Money saving pointers to build a smokehouse

Thinking of building your own smokehouse? Why not? Although smoking was once the standard for preserving meat, now it's an authentic way to relive the olden days while enjoying meats that have a superior depth of flavour. It's also a great way to save money. Here are some ideas to help you get started on your own smokehouse.

Money saving pointers to build a smokehouse

Putting it together

A smokehouse for cold smoking can be built with cinderblocks, bricks, stones or seasoned timber.

  • Line the structure with tin or aluminium sheeting for reduced heat loss and easier cleaning.
  • A small hinged door or vents near the roof provide ventilation.
  • Fix one or two rows of strong bars high up in the smokehouse for hanging meat or fish.
  • Install a thermometer to be read from the outside.
  • About three metres (10 feet) upwind from the smokehouse, dig a fire pit 0.75 to 1 metre (2 1/2 to 3 feet) deep and 0.75 metres (2 1/2 feet) wide, and line it with firebrick.
  • Fit it with a removable cover or, if it can be built into a hillside, with a metal side door.
  • About 30 centimetres (12 inches) from the top of the pit install a fitting from a metal stovepipe.
  • The pipe should slant upwards slightly so that it is 15 to 30 centimetres (6 to 12 inches) higher at the smokehouse than at the pit.
  • To distribute smoke and prevent meat drippings falling into the pipe, put a baffle over the opening in the smokehouse floor.

The alternative

If you don't have the energy or the budget to build a full-on smokehouse, consider using a smoke chamber instead. It can improvised from a variety of containers, ranging from cardboard boxes to old refrigerators. All have the same basic design. These are 3 of the more popular models.

  1. To make an oil-drum smoke chamber remove the top of the drum, file down sharp edges and have the inside thoroughly steam cleaned. Drill or punch holes in the side of the drum near the top and install crossbars. You can hang meat directly from the bars or set wire shelves on them. Cover the drum with a moveable lid.
  2. A metal or well-seasoned wooden box with a detachable­ lid makes a good cold smoker. The box should have solid sides to keep smoke in.
  3. An old refrigerator can be converted into a well insulated hot smoker. Remove the door lock for safety. Drill two holes through each side of the fridge near the top for ventilation. Place a fire can or electric burner on an insulating pad on the bottom.

Whether building your own full size smokehouse or a smaller smoke chamber, you will save money by not having to pay for prepared meats from the deli. You can get that quality smoky flavour right in your own backyard.

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