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Cold Smoking in Texas
Posted: Sat Sep 05, 2015 00:49
Sadly, if I'm going to cold smoke, I need to build something to cool and maintain cold smoking conditions. To anyone's knowledge, has someone built a cold smoker to use in hot areas? I haven't been able to locate anything yet?
I need to design something that could cold smoke in ambient temperatures of up to 95' F. Seems like all the sources I'm finding require heat supplement in addition to the smoke source.
Posted: Sat Sep 05, 2015 16:03
Posted: Sun Sep 06, 2015 16:56
I'm dealing with the same conditions as you and what I found works well is to keep it simple and just build a fire box outside the smokehouse and route the smoke out of the firebox and under the ground then up into the smokehouse.
I built my firebox out of some plate I had laying around. Simple build. Just like building a wood burning stove. I just build a fire in the box and once its going I just shut the door.
Metal is a heat sink so it absorbs all the heat so the smoke coming out the vent in the house has no heat in it at all and looks like this.
You mentioned a secondary heat source. Yes, I do use that because the firebox provides no heat to the smokehouse whatsoever. To heat the smoke house for other things I use a gas burner I rigged. with some pipe. It works really well and keeps a consistent heat in the house with very little gas.
Problems I ran into with this setup is the burner would go out because there was so much smoke in the house. To remedy this I just added some pipe to the burner and ran this outside the smokehouse where the flame can draw fresh air. Another problem I had was how to shut the smoke off when I wanted to. With one filling the firebox will generate enough cold smoke to smoke for over 24 hours and this isn't always wanted. To fix this I simply added a capped vent pipe on top of the elbow of the chimney. I can just unscrew this and it will draft out this pipe rather than going in the smokehouse.
One other small problem that occurs occasionally is under certain ambient temps the smoke pipe will not draft. This occurs when the temp is cooler in the house than the ambient temp and it stalls. To remedy this I just fire up the heat unit for a couple minutes and once it starts drafting I shut it off. I found a fan and have plans on installing the fan near one of the vents in the attic and this will fix everything but I haven't bothered to do that yet since its not much of a problem.
Hope this helps and maybe it will give you some ideas.
Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 01:44
Butterbean, Thank you. This looks very practical and something that could be built easily enough. I'm assuming that the smokehouse is a wooden structure. What temperature does the smokehouse reach during the summer just sitting in the sun? Is there any insulation in the smokehouse? My metal smoker, and it is a very large smoker and painted black, reaches 130 to 135' F in the sun. For me to maintain it cooler, I place a water sprinkler on it.
Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 04:02
The smokehouse is wooden and heavily insulated. I have one inch batten boards followed by foil covered OSB board then fiberglass insulation then paneling on the interior and any cracks are filled with foam. I also poured concrete on the floor to serve as a heat sink. Temps here will reach around 100F on the hottest days but I've never seen the house get over 90F. Lately I've actually been taking advantage of these temps to do some fast fermentation and am getting the pH below 5.0 in less than a day.
It was easy to build and its really very simple and easy and cheap to operate.
Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 04:52
Thanks again, the insulation makes sense. I appreciate your help
Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 20:26
Good luck with your project. Mine's not perfect but to be honest I don't know what I'd change if I did it over. Possibly building it taller is the only thing I can think of or possibly pitching the roof steeper to make it taller to aid in the draw of the smoke.
Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 00:04
I've seen pictures on the web of someone with a window unit in a smoke house. I don't know if that would work or not. If you had a large fridge or cool bot type set up, you could smoke most the year at night temps and move it to the fridge with humidity control in the day, not year round though. I cold smoke in the garden shed with a pot of chips and electric element, but the only cold smoking I do is in deer season making land jager. Seems like the ac would suck the smoke out, but maybe a coolbot system with an element and pot of chips would work though. www.storeitcold.com
Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 02:17
I was actually wondering if a window unit or one of those portable a/c units would work, but wasn't sure if the smoke and residues would clog the coils. Would love to hear from anyone who may have tried this, successful or not.
Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 17:11
How cool are you wanting to smoke?
Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 23:52
typical cold smoke for meats at about 65 to 68 For fish I like to go colder like somewhere around 45 or so. I know the fish will need to be in a small fridge, but for sausage and whole muscle, I would like a bigger smokehouse, so an insulated smoker that could maintain anywhere from 65 or so would be great. I have a smoker that can maintain the 130 for smoking sausage, just want to do the dry cure and fermented.
Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 00:04
I know your summers are far outside this range but during the fall and winter months what is your ambient temps?
I used to try and beat nature, now I just work along with the seasons and life is so much simpler. However, when I tried to force things one thing I found that worked good is a food retarder. You can buy used ones cheap. I think I paid $250 for mine. Their cooling system relies more on cooling the walls of the chambers rather than having a lot of airflow like a refrigerator so you could easily run some smoke into one of these and this would work well I would think. They like electricity though.
Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 02:26
I have spent Christmas in 90'F and shorts and have had a freeze in March that can warm up to 80 during the day.
My planning is to ensure that what I offer to customers for special events are available year round. For example I make Spanish Paella for up to 150 people. I need Spanish chorizo and need to be able to produce this year around. This applies to a lot of potential products.
I am finding that the special products which are not generally available are well received by people.
Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 18:59
Hi CR, I'm not sure whether you already looked at this thread, but our member Snagman built a refrigerated cold smoker. Looks like dandy and a nice project for a handyman (something I am not
) Discussion and pictures are here: http://wedlinydomowe.pl/en/viewtopic.ph ... ght=smoker
And as to your question about installing a window type air conditioner, I really think that it would drastically disturb the smoke with all that air movement.
Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 19:56
A food retarder or bread prover makes a great smoker. First of all they are insulated all around and stainless inside and out. Add a fridge compressor and piping and you certainly will be able to control the temperature 100%.
Look at bakery supply stores, these units are usually too expensive to repair and are sold for scrap stainless prices only.
I have a single door unit converted to a smoker but I could have bought a double door version also.
My 2 cents worth.