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Everyone loves checking their temperature reading and watching their pork shoulder cook.
No one loves seeing the temperature stop rising, and concern rises when the temperature even dips.
What could cause the temperature dip, and how do you find out? Is it happening at temperatures that other pitmasters see it occurring?
Is your fire going as strong as it should, or is the issue with the fire? How can you get the temperature to rise in your pork shoulder?
Do you need to wrap it, and what should you wrap it in? Can adding wood to the fire help?
Why is my pork shoulder temperature going down?
Your pork shoulder’s internal temperature could drop during the stall, which commonly occurs between 150 degrees and 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
The pork shoulder stalls because moisture is evaporating from the surface of the meat, cooling the meat off despite the consistent heat of the smoker.
At lower temperatures, there isn’t enough moisture evaporating to counteract the heat of the smoker.
However, during that range of internal temperatures, when you are cooking low and slow, the evaporation process is enough to balance out the heat.
Sometimes, it can even overpower the heat and cool the pork shoulder down.
How can I find out why my pork shoulder is going down?
If you are unsure why your pork shoulder is cooling down, you should check to see if your pork shoulder is in that normal range or if your smoker itself is cooling down.
The temperature can fall during a stall as well as start cooling off if your fire dies down.
Check the internal temperature for common stall temperatures
The most common stall occurs in the 150-165 degree Fahrenheit range, while a less-common one can occur even around 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
If your pork shoulder is around either of those number ranges, it may be stalled. You can wrap your pork shoulder with either aluminum foil or butcher paper to help get through the stall.
Check the firebox and make sure enough wood is in the fire
If your smoker’s temperature has dipped, check your firebox to see what is happening. Accidents happen and distractions occur.
Your smoker needs fuel to keep generating heat, and sometimes it runs out of fuel. That means you need to add wood.
How to increase the internal temperature of pork shoulder?
If your pork shoulder’s internal temperature has dropped, you can wrap it or increase the temperature of the smoker.
If it has occurred during normal stall temperature ranges, you can choose to wrap it up, or if you have the time and patience, you can simply let the smoker continue to do its work.
Once enough moisture has evaporated from the surface, the pork shoulder will resume cooking as normal.
You can also increase the temperature in the smoker itself whether the meat has stalled or your smoker ran low on wood.
Wrapping in foil or butcher paper
Wrapping your pork shoulder is the most common solution to a stalled pork shoulder.
Whether you wrap it in aluminum foil or butcher paper, wrapping the pork shoulder tightly prevents the evaporation process, letting your smoker cook it as normal.
Some pitmasters recommend using butcher paper to help the bark on the exterior of the pork shoulder stay more crispy, while the aluminum foil can result in a more tender, moist bark.
Either way you go, wrapping your pork shoulder will help get it through the stall in a much quicker time than simply letting it ride out the evaporation process.
Adding more fuel to the fire
If your smoker is running low on fuel or you want to force your pork shoulder through the stall by increasing the heat to around 300 degrees, adding more wood is the way to go.
If your smoker’s temperature has dropped, you need to add more wood to bring the temperature back up to cook your pork shoulder. If the pork shoulder has stalled, you can increase the temperature to combat the evaporation process.
At lower temperatures, the smoker’s heat overcomes the evaporation process.
The same can be true if you increase the temperature of the fire as well. Just be careful, you can dry out your pork shoulder a bit or burn the exterior as well if you are not careful.
Watching your pork shoulder’s internal temperature stall out or drop is frustrating.
No one wants to see that happen while enjoying a nice day of smoking a pork shoulder. You need to identify if the internal temperature is in a normal stalling range of 140-165 degrees Fahrenheit or the less-common 190-degree range.
You should also check to make sure your smoker is still running at the temperature you want, whether that is 225, 250, or even 275 degrees.
If your pork shoulder has stalled, you can wrap it in aluminum foil or butcher paper, or you can increase the temperature of your smoker by adding wood.
If your smoker’s temperature is running cool, add more wood.