp should not go above 250, it could take over an hour to get there. It is all about airflow.

    Until you get the hang of it, start w. the vents full open, and start damping down at 200. Then more at 225. Again, at 250. It is tedious, but eventually you will learn what settings are likely to let you coast into the desired temperature range.


  • bicktravbicktrav Posts: 448
    Tjcoley said:
    Let's start with getting to 400.  Bottom vent should be wide open as you light the fire. DW off.  After you close the lid, start watching the temp.  It will start climbing.  Once you hit 300 or so, start closing the bottom vent to about an inch or so open.  When you hit 350, close the bottom to 1/2 inch and see what happens.  As you get to 400, you may need to close it just a bit more.  Should stabilize around 400.  Let it sit there for 15 minutes. If it continues to climb, you may have to shut it down more, or open a bit if it starts to drop.  Once the Egg is stable (meaning it's completely warmed up and at the same temp for a while), opening the lid will have a very temporary impact.  Once you close it things should go back to temp in a couple minutes. Don't try and adjust for these short changes - you'll be chasing the temp forever. 

    I put the platesetter in as I'm about to close the lid so it gets to temp along with the Egg,

    If doing a low and slow, mix the chips (or chunks) throughout the lump, especially towards the middle.  If doing a quick cook like a steak, throw in a hand full a couple minutes before putting on the meat.  Wait til the smoke smells good before adding meat.

    Best advice is to play around with it and be patient.


    Great suggestions.  I'll give this a try.  By the way, are you pretty much not using the DW at all?  
    Southern California
  • bicktravbicktrav Posts: 448
    Reading through everything everyone wrote here and trying another cook tonight.  Big thank you to all of you for chiming in.  I'll report back and let you all know how it goes.
    Southern California
  • BigjohnBigjohn Posts: 144
    Unless you are doing a low and slow you really don't need the daisy wheel on. Just make adjustments using the lower vent.
  • TjcoleyTjcoley Posts: 2,853
    Stopped using the daisy wheel a few weeks ago. Just using the lower vent. Haven't done a low and slo yet, however going turbo these days so no need to go 250 any more, so I probably won't go back to it. Easily able to control temps from 300 on up to volcano temps using just the bottom. And I can look through the top to check progress of cook.
    __________________________________________
    It's not a science, it's an art. And it's flawed.
    - Camp Hill, PA
  • boatbumboatbum Posts: 1,261

    Wait.

    I started reading through the posts above, everyone is talking about going to 375 or 400.

    You have to think about what kind of cook are you doing.  If you are wanting a low and slow, dont let the Egg get to 400.

    Define your cook first, then light appropiately.

    I think your questions are very good, sames ones I went through at one point.

    Temp management is the most important skill with an Egg - in my opinion.

    Cooking at 400 is easy - its the low temps that require skill.

     

    Cookin in Texas
  • BrotherEggBrotherEgg Posts: 95
    Here is the visual guide that SmokeyPitt passed on to me when I first got started. I have a better feel for it now so I don't refer to this any longer.

    http://eggheadforum.com/discussion/746823/vent-settings-a-visual-guide


    _______________________________________________________________________________
    Large BGE, PSWoo3, 13"CI grid, Grid Extender, Weber Genesis B Gasser/BGE Storage Cabinet
  • NsdexterNsdexter Posts: 133
    Best way to answer your questions s to burn thru loads and loads of charcoal and experiment.
    HFX NS
  • NJ_BBQNJ_BBQ Posts: 77
    Here is the visual guide that SmokeyPitt passed on to me when I first got started. I have a better feel for it now so I don't refer to this any longer.

    http://eggheadforum.com/discussion/746823/vent-settings-a-visual-guide

    Need to bookmark this one!
  • bicktravbicktrav Posts: 448
    So I used many of these suggestions last night, and was able to regulate the temperature far more effectively than in the past.  Arriving at the temperature was accomplished easily.  I still had a little bit of a tough time stabilizing it.  Basically, I got it to 350 and let it stay there for about 10 minutes to be sure it was stable before I threw the meat on.  I opened the dome and put on the meat; then I walked away so that the temp could climb back to 350.  I came back five or ten minutes later to find that the temp hadn't climbed back to 350.  Instead, it was at about 320-330.  I know the temperature drops when you put in meat, but I thought it would climb back up to 350 within 5 or 10 minutes.  Does it take longer than that?  What I decided to do was open the vents just a touch to bring the temp back to 350.  It worked, but then in about 10 minutes it was at around 375, so I had to shut them back a bit.  Made me think that if I hadn't opened them up and had just waited longer than 5-10 after I put the meat in, maybe it would have climbed back to the 350.  Anyway, that was the only trouble.  Everything else was a huge improvement.  Anyone have any thoughts on what happened?
    Southern California
  • boatbumboatbum Posts: 1,261

    If I am doing a long slow cook, I stabilize for 45+ minutes - while the VOC's are burning off.

    Cookin in Texas
  • bettysnephewbettysnephew Posts: 734
    bicktrav said:
    So I used many of these suggestions last night, and was able to regulate the temperature far more effectively than in the past.  Arriving at the temperature was accomplished easily.  I still had a little bit of a tough time stabilizing it.  Basically, I got it to 350 and let it stay there for about 10 minutes to be sure it was stable before I threw the meat on.  I opened the dome and put on the meat; then I walked away so that the temp could climb back to 350.  I came back five or ten minutes later to find that the temp hadn't climbed back to 350.  Instead, it was at about 320-330.  I know the temperature drops when you put in meat, but I thought it would climb back up to 350 within 5 or 10 minutes.  Does it take longer than that?  What I decided to do was open the vents just a touch to bring the temp back to 350.  It worked, but then in about 10 minutes it was at around 375, so I had to shut them back a bit.  Made me think that if I hadn't opened them up and had just waited longer than 5-10 after I put the meat in, maybe it would have climbed back to the 350.  Anyway, that was the only trouble.  Everything else was a huge improvement.  Anyone have any thoughts on what happened?

    From another relative newby with the BGE, I have learned when the empty Egg temp has truly stabilized, when you put the meat in let it go for a half hour or even more (as long as it didn't overshoot) before making any changes to the vents or you will be chasing it forever trying to get it "just right".  Do not make any adjustments if the temp is below target, it will get there given time.  If the temp is high make a very slight adjustment to the vents and let it sit for some time before giving it another tweak.  There is a lot of thermal mass in the Egg and it does not change quickly after a small adjustment.  It always amazes me how little air is needed for long cooks on my XL.

    On a side note, I put my Maverick probe into the electric oven in the house and was surprised how far the temperature swings are after it is indicating to temp.  +/- 30° from setpoint

    Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • I say relax and learn by trial and error. There are so many different cooks you can do, just work on one thing at a time and before you know it you wil be the one giving advice. Just enjoy the process, that!s what makes egging so unique and awesome.
    "If you have the means, I highly recommend it." - Ferris Bueller
  • boatbumboatbum Posts: 1,261

    IMO - which I seem to offer a lot of - The most important skill for a New Egg owner to learn is temp management.

    Once you have that down, you can do anything.   The lower the temp, the more experience is required.   Temp management is affected by the brand of charcoal.

    Lots of guidance available here, but at the end of the day, you just need to burn some charcoal.  Learn what the fire is like starting, learn when you want to close up for a give temp.   Do you light in 1 place, 2 places, 3 places  may vary with the type of temp you are shooting for.

    Early on, you may take longer to stabilize, have to light the fire further in advance from when you want to start your cook.   More experience, you know closer to what it takes.

    If you are cooking Pizza or searing steaks at a higher temp, then you are really just getting the VOC's burned off before you cook.

    If you are wanting a dome temp of 250 - you may need to plan for 45 minutes to slowly sneak up on it and stabilize.

    Burning charcoal in your backyard is the key in my mind.

     

    Cookin in Texas
  • CANMAN1976CANMAN1976 Posts: 1,404

    I am also a new egg owner and have found stabilizing the egg pretty easy so far  but one thing I do is to bring the egg to 10-20 degrees above your dersired target temp then shut the vents to where they need to be and the temp drops back and holds where it should be.Not sure if this is right or wrong but it works for me.I notice many bring the shut the vents just before target temp and the adjust after but i find going slightly over (<20 deg) and then closing works too.

    Hows ya gettin' on, me ol cock



    Kippens.Newfoundland and Labrador. (Canada).
  • boatbumboatbum Posts: 1,261
    edited July 2013

    I am also a new egg owner and have found stabilizing the egg pretty easy so far  but one thing I do is to bring the egg to 10-20 degrees above your dersired target temp then shut the vents to where they need to be and the temp drops back and holds where it should be.Not sure if this is right or wrong but it works for me.I notice many bring the shut the vents just before target temp and the adjust after but i find going slightly over (<20 deg) and then closing works too.

    Since it is working for you - you have a technique that gives you what you want.
    Cookin in Texas
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