Tuesday, November 24, 2009
building the meat smoker
In our endeavors for being able to go off grid if the need be at some point in the future, we needed to come up with a way to preserve meats without the use of electricity. Since folks have been smoking meats for thousands of years we figured that for us it would be the best way to go. Salt curing is an option as is jerking and canning but we like to have a variety of options, so we came up with this.
what we did
We had an old fridge sitting around and an old fireplace insert and we turned them into a smoker. We have it set up so that we can cool smoke or warm smoke whichever we choose.
All we did is take all the guts out of an old fridge (old chest freezers can also be used) and embed it into the side of the hill.
Open up the bottom so that smoke can enter into the fridge section. we then ran a pipe under ground a bit at an angle and made a fire box about 5 foot in front of the fridge.The firebox is the old fire place insert with doors on the front that we buried in the ground up to the level of the doors. Our fire box is the firebox of the insert itself. The box does not have to be an insert, one can simply build a box of whatever they choose or simply use a hole in the ground that can be covered when the smoker is in use.
This allows for the cool smoke to enter the fridge chamber and slow smoke meats. For a warmer smoke we can simply place a small heat source in the bottom area of the fridge( many use a hot plate in the bottom of the fridge)...
The biggest issue we had in building this was getting the slope on the smoke tube at an angle to where it would draw from the fire box into the fridge. We had it where we thought it would work, lit a fire and smoked ourselves out. We then had to uncover the tube and pull the box out and adjust it so that the smoke would go the direction we needed it to go.
A couple years ago Someone wrote in to countryside mag. warning people about using the metal racks from old refrigerators. They said the racks were coated with some substance that when they were heated (as in a smoker, I assume) released something toxic and deadly. To avoid this issue we took the racks out after having read it before we built it. We placed a different rack (from an oven ) in it and have a couple hooks for larger pieces to hang pieces.
It took one afternoon or so to make and works well...
Cost to us =$0
Photos of the building of the smoker
Here are a couple sites that give basic plans for a smoker. Keep in mind nothing in any of these is written in stone. If there is something you dont have on hand to build one , find something else that can work for you. Plans are simply ideas. It is up to us to make them our own unique creation that works for us in our own unique circumstances.
a super frugal version...
a pdf on meat curing