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About Me


Found 11 results

  1. This is a review of the updates Callow have made to their vertical smoker for 2018. This should be read in conjunction with the original Callow smoker review, which can be found here http://www.woodsmokeforum.uk/topic/27-callow-smoker-low-cost-bullet-smoker/. Since its original release the "Callow" smoker has been re-branded as the "Cook4All". I have referred to the new unit as the Cook4All in this review however towards the end of 2017 the original smoker model was also being marketed under this name. The release of the Callow vertical smoker at the end of 2016 addressed a gap that existed in the entry level smoker market as it was the first effective bullet smoker with a street price tag of less than £100 (typically £75). When I reviewed it in early 2017 I was impressed by its controllability, especially for the low-and-slow novice, and its versatility for both hot and cold smoking. One area that some users of the Callow did find challenging was in reaching and maintaining the hot roasting BBQ temperatures of 150-180 C. To address this issue Callow have now made some design changes to the unit and released an updated version under the “Cook4All” brand. On the Garden Gift Shop they state that: “This improved model has 4 adjustable vents in the base of the unit and 2 in the lid for improved airflow and temperature control. The charcoal bowl is now fully ventilated for maintaining consistent burning of the charcoal. The temperature gauge in the lid of the smoker has been replaced with a new high-quality gauge for more accurate temperature readings.” Over the Christmas period I took delivery of one of the new units to see what effect the design changes have had on its operation… Unit assembly As with the original Callow smoker the unit was generally well constructed and everything was well packed in the shipping box. One thing that became obvious as I started to assemble it was that the instructions that were included were for the original Callow model. This was not a major hurdle though as most of the construction steps are similar and the steps that were missing were fairly intuitive. Care had to be taken though when installing the new sliding air vents on the side, as it is possible to install them round the wrong way, preventing them from opening. The assembly went smoothly and it took me about 40 minutes. With the unit I had there was a slight problem with the seating of the optional meat/fish hanging rack, but this was quickly rectified by Callow. Changes to the air management With the original Callow it was easy to maintain a low-and-slow smoking temperature of 110-120 C (230-250 F), however some users reported that they found it a challenge to reach and maintain the higher hot roasting temperatures of 150-180 C (300-350 F). Although there could be several reasons for this (including the type of fuel being used), a likely contributing factor would have been insufficient air flowing through the coals. This could have been due in part to the charcoal bowl having insufficient ventilation and the positioning air holes in the base of the unit. These factors combined would result in the incoming air being heated as it hit the side of the hot charcoal bowl and some of it passing upwards around the charcoal bowl, and directly through the cooking chamber. Whilst this gave good temperature stability at the lower smoking temperature ranges it could make it more challenging to reach and maintain the higher roasting temperatures. Charcoal bowl Additional holes have been made around the sides of the charcoal bowl to allow more air to pass over charcoal. These would seem to be a very sensible addition as the amount of air that comes into contact with the burning coals is very important for managing cooking temperature. Bottom air vents There have now been two main changes to the air vents in the bottom bowl. The number of vents has been increased from 3 to 4 and their position has been lowered so that they are now located underneath the charcoal bowl. This can be clearly seen in the photo where the unit on the left is the original Callow and the unit on the right is the new Cook4All. Side vents Two additional sliding side vents have been added to the body of the unit, located on opposite sides above the top level of the charcoal bowl. It is unclear what purpose is for these vents as when opened it is likely that heat and smoke would vent out through them. Top vents An additional top vent has been added to the lid to allow more exhaust smoke and air to exit. Good air flow through the smoker is important for hot smoking to ensure a consistent fuel burn and when cold smoking to avoid tar deposits being formed on the surface of the food and to assist with moisture loss. Operational testing To ensure consistency between tests, the same total amount of fuel was used for each and the tests were carried out with similar external air temperatures (6-7 C – well it is winter in January!) and in a position sheltered from any wind. The total fuel used for each of the tests was 2 Kg of Heat Beads and 200 g of wood pellets. The empty water tray was in position for each of the tests For the “low-and-slow” tests a Minion was created in the charcoal bowl consisting of 1.5 Kg of unlit coals and 0.5 Kg of fully lit coals in the centre. The 200 g of wood pellets were placed on the unlit coals. The smoke created by these pellets would provide a visual indicator for the air flow through the smoker and highlight any leaks. For these tests both the original Callow and the new unit were carried out side by side so that they could be directly compared. In the graph below the Blue temperature line is the original Callow smoker and the Red is the new Cook4All. For this test all the bottom and top vents were initially fully open. The new side vents on the Cook4All remained closed. The temperature inside both units rose consistently and as they approached 100 C (Arrow 1) the bottom vents were gradually closed to try to achieve a running temperature of 110-120 C. The original Callow responded well, however the temperature in the Cook4All continued to rise. After approximately an hour (Arrow 2) all the bottom vents in the Cook4All were completely closed but the temperature continued to rise until it eventually stabilised at ~150 C. The temperature in both smokers then remained stable for several hours. To test that it was the air management that was controlling the temperature the bottom vents were then opened fully on both units to see if the temperature would increase (Arrow 3) – which it did. To see what effect the sliding side vents would have, these were then opened fully (Arrow 4). This resulted in the internal temperature of the Cook4All immediately begin to drop. The results of these low temperature tests indicate that the original Callow and new unit initially behaved in a similar way. As the rate of temperature increase was the same in both units it indicates that the design changes made to the top and bottom vents had not had much effect. When I tried to stabilise the temperatures though there was an issue with trying to keep the temperature down in the new unit. With the type of round vent used on the unit you are likely to get some air leakage, and the addition of the 4th bottom vent may have resulted in too much air leakage for the required low temperatures to be maintained. This theory was supported in later testing where one of the bottom vents was completely taped closed resulting in the lower temperatures being easily reached and maintained. For the hot roasting tests the initial setup of the charcoal was adjusted for higher temperature cooking. For these 0.5 Kg of unlit coals were used with 1.5 Kg that were fully lit. This test was only performed using the new unit. All the bottom and top vents were initially fully open and the new side vents closed. In this test the hot roasting temperature was quickly achieved and was easily maintained at ~180 C. Using the 2 Kg of fuel an effective cooking time of over 3 hours was maintained. For economy, these tests were each limited to 2 Kg of fuel however as the maximum capacity of the charcoal bowl is between 3-4 Kg, increasing the initial amount of fuel used would significantly increase the effective hot roasting time. Additional tests were subsequently carried out where the effects of the additional top and side vents were observed. In each case the opening of the side vents resulted in the internal temperature of the unit falling. Opening and closing the additional top vent had no clear reproducible effect on the internal temperature. Other changes There have been two additional changes made since the release of the original Callow unit. Door fastener The door in the main body has had the fastener upgraded. This is an improvement and has given the latching of the door a more positive feel. The lid thermometer This has been replaced with an upgraded unit. Testing showed that at 100 C this unit was accurate to within a couple of degrees. As the temperature of the unit increased though its accuracy decreased. This type of thermometer is commonly used in the lids of BBQs and smokers and they are renowned for being inaccurate - this is why we recommend the investment in a digital twin probe thermometer for use with any smoker. Review conclusions With a street price tag of around £75 the Cook4All/Callow smoker provides good value for money for those starting out along their smoking/BBQ journey. It also makes a very cost-effective additional unit for the more experienced smoker or for those branching out into cold smoking. Whilst I feel that this new version of the unit has been a little over engineered in places, the lowering of the bottom vents to below the charcoal bowl has had a very positive effect for maintaining the higher hot roasting temperatures. Whilst the repositioning of the bottom vents has been an improvement, the addition of the extra vent there appears not to be adding any real benefits regarding temperature management and it is likely that it is contributing to unwanted additional air leakage. This 4th vent also adds complexity when it comes to making fine temperature control adjustments while smoking. When using this unit you will probably simply keep one of the bottom vents permanently shut. The lower location of these vents places them almost at the bottom of the bottom bowl which does make it harder to see the open/close position without kneeling/laying on the ground or without using a mirror. This is more of an irritation though than a problem. The addition of the sliding side vents appears to be unnecessary and you would be best to keep them completely closed when using the smoker. The acid test I suspect is, would I recommend this updated unit to a friend who is new to smoking? The answer to that is yes. It is still a good value all-round vertical smoker that can be used for hot and cold smoking and also for grilling. It would fit nicely into the Birthday/Christmas present price bracket for many families.
  2. Actually bought my first ever bbq grill, a £50 drum, a covid shielding purchase, and haven't stopped using it. Cooked everything on it from spatchcocked chicken, roast potatoes, roast sprouts to the usual suspects. Just started curing meats and would love a smoker for low n slow. I'm on a budget and the internet research is a minefield but the callow cook4all keeps appearing within my budget as a beginner. £109 through Amazon and other sites. Is it worth the plunge as an entry level and will it provide good results?
  3. I have a Callow upright smoker for sale, only used a handful of times. Covered and stored indoors when not in use. Collection only from Reading. £40
  4. When I was made aware of the Callow smoker I must confess to being a little skeptical. It is being sold for ~£85 and in the pictures it looked quite small. It is being marketed as: I ordered one and 2 days later it was delivered... What was in the box? The smoker was well packed and came in a surprisingly small box. Although it needs to be assembled there are relatively few components and the whole smoker can be assembled within about 20 minutes using only a cross-head screwdriver and a pair of pliers. Unpacking The build quality of the unit is very good and compares favourably with the WSM and ProQ Frontier. The Callow only has a 14" cooking cooking grate though which may restrict using some of the larger cuts of meat. The smoker is only powder coated though and so is unlikely to last as long as some of the more expensive alternatives. The fire basket has plenty of air holes which enabled an even charcoal burn and the bottom and top vents were of good quality which allowed for simple fine temperature control. The positioning of the bottom vents do appear to be a little higher than I would have expected as the top ones of these are above the holes in the fire basket. The water/sand pan was a good distance above the coals with sufficient gap around to give a good heat flow into the cooking chamber One possible negative point was the small air gap around the door when it was closed. However during the temperature profiling this did not appear to cause any problems. Below are pictures of the smoker layers Firing up the Callow I used only 2 Kg of Heat Beads in Minion for the initial test, with hot water in the water tray. With all vents fully open the smoker took about 60 minutes to get up to temperature (100-110 C) by which time the bottom vents were 7/8 closed. Without any adjustments it maintained this temperature for over 8 hours. At one point there was a period of gusty wind that caused the temperature to rise slightly. The following morning when the smoker was taken apart it was clear that the fire had burned evenly and almost completely. Cold Smoking The callow worked very well as a cold smoker using both the AMNPS and the ProQ smoke generators Lid thermometer This was the only part that let the smoker down - however this is a common weak point with many models of smoker. With the thermometer that was originally supplied with the Callow, when the smoker was up to cooking temperature (based upon the measurement from a calibrated Thermadata Smoke, the lid thermometer was indicating a temperature that was 35 C too low. If this thermometer had been used to regulate cooking temperature then this would have resulted in the temperature in the cooking chamber being much too high. This was reported to Callow and they have now sourced alternative, more accurate, lid thermometers which will be supplied with new units shipped. The new thermometers are the same units that are supplied with Weber BBQs and the ones I was sent to test actually had the Weber branding still on them. These proved to be much more accurate when calibrated over boiling water. Summary I was really impressed with both the build quality and usability of the Callow Smoker and would recommend it to anyone starting out smoking or for established smokers who are looking for some inexpensive additional cooking space.
  5. Yesterday afternoon my new Cook4All (ne Callow) smoker arrived. I can now get rid of all of the prototype parts that the factory have sent me over the past 6 months whilst I was helping Scott at Callow to fine tune the smoker design. Those of you at WoodSmoke 18 would have seen "Franken-Cook4All" which was the new shipping version but made out of factory prototype parts. The instruction manual that now comes with it looks much better too. Later this week I will be assembling it and giving it a test run. I will let you know how it goes. Look what is now being put into every BBQ/Smoker/Pizza oven that they ship A big thank you to Scott and Garden Gift Shop for having the flyers printed for us and agreeing to help us promote the forum
  6. I'm hoping to get a chance to have a short test run of my new smartfire this evening with my first generation Callow. My fire basket as the modded mesh bottom (thanks @Wade) and for today I'm probably just looking at using water in the pan, though at some point i'd like to give sand a try. From what I've read round and about, I'm thinking the following setup should be my starting point. Top vent fully open 2 bottom vents closed Adapter on third vent firebasket setup as a minion with lit coals to the side opposite the position of the SF Does this sound about right? Any thoughts on adding a foil baffle round the top of the fire basket to ensure air goes through the basket? Any thoughts much appreciated
  7. Rupes

    Ash buildup

    Hi all, bought one of the Callow smokers off Amazon and had a go last weekend. Mixed results due to underestimating the amount of time and charcoal I needed, I think (everything tasted good but had to be finished in the oven): a 2kg lamb breast and 1.5kg pork shoulder the first day, using about 3kg of Weber briquettes (these from amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Weber-charcoal-briquettes-black-17591/dp/B01F10ERPW/), which was fine for about 4 or 5 hours but I was too cautious on the temperature and ended up ovening them And then another 2kg pork shoulder which didn't get up to temp and had to be ovened after 4 hours with another 3kg or so (I thought the joint was smaller than it was, and it got dark!) Anyway, I think my issues can be resolved with more briquettes and more time. But my main issue, as in the title, was that after 4 hours the air vents on the bottom were becoming blocked with ash. Is this because I was using the wrong type of charcoal or something? Should I have tried to take the top section off and cleared out the hot ash? Thanks in advance for any advice!
  8. Due to the popularity of the Kamado Ovens section we have now also added separate sections for your Callow, Landmann, ProQ and Weber discussions. Please use these to post your discussions for these smokers. Enjoy
  9. £10 off here, not sure thou if it's the latest model... https://www.planetbarbecue.co.uk/the-callow-smoke-n-grill-water-smoker-c2x24912355
  10. This weekend I'm looking to smoke a chicken while my parents are round helping me with some diy and stuff. I've smoked whole chickens a couple of times before when I first got my Callow smoker and had reasonable results, for those I just mixed up some garlic butter and spread it under the skin then went ahead and smoked them. I did experience a major stall for on one of them but I'm happy that I can overcome that now with foil wrapping, but has anyone got any other tips that might be useful (I've ruled out brining on this occasion as I simply don't have the time or motivation to do it at the moment)? Also, has anyone got any suggestions for flavour combinations I could try? My mum has to be careful with what she's eating at the moment and has to avoid anything spicy that could irritate her digestive system, so nothing like chilli, ginger, garlic et as such I'm trying to think of something nice and gentle but flavoursome that would be suitable for her. I might also do a second chicken for myself with a schwarma mix I made over christmas which worked brilliantly in a beef meatloaf/fattie sort of thing I made for my christmas. Any thoughts
  11. As it was a nice chilly weekend and I had some time on my hands, I thought I'd do a little bit of cold smoking as it's been a while. As well as several blocks of cheese which I want for Christmas and want to give plenty of time to mellow, I decided to give something else a try while I had some space, after bit of thought I decided to give something quite different a try, chocolate! I did a bit googling and found a few references to cold smoking chocolate but not a huge amount of info but I figured it might work well what with the fat content of the chocolate. I decided to try three different types of chocolate to see what gave the best results (or any at all...who knows). I ended up buying some Cadbury's Dairy Milk, Cadbury's Bournville and some cheap and cheerful Morrisons Milk Chocolate. After a little pondering on how best to load up the chocolate in my Callow smoker, I remembered my old toast rack (sadly unused and unloved since I had to go gluten free 2 years ago...). I dug it out of the cupboard and it turned out it was pretty much perfect for the job, stainless steel so simple to clean and about to hold six bars of chocolate with space between them. Chocolate in the toast rack on the top shelf of the Callow, cheese on the lower shelf: I had seen someone mention that they had smoked their chocolate for an hour and let it mellow for a week as it tasted like an ashtray straight after smoking (much as I have experienced with cheese!). I thought this would be a good starting point, so that's what I did, an hour over pellets of a fruit wood blend, after which the chocolate definitely had taken on a good smoky smell. I left it for an hour or so on the side in the kitchen as it had a hint of moisture on the surface. The surface remained slightly tacky but didn't seem to be changing so I decided to vacuum pack it ready for mellowing. All packed up, now I just need to resist it for a week...:
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