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  #1  
Old 11-01-2012, 01:15 PM
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Smokehouse for preserving meat?


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I really enjoyed the responses to my question last week about hanging deer before you process it. Now I have another question.

Does anyone use a smokehouse to cold smoke your meat? If so, would you care to share your design and procedures? Any other smoking methods anyone would care to share?
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Old 11-01-2012, 05:11 PM
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Are you intending to smoke only, or to also soak the meat in a brine, or dry rub a mix on it? And, what will you use the meat for after the smoking? Jerky, or to use later in cooked meat recipes?

Storage method after the smoking will affect what you can do. Moisture remaining and 'preservative' (salt) are key factors. If you just freeze packages, well wrapped, after smoking you have a lot of options.

I remember when growing up, my parents and older brothers would brine and smoke (hot smoke, not cold smoke) fairly large chunks of elk and deer (2"-4" thick) and then these would be stored in open air in the cool basement. There wasn't a lot of moisture left (plenty salt), and after a lot of time, a hatchet was needed to cleave off chunks for chewing on.
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Old 11-02-2012, 04:12 AM
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I was thinking of some kind of salt cure and to use the meat in whatever kind of recipes that we want. If smoking makes it tough probably mostly roasts and stews. The intent would be prolonged storage and not immediate consumption. I was just talking with my wife about how cool it would be to build and use a smokehouse. The other consideration is that our area - mountains of WV - has had several significant power outages the last couple of years. We've got about 23" on the ground right now from this goofy October storm. It would be nice to be able to rely on a fireplace, some oil lamps, and a smoke house.
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:29 PM
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The smoking itself won't make it tough; it adds flavor and helps preserve. The salt/sugar cure will allow longer storage without a freezer, if being without a freezer is one of your concerns. Best of both worlds, cure, smoke (leaving some moisture in the meat), vacuum pack and store in the freezer. You can remove some of the salt by rinsing and soaking in water (assuming you got a good brine soak all the way through to preserve) before you smoke to make it more suitable for roasts/stews, but it will take some experimenting to get the process right.
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Old 11-05-2012, 12:18 PM
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i+Hi RifleFan,

Smokers are a lot of fun and make some really good tasting meat. Most smoked meat that we do today is not smoked long enough and at too high of heat compared to some of the old time smoking that really preserved meat. Today, most meat that is smoked doesn't increase the life very much. But if you are going to do smoking of any kind you need a good vacuum pack system. Then after your meat is smoked you packaged it with your vacuum unit. The vacuum packing will help preserve the meat a bit and you can reheat in the package. It also helps to add a little juice in the pack before you vacuum seal it. I liked to save juice or make my own and freeze it in ice cube trays. Then when I package I throw in 2-4 ice cubes according to how big the package is. If you put just juice in the package it has a tendency to make a mess when you vacuum seal.

You spoke about cold smoking and here is a way to do that with a home built system. Since you live in the mountains this system works great on a hill side.

1. Build you a smoke box. Two foot by three foot or so is a good size to start with. Build it out of wood and if you want you can cover it with sheet metal. Don't use galvanized metal. You could also use some plastics or fiberglass. You won't be dealing with high heat so you can do a lot of things. Build the box with slates on the sides so you can mount several metal grills in the box to hold the meat. The size of the grills will determine the size of your box. Make vents on the top that you can open or closed to control the flow of smoke/air out of the box.

2. Cut a 4" hole in the bottom of the box that will accept a 4" round stove pipe.

3. Mount a 6" piece of straight stove pipe with a 90 degree elbow in the hole with the straight piece fasten to the box and the elbow facing forward.

4. Connect a 2' or 3' piece of stove pipe that runs forward. You need this section and the elbow to be in a ditch that runs straight out form the bottom of the stove. Most of the time you will cover this section of the pipe with earth. If you temps get hotter than you want you uncover part or all of the stove pipe. With the stove pipe uncovered some of the heat will radiate into the air. If you want more heat cover the pipe. The longer the pipe the cooler the smoke.

5. Now you need a smoke source. The best that I have seen was a pot bellied cast iron stove. Like a Ben Franklin stove. They use to be made to heat a small area with wood. This is where the side of a hill comes into play. Mount the stove below the stove pipe and so the stove pipe comes into the top or back of the stove. Depending what type of stove you have. You can make your own fire box if you weld or get a Sheep Herder stove. You need a vent or two that will help to regulate your heat.

So what you have is a heat source that feeds smoke through a horizontal stove pipe into the bottom of your smoker. You build the fire in the fire box and control the temps by the amount of air you let into the fire box, the amount of stove pipe you have uncovered and the amount air you allow to exit the smoke box.

Frank

Last edited by Frank Whiton; 11-15-2012 at 12:29 PM.
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  #6  
Old 11-05-2012, 04:02 PM
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This is really helpful guys. Thank you for the responses. I plan on trying this very soon. I may post some pics if I do a decent job.
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  #7  
Old 11-05-2012, 04:15 PM
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Very good description, Frank.

Brining and smoking takes a lot of practice, and personal preferences rule (much like deer hanging time!). Like hunting and shooting, there are a lot of variables. Thickness of meat, brine time, ambient temps, moisture in your smoking wood, storage method afterwards. Once the right combos are found, it's all a beautiful thing!
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