View Full Version : altitude

08-18-2012, 09:01 AM
hi all.... was wondering if anybody lives and smokes at altitude and notices any difference in cooking times, like longer finfshing time compared to flat land smoking.i live at 6100 and some times it seems to take more time.

08-19-2012, 01:16 AM
hello bngood,

Water boils at ~ 200.6 F at 6000 feet altitude. Since the temperature of water cannot exceed it's boiling point in an open container (not pressurized) it simply takes longer to cook something at higher altitudes. Most meats contain approximately 70-75 percent water.

I copied the following from an internet article regarding high altitude cooking:
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Why must cooking time be increased?
As altitude increases and atmospheric pressure decreases, the boiling point of water decreases. To compensate for the lower boiling point of water, the cooking time must be increased. Turning up the heat will not help cook food faster. No matter how high the cooking temperature, water cannot exceed its own boiling point — unless if using a pressure cooker. Even if the heat is turned up, the water will simply boil away faster and whatever you are cooking will dry out faster.

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How do high altitudes affect the cooking of meat and poultry?
Meat and poultry products are composed of muscle, connective tissue, fat, and bone. The muscle is approximately 75% water (although different cuts of meat may have more or less water) and 20% protein, with the remaining 5% representing a combination of fat, carbohydrates and minerals. The leaner the meat, the higher the water content (less fat means more protein, thus more water).

With such high water content, meat and poultry are susceptible to drying out while being cooked if special precautions are not taken. Cooking meat and poultry at high altitudes may require adjustments in both time and moisture. This is especially true for meat cooked by simmering or braising. Depending on the density and size of the pieces, meats and poultry cooked by moist heat may take up to one-fourth more cooking time when cooked at 5,000 feet.
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In reading about cooking at the altitude where you live, it seems that baking recipes require additional water to compensate for longer cooking times. Since I do not have personal experience this would seem to me to also indicate that one would see additional moisture losses in cooking meats for extended times. Would this not mean some additional basting or something to substitute for basting? I personally like slow cooked meats cooked to an internal temperature of around 190 to 200 F. At the same time I still like the meat to be most and not converted to jerky. The use of a digital thermometer probe is a must in my estimation. I like to cook meats uncovered for as long a period as possible and then either wrap in foil or place in an aluminum pan and cover with a foil lid for the balance of cooking time. This method conserves the moisture in the meat.

Mountain climbers who need to cook at really high altitudes carry a small pressure cooker with them. I for one will never seek that personal experience.

Have fun doing what you enjoy.


08-20-2012, 02:53 PM
I live at about 6300 feet and have noticed longer smoke times as well as longer times for almost everything we cook. Thanks for the informative article. The only error was that water boils at about 200 deg F at this altitude.