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Pork Shoulder Temp Going Down? Here’s Why

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If you’re 5 hours into a smoke and discover your shoulders temperature isn’t rising, it seems to be a reason to panic. But don’t be alarmed! While temperature drops should not be a frequent thing, it is known to occur in specific circumstances.

There are numerous variables that might cause temperature drops, the most common of which is the stall. However, other factors such as insufficient heat, too much fat on the brisket, the weather outside the smoker, or even the quality of your equipment can all contribute to this.

This post will go through the various reasons why your pork shoulder temperature may be dropping and what you can do to help it.

Why Would Pork Shoulder Drop in Temperature?

The Stall

A “stall” is something that occurs frequently when meats are cooked at low temperatures for extended periods of time. The term is based on the internal temperature literally stopping and refusing to rise at and past a specific point. 

In some severe cases, the stall might cause a reduction in temperature.

The stall is caused by a process known as “Evaporative Cooling.” At this stage, the broken-down tissues and fats begin to rise and excrete from the meat, which ultimately chills and evaporates off the surface. 

This evaporation causes the meat to stall, or plateau, as it cools at the same rate as it cooks.

This constant cooling and evaporating cause the smoker to cook the meat at the same pace it is cooling, resulting in a stall. 

Weather Conditions

Check the weather prediction before this weekend’s large BBQ with friends and family. Weather conditions may have an impact on how the pork shoulder cooks.

  • Rainy weather can cause precipitation to collect outside of the smoker, which cools and evaporates. As a result, ambient smoke heat from within the smoker is squandered. It’s basically “evaporative cooling,” but on the smoker itself. 
  • Windy conditions can cause heat loss by diverting heat away from the meat. If you don’t have a way to keep the wind out of your smoker, orient it in the direction of its natural airflow. Heat deflection should be reduced as a result of this.
  • Cold weather, in particular, can reduce the total heat of smoker. If you are smoking meat in colder conditions, you must increase the heat to compensate for the loss.

Not Enough Smoke Heat 

This may appear to be a trivial error, yet it is fairly common among novice smokers. The stall will be considerably enhanced if the ambient smoke temperature within is not hot enough.

The smoker will already be fighting to maintain a consistent temperature during the stall. As a result, if the temperature isn’t high enough, it may not be strong enough to combat the evaporative cooling effects, which can cause the shoulder temperature to drop rather than merely stall. 

Pork shoulder is generally smoked between 250 and 275 degrees(F). 

Too Much Fat

The more fat on a pork shoulder (or brisket), the longer it takes to cook completely.

Remember that stalling is caused by the accumulation of rendered fatty tissues and only ceases after these surplus fat juices have evaporated. As a result, the more fat there is, the more fluids will render out, causing a stall to worsen.

In some circumstances, higher pooling causes enhanced cooling, which can briefly reduce the total temperature of the shoulder.

Using A Malfunctioning Meat Probe

Before you even think about putting the pork shoulder in the smoker, be sure your probe thermometer delivers reliable readings.

Especially when your shoulder is in the grasps of a stall, you want every temperature read to be precisely accurate. 

Check the thermometer and make sure the probing rod is free of char or muck from previous food products. Any impediment on the probing rod might result in wildly inaccurate results. If you leave it on for too long, it can cause the brisket to overcook.

How To Help Prevent Temperature Drops

Using Wraps

The most popular tactic for handling this circumstance is this approach, sometimes referred to as “The Texas Crutch.”

Tin foil or butcher paper can be used for this.

As soon as you detect the shoulder beginning to stall or drop, remove it from the smoker, cover it tightly, and put it back in the smoker to finish cooking. The meat will be completely sealed inside the wrap, preventing any moisture from cooling and evaporating, lessening the effects of the stall.

Some smokers don’t want to wait till the temperature has stabilized. Instead, as soon as the temperature reaches 150 degrees(F), they will wrap the shoulder.

Trimming The Pork Shoulder

It’s crucial to trim the brisket before smoking it. The fat cap may add too much moisture to the stall and cause it to cool if it is not partially removed.

Do a half-trim, then flip the brisket halfway through the smoking to reduce this. You may enjoy the best of both worlds in this way, receiving a deliciously rich baste from the fat, while mitigating any cooling that may occur.

Don’t “Over-Baste” the Meat

Basting a smoked pork shoulder is a fairly common practice. It not only enhances the qualities using sauces, spices, or other aromatic liquids, but it also keeps the meat moist and hydrated.

However, excessive basting might result in an excess of moisture in the smoker, lowering the smoke heat and perhaps the interior temperatures of the shoulders.

Additionally, opening the cover of the smoker to baste a cooking shoulder may considerably reduce the heat within. The smoker can lose roughly 10 degrees(F) per second while the lid is open.

What Temperature Do You Pull Pork Shoulder?

Internal temperature for pork shoulder should be between 201-204 degrees(F). At this heat, the meat’s fatty and connective tissues have totally broken down and emulsified within itself.

This is the ideal temperature for not only the quality, but also flavor of the meat.

Can Pork Shoulder Be Pulled At 180 Degrees(F)?

Technically, once at or above 145 degrees(F), all pork products are safe to eat. Yes, you can pull your shoulder at 180 degrees, but the quality and flavors will be less delicious and rich than if cooked to at least 200 degrees(F).

Final Thoughts

Internal temperatures in pork shoulder might fluctuate due to a variety of reasons. Fortunately, the experts have offered their thoughts into why this can occur.

You can now incorporate this knowledge into your arsenal of strategies, so that if this ever happens to you again, you’ll be able to manage it like a true pitmaster.

Happy smoking!