Using a smokehouse or smoker can help you preserve and flavour your food. Cold-smoking at a temperature of around 26.7 degrees C for a week or more can treat cheeses and cure meats for long-term storage, while hot-smoking at around 107 degrees C for a few hours can transform tough cuts of meat into tender, succulent meals.
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Before you choose your smokehouse or smoker concept, set a budget to help determine how much smoking capacity you can afford to buy or build. Also, figure the maximum amount of food you'll smoke in one session, and plan for a little extra cooking space on top of that highest portion. Will you smoke large items such as turkeys or smaller foods such as sausages? Select the appropriate site for your smoking operation. You'll need enough space on your property to locate the smokehouse away from your home so that the smoke will dissipate before it reaches the house.
Check local building codes before you choose a smokehouse or smoker design. Some municipalities publish strict ordinances prohibiting smokehouses within a specific distance of your property line. Local regulations might ban some materials in smokehouse construction, or mandate others, such as flame-retardant building products. If you want to install power or running water in your smokehouse, your city may require you to submit your building plans for approval. Consider that a smokehouse could also draw complaints from neighbours for the haze it generates.
Smokehouse plans range from the simple to the complex, and call for materials ranging from wood to masonry blocks to discarded refrigerators. The most common, simple design calls for a small, wooden house measuring around 3 feet in width by 2 feet in depth, plus 4 feet in height. Smokehouse experts advise skipping the expense of concrete and leaving the smokehouse's dirt floor bare. In this type of construction, you'll place the smokehouse's firebox outside the house, and it will funnel heat into the building via a 3-inch vent about a foot off the ground. The smokehouse will also need racks, hooks and shelves inside.
If zoning codes or budgetary concerns make it difficult to build a full smokehouse, experts offer a broad range of smaller smoker options, including some units made from old water tanks and others crafted from 1-inch thin-wall square tubing covered in 10-gauge sheet steel. Avoid using barrels or tanks that used to hold fuels or chemicals, because it's difficult to remove all toxic residues from such containers.
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