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Struja

Confused about temp

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I am still  pretty new to Kamado cooking and I was hoping some of you experts could help me with a few things.

 

The concept of “stable” temperature....
 

So, I did an 11 hour Pork Butt yesterday and I tried to keep it around 260, I set my lower vent on my KJ Classic and then adjusted the top wheel to get me near 260.  I would get to 260 and it would sit at 260 for about 10 minutes and maybe drop to 259 or go up to 261 but it was close.  So, I assumed I was “stable”.  20 minutes later, I would be at  279 and climbing.

 

So, I would back it off, get it back down to 260 and let it hover around 260 for 10-15 minutes.  Leave it unattended, come back and I would be back up to 280.

 

Obviously, I wasn’t stable.  So, at what point are you stable?  (I know many will recommend a temp control system and I am thinking about one) but until I get one, I need to figure this stable thing out.

 

The second question is more of a clarification.  I was using a Meater+ probe for both internal and ambient temp.  I have calibrated my dome thermometer on the KJ, so I know it is spot on.  I was using the SloRoller with my racks in the highest position and my Meater probe atop the butt, meaning it wouldn’t have been too far from the dome thermometer (maybe 8” above it).  While my probe was showing an ambient temp of 260, the dome thermometer would be 10-20 degrees lower.

 

I have read some here say the dome temp is as important or more important than the ambient temp at the grill (although my probe was well above the grill).  Why is the dome temp so important and how will it affect my cook, especially since my meat is on the grill and not on the dome?
 

Thanks for your help.

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It is a simple answer. Too much air flow.  When you first light the charcoal you need a lot of air to get the fire going. You then need to close down the vents to maybe 1/2 of what got you to your target and then make fine adjustments. It is much easier to raise temp than reduce it.  It just takes practice.  200 deg is not much air.  300 is less than you would think.  400 starts to open up the vents and the air really starts flowing.

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I would also suggest picking the grill temp to focus on. They should be different. The grill probe should be on the same level as the meat, not too close. Fine adjustments should be made with the top vent. 

I use a Tip Top Temp.

And don't worry about swings just runaways. I know easier said than done. 

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You likely got your fire too big on startup. Try lighting 1 spot in centre and close it down sooner, just creeping up on your target temp. I like to take an hour to make sure my temps are stable and develop the fire especially with a fresh load of lump. The diff between 260 and 280 on a pork shoulder is insignificant however. 

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6 hours ago, KamadoChris said:

You likely got your fire too big on startup. Try lighting 1 spot in centre and close it down sooner, just creeping up on your target temp. I like to take an hour to make sure my temps are stable and develop the fire especially with a fresh load of lump. The diff between 260 and 280 on a pork shoulder is insignificant however. 

20-30 degree temp swing doesn’t matter. Sit back, have a beer and enjoy!

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21 hours ago, Struja said:

Obviously, I wasn’t stable.  So, at what point are you stable?

I just did a 15 hr. pork butt cook. I had two, so I turned them every 2 hrs. Each time, the grill came back to a slightly different stable temperature. Is that stability?

 

I have probes on the center of the grate and in the exit vent. In general, the exit vent is closest to, but usually higher than, the dome thermometer. The grate level varies significantly, depending on food temperature, and how the grill's set up. A drip pan will lower grate temps by blocking the heat deflector. Fill it with water and the grate probe drops a lot more. A water pan makes mine more stable, because water vapor pressure opposes a hot fire. 

 

Exit vent readings

Initial 2 hrs.: slow rise to 235F, then stable for an hour, then up to 240F

- opening lets in air, so the fire grows while the lid is up. 

Second 2 hrs.: Came back to 245F even with both vents closed by half, and stayed there

Third 2 hrs.: Came back to 255F, and stayed there

Fourth 2 hrs.: came back to 265F, so I halved the vents again to get back to 250F

Fifth 2 hrs: gets funny because the water pan ran dry, so temps went up until I figured that out. 

 

Do you see a pattern? This pattern of drift to different stable temperatures is what a scientist would call finding a local minimum, a point where things are balanced and will stay there for a long while if left undisturbed. One butt was done at 13 hrs, so I set an internal temperature alarm and went to sleep. Temps drifted down a little... right at 240F when the second one was done. 

 

Only secret is to use a large amount of fuel with big chunks at the bottom, against the fire grate, so the holes don't get blocked. Then hand-fulls of medium sized over that, then size becomes less important and you can dump the bag. Light center top (volcano method) so gravity pulls lit fuel into unlit, and be patient. 

 

Have fun,

Frank 

Edited by fbov

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