Beehive Smoker Project

Ceramic Pot Smoker

My friend Arlene and I embarked on the ceramic pot smoker project described on this website, which references the Alton Brown ceramic flower pot smoker video to show how you put it together. Instead of using the same shape/style of flower pots, the two I found turned out to look like a beehive when put together.

the big disadvantage to not having the “v-shaped” bottom pot is that you may have to improvise with how to get the grate to fit nicely. I drilled some tiny holes along the edge to hang aluminum foil “hangers”. I think I’m going to figure out a more permanent solution that allows me to close the beehive without foiling the outside. Before starting on this project and the tasty results, there is one big point I wanted to stress: separate the electric heat element (the electric coil) from the base. this is a MUST-DO. if you have the entire unit inside the pot like this:

Ceramic Pot Smoker

it will overheat and the auto-shutoff safety will engage, turning off the whole unit. It took use two attempts to realize this is what was going on. To separate the heating coil from the base, follow these instructions:

Unscrew the little screw from the top of the heating unit (just underneath the heating coil) and gently remove the spade connections to the actual heating coil. you may need some needle-nose pliers to loosen the spade connectors. reconnect the spade connectors after placing the dial/base underneath the flower pot and pushing the wires through the pot’s drainage hole. This way you have control of the heat and you won’t activate the over-heat sensor:

Ceramic Pot Smoker

Following the procedure, we put a pan of half-moistened, half-dry smoke chips onto an aluminum foil lined pan and put that directly onto the heating element. Because I was unable to find a sort of v-shaped flower pot big enough for the 14.5″ grill grate, we had to kind of improvise with some aluminum foil to get the grate to sit nicely.

Ceramic Pot Smoker

This first piece of meat was a brined bison brisket that would become bison pastrami. After setting a thermometer for the internal temperature, we closed the lid:

Ceramic Pot Smoker

and wrapped it with foil to keep the smoke inside. we kept the internal temperature about 240-250 degrees (between medium and high on the electric plate dial).

Ceramic Pot Smoker

we smoked it for about two hours before transferring it into the oven to finish cooking. it turned out awesome and full of smoky flavor.

Ceramic Pot Smoker

the next piece of meat we tried was a boneless pork butt (shoulder). this one was smoked the same way with a fresh batch of smoking chips, we cooked this one through entirely in the ceramic flower pot smoker. it took almost 6 hours to get to an internal temperature of 165 degrees while maintaining a smoker temperature of about 250. This one still turned out great!

Ceramic Pot Smoker

so the advantage to this smoker to a traditional stove top smoker is that it is ceramic, very thick ceramic. traditional smokers are steel and dissipates heat a lot faster. using a ceramic smoker essentially creates an oven that can better regulate temperature and is not as easily affected by outside temperatures. we did not see what the maximum cooking temperature that could be achieved with the beehive, but I imagine it could go up to 300 degrees in 60 degree ambient weather. There are products out there like the big green egg that are kind of like a super-Weber grill on crack. they will do the job very nicely but will run you several hundred dollars. This is the breakdown for the flower pot smoker we put together:

$50 – 2 flower pots (about 15″ inside diameter)
$15 – heating element
$10 – grill grate
$? – 2x4s or bricks to elevate the beehive off the ground

Now, this is clearly a DIY kind of project that needs some basic understanding of how to separate the electric coil from the base of the heating element, and some clever use of aluminum foil. I was lucky to have a drill and a bit I didn’t care about to make the adjustments for the grate. remember to keep a hose or fire extinguisher nearby just in case something happens. I kept my hose turned on but the spout closed just in case.

Some future smoking project ideas:
– smoked tomatoes
– smoked almonds/nuts
– smoked vanilla cheesecake (is this possible??)
– smoked hot dogs/sausages
– smoked veggies like brussel sprouts

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