Smoked meat and fish are well-known delicacies. A wide variety of smoked meats can be bought in stores, but how can factory-made products from a store compare to home-made products? Therefore, some summer residents and owners of private houses who breed poultry and animals or are fond of hunting and fishing are thinking about purchasing a smokehouse. Its high cost can become a serious obstacle for this, but after all, almost anyone can make a smokehouse on their own. To do this, you only need a properly selected drawing, suitable materials and a little time.
Features and Benefits
Making a smokehouse is much less complicated and time-consuming process than it might seem at first glance. Of course, it all depends on the type that the owner decides to install on his site, but some options can be made independently for just a few minutes. A homemade smokehouse in most cases will cost much less than a purchased one. It can be made from scrap materials, from old things that are no longer used in the household, but have retained their properties.
A good and comfortable smokehouse, corresponding to the size and volume of the wishes of the summer resident, can be quickly made with your own hands right at the summer cottage.
Correctly selected wood for smoking and the temperature regime allow you to create on your site delicacies that are completely unique in taste and aroma, which are very difficult to find on store shelves equal to.
Types and purpose
There are two main varieties of smokers, one suitable for hot smoking and the other for cold smoking. They differ from each other mainly in the technology of manufacturing the smokers themselves and in the temperature that is maintained in the smoking chambers. Products, depending on the smoking method, will also have slightly different tastes. With equal success, these smokers can be used for smoking meat, game, fish, bacon, sausages.
First of all, it is worth considering cold smoked smokehouses. Their main feature is a long, elongated chimney, which allows complete combustion of flue gases.
Such smokehouses, in addition to the chimney, have two main units: a firebox and a smoking chamber. All harmful substances settle on the walls of the chimney, and the meat acquires a barely noticeable aromatic smoke. To manufacture a product in this way, it will take from three days to a week, and the shelf life of products made with the help of such smokehouses can, on average, be from three to twelve weeks.
In smokehouses designed for hot smoking, products are cooked much faster: the whole process takes from a quarter of an hour to several hours, it all depends on the size of the original product. In smokehouses of this type, it is customary to use not firewood, but special chips, which causes some structural features. So, the firebox in these smokehouses is located directly under the most sealed chamber intended for smoking. The tightness of this chamber ensures uniform heating of the entire mass of the product.
In addition, there are universal smokehouses, which are a cross between cold and hot smokehouses.
In addition to the stationary smokehouse, there are also camping or portable mini-smokehouses: they look like a box with a lid. This simple design is very convenient: you can take it with you, for example, on a fishing trip or on a picnic.
What can you build from?
To make a smokehouse with your own hands, you can use a lot of improvised means - household items that have served their time will do, which are taken to the country in large quantities in the hope that someday they will be used.
A wooden barrel is suitable for a smokehouse chamber , and the larger it is, the better, but for a small home production, a capacity of 50-100 liters is enough. However, it is important to remember that in no case should you choose resinous and tar-producing tree species. Spruce, pine, maple and birch are definitely not suitable. Trees such as cherry and apple, oak or alder are the best options.
In addition to the barrel, you can use any large metal box: an old refrigerator will also do (this will allow you to combine a smoke generator and a dryer in one block). You can make a camera, for example, from a gas stove. In the end, an ordinary metal bucket, an old saucepan, flasks, a medical bix or even an old fire extinguisher can serve as a container for a portable smokehouse: two grates are inserted inside, between which there will be meat or fish, and the bottom is covered with a thin layer of sawdust.
However, using metal elements in the manufacture of a smokehouse, you should give preference to items made of "stainless steel". Of course, this is a rather fragile and more brittle material that is more difficult to process, but it has a number of undoubted advantages: firstly, it is resistant to chemical components that smoke carries, and secondly, it does not oxidize at high temperatures and does not rusts, thirdly, it is easy to clean it from soot, soot and traces of fat.
If a smokehouse for the owner is a necessary attribute of a suburban area, then you can build a solid brick smokehouse. Its dimensions will correspond to the wishes of the owner, the main thing will be to ensure the correct flow of smoke into the smoking chamber. For the source of heating in such smokehouses, stove stoves are usually used, connected to the chamber by a pipe.
How to prepare drawings?
If the smokehouse should become a functional element of the decor of a suburban area, then, undoubtedly, the drawings should be done by yourself. However, if there is no need for this, then it is better to use ready-made drawings. This is especially true for non-professionals, as this will help to avoid mistakes and inaccuracies. But even in this case, one should take into account the dimensions of the container, which it was decided to use for the main camera. Most likely, the scheme will still need to be slightly changed.
It is worth remembering that hot smoked smokers are convenient due to their small size, and cold smokers are rather bulky, but they allow you to make products with a richer taste and a longer shelf life. Mini-smokers are simple in design.
Despite the variety of items that can be used to make a smokehouse, each design should have several indispensable components to make the smoking process convenient and technologically correct. In addition, during work, you should have some tools on hand - at least a welding machine and a grinder.
The main chamber of the smokehouse should have at least one grate. Products for smoking will be laid out on it. Such a grid can be made from thin reinforcement.
The smoking chamber itself must be sealed. This will ensure that the food is heated evenly and will also prevent smoke from escaping prematurely. In addition, if the size of the smokehouse allows, provide the chamber with several smoking hooks.
Under the grate, there should be a tray for smoldering shavings and sawdust, and even lower - a box for ash. There may also be a heat source that provides smoldering sawdust. The third important element is the tray, onto which fats and juices will drain; it must be cleaned after each smoking session.
You can install the smokehouse on a fire, on gas, and even, if the dimensions allow, on an electric stove.
The smoke generator is an important design detail. Of course, small smokehouses operating on the principle of hot smoking have it directly in the smoking chamber: the production of smoke is provided by sawdust, which covers the bottom of the chamber. For cold smoked smokehouses, artificial conditions for the formation of smoke will have to be created, because its total temperature should not exceed 35 degrees Celsius. Therefore, often for such smoke generators, an electric heating element with a built-in thermostat and temperature sensors is used.
To improve the quality of smoking (in the case of a hot-type smokehouse), it is possible to install an additional fan or compressor in the structure. They will provide additional more powerful pumping of smoke, due to which the smoked products will warm up and cook faster.
Sometimes a lid with a water seal is added to the smokehouses: it is a small depression located along the perimeter of the smoking chamber into which water is poured. This device creates a barrier that prevents air from entering the chamber and does not release smoke from the chamber.
The variety of items from which it is possible to make a smokehouse raises legitimate questions about how to properly make a smokehouse at home. In fact, knowing the general technology and processes that products are subjected to during the smoking process, you can independently develop not only a diagram, but also step-by-step assembly instructions. However, for example, it is worth considering several of the most common and convenient options for making smokehouses.
Simplest polyethylene film construction
To make such a cold-smoked smokehouse, you will need two meters of very dense film, which is sewn in the form of a bag. A dense film used by summer residents for greenhouses and greenhouses is best suited.
Next, you need to find a flat area about one square meter on the site. The platform is upholstered with high wooden stakes for a film size of about two meters in height, and the stakes themselves are connected by thin transverse beams to give the structure stability. Then the opposite stakes will need to be connected with diagonal bulkheads in approximately 2-3 rows. After that, the products prepared for smoking are hung on the rods so that they do not touch each other, and a prepared plastic bag is pulled over the structure - not to the ground itself, a small space is left.
Burning coals are poured under the structure and covered with grass, after which the film is pulled to the ground and carefully clamped on all sides to make the entire structure tight.
It will take approximately three hours for food to cook in such a smokehouse, after which the bag is removed and the food is ventilated. Particularly large pieces may need to be smoked again.
Out of the bucket
To make a similar model of a smokehouse, you will need an old bucket. One or two stainless steel gratings are placed inside it. If there are two grates, then the first, smaller one is set about 10 cm from the bottom of the bucket, and the second is slightly higher. Then the bottom of the bucket is abundantly sprinkled with wood shavings or sawdust.
The bucket smokehouse is ready, it remains only to put the smoking products on the nets, put the structure on the fire and cover with a lid.
From the barrel
The most traditional and simplest option is to make a home smokehouse from a wooden or metal barrel. The principle of its manufacture is the same as in the case of a bucket smokehouse; the main difference lies in its significantly large dimensions, which allow equipping the barrel not only with grates, but also with hooks for smoking.
The barrel can produce both types of smokehouse , which can be very convenient. In the first case, the heat source - the hearth, should be located directly under the barrel. For cold smoking, the barrel is installed in a pit, to which a chimney (approximately two meters long) is drawn from the hearth.
You can make a more complex version of the smokehouse, which will require not one, but two barrels.
The most convenient option would be to use two identical barrels with a volume of approximately 200 liters. They need to be welded together in a "T" shape. The lower barrel will serve as a container for the future firebox, an opening is cut out on the side and a door is installed. The shutter at the bottom of the oven will allow you to adjust the intensity of combustion. The upper barrel will serve as the future smoking chamber: it is necessary to firmly and firmly fix a strong grate in it, on which smoked products will subsequently be laid out, besides, it will be possible to cook barbecue on it. Plus, it can be used as an oven, placing baking dishes or simply wrapped food in foil on the wire rack.
For smoking, it will be necessary to arrange a brazier for sawdust in the lower firebox, and an open fire is kindled under it. Sometimes sawdust is poured directly into the firewood, but this is a more laborious method that requires constant monitoring and attention. Otherwise, the food may burn and lose the necessary taste.
Then it remains only to hang the food over the wire rack, and put a tray on it, into which the dripping fat and juices will be collected. Smokehouses are made according to the same principle from an old gas cylinder.
From the old refrigerator
Many summer residents prefer not to get rid of old non-working equipment, but to take it to the country. If you save the non-working refrigerator from the electric filling and other "insides", then the remaining box can be turned into a comfortable and roomy smokehouse.
A small hole must be made in the roof for the future chimney. Inside the box, at different levels, six corners should be installed in pairs, on which the grates for the pallet and products and hooks for smoking, as well as a pallet for fat flowing from the products, will subsequently be located. In addition to a pan for fat, you will also need a pallet for sawdust or shavings; it is installed at the very bottom of the structure.
It is also important to make sure that the refrigerator door closes as tightly as possible and does not allow excess air to enter the chamber.
Made of metal
This product already requires a more serious approach, but it is not difficult to cook it yourself. The simplest and most convenient shape for the master is a rectangle, while stainless steel is most often preferred as a material: it is easy to clean, withstands high temperatures well and has a long service life. But at the same time, "stainless steel" is quite difficult to process. Another material to look out for is cold rolled steel: it is quite ductile, withstands temperatures up to 650 degrees Celsius, but is susceptible to oxidation and rust.
By itself, this design resembles a box, to the walls of which corners with gratings installed on them are welded.
First you need two sheets of metal, one of which is divided into four parts, which will be the same if you plan to make a square smokehouse. You can divide the sheet with a grinder. Then, at an angle of 90 degrees (a carpentry angle is used for this), the sheets are welded to each other, forming a box. To ensure tightness of the future smokehouse, it will also be necessary to boil the inner seams of the chamber. The bottom of the smokehouse is cut from another metal sheet and welded to the box in the same way.
Finally, you can start making the camera cover. To do this, the grinder cut four identical strips of a sheet of metal (better than stainless steel) a little larger than the characteristics of the outer part of the box. Then the resulting lid is welded on.
The last details will be the lower fasteners for installing the pan, which will collect fats and juices, and the upper ones - for placing hooks on which lard, meat, fish or sausages are suspended. It is also worth attaching a couple of handles around the edges of the smokehouse to make it easier to carry.
A conventional electric stove can be used as a heat source for such a smokehouse. If higher temperatures are required, the smoker can be placed over the fire as well.
From a gas cylinder or fire extinguisher
The process of making a smokehouse from a gas cylinder is somewhat complicated, but it is quite suitable for those who have this completely unnecessary thing on the farm and want to find at least some use for it.
To begin with, it is worth, observing safety precautions, release the remaining gas from the cylinder, and then carefully saw off the release valve. The rest of the gasoline is also drained from the cylinder into any metal container and burned. Then the balloon is well washed, a door is cut out in its wall through which the products will be placed inside. Hinges are welded to the place of the cutout, on which the door will hold. Metal strips are cut from the bottom of the cylinder and half of the bottom is cut off to provide the future smokehouse with a firebox. Finally, the firebox itself is made of metal sheets and welded to the cylinder, after which the entire structure must be calcined on fire.
Of brick and stone
Such a smokehouse is easy to manufacture, but rather complex in design. During construction, you do not need to use a grinder and a welding machine, however, the slightest mistake in the location of the chimney can make the finished smokehouse unusable. The advantage of this smokehouse is that it can be adapted for both cold and hot smoking methods: a similar two-mode design turns out to be very convenient and multifunctional.
First, you need to prepare the foundation for the future smokehouse. Due to the fact that brick and stone are heavy, it is impossible to mount such a structure directly on the ground: the earth may settle and the structure will be destroyed. It will not be superfluous to strengthen the foundation with a lattice of reinforcement.
Then, when the foundation is ready, you can start laying the lower belt of the walls, and after that - carrying out the tunnel chimney. Its length is approximately two meters, and the pipe itself is well insulated to provide the possibility of both cold and hot smoking. Any mineral insulation that can withstand high temperatures can be an insulating material. For example, glass wool is suitable.
By itself, the structure of the future smokehouse must remain hollow. This can be taken into account and in the future to use empty niches for storing stocks of sawdust, firewood, etc. The highest temperatures will be observed directly in the firebox and in the furnace, so they will need to be made of refractory bricks. The rest of the details of the smokehouse can be laid out with any other types of bricks, even decorative ones.
Finally, you can start building the second brick belt. It will need to be separated from the first with a flat concrete screed or a concrete slab. Just as in the case of the foundation, it would be better to strengthen the layer with a steel reinforcing grid. Two chambers are distinguished, one of which will serve as a smoking chamber, and the second will become the basis for the Russian oven.
After that, the oven itself is built on top. Since there will be constant high temperatures, then, as mentioned above, it must be built from refractory bricks. The advantage of this design is its versatility: it will not only serve as a source of heat for the smokehouse, but will also allow you to bake food and even cook barbecue.
After the construction of the stove, a smoking chamber is built next to the chimney: it can do without any additional finishing. The only thing will need to be provided with a tight sealed door, preferably a wooden one made of deciduous trees; cherries or apple trees are ideal.
Then, when the smoking chamber is built up, a pipe is attached to it at the top, which provides smoke extraction. Adjusting the draft in the pipe will allow the owner to produce both cold and hot smoking in the same smokehouse - everything will depend on the intensity of sawdust burning in the firebox. At low heat and a wide diameter of the pipe, the smoke will have enough time to cool down in order to ensure cold smoking; if you limit the draft in the pipe and increase the intensity of combustion, then hot smoking will be performed.
The construction of a chimney for a stationary smokehouse is an important stage that should be considered separately. It is not worth making it from bricks and other porous materials, since the brick will actively absorb harmful substances from the smoke and moisture coming through it. Accumulating these substances, over time, it will acquire an unpleasant odor, which will negatively affect the quality of the products prepared in the smokehouse.
Metal is best suited for the chimney, but even in this case, it will need to be regularly cleaned, to remove the soot accumulated on the walls.
Many owners of home smokehouses prefer a chimney that is dug into the ground: in this way, the soil qualitatively cools the smoke (which is especially preferable for cold smoking), and also absorbs the condensation that forms on the walls. The bacteria and microorganisms in the soil recycle the dangerous carcinogens contained in this condensate.
For the manufacture of a smokehouse with such a chimney, at the summer cottage there is or is artificially poured a platform with a slight slope, which will subsequently provide a natural draft for smoke. The firebox of the smokehouse is placed under the slope, and on the very slope a small groove is dug - the future chimney. It is covered with iron sheets, on top of which a layer of soil is poured, designed to create improved thermal insulation. Such a chimney is brought up to the smoking chamber.
In the next video you will see how to make a smokehouse from a barrel with your own hands.
Where is the best location?
Finding the right place for your stationary smokehouse is very important: it is not a small portable structure that can be stored at home or in the garage and taken out as needed.
When choosing a place, it is worth remembering that a large amount of smoke will come from the smokehouse, which should not enter the living quarters in the country. In addition, harmful substances can harm trees and other green spaces. Therefore, it will be quite difficult to find the ideal place on the leeward side, and besides, it is very individual for each house. The resulting products can be stored in the cellar, the main thing is that the room is dry and cool.
Tips for use and care
A proper smokehouse must take into account three main points, and the summer resident, when building such a structure, must also remember them. Firstly, uniform heating and fumigation must be carried out in the smoking chamber. Secondly, the smoke itself for smoking should be very light, not containing harmful substances and heavy decomposition products that can give the meat an unpleasant taste. Thirdly, the structure must be sealed to ensure uniform penetration of smoke into all layers of meat; additional smoke generators can serve the same purpose.
By the way, the smoke generator can be assembled on your own. A body is made from a metal can, a hole is drilled from the bottom for ignition of chips, and the upper part is tightly closed with a lid. A computer cooler can become a compressor. The whole structure is assembled using welding air, and then all that remains is to ignite sawdust or chips and turn on the cooler. The peculiarity of the smoke generator is that the built-in cooler does not push out the smoke, but pulls it. Therefore, it must be connected directly to the smokehouse.
Craving is a prerequisite for smoking. It is not enough to simply place the product in a chamber filled with smoke. Otherwise, the meat / fish will simply evaporate, as a result of which it will acquire an unpleasant aftertaste. This is critical for cold smoking; in the case of hot smoking, everything is a little different, but you should still follow this rule.
To give the meat a rich taste, you should especially attend to the selection of the correct tree species, the logs of which will be most fragrant when burned.
For example, you should not use exclusively birch logs in the smokehouse, as the meat can get an undesirable bitter aftertaste. And birch logs will first have to be peeled from bark. Also, it is categorically impossible to use coniferous trees for smoking. This is due to the abundant resin content. It is best to add branches of juniper and cherry leaves to the logs: they will give a pleasant flavor to the meat. If there is a need to give the meat a certain color, then you can also use certain types of trees. Mahogany will give the meat a golden hue, alder and oak will give a dark yellow, and hardwoods will give a golden yellow tone.
In general, fruit trees such as apples and pears and cherries have the most pleasant aromas. This is especially convenient for gardeners, who can use old tree branches for a smokehouse right from their site.
Also, various tree species are used for different types of smoked meats: even if these types of trees do not grow in their summer cottage, it will not be difficult to buy the appropriate chips in the store. So, alder chips remain the most versatile, on which almost any meat, bacon, fish and even vegetables are smoked. Oak sawdust is used mainly for red meat and game. Willow and birch, which have a specific bitter taste, are used to smoke large game such as elk or bear. And on the softest cherries and apples, cheeses, nuts, vegetables and fruits are smoked.
Firewood and pieces of wood added to the hearth for aroma should not be more than 5-10 cm in size. Larger pieces are more difficult to warm up to the point that they begin to char.
Before putting the log into the fire, it will not be superfluous to slightly moisten it: raw wood gives off abundant smoke, which is very important for smokers. However, do not overdo it with humidification: if too much steam is generated, the products will become soaked, which will significantly reduce their shelf life. In addition, in order to get good plentiful smoke, after the formation of coals in the furnace, it is worth closing the pipe valve. At this moment, active combustion stops, but the sawdust forming smoke begins to smolder.
To improve product quality, it is best to provide the fire with an active supply of oxygen. At the same time, it is impossible to fan the flame in the smokehouse: it is important that the wood smolders, but does not burn.
It is very important to provide smoked products with a continuous supply of smoke from the beginning of cooking until the end of cooking. This should be taken into account when placing pieces of meat or fish of different sizes in the smokehouse: small ones will be ready much earlier than large ones. For the latter, it will be necessary to additionally pour sawdust and shavings into the pallet, thus maintaining a constant temperature. However, do not forget about the danger of over-smoking the products: the process must be carefully monitored and periodically checked for readiness.
Another way that significantly speeds up the smoking process is preliminary boiling of meat or lard in water with salt and spices.
The optimum temperature inside the smoking chamber should fluctuate between 60-90 degrees Celsius. Even without temperature sensors, it is quite simple to adjust the temperature: water in a small container placed on the lid of the smoking chamber should not boil. For cold smoking, slightly lower temperatures are chosen, for hot smoking - higher ones, sometimes reaching 120 degrees Celsius.
By the way, you can smoke not only meat, fish, bacon or sausages. Smoked nuts, vegetables and fruits have interesting tastes. Smoked cheeses are also worth mentioning. It all depends on the temperature inside the smokehouse and the sawdust and chips used inside.
Before the smoking procedure, it is better to place the products for some time in a separate drying cabinet, which allows you to get rid of excess moisture and thereby increase the shelf life of the product. It is easy to make it yourself: just take a large box with a tight sealed lid, into the side of which a fan is inserted. Before placing the product in the cabinet, it is better to pre-salt it. In the closet, he will have to spend from one to three days until it is completely dry.
Large stationary smokehouses can only be installed in the country or, in the case of living in the private sector, on the territory of your own home. Such structures require a lot of free space, in addition, they produce a lot of smoke that can harm plants, enter the house and interfere with neighbors.
Before starting the active operation of the smokehouse, one procedure of "smoking" without food is done. Thanks to this, the chamber is saturated with the natural smell of the firebox and the food will acquire the best taste and aroma in the future.