If you have an interest in smoked meats you should know how to build a smokehouse. With your own smokehouse, you will be able to cheaply smoke all meats and also preserve them without the need for a freezer; a definite skill if the power goes out for an extended period of time.
Before refrigeration, one of the primary methods of preserving meat was through smoking. Almost every farm had a smokehouse, and even today we still eat smoked meats in the form of bacon, ham and smoke turkey.
When you smoke meats, fish, poultry you not only add wonderful flavors, but also preserve the meats. Smoking improves the flavor, reduces the moisture content which is present in the meat, inhibits the growth of bacteria that can spoil the meat and the cured meat can stay for as long as a year.
The meat, poultry, or fish is prepared before being placed on racks. Using different woods for burning, imparts distinct flavors to the meats being smoked.
The smokehouse can be made of wood or concrete depending on what you have on hand and how much experience you have in handling these materials. If you use concrete, you have to pour the concrete to make the slabs, and then put the slabs together according to pre-determined plans.
It can look like a small hut, and you can put in glass if you want to be able to see inside. A concrete smokehouse is very long lasting, fire and weather resistant and low cost as well. You can also make the smokehouse of stones, which will give it a rugged appeal.
A smokehouse can also be built of logs of wood or pine boards. You can make it the size of a small cupboard, with similar construction and a door, which can be opened. Inside, make space for wire (steel) racks. You can put in hooks to hang large slabs of meat. The top, too, can be made of steel. Leave a gap on the top for venting purposes.
Whatever the material of the smokehouse, you should have air vents top and bottom, which you cover with metal screen material to keep out flies and other vermin. You will need a smoke generator, this should be a firebox in which you burn the wood chips that will generate the flavored smoke. This should be connected to the smokehouse with the help of an intake vent.
When you use wood chips of hickory, maple, apple, birch, ash or oak, you will be able to generate a flavor which adds to the taste of the meats that you are smoking. Remember to use hardwoods and not softwoods. Never use processed woods or plywood as these will give off soot and ash and impart a nasty flavor. For this reason, don’t use kerosene, paper or any other materials that will ruin the taste of the meats.
After you arrange your prepared meats on the racks, you light the fire, usually using wood chips that have been soaking in water. Using wet wood is what generates smoke that enters the smokehouse and travels upwards.
As the smokehouse fills with smoke, the meats get smoked gently, absorbing the flavor and changing color.
You can control the heat and smoke generation to an extent with the amount of wood chips and the size of vents.
If you have a discarded refrigerator or freezer, you can make your smokehouse easily. But you will have to strip the appliance of all plastic, rubber, electronic parts and the like. You will also have to make holes for vents and for the smoke generator to be connected. Old refrigerators, made of steel, are ideal for this purpose.
How to build a smokehouse can be cheap and simple and a great way to preserve meat in the event of a long-term power outage.