Smoked products have an incredibly appetizing aroma and a mind-blowing flavor, but their cost in stores is often equally impressive. Consuming cold or hot smoked products every day is simply not feasible, as it’s not a budget-friendly pleasure. There’s only one solution: build a smokehouse yourself. Such a setup would be suitable in the backyard of a private house or a country plot. If you have no idea how to make a smokehouse with your own hands, this article will definitely help you turn your idea into reality.
The Principle of Smoking
Smoking is a form of heat treatment for food products that has been known since ancient times. Its distinctive feature is that the products are treated with smoke. During smoking, it is necessary to carefully monitor the temperature, the amount of smoke, the evenness of heating, and the smoking of the product.
This method of food preparation has several advantages, which have kept it relevant for countless generations:
● Smoke effectively combats various bacteria and parasites that may be present in the products and could pose a significant health risk to humans.
● Smoked products retain a large number of beneficial microelements and vitamins if they are not exposed to very high temperatures.
● Edible provisions prepared in this way can be stored for an extended period because smoke has a preserving effect on them.
The taste of the finished dish depends on the choice of wood. This is because each type of wood burns differently and imparts an individual flavor. Manufacturers of special sawdust recommend selecting the type based on the product that will undergo the smoking process:
● Alderwood is suitable for smoking any meat and vegetable products.
● Oak is intended for pork, beef, and other red meats.
● Willow is suitable for specific types of meat and game, such as bear, moose, or deer. It can also be used for smoking fish primarily found in marshes.
● Cherry wood is used for smoking vegetables, nuts, and berries.
Cold and Hot Smoking
The smoking process can occur at different temperatures. The temperature regime directly depends on the distance of the products from the source of smoke. There are two main types of smoking:
- Cold smoking: The most delicious smoked products are obtained using this method, but the product needs to be prepared in advance. The temperature for cold smoking is approximately 77–113 degrees Fahrenheit, and the process can take several days. Such food supplies can be stored for a very long time without losing their flavor qualities, although they may slightly dry out.
- Hot smoking: A fast and convenient method for cooking meat or fish at home, as the finished dish can be served immediately. The process takes about 4 hours at a temperature range of approximately 122–212 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it’s worth noting that food can spoil quickly with this method of processing.
Types of Smokehouses
A DIY smokehouse can come in various types with its own structural features, which depend on the user’s needs and construction capabilities. The most popular types of smokehouses are:
● Shaft (vertical) smokehouse
● Tunnel (horizontal) smokehouse
● Chamber smokehouse
A shaft smokehouse is the simplest to assemble and doesn’t require a specific installation location. Its structure resembles a traditional shack with products hanging at the top. However, this type of smokehouse has several significant drawbacks, including the inability to smoke by smoldering and limited options for controlling smoke generation.
A tunnel smokehouse requires a relatively large amount of work, with much of it being related to excavation. Finding a suitable location for its installation is also necessary, preferably on a slope. The fire-smoke generator in such a horizontal device is located in a semi-enclosed chamber. This allows smoking to be conducted under any weather conditions. Depending on the length of the channel, both hot and cold smoking can be performed.
A chamber smokehouse is relatively simple in its design but bulky, with a height of 5 feet and a diameter of 3.3 feet. When building it, it’s important to ensure the necessary incline angle, which ranges from 10 to 30 degrees.
Schemes and Designs of Smokehouses
For each type of smoking, specific types of smokehouses with structural features that are crucial play a significant role.
A DIY hot smoking smokehouse is a container with a lid that must be tightly closed. You can construct this device from metal boxes, barrels, or buckets. The main components of hot smokehouses are:
● Firebox – located directly under the chamber and serves the heating function.
● Airtight smoking chamber – responsible for even air heating and achieving high temperatures. Since the hot smoking process mainly occurs at a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit, there may be multiple chambers.
● Hydrator – its installation helps reduce the number of carcinogens in the smoke and creates a barrier for airflows inside and outside.
● Grates – where the products undergoing processing are placed.
● Drip tray – collects the fat and juice released from the products, which, when reaching the chamber’s bottom, begin to burn, negatively affecting the taste qualities of meat, fish, and vegetable products. The removable tray should be easy to remove.
The main schemes of hot smoking smokehouses are shown below in the illustration:
A DIY cold smoking smokehouse is built on the principle that the smoke reaching the product must have time to cool down. It can be of arbitrary size and usually consists of the following main parts:
● Firebox – it can be made from bricks or metal plates. Since the process of processing products takes quite a long time, the firebox should be equipped with a convenient ashtray and a smoke door that regulates the main flow.
● Smoking chamber – the temperature in cold smoking is low, so various materials, including wood, can be used to make the chamber. Using a barrel is the most convenient option.
● Smokestack – it connects the firebox and the chamber. Metal is suitable for its construction. The smokestack can also be dug into the ground. It is not recommended to use bricks, as they belong to porous materials.
The scheme of a cold smoking smokehouse is presented in the illustration below:
How to Build a Smokehouse Yourself: Step-by-Step Guide
To construct a smokehouse on your own, you don’t need to have professional building skills or expensive equipment. Simple tools and materials that can be purchased at a store for a small cost or even found in your garden will suffice for fairly basic designs.
Depending on your capabilities and desires, you can build the following types of smokehouses:
A homemade smokehouse located on a slope near a summer cottage is very convenient and practical to use, as it is suitable for cold smoking a wide variety of products. Wood is the primary material for its construction.
Here are the instructions for building a campfire smokehouse:
● Dig a shaft for the smokestack, with a width of 0.3 meters and a length of 6 meters.
● Lay a pipe with a diameter of 0.2 meters in the trench, running it from the location of the campfire to the entrance of the smokehouse.
● Construct a firebox from bricks or metal. Its shape should be in the form of a cube with sides of 4 meters.
● Connect the firebox to the pipe.
● Install a damper on the firebox on the opposite side to create draft.
● Assemble an airtight smoking chamber from planks.
● Inside the chamber, set up grates, a damper, and a panel for loading the products.
To set up such a device on your garden plot, you will need not only time and effort but also money. However, the result will be worth all the efforts because the construction will not only look aesthetically pleasing but also work efficiently.
Follow this step-by-step guide for its installation:
● Pour a foundation with a depth of 0.4 meters, using reinforced wire, metal rods, and pieces of reinforcement.
● In the foundation pit, create a channel for the smokestack in advance, at a distance of 1.5 meters from the smoking chamber.
● Lay the pipe in the trench to the firebox.
● Construct an airtight firebox from bricks or use a metal box.
● Connect the firebox to the pipe.
● After the foundation has set, start laying the brick walls.
● During the masonry process, include metal rods.
● Equip the structure with a lid.
Simple Hot Smoking Smokehouse
You can purchase a similar construction at any specialized store, but for cost-saving purposes, you can build it yourself:
● Choose a suitable location for the smokehouse on an elevated surface.
● Prepare the area with a metal sheet where the fire will burn.
● Lay the base with bricks on both sides of the sheet.
● Place a metal box on top of the brick columns. You can use a pot or a bucket.
● Equip the box with shelves for smoking products.
● Install a drip tray needed for collecting sawdust.
● Equip the box with a lid through which the process of placing products will occur.
● Install a damper.
Smokehouse on a Grill
When you suddenly crave smoked goods during a barbecue outing, and you don’t have a special device at hand or don’t plan to get one anytime soon, you can construct a smokehouse from a grill. Building such a clever and simple structure will take an hour or less, and you’ll have delicious and aromatic food on the table in no time.
To make a smokehouse on a grill, follow this step-by-step guide:
● Find a piece of metal pipe or a small metal barrel.
● Place your find on the grill.
● Equip the pipe with a grate.
● Fill it with sawdust.
● Seal the pipe tightly.
● Ignite the fire.
Simple Smokehouse Made from a Barrel
You can create a very straightforward smokehouse from a metal barrel and an electric heater. Follow these instructions:
● Make a hole in the bottom of the barrel.
● Install the electric heater on the bottom, pulling the cord through the hole.
● Place a container with sawdust on the heater and cover it with a cap.
● Hang the products on rods or place them on a grate.
● Cover the barrel with a lid.
Smokehouse in the Attic
Another interesting option for a smokehouse is one built in the attic. It connects to the chimney of your home’s fireplace or stove. This way, you can not only heat your home but also prepare delicious smoked foods. The photo below shows the scheme of such a smokehouse.
Advantages of Having Your Own Smokehouse
Constructing a smokehouse yourself is a feasible task for any individual who can handle basic tools, wants to own such a device, and enjoys smoked foods. Building a smokehouse yourself is worth it for several reasons:
● Cost: Specialized stores offer a wide range of smokehouses, from simple devices to those with additional features and capabilities. However, the cost of such devices is typically high and not affordable for everyone. Building a smokehouse yourself requires minimal financial investment, as you can use readily available materials and resources.
● Time: Building a smokehouse requires very little time. Depending on the type of construction, you can complete it in a day or even an hour.
● Convenience: Simple smokehouses are functional and easy to use and maintain. They allow you to prepare tasty and aromatic meats, fish, cheese, and other food products with minimal effort.
● Lifespan: Devices constructed according to instructions and using recommended materials can serve their owner for several years.
● Easy Installation: The construction of a smokehouse is straightforward and adaptable to available materials and resources.
During the construction of a smokehouse, it is essential to follow safety rules, just as in any other construction work. Make sure to wear work gloves, ensure the tools are in good condition, and verify the reliability of the materials used. It is also important to take elementary safety measures when operating the device.
We also recommend reading our article on How to Make a Smokehouse Yourself – 100 Best Photo Ideas.