How to build a homemade traditional smoke house

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From colonial times through the very early 20th century, smokehouses were a primary component of food preservation. There was very little refrigeration in those days. Meat was preserved by first salting it in brine and then hanging it in cold smoke. The brine would remove moisture from the meat and prevent bacterial growth and the smoke would impart flavour and discourage insects. Some families had their own smokehouse while others households would share one. You can build a smokehouse similar to one that was used years ago.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Electric jigsaw
  • 3/4-inch plywood sheets, 2
  • 2-inch x 12-foot pine boards, 4
  • Door hinges with mounting hardware, 2
  • Door handle with hardware
  • 2 1/2 inch common nails, one box
  • Hammer
  • Closet rail mounting hardware
  • Closet rails
  • Meat hooks
  • Fire grate
  • Hardwood

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  1. 1

    Use the jigsaw to cut the plywood sheets into four, 3 foot x 6 foot pieces. Cut the four 12-foot pine boards into eight 6-foot pieces.

  2. 2

    Use the hammer and nails to attach the cut pine boards to the 6-foot sides of each piece of plywood. Attach three of the pine edged plywood pieces together using common nails and hammer. Raise this U-shaped structure so it sits upright.

  3. 3

    Attach the door hinges to the remaining plywood piece using the mounting hardware. The hinges should be attached approximately two feet from both ends of the plywood. Mount a hinged door with the mounting hardware so it covers the open area of the U-shaped plywood structure. Attach the door handle to the outside of the hinged door with the mounting hardware.

  4. 4

    Use the remaining plywood left from the original plywood sheets to cover the top of the plywood structure. Attach the plywood to the pine frame with hammer and nails.

  5. 5

    Mount the closet rail hardware to each side of the plywood structure. Use enough hardware for three to four closet rails. The space between the rails depends on the size of meat you want to smoke.

  6. 6

    Cut the closet rails to the length required to extend between the closet rail hardware mounted on each side of the plywood structure. Mount the closet rails on the closet rail hardware using the hardware provided.

  7. 7

    Choose the type of meat to be smoked. Attach the meat to the meat hooks and hang on the closet rails. Hang the barbecue thermometer on a closet rail so it is visible when the door is open.

  8. 8

    Place the fire grate on the bottom of the plywood structure. Place the hardwood on the fire grate and start the hardwood burning. Maintain the fire at the desired level to produce smoke for the home smokehouse.

Tips and warnings

  • Most home smokehouse recipes suggest a temperature of 60 degrees C or less for smoking meat.
  • The smokehouse fire inside of the wood structure is capable of igniting the structure. Never leave the structure unattended during the smoking process.

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