Cold-smoking smokehouse: study, analyze and make without mistakes

Are you prepared to take your cooking to a new level? Building your own cold-smoking smokehouse could be the ideal project for you if you enjoy smoked meats and fish. We’ll dive into the intriguing realm of cold smoking in this post, covering its fundamentals, methods, and the necessary actions to building your own smokehouse. Come along on this journey to learn the craft of cold smoking, whether you’re an experienced do-it-yourself enthusiast or a curious novice.

Food has long been preserved and flavored via the centuries-old practice of cold smoking. Cold smoking adds a rich, smoky flavor to food without cooking it, as opposed to hot smoking, which cooks food while it smokes. A longer smoking period is made possible by this process, which produces a more complex and pronounced flavor profile. Food enthusiasts love cold smoking because it gives depth and character to a wide range of ingredients, from delicate cheeses to savory bacon.

It’s important to comprehend the major elements and factors involved in smokehouse construction before getting started. Airflow, insulation, and ventilation are important elements that affect how effective your smokehouse is. A consistent flow of smoke is ensured by proper ventilation, and insulation helps to keep the interior at the right temperature and shields against the outside elements. You can build a smokehouse that not only yields great results but also stands the test of time with careful planning and strategic execution.

It takes careful planning and close attention to detail to build a smokehouse for cold smoking. Every stage of the process, from choosing the best materials to creating an effective layout, is vital to the project’s success. Whether you choose a contemporary electric smokehouse or a classic wood-fired one, it’s important to comprehend the principles of construction. This do-it-yourself project can be started with confidence and excitement if you adhere to tried-and-true methods and steer clear of typical pitfalls.

We examine how to build a faultless smokehouse by studying and analyzing it in our article on cold-smoking smokehouses. Food can be preserved and flavored by cold-smoking, which involves exposing it to smoke and low temperatures. Our goal is to offer concise, useful advice for constructing a smokehouse that guarantees efficiency and safety. With the right materials, knowledge of airflow dynamics, and temperature control, we hope to enable readers to build a smokehouse that suits their needs. Our goal is to provide enthusiasts with the confidence and success to enjoy the art of cold-smoking by steering clear of common pitfalls and attending to important details.

The principle of operation of a cold-smoking smokehouse

When thinking about your options for creating a DIY smokehouse, it’s critical to comprehend the concepts that enable you to smoke products using the cold smoking method. You could put together a variety of smokehouse types at home with very little effort and resources. The majority of the time, hot smoking devices are assembled. They are regarded as being easy to use, dependable, and trouble-free. The end products, however, frequently have serious drawbacks. For instance, their shelf life is often limited, and there is a greater chance of simply burning meat and fish in a hot smokehouse than in a cold one.

Another thing about cold smoking smokehouses is that they differ fundamentally from other kinds in that the smoke-producing hearth is situated a specific distance away, after which it cools down to a comfortable +25 0 C +30 0 C. This method of cooking works best for producing homemade smoked meats because it uses a low temperature during food processing.

The hearth, where wood is burned, the chamber, where meat, cheese, vegetables, and fruits are smothered in smoke, and the chimney, which connects the hearth and the chamber and supplies and cools the smoke, are all required components of a smokehouse. The device of a smokehouse is similar to that of such structures. Because the temperature of the smoke drops as it enters the smoking chamber, a chimney is included in the design. Generally speaking, the work process can be characterized as follows:

  • After the meat is loaded into the chamber, the oven is fired up;
  • The wood in the oven is ignited, releasing smoke;
  • From the hearth, the smoke enters the chimney at a temperature of about 100 degrees;
  • Passing through the chimney, it cools down to about 35-40 degrees;
  • Filling the volume of the chamber, the smoke cools down to a temperature of about 25-27 degrees;
  • Depending on the time of year and day, the combustion process is regulated by sliders – opening the supply of oxygen and smoke or reducing it.

The smoke drenches the products unevenly during processing; some absorb it fast, while others take longer because of their size. However, in contrast to hot smoking, where temperature has a major impact on cooking, temperature is entirely disregarded in the cold smoking chamber. This is the primary distinction between this method and other smoke-processing methods of product preparation.

The food can retain more nutrients due to the chamber’s low temperature, which also prevents the food from drying out too quickly. However, the biological processes in the same meat or lard are not stopped by the natural temperature of smoking, so the initial processing step can take 24, 72, or even longer hours. In reality, it takes at least five days for meat to properly wilt; however, this process should take roughly fourteen days for pork ham. However, the meat can be kept refrigerated for approximately three weeks after that.

Stationary and mobile smokehouses

Knowing what kind of structure you want to build is essential to building a smokehouse by hand. Usually constructed in the backyard of a private estate or at a dacha, this enormous stationary structure is composed of brick and wood. Cooking can be done anywhere that is practical, such as in the house’s yard or close to the garage, thanks to mobile construction. The accuracy and precision with which the device is assembled will make a difference.

The stationary version has the benefit of being planned as part of the overall ensemble of courtyard buildings. The common design of garden stoves that are so popular today can incorporate a cold-smoking smokehouse along with a brazier and a hearth for a cauldron. Alternatively, it can be constructed independently, perhaps as a makeshift building in a distant area of the garden. A structure like this can serve as a training ground for aspiring chefs and doesn’t come with a lot of expenses.

The mobile version of the device gives you more options for how to use it. For instance, if you make it foldable or shaped like a transformer, you can use it for other purposes besides barbecues, of course. It can also be almost entirely automated to smoke if it has a smoke generator attached.

As far as materials are concerned, much depends on the goals that are set before the construction begins. If this is a building, which in the future will be used from time to time for personal needs, then in this case it is better to use inexpensive materials, for example, find a 200-liter barrel and 50-70 pieces of red brick. If it is planned to engage in smoking as a business, then it is better to make capital investments at once and build a large stationary stone smokehouse. Moreover, for business it makes sense to allocate a separate spacious room in which there will be both marinating products before loading into the chamber, and the process of ventilation after unloading. Special attention should be paid to this point – after lard, meat or fish are removed from the smoking chamber they should be ventilated in the open air for at least 24 hours to reduce the concentration of harmful substances in the tissues of the products.

How to make an oven for cold smoking with your own hands

You can apply the well-known learning principle of "from simple to complex" to the project of building a smokehouse by hand. When tackling various projects, it’s important to honestly evaluate your abilities and perhaps begin with the most straightforward one: building a makeshift smokehouse for people to smoke in while they’re cold.

Simple smokehouse in the ground

The most straightforward and effective building project could be a subterranean cold-smoking smokehouse. A shovel, several slate pieces, a barrel—even an old wooden one will work for this project—a 50 by 50 cm sheet of iron, and a metal bar are needed for the task.

The construction allows for a landscape and use of the land with a 5–7% slope. This is how the algorithm appears:

  • A hole 50-60 cm deep and 40×40 cm in size is dug on the slope;
  • From it up the slope, a trench with a depth of 20-25 cm and a length of 2-2.5 meters is dug;
  • At the end of the trench, the same hole is dug as in the beginning;
  • On top of the trench, slate or other noncombustible material is laid out and covered with earth on top;
  • A bottomless barrel is placed on the top pit and covered with earth around the circumference of it.

After adding wood to the bottom pit, lighting the fire, and watching for smoke, a sheet of metal is placed over the fire to create a slight draft that runs the length of the earth chimney. The barrel is filled with smoking goods and covered with a thick, wet cloth. Everything is straightforward here, just like everything clever. As soon as smoke begins to emerge through the cloth, the process is underway; if the smoke ceases to emerge, a few logs must be thrown into the furnace.

Smokehouse from a gas cylinder

Multifunctional construction

Pre-owned gas cylinders are used to create an authentic mobile smokehouse for cold smoking. This building’s multipurpose nature allows it to serve as a smoker, an oven, and a barbecue all at once. This is what makes it so beautiful.

The concept is that the levels of the firebox and the smoking chamber are different, allowing the smoke to naturally flow from the former to the latter while cooling en route.

Materials and components of the project

Three old 50-liter gas cylinders at the very least are needed for this project. This multipurpose installation’s frame can be constructed from regular 25 mm diameter pipe or a structure made of 25 x 25 mm profile. The best way to guarantee the stability of the entire structure is to have the base welded in the shape of a goat.

Center section

The middle section’s height is measured between 80 and 85 centimeters, which is the same as the kitchen table’s working surface. The tank will be positioned horizontally at this height. It will function as a cooling tank during the technological smoking process and have a sizable door. When released from this noble responsibility, he will serve as a kebab grill or barbecue.

Lower part

There will be a furnace inside the lower cylinder. It has the same blower, firebox, blower doors, and grate as a typical stove. The doors will function as components cut from the cylinder body; the only requirement is that, in the locations where the doors are mounted, the metal within the cylinder be strengthened with a metal strip that is 2-3 mm thick and 25-30 mm wide. This will ensure that the cut elements fit tightly against the cylinder body. It is essential to have a regulating window installed on the under-blower door in order to control the oxygen supply to the furnace.

Upper part

A pipe with a diameter of at least 80 mm is welded into the top of the cylinder, which will connect the firebox with the cooler tank. The pipe should go into the tank by 20-40 mm. This pipe inside the brazier is necessary to put a flame arrester on it. Simply put, it is a piece of pipe with a diameter of 100 mm and a length of 100 mm, with one side welded, but with a large number of holes with a diameter of 5-6 mm around the circumference of the cylinder. The purpose of this device is to delay the passage of smoke, so that sparks from the firebox will be extinguished as they pass through the flame arrester.

Project assembly

On the side of the cooler tank opposite the firebox cylinder, vertically, is the smokehouse chamber. The installation of this cylinder is vertical. Using an ordinary piece of pipe with an 80 mm diameter, it can be connected to the tank using the same method as the firebox.

The cylinder door is cut to its largest dimension, and just like the other components, it is reinforced from the inside with a 2 mm-thick strip to firmly press the door down. A lock is a must in the design; the chamber’s tightness should be optimized.

A hole for condensate drainage must be drilled in the lower portion of the cylinder; a ball valve installation is advised at this location. A pipe that is welded in at the upper point has a diameter of 80–100 mm and a length of 1-1.5 meters. This height will be sufficient to produce a standard draught throughout the structure, extending from the deflector to the under-blower. The pipe has a regulating mechanism that lets you shut off the chimney entirely; this mechanism can be either a traditional petal-style flap or a slide gate.

Principle of operation

Such a mobile smokehouse operates on the following straightforward principle:

  • Meat, fish, poultry, cheese or vegetables for smoking are loaded into the chamber, the door is tightly closed;
  • Open the damper on the chimney;
  • The flame arrester is installed on the spigot in the grill oven, and the lid of the oven is closed;
  • Wood is put into the firebox and the fire is kindled;
  • With the help of the adjusting flap of the underblow, the minimum size of the air access window is set;
  • After the smoke appears from the pipe with the help of a gate valve, the draught in the pipe is reduced.

As you can see, you can create the best mobile smokehouse for cold smoking thanks to the construction made of cylinders.

Smokehouse from a refrigerator

In comparison to other variations and projects that utilize a chamber as a housing, the nearly completed unit has an even better appearance. An old refrigerator can serve as such an enclosure, complete with pre-made grates and a sealed door.

It is not necessary to hunt for an antique "ZIL" with a dependable fixation mechanism; contemporary two-chamber models will work just fine. If there is a choice of models, it is important to focus on those that have metal inner wall surfaces rather than plastic ones because they are more dependable and long-lasting.

You will also need to put in some effort with the smoke generator if an already-built element is being utilized as a chamber. Purchasing a fully assembled, ready-made unit is ideal. That way, you won’t have to search for a compressor and figure out how to assemble everything. It requires some work if not. For instance, installing a steel pipe beneath the smoke generator’s body that is 100 mm in diameter and roughly 80 cm long. A section like this is sufficient to keep wood chips smoldering for ten to twelve hours.

The generator’s construction is straightforward: a tube with a diameter of 20–25 mm is welded into the upper section, 50 mm from the edge. On the opposite side, a hole is made coaxially with it, into which a tube-equipped fitting is installed. The tube’s inner diameter must be less than the pipe’s inner diameter. It travels 10–12 mm from the connector to the tube where it enters. The tube is about 20–25 mm long and extends past the socket from the outside.

To hold the chip fragments, a metal mesh with a cage-like size is inserted on the bottom side inside the casing. The body’s bottom is sealed with an ash cover, which ought to be able to be removed for ash removal. A 10 mm diameter hole must be drilled in the lower portion of the case, just below the grid installation location. This hole serves as a sort of air supply opening for the combustion chamber.

There should be a lid on top of the casing to keep it closed. To minimize the amount of time the chips burn, it is preferable to shape it like a cone so that the condensate runs off the walls and drenches the chips.

The smoke generator works on a straightforward principle: after adding wood chips to the casing, the upper level should be 3–4 cm below the air supply tube. The wood chips in the case’s lower section are lit with a gas burner. The bottom with the ash pan is placed on after ignition. The generator’s upper section is covered with a cover from above and connected to the compressor when smoke starts to appear there.

A rarefaction zone forms when air is injected into the tube through the connector, drawing smoke into the smoke supply tube. After that, it enters the refrigerator’s body through a regular hose or metal tube, where the smoking process starts.

Given that the compressor is suitable for aquarium use and has a modest power consumption but a lengthy operating life, troubleshooting it should not be too difficult. You can use a car compressor in an unprepared workspace by connecting it to a 12 volt battery or transformer.

For anyone who enjoys cooking or do-it-yourself projects, building a cold-smoking smokehouse is a satisfying undertaking. By examining and evaluating the procedure, we have identified the key components required for success. Every stage is critical to the result, from choosing the appropriate materials to comprehending the cold smoking principles.

Our investigation has led us to believe that insulation and adequate ventilation are essential for preserving the perfect smoking environment. Insulation keeps the temperature constant, avoiding variations that could harm the smoking process. On the other hand, proper smoke flow made possible by adequate ventilation guarantees even dispersion and flavor infusion.

Furthermore, it is crucial to pay close attention to detail when building. Every detail, from maintaining structural integrity to sealing gaps, adds to the efficacy and efficiency of the smokehouse. Error risk is reduced and the chance of a successful result is increased when each step is carefully planned and carried out.

Our analysis also emphasizes how crucial safety considerations are. There are inherent risks associated with working with fire and smoke, so safety measures must be taken to protect the smokehouse and its surroundings. To reduce possible risks, safety precautions like using fire-resistant building materials, adequate ventilation, and fire extinguishing tools must be put in place.

In summary, starting a cold-smoking smokehouse project is a great way to develop one’s abilities and inventiveness in addition to enjoying mouthwatering smoked treats. Through the process of researching, evaluating, and applying the knowledge acquired, enthusiasts can confidently take on this endeavor, steering clear of common pitfalls and attaining desirable outcomes.

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Sergey Ivanov

I like to help people create comfort and comfort in their homes. I share my experience and knowledge in articles so that you can make the right choice of a heating and insulation system for your home.

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