Cold smoker build

Cold smoker build

Postby Rothermere » Tue May 28, 2013 12:12 pm

So, my g/f got me a day's cold smoking course with Turan at http://coldsmoking.co.uk/index.htm. Had an excellent day, learned all the basics of cold smoking in a really friendly, interactive environment, and came out the other end with a ProQ, a few bags of dust and a hankering to smoke just about everything in the fridge. I would highly recommend (and have highly recommended) Turan's course to anyone wanting to start out in cold smoking. Quite apart from anything else, the guy is a former firefighter and I learned far more about the science of combustion than I ever thought possible :D

Rather than start out sensibly, with a box I decided to build myself a smoking cabinet from scratch (I figured it would be therapeutic after a pretty stressful quarter at work). I bastardised whatever plans I could find online (including Turan's plans, which come as part of his cold-smoking course), spent too much on crappy quality B&Q timber, and got cracking over a few days off.

Wanted to keep it relatively simple, with a 50x50x150cm frame, divided into 50cm legs and a 100cm body, itself subdivided into the actual smoking chamber and a drawer for the smoker with a diffuser in-between.

I don't have the plans in a share-able format. To be honest, you wouldn't want them as I am pretty hopeless at anything DIY-ish and fully expect this to fall apart if it rains all summer like it did last year :) Nonetheless, some pictures of the build below.

Here is the frame.
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With braces, fixed dowels for hanging bacon and the first of the tongue and groove panelling applied. [nb. I initially did the base and smoke diffuser in mdf, and then read up online about mdf and then swapped them out for ply instead... it was the comment on a carpentry forum 'mdf may be the next asbestos' that clinched it].
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I fixed the dowels at the top permanently, so I could hang things from them. The other two layers of dowels were removable, so I could either place racks on them or move them to permit space for hanging sausage/bacon etc. Pretty primative set up just using panel pins. Seems to work fine.
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Dowels in, tongue and groove all attached, felt roof on (which needs to come off again, because I didn't give it a proper angle for rain to drain, nor does it sufficiently overhang the front since the door has been attached, but a job for another day), basically just ready for the doors to be made and attached.
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With the door attached (and an external only coat of preservative). Used a z-brace on the inside of the door and screwed the hinges to the brace. I may replace the screws I've used to attached the tongue and groove to the brace with bolts/rivets that sit flush as the screws are not holding the soft wood sufficiently 'braced' and I worry that with moisture the panelling will buckle a bit.
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I used sash window hasps to latch the door closed. For two reasons: firstly the screw allows you to adjust the tightness of the door seal. I don't have a dedicated vent at the moment, so was hoping that my poor handiwork and subsequent wide tolerances would do the job. Secondly, my mate owns a sash window company and gave them to me for free.
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The chamber for the ProQ has a separate horizontal door/flap so I don't have to disturb the smoking chamber when checking to see if the smoker is still smoldering. If I get into this, and upgrade my cold smoke generator to a smoke daddy, I am hoping that I will be able to seal this chamber and drill the SD into the side at this level. Since the picture was taken I have attached sash window hasps to either side of the flap. It helps control ventilation intake a bit (but not enough).
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Did my first smoke this weekend. A side of salmon, some edam, emmental, hard boiled eggs and a bowl of salt. Went relatively well, although I have a problem with either my ventilation or the dust I tried to use in the first instance. Had to relight very, very frequently using some sweet chestnut and perhaps it wasn't dried out enough. When I used the (oak, I think) dust included with the ProQ, however, it worked a treat. I got about 5 hours smoke without filling the whole ProQ. The salmon (the first I have ever smoked) was awesome. More lightly smoked than our supermarket regular and a meatier texture. The cheese and eggs were also awesome.

I am very much looking forward to trying bacon, chicken breasts and duck breasts next.

Sorry for lack of technical detail, but hope this is useful (if only as moral support) for anyone as useless at DIY as me.

James
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Re: Cold smoker build

Postby Wunderdave » Wed May 29, 2013 10:02 pm

James, congrats. This is a really nice build, with great pictures. Doesn't look like it will fall apart, to me. Enjoy and post some results!
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Re: Cold smoker build

Postby wheels » Wed May 29, 2013 11:04 pm

for anyone as useless at DIY as me.


I think not! That looks a superb job to me.

Phil
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Re: Cold smoker build

Postby crustyo44 » Thu May 30, 2013 8:43 am

Hi James,
You got the BUG, definitely. The smoker build looks great for a novice. I can assure you that your next smoker will be a hot smoker so you can smoke just about anything and not to forget a curing chamber as well. So start saving your pennies!.
Cheers Mate.
Jan.
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Re: Cold smoker build

Postby Rothermere » Thu May 30, 2013 9:35 am

Cheers chaps. I have a curing chamber made out of a wine fridge with built in humidifier, which has worked well on duck prosciutto, lonzino and is about to take a bresaola this weekend.

I also just assembled a cheap offset smoker BBQ this weekend and have a mate who is a metal sculptor who has said he'll help me with the mods required to make it a quality piece of kit.

On Tuesday I discovered that smoked salt on scotch egg is probably one of nature's greatest gifts :) Making smoked salmon pate tonight!

I really, truly am atrocious at anything constructive. This is why I wanted to post up the build as it's nowhere near as daunting as I initially imagined. An architect friend has suggested he might want to recreate the build and I've asked that, if he does, he might want to redo the plans in a coherent format so that they can be shared online. I have been surprised at how little information there is online about cold smoking (apart for some useful information on Turan's website and Phil's website) compared to, say, salumi or hot smoking. I only managed to learn how to prep smoked chicken breasts by asking at Richardsons smokehouse in Orford, Suffolk.
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Re: Cold smoker build

Postby dckeeny » Sun Jun 02, 2013 1:42 pm

Cold smoker looks good and pictures are worth 1000 words. However, I am into curing and would love to see how the wine fridge was converted. I live outside of Philadelphia and have made soppresata with an older Italian friend of mine. He does it calibrase style with round pork, mortons salt & a spicy red pepper sauce. We stuff the beel middles with the mix & pierce lots of holes in the suffed salami before hanging. It hangs in his garge from February till April. I've already consumed my 15lbs and don't want to wait till next February to start another batch.
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Re: Cold smoker build

Postby crustyo44 » Sun Jun 02, 2013 8:04 pm

dekeeny,
You are a bit like me, self control with good charcuterie goes out of the window.
Luckily I have no weight problem, makes one wonder though!!!!!!
Tell me a some more about your Italian friend's Calabrese style Soppresata and his pepper sauce, if you don't mind.
Does he uses Cure #2.
Cheers,
Jan.
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Re: Cold smoker build

Postby Rothermere » Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:35 am

I didn't really have to convert the fridge. I just added a combined hygrometer and thermometer. Took out some shelves and added some S hooks. That is all. The wine fridge model is the following:

http://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/household-appliances/refrigeration/wine-cooling-mini-refrigeration/sandstrom-swc32b11-wine-cooler-black-09982598-pdt.html

It has a built in humidifier which is basically a tray of water slotted in under a fan in the ceiling of the fridge. It seems to do the trick and if it is excessively humid when the meat is first put in, then I just take the tray out. Pretty consistent in temperature and humidity - but did suffer from high humidity when we had the freezing cold spring weather, as the fridge didn't cycle on enough. Seems to be fixed now it's warmed up and have a thermal lamp now to deal with that when winter arrives again.

Have done lonzino (tenderloin), duck prosciutto and pancetta so far and they've worked out pretty well. Generally avoided mold problems or case hardening. Have a bresaola curing and waiting to go in to dry in the next week or so, and will be interested to see how a big slab of cased meat does over the summer months.
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Re: Cold smoker build

Postby Ruralidle » Thu Jun 06, 2013 11:33 am

That's a fantastic job James. You will find that the ProQ CSG can be a bit sensitive to the type of dust used so I try to stick with those supplied by Macs who make the ProQ. Ian (who owns the company) has been very helpful when I have had a problem. I use a combination of alder and beech smoke for salmon (a partially filled CSG of each wood type) or trout and that is well received. Enjoy the fruits of your labours.
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Re: Cold smoker build

Postby Tvb » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:50 pm

Looks very nice! Do you think you could use it for hot smoking as well, if you modify it slightly?
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Re: Cold smoker build

Postby Rothermere » Fri Jun 14, 2013 2:40 pm

I imagine I could do, but will probably focus on modding and mastering my new 'cheap offset smoker.' Made my first pulled pork last week on it. Despite requiring enough charcoal to melt a significant proportion of the ice caps (due to the sheer leakiness) it turned out absolutely fantastic... why have I been eating burgers all these years??
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