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Poor quality low-and-slow on a Pellet Joe


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Hi Everybody! 

I've owned a Pellet Joe for a nearly a month now and to be fair, quite disappointed from the result. I sure hope that Kamado Joe is working on improving the app to include graphs, alarms settings, improving connectivity issues (the app just freezes as the food burns...) but my two biggest concerns are:

1. The Pellet Joe regularly overshoots by 70 degrees or more. While on my classic II and Joe jr I can make an adjustment, the Pellet Joe simply does not allow any corrections to be made nor does it allow for setting bellow 200. I therefore cannot cook low and slow. 

2. Once the grill is up to temperature, the grill simply stop smoking that beautiful blue smoke. 50-60% of the time it just sits there. As a result, there is no smoke flavor to the food. It just tastes like baked food without a hint of smoke. 

I tried changing pellets, using mesquite pellets, etc... nothing works. 

I took care not to obstruct air flow to the electronic dome probe as well - no luck. I even attempted to contact Kamado Joe - No answer. 

Any thoughts?

 

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Posted (edited)

sorry to hear about your issues, it's one of the reasons I steer clear of any tech related to my cooking.

 

48 minutes ago, Dr.G said:

...

2. Once the grill is up to temperature, the grill simply stop smoking that beautiful blue smoke. 50-60% of the time it just sits there. As a result, there is no smoke flavor to the food. It just tastes like baked food without a hint of smoke. 

I tried changing pellets, using mesquite pellets, etc... nothing works. 

I took care not to obstruct air flow to the electronic dome probe as well - no luck. I even attempted to contact Kamado Joe - No answer. 

Any thoughts?

 

 

The experience is the same with every smoker I have owned– my bullet smoker, offset and now, both of my Big Joe's. There is a sweet spot the smoker can hit where the smoke is fairly invisible. Obvi, when adding new splits, chunks, etc. it would smoke. But at other times, the smoke would turn clear often for long periods and then start again. I would add that the cheapish pellet smoker my daughter bought for me to cook on in El Paso also has a very similar experience. 

Edited by CentralTexBBQ
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Only, this is a $2000 smoker... And does not produce smoked foods. Not even a 12 hour brisket. My classic II produces incredible results, and I can get great blue smoke for most of the cook.

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10 hours ago, Dr.G said:

Only, this is a $2000 smoker... And does not produce smoked foods. Not even a 12 hour brisket. My classic II produces incredible results, and I can get great blue smoke for most of the cook.

 

I understand, the other reason I do not own a pellet smoker is when I borrowed a Traeger years ago from my local hardware, I thought the finished product seriously lacking in smoke profile compared to my offset. My point was not to confuse smoke with 'visible' smoke.

 

9 hours ago, Dr.G said:

To CentralTexBBQ: BTW, I love the quote at the end of your post. Who said that?

 

 

John Gunther. It was either that OR Davy Crockett's, “You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas.” which, just may be a happening given the current political state... 

 

:rofl:

 

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13 hours ago, Dr.G said:

Hi Everybody! 

I've owned a Pellet Joe for a nearly a month now and to be fair, quite disappointed from the result. I sure hope that Kamado Joe is working on improving the app to include graphs, alarms settings, improving connectivity issues (the app just freezes as the food burns...) but my two biggest concerns are:

1. The Pellet Joe regularly overshoots by 70 degrees or more. While on my classic II and Joe jr I can make an adjustment, the Pellet Joe simply does not allow any corrections to be made nor does it allow for setting bellow 200. I therefore cannot cook low and slow. 

2. Once the grill is up to temperature, the grill simply stop smoking that beautiful blue smoke. 50-60% of the time it just sits there. As a result, there is no smoke flavor to the food. It just tastes like baked food without a hint of smoke. 

I tried changing pellets, using mesquite pellets, etc... nothing works. 

I took care not to obstruct air flow to the electronic dome probe as well - no luck. I even attempted to contact Kamado Joe - No answer. 

Any thoughts?

 

 

Have you updated the firmware on your pellet joe yet?

 

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pellet grills do that . billows of smoke then nothing. on and off, on and off. I can't say about a kamado shaped one, most folk think kamados don't need water. A typical pellet grill benefits from a cup of water in the smoker, IMHO. Still, sometimes I forget to add one, and still get good results. Kamados when properly adjusted for low and slow may appear to stop smoking, but it's still there, inside the dome. I notice smoke when a chunk of wood ignites, and the smoke has a different smell that you learn to  identify.  Temp may go up a little, don't rush to adjust it. For the pellet grill, try a adding some water to improve smoke and " smoke" ring. Some folks prefer less smoke, some prefer an ash tray.

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4 hours ago, John Setzler said:

 

Have you updated the firmware on your pellet joe yet?

 

I have tried to update the firmware, but cannot find how to update on the pellet joe side. (The instructions in the app are directed towards ikammand system, which I do not own). My comment regarding the low and slow was that if my grill constantly overshoots and since I have no control over the oxygen flow nor the fuel feed, if I could have set the grills to, say 180, I could get the desired 225 i'm after.

If there is a way to update the firmware without an ikammand and a way to calibrate the dome thermometer, please share.  :-)

(There are no instructions in the owners manual)

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1.  Yea.  the app isn't the greatest.  the pellet joe side of the app is NOT as functional as the ikamand.  I don't know why but it just isnt'.  The good thing is that apps and graphs do not affect the cooking.  

 

2.  Pellet grills do not, never have, and never will create the intensity of smoke that you get from a charcoal smoker.  If that was your expectation, then I would consider trading it for another charcoal smoker .   This pellet grill produces a better smoke flavor than any of the other three I have had.  I'm quite happy with that aspect of it myself.  

 

3.  Your app version should be 5.3.2 and your firmware version should be 0.1.11.  The firmware should actually update automatically if the grill is on and connected to wifi.  If not there should be an opportunity to force an update from the devices page on the app.  You may need to force close and re open the app if it hasn't updated you already.

 

 

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1 hour ago, John Setzler said:

1.  Yea.  the app isn't the greatest.  the pellet joe side of the app is NOT as functional as the ikamand.  I don't know why but it just isnt'.  The good thing is that apps and graphs do not affect the cooking.  

 

2.  Pellet grills do not, never have, and never will create the intensity of smoke that you get from a charcoal smoker.  If that was your expectation, then I would consider trading it for another charcoal smoker .   This pellet grill produces a better smoke flavor than any of the other three I have had.  I'm quite happy with that aspect of it myself.  

 

3.  Your app version should be 5.3.2 and your firmware version should be 0.1.11.  The firmware should actually update automatically if the grill is on and connected to wifi.  If not there should be an opportunity to force an update from the devices page on the app.  You may need to force close and re open the app if it hasn't updated you already.

 

 

1. I agree the  app does not affect the cooking, but it does affect the cooking EXPERIENCE. Seems that one of the selling points for this grill is the convenience; why not make the app just as functional, convenient and fully-featured as the iKammand? IMHO, this is a missed opportunity...

 

3. My firmware and app are up-to-date. Pity, It would have been a quick fix....

 

I watched your pork butt video and you seemed quite pleased with the results... I cooked a brisket, which came out very dry and tasteless. The smoke flavor was undetectable... I tried again, closely monitoring the temperature with an independent thermometer and found that the dome temperature variance was as much as 80 deg F. With that, my briskets were exposed to temperatures as high as 305, then the burning chamber would stop altogether ( I learned to differentiate the sound of the fan from the sound of the burning chamber). Then the temperature would slowly drop down for an hour or two, dropping to ~150 (on the manual thermometer, which I calibrated for altitude and pressure) . Following that, I  had another period in which the burning chamber was active until the temperature reached 305, and the cycle repeated. 

I am quite at a loss of what to do, since with the Pellet Joe I do not have control over the fuel feed-rate nor the oxygen flow. It is all automated; problem is that the algorithm is not restricting the temperature variance within tolerances that a human can achieve with a regular Kamado. (With my classic II, I can "park" the grill at a given temperature with little to no effort...) 

I would love to hear from you how to improve my experience with this grill, and how to produce more consistent cooking environment and results.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Dr.G said:

1. I agree the  app does not affect the cooking, but it does affect the cooking EXPERIENCE. Seems that one of the selling points for this grill is the convenience; why not make the app just as functional, convenient and fully-featured as the iKammand? IMHO, this is a missed opportunity...

 

3. My firmware and app are up-to-date. Pity, It would have been a quick fix....

 

I watched your pork butt video and you seemed quite pleased with the results... I cooked a brisket, which came out very dry and tasteless. The smoke flavor was undetectable... I tried again, closely monitoring the temperature with an independent thermometer and found that the dome temperature variance was as much as 80 deg F. With that, my briskets were exposed to temperatures as high as 305, then the burning chamber would stop altogether ( I learned to differentiate the sound of the fan from the sound of the burning chamber). Then the temperature would slowly drop down for an hour or two, dropping to ~150 (on the manual thermometer, which I calibrated for altitude and pressure) . Following that, I  had another period in which the burning chamber was active until the temperature reached 305, and the cycle repeated. 

I am quite at a loss of what to do, since with the Pellet Joe I do not have control over the fuel feed-rate nor the oxygen flow. It is all automated; problem is that the algorithm is not restricting the temperature variance within tolerances that a human can achieve with a regular Kamado. (With my classic II, I can "park" the grill at a given temperature with little to no effort...) 

I would love to hear from you how to improve my experience with this grill, and how to produce more consistent cooking environment and results.

 

 

 

 

Honestly I don't think you are gonna be happy with this grill.  You haven't mentioned anything positive about it yet.  I love the smoke profile you get from pellet grills.  People who love heavy smoke profiles are never gonna love a pellet grill. 

 

I'm not gonna try to make you think it's something you are gonna like.  I am asking myself why you bought this when you already have a classic charcoal kamado that you like.  This grill only offers a small convenience advantage in some cases over a charcoal kamado.  What were your expectations with it?  

 

I have no answers for you on the app.  I agree that it should have the same functionality as the iKamand.  

 

I am not having the problems you seem to be havingi with the temp control.  Well.. i may be having them but if I do, I don't know because I am not putting multiple thermometers in the grill.  I just go by the dome temp like I do on the charcoal grill and everything always works perfectly.   

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2 hours ago, John Setzler said:

 

Honestly I don't think you are gonna be happy with this grill.  You haven't mentioned anything positive about it yet.  I love the smoke profile you get from pellet grills.  People who love heavy smoke profiles are never gonna love a pellet grill. 

 

I'm not gonna try to make you think it's something you are gonna like.  I am asking myself why you bought this when you already have a classic charcoal kamado that you like.  This grill only offers a small convenience advantage in some cases over a charcoal kamado.  What were your expectations with it?  

 

I have no answers for you on the app.  I agree that it should have the same functionality as the iKamand.  

 

I am not having the problems you seem to be havingi with the temp control.  Well.. i may be having them but if I do, I don't know because I am not putting multiple thermometers in the grill.  I just go by the dome temp like I do on the charcoal grill and everything always works perfectly.   

 

I suppose that is fair. Perhaps this isn't the grill for me.

 

As for why I chose to purchase it:

I recently moved to a different state to continue and pursue my medical career. In the setting of busy hospitals ( we are all well aware of the pandemic raging about), and my wife's disinterest in learning the intricacies of operating a traditional Kamado grill ( We own a classic II and a Joe Jr), I thought this would produce similar results to the above mentioned KJ grills with the added convenience of pellets and just switching a dial on.  We therefore left the Classic II in storage (in my state of origin) and bought this grill. It is worth mentioning that I am okay with the results of other pellet grills (I suppose that because of the remarkable reduction in thermal efficiency those models more pellets are used and hence more smoke).

 

As far as positives for the Pellet Joe:

1. The smoke profile, however weak, is VERY CLEAN. To be fair, IT IS THE CLEANEST SMOKE PROFILE I HAVE TASTED TO DATE.

 

2. It bakes well. Very well. If you're able to stabilize the temperature, the near-absence of smoke generates wonderfully baked goods. 

 

I did not mean to be a "negative Nancy" here, but to truly see if I can improve my experience. I would love to hear more about your experiences with briskets on the Pellet Joe and see what techniques you used to arrive at good results.

 

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@Dr.G

 

I am a huge fan of the lighter smoke profile generated by this grill.  Even with it being light, it still produces a better and stronger smoker than my Traegers OR my Yoder.   The thermal mass difference here IS part of what makes this grill unique.  The smoke you get from pellet grills comes from smoldering pellets between the heating cycles.  This grill gets to spend MORE time in that cycle than most other grills due to the smaller size of the cooking chamber and the less work it needs to do to keep it at temp.  I see visible smoke coming from mine almost all the time, even when I'm cooking at hotter temps.  

 

As for temps... I have been cooking on grills, especially kamado style grills, for a long time.  Precision in temperature is NOT what makes or breaks any cook.  If you want to cook at 250°F, it really doesn't matter if the temp fluctuates up and down between 200 and 300 as long as the average temp over the duration of the cook averages out where you want it to be.  I know that's a HARD SELL in the world of computerized grills, but the fact of the matter is that it's true.  Try not to sweat the temperature fluctuations if you can.  Set the grill for whatever temp you wanna use and just let it ride.  

 

As for smoke and flavor, all pellets (in my experience) are not created equal.  What brand and flavor profile pellets are you using?  I know you mentioned mesquite, but pellets are usually not 100% of the wood listed on the package.  Your mesquite pellets were probably only 20% mesquite and more of another filler wood like oak or alder.  That is not uncommon and it's how MOST pellets are made.  I would recommend trying some different pellets just to see if you find something else you like better.  I am a HUGE fan of B&B brand (I find those locally at Academy Sports) and I buy the oak/cherry/pecan blend and I love it.  If you can't find that, try making your own blend of a pecan and cherry.   I get great smoke and aroma from those.  For briskets, butts, ribs, and other longer cooks where you want to maximize your smoke flavor, you might want to try spritzing your meat every 30/45 minutes during the cook.  Give it a very light misting of water to keep the outer surface of the meat moist during the cook.  I would typically start doing that after the meat had been on the grill for a couple hours.  Smoke has particulate and gas components, both of which will adhere to a moist surface more readily than a dry one.  Those compounds also exist whether you see them or not.  

 

Take a step back.  Focus on the food and forget about the tech for a bit.  I think if you give this grill a chance you may like it.  

 

PS - I feel your stress of being part of the medical industry.  I am an x-ray tech and 2020 and the first part of 2021 were some of the most stressful times I have ever experienced in this field.  In a hospital environment where MBAs run the show rather than MDs, I believe I saw a lot of poor decisions made that created a lot of stress for everyone.  I came very close to walking away from this job for multiple reasons during this pandemic.  I am hoping to see some positive changes in the entire industry .

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6 hours ago, John Setzler said:

@Dr.G

 

I am a huge fan of the lighter smoke profile generated by this grill.  Even with it being light, it still produces a better and stronger smoker than my Traegers OR my Yoder.   The thermal mass difference here IS part of what makes this grill unique.  The smoke you get from pellet grills comes from smoldering pellets between the heating cycles.  This grill gets to spend MORE time in that cycle than most other grills due to the smaller size of the cooking chamber and the less work it needs to do to keep it at temp.  I see visible smoke coming from mine almost all the time, even when I'm cooking at hotter temps.  

 

As for temps... I have been cooking on grills, especially kamado style grills, for a long time.  Precision in temperature is NOT what makes or breaks any cook.  If you want to cook at 250°F, it really doesn't matter if the temp fluctuates up and down between 200 and 300 as long as the average temp over the duration of the cook averages out where you want it to be.  I know that's a HARD SELL in the world of computerized grills, but the fact of the matter is that it's true.  Try not to sweat the temperature fluctuations if you can.  Set the grill for whatever temp you wanna use and just let it ride.  

 

As for smoke and flavor, all pellets (in my experience) are not created equal.  What brand and flavor profile pellets are you using?  I know you mentioned mesquite, but pellets are usually not 100% of the wood listed on the package.  Your mesquite pellets were probably only 20% mesquite and more of another filler wood like oak or alder.  That is not uncommon and it's how MOST pellets are made.  I would recommend trying some different pellets just to see if you find something else you like better.  I am a HUGE fan of B&B brand (I find those locally at Academy Sports) and I buy the oak/cherry/pecan blend and I love it.  If you can't find that, try making your own blend of a pecan and cherry.   I get great smoke and aroma from those.  For briskets, butts, ribs, and other longer cooks where you want to maximize your smoke flavor, you might want to try spritzing your meat every 30/45 minutes during the cook.  Give it a very light misting of water to keep the outer surface of the meat moist during the cook.  I would typically start doing that after the meat had been on the grill for a couple hours.  Smoke has particulate and gas components, both of which will adhere to a moist surface more readily than a dry one.  Those compounds also exist whether you see them or not.  

 

Take a step back.  Focus on the food and forget about the tech for a bit.  I think if you give this grill a chance you may like it.  

 

PS - I feel your stress of being part of the medical industry.  I am an x-ray tech and 2020 and the first part of 2021 were some of the most stressful times I have ever experienced in this field.  In a hospital environment where MBAs run the show rather than MDs, I believe I saw a lot of poor decisions made that created a lot of stress for everyone.  I came very close to walking away from this job for multiple reasons during this pandemic.  I am hoping to see some positive changes in the entire industry .

Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I truly appreciate it...

 

As for the times in which we live, I hope that the society that will emerge from the ravages of COVID will be better, kinder and more considerate... Time will tell, of course.  On a personal note, hang in there and thank you for the tireless service you provide at the hospital. I know how thankless the job can be, and appreciate your dedication and support.

 

Regarding the pellets:

The company from which I ordered the grill was very thoughtful and sent two bags of Hickory Pellets manufactured by Bbq Delight (thank, All Things Bbq), which did not produce a whole lot of aroma in my opinion.  I then tried Traeger Mesquite with perhaps a bit more success. 

 

I think that your advice to take a step back and focus on the food is very insightful, and I will follow it. Perhaps there is a lesson or two to be learned here that I am not quite getting, and patience and quiet observation is the answer. (it often is...)

Thank you for taking the time.

 

-L.G

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