Author Topic: Does altitude effect smoking time and IT?  (Read 1172 times)


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Does altitude effect smoking time and IT?
« on: March 04, 2019, 11:35:25 AM »
I am using a Smoker Model #2D-Digital WiFi, and live at an altitude of 7200 ft. I cooked a 6.17 lb. brisket at 225 aiming for an IT of 200. The temperature probe tip was roughly in the middle of the brisket, inserted from one end. After about 11 cooking hours, I hit an IT of 195. At an IT of 198, the temperature stalled. It sat there for another hour of cooking until I gave up. It worked out closer to 2 hours/lb rather than the guideline of 1.5 hours. Does altitude explain any of this? Would I ever get to 200 IT?


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Re: Does altitude effect smoking time and IT?
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2019, 12:10:53 PM »
A brisket can sit in stall for many hours.  Don't panic... that's just magic happening.

I'm not sure what effect altitude would have on everything, but my personal experience is that brining will cause the total smoke time to be shorter.
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Re: Does altitude effect smoking time and IT?
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2019, 12:36:38 PM »
1.5 hours per pound is just lines.
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Re: Does altitude effect smoking time and IT?
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2019, 03:10:56 PM »
I have only smoked one brisket at that altitude. It was a Prime from Costco about 16#. It would be my opinion your stall happened at a lower temperature than you think and then the Internal rose on up to the 195/198. I have read that it takes longer at the higher altitude. Don't understand all the higher details of it all, but do know water boils lower up there as well.
High Altitude or Low, it is still the proving point of doneness on how the hunk of goodness probes. If it probes like butter at 190, so be it, it's done. If it's 203, so be it as well. Again, high altitude or low, every brisket is different. You didn't say how it was. Moist? Tender? Melt in your mouth? My guess too is that at 6.17 pounds it was a well trimmed flat not a packer or point. Perhaps some of the folks who live up high can chime in. Does altitude explain your not getting to 200? In my opinion, yes. Will it ever get to 200? Can't answer that but again, that is not a hard temp requirement. Hope this helps just a little but let us know how your Brisket came out.

If you had a screen shot of the graph while using the app, you could confirm when the stall occurred.
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Re: Does altitude effect smoking time and IT?
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2019, 03:46:31 PM »
I don't have a screen shot but studied the profile while cooking. There was a several hour stall around 150 which is consistent with what I have read. The stall explanation I read,, attributes that stall to losing moisture. Due to the altitude effect on water boiling point, I would expect that stall to be at about 10 degrees lower than sea level, but the second stall at 198 puzzled me. I didn't want to risk ruining the brisket so I eventually stopped. If I understood what caused that stall, maybe it would be an indicator of doneness and once it happened, would be a good point to stop.

The brisket was the best I have ever made. I have made brisket in TX using a Big Green Egg and never got to 195 IT because people wanted to eat. Having eaten lots or TX brisket I know I prefer a dryer brisket, e.g. The County Line in Austin, vs. a wetter brisket, e.g. The Salt Lick in Austin. (No, I haven't had Franklin which is supposed to be the best in the world.) Last night's brisket was on the dryer side but not too dry. My guests thought it was great.

I am a bit intimated by all the warnings to not open the smoker to check the doneness so I just wait for the IT. It sounds like most folks manually check the doneness by probing. An advantage of that is that I could add more wood at the same time but I really prefers hard numbers to subjective probing.


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Re: Does altitude effect smoking time and IT?
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2019, 10:49:26 PM »
Welcome Tom. Iím just down the road from you.

Some cooks have taken longer for me, others have gone quicker than expected. Many times it has to do with the quality of the meat as well. Prime grade brisket has done fine, and a Wagyu style brisket cooked in 10 hours the one time I bought one. It was 14lbs and when I woke up at 5am it was perfect. I was figuring a long cook given it was 14lbs.

My dad also has a 2 and lives in the east mountains, about the same elevation as you. He has seen short cooks and longer cooks.

But, the way I go is cook until 190 then I open to check for doneness. Based on first probe, Iíll estimate how much longer I need and then check at that point. If you open, you lose heat and it may add a little time. But thatís how Iíve gone about it. As you smoke, youíll start to get a better handle on it and get estimate hard numbers like you want that will tell you when to start checking. But, even those may be off given that specific piece of meat.

smaller cuts of meat can actually take double the time to smoke. That I have experienced, so I try to stick with larger cuts for pork butt and brisket if I can, then just vacuum seal and freeze left overs. But I remember a small brisket taking nearly as long as a regular size in the past.

But the best part, you enjoyed the brisket as did the guests. So thatís the best end result! Enjoy!
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Re: Does altitude effect smoking time and IT?
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2019, 01:07:41 PM »
I had one brisket that took 22 hours to get to 204 F.