Operation Cold Smoke – A Meathenge Labs Project

Cold Smoking. Most of you already know, but for those of you who don’t? It’s simple, you smoke your food at a temperature of about 90 to 120 degrees F. It’s how smoked sausage, bacon & hams and chile peppers are done. Oh, don’t forget CHEESE, MmMmm smoked cheese.
Years ago I went through my own trials of cold smoking my own chile peppers and onions. They were the best ever, but it just about killed me. Maintaining temperature & smoke for 24 hours isn’t exactly a love trist. I knew then I needed a smoke generator, a device that would combust wood bits for up to 12 hours without reloading. Heat is easy, an electric hotplate does the trick in a pinch. Combine the two and you have a cold smoker that will run unattended for maybe 12 hours, this is what I knew I wanted and needed.
Well, yesterday Salvage pointed me towards a device that would generate hardwood smoke for 12 hours, cost about 1/3 to 1/4 less than anything else I’ve seen, and it is made by hand by some person I’ll introduce to you later (once I find out who exactly he/she is).
What you see here is my prototype. It’s a 55 gallon steel drum with an old weber kettle lid on top. This will give me a nice domed lid (promotes good heat/smoke distribution) with an adjustable exhaust that looks good and works great. Multiple horizontal racks will be installed near the upper portion of the drum so we can put slabs of bacon & acres of chile peppers for the most awesome smoking adventure of all time! Each rack will have some type of thermometer so I can see what each level is up to.
Ultimately, I’d like to get an industrial heating element that will allow me to put the temperature adjust on the outside of the drum. And as soon as the ordered smoke generator arrives, I’ll let you know.
ps – Please don’t leave any comments about Alton’s cold smoker in a cardboard box. That is so what I don’t want.

20 thoughts on “Operation Cold Smoke – A Meathenge Labs Project

  1. Master Biggles,
    Looks like you are well on your way to a versital multifunction machine. The Domed lid has a great advantage, condensation will run down to the sides and not drip in the center on the food.
    I’m sure you will have it pimped out soon…..

  2. Hey mang,
    Yeah, I can hardly wait. It looks as though paypal put the payment though, so hope it will be shipping soon.
    Then it’ll be time to get it together. Am considering putting some little squat legs on it, put the air intake on the bottom and fashion some sliders so it can be adjusted. We got tons of wind here, need to adjust.

  3. Salmon – you want to be cold smoking the salmon with that – or the trout – those fishies are what cold smoking is FOR – those other things you are planning are just to use up the space around the fish….

  4. Owen,
    The doctor has no idea of the wonderous places he is about to go. Ill make sure he can fix you some damn good mudbugs before this is over……..
    I sent him a picture of a FISH.

  5. I’ve got a cold smoker from Northern Industrial that I’ve used several times. Never tried to go 24 hours though.

  6. Hi ntsc,
    It depends on what you’re cold smoking. Dittmer’s smokes their bacon for 2 days, the hams are probably about the same. Shrimp is probably only an hour at about 100 to 120.
    I wanna to bacon.
    Oh, just wait until you guys see what I’ve been up to over the weekend. It’s turned 120 degrees and headed off in another direction, I’ll try to get the info up in a day or so.

  7. Reverendoctor,
    Very modest as always.
    Uh, 120 degrees is the ending orientation. I detected a dervishlike whirling meself…….

  8. Hey Salv,
    Yeah, but if the smoker don’t get to 120, how is the product going reach such temps? The new smoker never got above 67 today.
    And don’t worry about yer dervish, you’ll get yours …

  9. Sirs,
    Respectfully, uh, you have to close the stack damper………
    Just sayin’

  10. Hey Salvage,
    If I sound a little scatterbrained, it’s cause it’s 6:40 am and precoffee.
    Years ago, I think about 11, I found bbqsearch dot com. Tucked away in there was a “bible” of sorts that was a group effort by the pitmasters there. For the hot smoker, they wanted you to regulate temperature by the intake, affecting the fire directly. Never wanted to close down the exhaust. The smoke should always have a semi-clear path out.
    Oddly enough, my newish hot smoker and now cold smoker don’t have any adjustments available to the exhaust. That isn’t to say I can’t put a bread plate over the cold smoker’s chute. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about everything over the years, there are no absolutes and it pays to break the “rules”.
    Turns out the drill bit I grabbed from work was too dull to do anything worth talking about. Will hit the hardware store this afternoon.

  11. Master Biggles,
    I aquiesce to your expeireince with internal combustion cookers, you are the master, you are the master, you are the master.
    But frankly you are now flying in the realm of the steam engines external boiler, and of the smoke generator now. Top draft must, I repeat must, remain closed at the top of the caninet to hold in the smoke giddied heat as it rises in relation to ambient temps. Let the moisture out, not the heat.
    I remember seeing Gaping openings at the bottom too, once tharted from sneaking out the top, the heat will build and begin to push out the bottom, eventually. Besides, the Califonia wind tunnel will swoosh any heat out any crack in the skin.
    Put that heat (and smoke) in lockdown man.
    OH, and quit opening the door just to look at the cool smokestream shooting in………..