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smokers & smokehouses (2)

smokers and smokehouses for cold smoking

smokers and smokehouses for cold smoking

The efficient cold smoking is done in the confines of a closed chamber, with a smoke source at the lower end and a went at the upper end, when the following requirements are fulfilled (a-d):

(a) Smoke source must function safely for extended periods of time using a variety of green hard-woods, hardwood chips, or sawdust. Maple, hickory, apple, birch, ash, oak, and dry willow all give excellent flavor; my favorite was apricot, years ago, when the tree died in our garden. The traditional smoke for hams in US is from green hickory wood and hickory sawdust. Softwoods, such as spruce, pine, cedar or fir are not recommenced, even for starting the fire, because their smoke makes a black, sooty deposit on the meat, with unpleasant flavor. (I often do an exception of the rule: at the very end of smoking process, I apply a short burst of pine smoke, ten minutes or so, just to "visually improve" the smoked meat.) Plywood and all treated wood must be excluded because of the poisonous gases from glue, sealants and paint. When starting the fire with some more combus-tible staff, like hardwood shavings, flying ash should be avoided.

(b) Smoke chamber interior should stay at temperatures never exceeding 850F (300C), preferably at 70 to 800F (20 to 250C). This requirement can be accomplished either as a large smokehouse with a small fire or a smoke source outside the smoke chamber when cooling of the smoke is achieved along the supply conduit.

(c) Smoke flow should be steady and uniform over the meat. This requires vent (or vents) positioned on the top or high on the sides of the smoke chamber to keep the smoke-laden air moving in the entire volume of the chamber and to prevent too dense an accumulation of smoke, and even soot or creosote, on the meat. Circular chamber design (barrel) has advantages on this point and baffles could be introduced to control the smoke flow. A bottom vent near the smoke source helps control air, smoke, and heat flow over the meat; it is particularly important when the periods of smoking and air venting are alternated during the prolonged cold smoking process.

(d) Smoke chamber must have some means of placing the meat, either on racks (to lay the more tender fish fillets and fragile meat) or suspended from adjustable pegs and hooks. Metal mesh (screen) covers and stoppers to fit the vents and other chamber openings should make the chamber being both fly-proof and rodent-proof.

There is an extensive list of smokers and smokehouses built by professional and do-it-yourself builders. So, beside the dedicated smokehouses, there are boxes, barrels, chimneys, old refrig-erators, chicken houses, backyard barbecues, and tool sheds all successfully converted into smokers or smokehouses. Below is a drawing of a walk-in smoker; see more on the next page.

smokers and smokehouses for cold smoking


UPDATED : 2008-05-12

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