The item contained in this review was provided gratis by Komodo Kamado. This was done with the understanding that the manufacturer may request correction of any factual errors, but may not otherwise dictate the content of this review. We keep the donated items for the purpose of any future testing, and for our occasional personal use. No other considerations, financial or otherwise, were given or received.
When it comes to generating smoke for cold or hot smoking, there are any number of devices out there, both home made and manufactured. We have dabbled with smoke mazes, smoke tubes, paint cans, smoke cones, soldering irons and aluminum foil pans. But when it comes to generating serious smoke, the granddaddy of all smoke generators has to be the Komodo Kamado Hot/Cold Smoke Generator. Made from 3¼ pounds of 2mm 304 CNC laser cut stainless steel, on its highest setting it will produce smoke for up to 5 hours with pellets and 2.5 hours with coarse chips. The aquarium air pump will ensure constant steady airflow to produce your cold smoke and the airflow is adjustable so you can control the volume of smoke to suit your cooker. So let's take a closer look at the Komodo Kamado Hot/Cold Smoke Generator.
Specifications and Features
For the smoker:
Now that the numbers are out of the way, let's take a photo tour of the Komodo Kamado Hot/Cold Smoke Generator. This first photo shows all the components of the smoke generator itself. (Note that we show both the straight and the curved smoke tubes. When you order your smoke generator, you specify which tube you want.)
In the back is the main body of the smoke generator. In front of it are the two smoke tubes. Across the front from left to right are the lid, the BBQ Guru inducer port adapter, the air inlet tube, and the bottom cup.
The Body of the Smoke Generator
The Air Input Tube
The air input tube is simply inserted into the nut on the side of the smoke generator body. It can then be screwed into the nut until tight:
The Smoke Tube
When you purchase your smoke generator, you can choose between a straight smoke tube or a curved smoke tube. The curved tube keeps the smoke generator vertical when you attach it to a Komodo Kamado cooker. The straight tube is used when the smoke generator is to be mounted on a vertical cooker wall. Notice also that both tubes have a stainless steel screen in them to prevent chips and pellets from clogging the tube. When you insert the smoke tube into the body of the smoke generator, make sure that the screen ends up facing down:
The BBQ Guru Inducer Port Adapter
The adapter slips over the smoke tube and is held in place with a set screw:
The Aquarium Air Pump and Tubing
You will notice that you receive a Y-connector along with the silicone tubing. You will also notice that the air pump has two air outlets. You must cut two short pieces of tubing and connect them to the Y-connector and the two air outlets on the pump. Then use the remaining piece of tubing to connect the Y-connector to the air input tube on the smoke generator:
Attaching The Smoke Generator To Your Cooker
As we mentioned earlier, if you have a cooker with vertical walls, you can drill a hole to accommodate the ¾-inch diameter smoke tube through the wall of your cooker. You also may wish to drill two holes to allow you to insert two bolts through the bracket on the smoke generator body and into the cooker to hold the generator in place.
If you are fortunate enough to have a cooker that can accommodate a BBQ Guru inducer port, you can fit the provided adapter to the smoke tube and insert it and the smoke tube into your BBQ Guru inducer port. BBQ Guru makes about 24 inducer ports for every cooker imagineable:
If you are super fortunate enough to own an older Komodo Kamado cooker, the BBQ Guru inducer port is built in.
Here are some photos of the smoke generator in position for smoking on our 2011 Komodo Kamado cooker:
And if you are even more super fortunate enough to own a newer Komodo Kamado cooker, there is a built-in port specifically for the Komodo Kamado Hot/Cold Smoke Generateor:
And here are photos of the Komodo Kamado smoke generator in position for smoking with different sizes and configurations of Big Green Egg cookers. From left to right, a MiniMax sitting on a counter top, a small Egg in a nest, a medium Egg in a nest, and a large Egg in a table sitting on a table nest:
Finally, here is a photo of the Komodo Kamado smoke generator mounted on a Kamado Joe Big Joe cooker sitting in its stand:
Ok, it's time to make some smoke. You simply remove the lid of the smoke generator and add your pellets or chips. You don't need to fill it to the top like we did, depending on how long you want to generate smoke, but we wanted to see how long a full load of pellets lasted (about 5 hours) and how long a full load of coarse chips lasted (about 2.5 hours).
Here's a short video showing the volume of smoke produced as the air pump setting is increased from a low setting to it's highest setting:
Cleaning The Smoke Generator
We won't lie. If you use pellets, this smoke generator will get very dirty with use. Creosote and soot will build up and have to be cleaned off. If you use wood chips, there will be less mess, but eventually you will have to clean it. The following photos show some of the dirtier areas after two uses with pellets:
Soot that builds up on the outside of the smoke tube can be easily removed with some fine sandpaper or other abrasive. However, getting all the creosote out of the smoke tube and the body of the generator takes more drastic measures. Fortunately, Five Star PBW comes to the rescue:
PBW stands for Powdered Brewerery Wash. It is an alkaline, non-caustic, environmentally and user friendly cleaner. It is readily available for purchase on Amazon, Wal*Mart and various brewing supply sites. You merely dissolve PBW in a gallon of water in a bucket (see label for amounts) and let the parts soak for one, possibly two days. After soaking you can then rinse the parts with clean water.
A cheaper but not quite as effective alternative to PBW is OxiClean. Yes, OxiClean. It contains one of the ingredients in PBW and we found that it did a fairly good job of getting creosote off the generator parts. It took two soaks to get all the creosote out of the smoke tube, but it is cheaper and easier to come by at any supermarket.
How Cold is Cold?
When we reviewed the A-Maze-N Smoke Tube and Maze, one of the things we did was measure how much the heat of the smoking pellets raised the temperature inside cookers of various sizes. We found that the heat generated was significant and in the case of the smallest cookers, made cold smoking impossible. Since the Komodo Kamado Hot/Cold Smoke Generator is external to the cooker and only the smoke enters the cooker, will it be possible to do cold smoking without having to use pans of ice or other tricks?
We set the smoke generator on its maximum setting and pumped the smoke into a large Big Green Egg cooker. The interior temperature of the cooker was about 21°F hotter than the outside temperature. During the test, the outside temperature hovered around 37°F and the interior temperature never got above 57.5°F.
We also tried this with a Big Green Egg MiniMax cooker. Using the A-Maze-N smoke tube, the inside of the cooker got above 225°F. While we tested with the Komodo Kamado Hot/Cold Smoke generator, the outside temperature rose from 38°F to 50°F and the interior temperature of the MiniMax stayed at most at 27°F above the outside temperature. The maximum temperature reached inside the cooker was 75.0°F, still low enough to smoke cheese without a pan of ice.
Here are two graphs showing the cooker and ambient temperatures for the two test cases:
Cold Smoking Cheese
So, how does cheese that is cold smoked with pecan pellets using the Komodo Kamado Hot/Cold Smoke Generator taste? We smoked a few different types of cheese for 30 minutes with the air pump running at about half speed and we felt this was plenty of smoke. The cheese took on a fair amount of color and four days later, it had a fairly strong smoke flavor.
From left to right, jalapeno pepper jack, habenero jack, and white
cheddar after 30 minutes of moderate smoking.
Usage Hints and Tips
When we smoked a full load of post oak chips, we got no creosote out of the smoke tube at all.
The Komodo Kamado Hot/Cold Smoke Generator is an incredible piece of kit, well built and easy to use. It will produce hours of smoke and will handle your biggest smoking needs. In as much as it does get quite dirty and requires fairly significant cleaning, you might want to reserve it for those large or long sessions of smoking. And while it is one of the highest priced smoke generators out there, you do get what you pay for.
This product is available only on the Komodo Kamado website.
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