Building a Cold Smoker

Building a Cold Smoker

Postby integra » Fri Mar 15, 2013 4:09 pm

I have done lots of searches (this site and many others), so i dont think this has been covered specifically.

i have looked at buying one from a store (about 80 bucks) but my concern is when the summer comes and its 30 degrees + outside, how will i keep the temperature down?? (ill be using the AMAZEN CSG inside). i can only hope that using camping coolers (ice packs) inside will bring the temp down enough.

the other option i have been investigating was to modify a cooler like HOGGY did. with the extensive insulation the cooler has, i think it might be the best way to keep the cool / heat in depending on time of year. (i was going to PM him, but i noticed he hasnt been on in over a year, 2011 was his last post).

the other option is to build one from wood ( i have lots laying around, MDF, plywood and some melamine) but again, insulation seems like it might be a problem.

i do not plan on ever hot smoking, so a dual purpose isnt for me. and i want to keep costs down, the CSG has already run me 55 bucks, and would like to keep the whole project under 100.

any advice is appreciated. My summer temp is around 30 +/- 2-3, winter time temp can be as low as -40 but normally in the -20's. (northern alberta, Canada)
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Re: Building a Cold Smoker

Postby wheels » Fri Mar 15, 2013 4:38 pm

Does the temperature drop at night in the summer? If so, you could smoke at night and put the item in the fridge during the day.

It doesn't need to be much cooler than 30°C. For example, temperatures just under 26°C are recommended for salmon by Keith Erlandson in his book 'Home Smoking and Curing'.

If this is the case then virtually any clean, non-toxic, container could be used - even a cardboard box! If fact, ProQ sell a 'posh' version of exactly that. It can be seen here:

http://www.forfoodsmokers.co.uk/acatalo ... ainer.html

I'm not suggesting that you buy one (although they work fine and are more durable than they look) I've just mentioned it to give you an idea of what you can use. I've also used a couple of old plastic beer fermenters in the past, and I recall Saucisson using a wire veg/pan rack and a plastic bin-liner! For something more durable, old fridges can make great cold-smokers.

HTH

Phil
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Re: Building a Cold Smoker

Postby vagreys » Fri Mar 15, 2013 4:44 pm

Your normal max summer temps are a little above the upper range of cold smoking temps, but not by much. You would definitely want to avoid adding any heat to your smoking chamber. Some use ice to cool the smoking chamber, use a remote smoke generator, and chill the smoke on the way to the smoking chamber. You could do a combination of these.

I've decided to go ahead and build out my cold smoker. I'll be making mine from 3/4" hardwood plywood, insulated, and the plywood uses soy-based adhesives. It will stay in the garage when not in use. Trying to decide, now, about size and heat source. The smoke generator will be a maze-type capable of dust or pellets.
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Re: Building a Cold Smoker

Postby onewheeler » Fri Mar 15, 2013 5:11 pm

Would it be possible to use it inside an airconditioned kitchen under a cooker hood? I don't know the CSG that you're using, but the ProQ CSG generates barely more smoke than a cigarette (and smells much better!) (Might be better to try a "dry run" first in case it generates family friction!!)

A cardboard box is fine for smoking, so long as you stand the CSG on a tile. I've used the same box (one the microwave came packed in) for over fifty runs.

Martin/
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Re: Building a Cold Smoker

Postby integra » Fri Mar 15, 2013 8:34 pm

thanks for the replies, all good ideas.

The CSG i am using is pretty much identical to the ProQ (just cheaper for me up in Canada to go with the AMAZEN, it can do saw dust or pellets, making it a little more versatile since sawdust is harder for me to acquire than pellets.)

i wanted to avoid doing the "remote smoking chamber" because it will make the unit a litgtle more cumbersome to move as i will not be "installing" it permanently in one spot.

as for the night time temps, it does drop down a litte (we sleep with the windows open in the summer), so i could just do my smoking early evening til late morning. not a big deal.

i checked out some coolers today, it seems like the right way to go. i dont plan on smoking anymore than one item at a time (probably just salmon, might try bacon) so i dont think i need multiple shelves etc.

i wreckin' if i install inlets at the bottom, and outlets at the top which had an adjustable opening, i could get the right airflow, with the potential of perhaps installing a small fan to bring more air in if the temperature gets too high.

the reason i am leaning away from building one from wood, is the insulation factor, (lack there of) and mobility.

all suggestions are welcome.
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Re: Building a Cold Smoker

Postby Wunderdave » Tue Mar 19, 2013 7:33 pm

Idea 1

If mobility is your concern then I suggest that you build an independent CSG unit that you can move and put a flow of smoke into any container.

You could build, e.g., a small wooden box, or adapt a food grade metal tin. Add inlet and outlet and a fan or air pump.

This would be very portable, and you can use it with any grill. Additionally, the smoke will cool in the outlet ducting some.

Idea 2

If you can get a Weber smoky mountain cooker for a reasonable price, using a maze-style CSG will work fine overnight and temps will probably not exceed 30C. You can also put ice in the water pan as necessary.
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Re: Building a Cold Smoker

Postby vagreys » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:01 pm

Given what you've said about your limited capacity requirements, if it were me, I'd probably go with Wunderdave's second suggestion. I'd look for a used bullet-type water smoker on FreeCycle or Craig's List, and modify it for cold smoking, adding a bar or two at the top for hanging a thing, and using ice in the water pan to chill things. Except for your hottest days of the year, you'd be able to cold smoke year-round, it's very portable, and for your purposes could last a lifetime.
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Re: Building a Cold Smoker

Postby integra » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:05 pm

through all the searching, i did not come accross the smokey mountain. after a quick google, it looks like the right thing for me, i can put the AMAZAN / ProQ in the bottom, fish on top, and if needed some ice packs in the middle. only concern is it might not be warm enough in the dead of winter (it can get as low as -40C in the winter) just means i might not be able to smoke for a couple months.

thanks for the help, i just need to find one for a good price.
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Re: Building a Cold Smoker

Postby vagreys » Wed Mar 20, 2013 6:08 am

I doubt you'd find a cheap, small, portable smoker capable of maintaining cold smoking temps in -40°C weather. People with permanent smokehouses simply don't cold smoke when it is too hot or too cold to compensate for.

Looking at your daily temps over the past year, it looks like you hit a hi of 30 or more, once, and only crossed 25 on 7 days between June and September; otherwise, your daily hi's were in the range of 13-23, which, for most of the summer, would be ok for cold smoking. Over the past 30 years, your average high in July has been 13-15. Historically, people have smoked meat in the fall to have meat in the depths of winter. Good luck with your quest!
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Re: Building a Cold Smoker

Postby integra » Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:46 am

thanks for the additional info, the smoker doesn't have to be portable, but it would be a plus. i am in the military and move every 3-4 years, so doing something permanent isnt really ideal.

leaning right now towards a cooler modification, just need them to go on sale first
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