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#11 Wed 18 Feb 09 10:28pm

Bully30

Member
Member since Wed 18 Feb 09

Re: Cold Smoker

Well it looks like everyone is going to be biusy this year.

I built a smoker tonight (or should i say attempted). I have got a wooden crate about a 1.1/2 ft tall by 10 inches deep and want to do cold smoking. I got a rose tin and put a hole in that with a pipe going from ther ein to the bottom of the wooden crate and put a small 90 degree pipe in the top to make some draw. When i lit the wood chips they smoke a goodun' but the smoke is just staying in the tin. Any clues?? smile

I am after an old enamel bread bin at the moment but to no avail.

I am using Weber Hickory chips and they seem to be good. I got in contact with a local saw mill and they have said that i can go down there and help myself to the oak shavings they get from the milling. Bargian!!!

Once my smoker is finished it will be onto the clay overn ready for summer.

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#12 Thu 19 Feb 09 3:19pm

Bully30

Member
Member since Wed 18 Feb 09

Re: Cold Smoker

Hooray!!! My smoker is up and running with the first smoke going as i type.

One problem......I stink of hickory, but hey thats a small price to pay for the results. thumbsup

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#13 Wed 17 Feb 10 5:03pm

nickyrees5

Member
Member since Wed 17 Feb 10

Re: Cold Smoker

with the aid of my computer literate girlfriend we have managed to cobble together as much relevant info as possible about the whole process. Hope this is of help as I have found it difficult to get relevant details in one site. Any others hints or tips welcomed!
wink

Part 1 - Building a Smoker

There is something incredibly palate-tickling and addictive about smoked food of any kind, making smoking one of the most satisfying and exciting projects you can embark on at home.
The crudest way to smoke food is simply to hang it above, or slightly to the side, of an ordinary log fire. One shouldn't ignore the possibilities of such a basic technique: it served many cultures all over the world for centuries, and in some places still does. But if you want to achieve consistent results and avoid the risk of occasionally ruining a piece of fish or meat, it will pay you to understand a little more about the principles of smoking and construct a system that allows you to generate plenty of good smoke, while retaining some control over the only other vital factor: temperature.

I have adapted the fireplace and chimney at River Cottage as the most basic kind of smoker and, while sadly it is not quite big enough for smoking a whole leg of ham, it serves me extremely well for sausages, smaller cuts of meat, and, above all, fish. The fireplace is pretty tiny, which is useful as it make it easier to regulate the heat. The fish or meat is hung directly about two and a half metres above the fire, by means of a hatch I have knocked into the chimney flue on the outside of the house. I have to climb up a ladder to put the fish in and take it out, but it's all part of the fun and I haven't fallen off yet.
If you don't have a suitable fireplace, home smokers can be adapted from all kinds of junk, such as old oil drums, metal dustbins, tall filing cabinets and even, I have heard, old fridges - although I have never quite understood that one, as every fridge I have ever had has been lined with plastic. I guess you have to strip that out!
However you set about building a smoker, there is one important principle to understand. There are essentially two ways to smoke: hot and cold. Hot smoking is effectively a way of cooking food: the temperature of the chamber is usually approaching or above 100C, and any fish fillets or whole small fish will be cooked through in about half an hour to an hour. The presence of smoke in the chamber is simply a flavouring. The advantage, of course, is that any food cooked in this way is ready for immediate eating - and it should still be deliciously smoky. The disadvantage of hot-smoked fish is that it retains a fair amount of moisture, and is therefore not really preserved in any significant way by the process. Vacuum packed and refrigerated, it should keep for a week or two, but it is not suitable for long-term storage - unless frozen. The kind of patented box smokers you can find in fishing and camping shops are only suitable for hot smoking. They are nevertheless very handy for travelling anglers, campers and beach barbecues - hot-smoked mackerel or trout, fresh from the sea or river, are hard to beat.
Smoke box method
This is a more traditional method that uses a two box system: The fire box and the food box. The fire box is typically adjacent or under the cooking box, and can be controlled to a finer degree. The heat and smoke from the fire box exhausts into the food box, where it is used to cook and cure the meat.
For a chimney smoker, adjusting the temperature for cold smoking is a matter of experience and a readiness to improvise. I used to simply make a fire, wait until it had burned down to hot coals, and then smother it with damp oak sawdust. This basically worked, but had a tendency to flare up if I was not vigilant, and ready to throw on more damp sawdust, or spray it with water. I have now made a shelf about 60cm above the fire on to which I can slide a stainless-steel plate. Over a small charcoal or kindling wood fire, this 'baffle-plate', as it's known technically, quickly reaches a temperature where any damp sawdust placed on it will smoulder nicely. It also has the effect of reflecting heat back into the fire, keeping the chimney above at a lower temperature. The whole system is now more stable.
Most home-built cold-smoking systems use a similar baffle-plate technique to achieve a stable temperature and a long, slow smoulder of the smoking material. Heat sources can vary from a wood or charcoal fire to a portable gas ring or even an electric element. An ingeniously simple home-made cold-smoking system I have seen uses two metal dustbins and a small portable barbecue. The top dustbin is smaller than the bottom one, which has a number of small holes drilled in the centre of its base. The smaller dustbin has the bottom completely knocked out of it (i. e. it's basically a cylinder, with a lid). The barbecue (which is less than 45cm high) goes on the ground and is lighted as if for cooking. When the coals are nicely hot, an old roasting tin scattered with damp sawdust is placed on top of the barbecue. As soon as the sawdust starts to smoulder, the larger dustbin goes on top, upside down. The smaller one, which has a couple of metal rods bolted across the top as hanging bars, goes on top - the right way up, and with the lid on. Smoke generated in the bottom bin travels up through the holes into the top bin, where the fish is hanging from the bars. A few adjustable ventilation holes in the top (i. e. bottom) of the bottom bin and the lid of the top bin help to adjust the draw of the smoke and the heat of the fire. Very simple, but it works.

Part 2 of 6 - Choosing wood for smoking

In Europe, alder is the traditional smoking wood, but oak is more often used now, and beech to a lesser extent. In North America, hickory, mesquite, oak, pecan, alder, maple, and fruit-tree woods such as apple, cherry and plum are commonly used for smoking.

Apart from temperature and length of smoking time, the other way to influence the results of your smoking is to vary the type of wood you use to produce the smoke. Almost all hard woods are suitable for smoking. Soft woods, on the other hand, especially pines and conifers, tend to produce a smoke that is not only unpleasantly acrid in taste but may also be carcinogenic. Stick to hard woods. Of these, oak has long been the favourite in the UK, and certainly has a distinctive and unmistakable flavour. But beach is also good, as are most fruit woods, especially apple and cherry. Some woods are especially aromatic, and if combined with other woods, even in small quantities, they will add their inimitable savour. Notable among such scented woods are bay, juniper and hickory - the latter is especially popular in America. You can also smoke very successfully over a peat fire.
The exact form in which your wood is burned depends on what kind of smoking you are doing. For hot smoking and rough smoking (as described above) over an open fire, large logs, or kindling, can be used as they come, but smaller wood chips or sawdust thrown on in addition will help increase the quantity of smoke, and therefore boost the final flavour of the food being smoked. But for more closely controlled cold smoking, fine wood shavings or sawdust are easier to work with. And if you are using the baffle-plate system described above, they are pretty much essential, as larger pieces will not smoulder without direct contact with flames. Hardwood sawdust mixes designed especially for smoking can be bought, but they are expensive, especially if you do a lot of smoking. Timber yards and joiners may let you pick up a few bags of sawdust from their floor for nothing - but be sure you know what kind of wood you are getting. (Once you have used it a few times, you should be able to recognise oak sawdust by the smell.)

Part 3 of 6 The smoker in use

Maintaining your home-smoker while it smokes is largely a matter of trial and error, until you get the hang of the quirks of your own particular model. The objective, however, is straightforward: to generate a steady supply of smoke at a reasonably constant temperature. In the case of cold smoking, this is never likely to be much less than five or six hours (for mackerel, eels and kippers) and may be as much as a week (for a 10kg ham on the bone). Damp sawdust burns slower, smokier and at a lower temperature than dry sawdust, so always dampen your sawdust to maximise your 'smoulder time'.
Sometimes climatic conditions or too-damp sawdust can result in problems getting your sawdust going. In such circumstances an excellent trick to kick-start your smoker is to heat some sawdust in a heavy frying pan on the cooker until it starts to smoulder really well, then dash outside to the smoker and tip the smouldering stuff on top of the damp stuff. Once the sawdust is on the go, you should keep the fire under it low and the air fairly restricted: too much oxygen or too much heat and the sawdust will dry out, flare up, and be gone in a matter of minutes. If it's going too fast, add more damp sawdust and stir the pile a little. If the chamber is too hot, sprinkle a little water on the fire. For both these jobs, one of those gardening spray cans filled with water is a handy thing to have around a smoker.
Even the best-designed home smokers rarely burn for more than about three hours without needing topping up with sawdust or adjusting in some way, so you will have to check on it fairly regularly. On the other hand, the supply of smoke doesn't have to be constant. If you need to go out (or go to sleep!) while the smoker is on the go, don't worry about it. Just let it fizzle out, then re-light it when you come back. Beware, though, in the summer months: an extinguished smoker left outside and unattended for more than a few hours with food inside it may be found by flies, who will do their worst.

The fisherman's catch, if properly preserved, can be a welcome addition to family meals over a period of several weeks or months. Smoking is an excellent way to preserve fish that you don't plan to eat right away. Fish is smoked as it dries over a smoldering fire. Wood smoke adds flavor and color; the brining process helps to preserve the fish.

Part 4 of 6 Preparing Fish For Smoking

Use only freshly-caught fish that have been kept clean and cold. Fish that have been handled carelessly or stored under improper conditions will not produce a satisfactory finished product. Do not use bruised, broken, or otherwise damaged flesh.
If you catch your fish, clean and pack them in ice before starting home. When you get home, store the fish in the refrigerator until you are ready to prepare them for smoking.
Different fish species generally require specific preparation methods. Salmon are split (backbone removed); bottom fish filleted; herring headed and gutted, and smelt dressed. The following preparation steps can be applied to any fish:
1.    Remove scales by scraping against the grain with the dull edge of a knife.
2.    Remove head, fins, tail, viscera.
3.    Wash body cavity with running cold water to remove all traces of blood and kidney tissue (dark red mass along the backbone).
4.    Split the fish by cutting through the rib bones along the length of one side of the backbone.
5.    For large fish, remove the backbone by cutting along the other side of the backbone to produce two fillets or boneless sides. For small fish, the backbone can be left attached to one of the sides.
6.    Cut the sides of large fish into uniform pieces about 1 inches thick and 2 inches wide. Small fish halves can be brined and smoked in one piece.
Preparing Brine
Prepare a brine of 3 cups table salt in 1 gallon of cold water in a plastic, stainless steel, or crockery container. Red or white wine can be substituted for a portion or all of the water, if desired. Stir the salt until a saturated solution is formed.
Spices such as black pepper, bay leaves, seafood seasoning, or garlic, as well as brown sugar, may be added to the brine depending on your preference.
Use 1 gallon of brine for every 4 pounds of fish. Brine fish in the refrigerator, if possible.
Keep the fish covered with brine throughout the brining period. A heavy bowl can be floated on the brine to keep the fish submersed, but do not pack the fish so tightly that the brine cannot circulate around each piece.

Part 5 of 6 Cold-Smoking

1.    To cold-smoke fish, follow steps 1-6 under "Preparing Fish for Smoking."
2.    Brine -inch-thick fillets for hour; 1-inch-thick fillets for 1 hour; and 1-inch-thick fillets for 2 hours. Brining times can be lengthened if the cold-smoked fish are to be preserved for long periods of time.
3.    After brining, rinse the fish briefly in cold running water.
4.    Place the fish skin-side down on greased racks in a cool shady, breezy place to dry. The fish should dry for 2 to 3 hours or until a shiny skin or pellicle has formed on the surface. A fan will speed pellicle formation.
5.    Place the fish in a homemade or commercial smoker. The temperature of the smoker should be kept at about 80F, and should never exceed 90F. If a thermometer is not available, the temperature may be tested by hand. If the air in the smoke-house feels distinctly warm, the temperature is too high.
6.    Smoke the fish until its surface is an even brown. Small fish that are to be kept 2 weeks or less may be ready in 24 hours. Salmon and other large fish will require 3 to 4 days and nights of steady smoking. To store longer than 2 weeks, smoke all fish a minimum of five days; for larger fish, at least a week or longer.
7.    The smoker should not produce a lot of smoke during the first 8 to 12 hours if the total curing time is 24 hours, or for the first 24 hours if the curing time is longer. When the first part of the smoking ends, build up a dense smoke and maintain it for the balance of the cure.
8.    If cold-smoked fish has been brined for at least 2 hours and smoked for at least 5 days, it will keep in the refrigerator for several months.

Cold smoking is a more subtle procedure that requires a bit more attention to detail. It's worth it, though, as it gives you such great delicacies as the finest smoked salmon, kippers, eels, cod and haddock. The texture of cold-smoked fish is distinctly different from hot-smoked. Try cold smoking mackerel and you will see what I mean: it produces a very different animal from the ubiquitous hot-smoked version, and, in my view, an even better one. Long, slow, cold smoking is also the route to the finest smoked hams and bacon. The aim of cold smoking is to produce a chamber of smoke at a temperature of about 25-30C. Dedicated enthusiasts of the art of cold smoking often fit temperature gauges to their smokers. I judge the temperature of my chimney by placing my hand in it where the fish are going to be hanging. It should feel pleasantly warm, but not hot - the temperature of an overheated room. Another good indicator is that if the steel bars that I have fitted to hang my fish on are too hot to touch, then the air in the chimney is too hot for cold smoking. It's time for a fiddle with the fire.
For a chimney smoker, adjusting the temperature for cold smoking is a matter of experience and a readiness to improvise. I used to simply make a fire, wait until it had burned down to hot coals, and then smother it with damp oak sawdust. This basically worked, but had a tendency to flare up if I was not vigilant, and ready to throw on more damp sawdust, or spray it with water. I have now made a shelf about 60cm above the fire on to which I can slide a stainless-steel plate. Over a small charcoal or kindling wood fire, this 'baffle-plate', as it's known technically, quickly reaches a temperature where any damp sawdust placed on it will smoulder nicely. It also has the effect of reflecting heat back into the fire, keeping the chimney above at a lower temperature. The whole system is now more stable.
Most home-built cold-smoking systems use a similar baffle-plate technique to achieve a stable temperature and a long, slow smoulder of the smoking material. Heat sources can vary from a wood or charcoal fire to a portable gas ring or even an electric element"Cold smoking" can be used as a flavor enhancer for items such as pork chops, beef steaks, chicken breasts, salmon and scallops. The item can be cold-smoked for a short period, just long enough to give a touch of flavor. Such foods are ready to be finished to order by such cooking methods as grilling, sauting, baking, and roasting, or they may be hot smoked to the appropriate doneness for an even deeper smoked flavor. Smokehouse temperatures for cold smoking should be maintained below 100 F (38 C). In this temperature range, foods take on a rich, smokey flavor, develop a deep mahogany color, and tend to retain a relatively moist texture. They are not cooked as a result of the smoking process, however.

Part 6 of 6 - Hot Smoking

"Hot smoking" exposes the foods to smoke and heat in a controlled environment. Although foods that have been hot smoked are often reheated or cooked, they are typically safe to eat without further cooking. Hams and ham hocks are fully cooked once they are properly smoked. Hot smoking occurs within the range of 165 F (74 C) to 185 F (85 C). Within this temperature range, foods are fully cooked, moist, and flavorful. If the smoker is allowed to get hotter than 185F, the foods will shrink excessively, buckle, or even split. Smoking at high temperatures also reduces yield, as both moisture and fat are "cooked" away.
Hot-Smoking
1.    To hot-smoke fish, follow steps 1-6 under "Preparing Fish for Smoking."
2.    Brine -inch-thick fillets for about 15 minutes, 1-inch-thick pieces about 30 minutes, and 1-inch-thick pieces about 1 hour. Brining times can be adjusted to give the fish a lighter or heavier cure.
3.    After brining, rinse the fish briefly in cold running water.
4.    Place the fish skin-side down on greased racks in a cool, shady, breezy place to dry. The fish should dry for 2 to 3 hours or until a shiny skin or pellicle forms on the surface. The pellicle seals the surface and prevents loss of natural juices during smoking. A fan will speed pellicle formation.
5.    Place the fish in a homemade or commercial smoker. For the first 2 hours, the temperature should not exceed 90F. This completes the pellicle formation and develops brown coloring.
6.    After the initial 2-hour period, raise the temperature to 150F and smoke the fish for an additional 4 to 8 hours. The length of time will depend on the thickness of the fish, and on your preference for dry or moist smoked fish. Generally, -inch-thick pieces are smoked for 4 hours, 1-inch-thick pieces for 6 hours, and 1-inch-thick pieces for 8 hours.
7.    Store hot-smoked fish in the refrigerator. Freeze hot-smoked fish if it will be stored longer than a few days.


Good luck to everybody and let me know how it goes!!

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#14 Wed 17 Feb 10 7:36pm

Ashen

Forum champ
Occupation Why is the Rum always gone???!
From out to lunch
Member since Sat 07 Jan 06

Re: Cold Smoker

Bully30 wrote:

When i lit the wood chips they smoke a goodun' but the smoke is just staying in the tin. Any clues?? smile

Most home cold smoker designs I have seen that work well have a small air pump driving the smoke from the small smoke chamber thru the piping into the larger smoker box..   
An idea I quite like is to purchase a small fish tank air pump.. the kind that would run a bubbler .. you make a small hole in the smoke chamber and attach the pump with air line for the pump..  you need to make the smoke chamber fairly airtight though because it will burn your wood faster adding outside air.. it needs to be sealed enough that the air from the pump is the only thing keeping the fire from smothering and also forms enough pressure to push the smoke into the next chamber.


The Universe is alive and self aware. 
Need proof?
Look in a mirror.
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#15 Wed 24 Feb 10 8:24pm

DrSweetsmoke

Member
Occupation BBQ Champion
From Wiltshire
Member since Tue 06 Oct 09

Re: Cold Smoker

Anyone  still interested in building a smoker be it hot or cold?

I  have several  suggestions and some  tip for  you  builders out  there. Let me know and I'll  post em up

I will  say  though that  building a smoker is easier than  lotts of the plans out  there call  for. I  know  of a company (  no  I  don't work  for  them in any  way  shape  or  form ) that  has come out  with  a brilliant little maze that  measures  some 8" X 8". you  fill  it  with  dry wood dust and light it  with  a tea candle. It   workes it's way  around the maze filling you  food with whatever flavour  wood you  chose to  put in it.  Very  clever little device and inexpensive. All  you  need to  do  is  decide what  you  want to  use as a smoker. I  like  simple things like  oil drums but  this  gadget  can  be used in a normal BBQ. There is  no  need for   tubing and seperate chambers unless  you  plan on taking up  smoking  long term and have the room.

Cold smoke generators are  great  too  but  tend to  cost a but  more. I  love them and are  ideal  for  smoking cheese and garlic. That  remindes me I  must get  another onee soon.  thumbsup

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#16 Sun 28 Feb 10 11:20pm

Coldsmoker

Member
Occupation Cold Smoker
From Milton Keynes / London
Member since Sun 28 Feb 10

Re: Cold Smoker

I have some information on cold smoking at www.coldsmoking.co.uk

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#17 Mon 06 Sep 10 4:25pm

Coldsmoker

Member
Occupation Cold Smoker
From Milton Keynes / London
Member since Sun 28 Feb 10

Re: Cold Smoker

I received a wonderful email from a fellow coldsmoker in Scotland who downloaded my plans and built himself a coldsmoker to my specification. I have to say theres something quite satisfying about seeing your plans turned into reality. Initially I thought this feeling was only realised when I finished my coldsmoker and stood back to wonder at my creation. A sense of pride in acomplishment. creating something from parts has always held a fascinatiion for me (and a lot of other blokes I'm led to believe).
Well imagine my astonishment when out of the blue one of my customers (who purchased my plans from the tinternet) emailed me with a few well chosen sentenses and a couple of pictures to show how well his coldsmoker works.  I thought my original feelings of achievement could'nt be surpassed. How wrong I was. So good were his efforts I am going to post the pics on my web page.

Incidentally, I have a couple of coldsmoking courses running this autumn with spaces left o nthem. If you're interested please do let me know as spaces are limited.
Kind regards
Turan
www.coldsmoking.co.uk
big_smile

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#18 Mon 06 Sep 10 8:44pm

DrSweetsmoke

Member
Occupation BBQ Champion
From Wiltshire
Member since Tue 06 Oct 09

Re: Cold Smoker

My newly custom built stainless steel hot and cold smoker.. big_smile

[img]http://i52.tinypic.com/351hkyd.jpg[/img]

[img]http://i55.tinypic.com/2vk1f95.jpg[/img]

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#19 Mon 06 Sep 10 8:46pm

DrSweetsmoke

Member
Occupation BBQ Champion
From Wiltshire
Member since Tue 06 Oct 09

Re: Cold Smoker

Hmmm looks like that  didn't work.lol

Let's try  it  this  way.


http://i52.tinypic.com/351hkyd.jpg
http://i55.tinypic.com/2vk1f95.jpg

whistle

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#20 Sun 20 Feb 11 7:19pm

rjacksonalex

Member
Member since Tue 11 May 10

Re: Cold Smoker

Just bought a cold smoke generator which is just so simple and easy to use and can be used with any BBQ with a hod - I used my Weber kettle or an old dustbin. You will need some ventilation like a few holes drilled in the bottom of the container and a few in the top. Can be ordered from For Food Smokers.

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