PDA

View Full Version : Cold Smoker Question



Chip-skiff
08-26-2017, 05:04 PM
Just cobbled together a cold smoker and tested it. Brief description:

I bought a $10 electric hotplate and grafted it into an old breadbox I found in the garage.

http://i.imgur.com/X7H93wK.jpg

Cut holes in the ends of the breadbox and riveted pieces of aluminum duct. Bought a 4-inch duct fan (the black thing). Had the stretch duct in the garage and cut and riveted another piece of aluminum duct onto the aluminum hatch of my Weber smoker (I got a higher quality stainless steel door to replace it). Used a can to hold the chips and a lid with holes pierced, so they won't catch fire.

http://i.imgur.com/l8PV5vB.jpg



http://i.imgur.com/6MaCZH9.jpg

Everything works: plenty of smoke, duct fan moves it into the kettle smoker without blasting it through.

http://i.imgur.com/Zzp8OrH.jpg

Onliest problem: I used a mix of moistened chips and chunks in the can, and got about twenty minutes of smoke. Then I had to open it up, lift the lid and stir the chips. Twenty minutes more. After a couple repeats, I had to empty the can and add fresh chips. So, it needs tending every 15-20 minutes. Given a recipe that calls for six hours of smoke, that's a lot of messing about.

Does anyone know how to extend the smoking time for each load of chunks and chips?

Bobcat
08-26-2017, 05:16 PM
Would a larger container for the chips work?

Chip-skiff
08-26-2017, 05:18 PM
Would a larger container for the chips work?

It might. They'd still need stirring, I think.

Chris Smith porter maine
08-26-2017, 05:25 PM
I would seriously wonder what that flex duct was coated with.

Bobcat
08-26-2017, 05:32 PM
I would try it and see if it needs stirring. Another thought is to use larger chunks of wooden: much less surface area

David G
08-26-2017, 05:44 PM
How full are you filling the 'chips' pot? I'd be inclined to fill it all the way up, starting with the finest chips and topping with the largest chunks... and see what happened. But I'm just spitballin'.

cathouse willy
08-26-2017, 07:40 PM
I would try it without the lid on the chips pot, that and not bother with moistening the chips. Until they dry out all you get is steam.How much air does the fan move? it may be blowing out the embers. If you keep the smoke box a couple of feet below the oven the smoke should rise nicely without the fan.
Bill

oznabrag
08-26-2017, 07:50 PM
Listen to cathouse willy, Chip.

He knows stuff.

LeeG
08-26-2017, 08:07 PM
Listen to cathouse willy, Chip.

He knows stuff.

Truth

My $.02 fan isn't needed, just put the smokesource below the box.

Chip-skiff
08-26-2017, 11:56 PM
I would try it without the lid on the chips pot, that and not bother with moistening the chips. Until they dry out all you get is steam.How much air does the fan move? it may be blowing out the embers. If you keep the smoke box a couple of feet below the oven the smoke should rise nicely without the fan.

Done that. There's a few minutes of smoke, then the dry chips catch fire. (I used a mix of chips and chunks.) What the lid does is to keep the oxygen content low so the wood smoulders and smokes without flaming up.

What oven? Do you mean i should place the smoke box a couple of feet below the Weber smoker kettle? The problem is that there's not enough heat to move the smoke and the air inlet is closer with less back pressure, so the smoke goes that way. The duct fan moves 100 cfm max (pretty slow). I got a speed control that takes it down to about half that, at which point there's not enough juice to start the motor.

The cheap hotplate works by turning the burner on and off with a thermostat, which is set with the temp control knob, so the heat is not constant. I might get a small cast iron saucepan or wee dutchoven for better heat retention and distribution.

oznabrag
08-27-2017, 12:07 AM
The chamber where the meat is, is the oven.

You should be able to create a draft that will carry smoke with the hot plate.

Just a little smoke over 8 - 10 hours is a lot.

Experiment without the smoke box until you can maintain your target temperature, then start nudging your chips container closer to the element until they smolder.

The fan is your problem.

If you were curing hundreds of pounds at a time, having such a fan may be useful.

As it is, you seem well set up to achieve that side-draft magic.

The chimney effect is the key.

Chip-skiff
08-27-2017, 12:17 AM
The chimney effect is the key.

I'm actually looking at the thing and I did take physics. Please explain the "chimney effect" in which you place so much faith. Or post photos of your design.

The whole point of a cold smoking setup is to generate smoke without much heat.

oznabrag
08-27-2017, 12:30 AM
I'm actually looking at the thing and I did take physics. Please explain the "chimney effect" in which you place so much faith. Or post photos of your design.

The whole point of a cold smoking setup is to generate smoke without much heat.

With the hot plate generating heat inside your chamber and ductwork, air WILL flow through the duct, if one end is higher than the other.

You know this.

So instead of heating up the air really hot and powering the whole business to death, you should set up your rig such that the breadbox is considerably lower in elevation than the Weber, turn on the hotplate at 'Medium-Low'', and wait for an hour.

Does the Weber need to be hotter? Turn up the hotplate. Does it need to be cooler? Turn the hotplate down.

The critical thing is the temperature, yes?

So nail that part down, then start nudging the chip-box into the heat.

Think 'lazy'.

It'll come to you.

:D

Chip-skiff
08-27-2017, 12:41 AM
With the hot plate generating heat inside your chamber and ductwork, air WILL flow through the duct, if one end is higher than the other.

You know this.

So instead of heating up the air really hot and powering the whole business to death, you should set up your rig such that the breadbox is considerably lower in elevation than the Weber, turn on the hotplate at 'Medium-Low'', and wait for an hour.

Does the Weber need to be hotter? Turn up the hotplate. Does it need to be cooler? Turn the hotplate down.

The critical thing is the temperature, yes?

So nail that part down, then start nudging the chip-box into the heat.

Think 'lazy'.

It'll come to you.

:D

Sorry, but your suggestion is nonsensical and arrogant to boot.

Go back and read the original post. Go slow: word by word until you get it.

It works fine. Plenty of smoke, very little heat. The thermometer on the Weber kettle (100F min) doesn't register at all: that's good.

What I asked is how to extend the time a load of chips will smoke without constant attention. So far, a bigger container and/or more chips are the only suggestions to address that.

birlinn
08-27-2017, 03:48 AM
I would seriously wonder what that flex duct was coated with.
And the paint on the box.

Tom Wilkinson
08-27-2017, 09:03 AM
Sorry, but your suggestion is nonsensical and arrogant to boot.

Go back and read the original post. Go slow: word by word until you get it.

It works fine. Plenty of smoke, very little heat. The thermometer on the Weber kettle (100F min) doesn't register at all: that's good.

What I asked is how to extend the time a load of chips will smoke without constant attention. So far, a bigger container and/or more chips are the only suggestions to address that.



Doesn't the elimination of the fan address that. It makes sense to me. You are burning faster than you need to be by running the fan. If you can keep them smoking hot enough with just convection airflow the smoke should last longer and need fewer chips.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

LeeG
08-27-2017, 10:06 AM
I like the aesthetics of the bread box. At my daughters she built a cold smoker box with flex hose going down to a cheap square lid BBQ that sat a foot below on the ground. It took awhile to figure out how to get smoke w/o too much heat. Given that it was 25 degrees and the box was leaky that wasn't too hard. It was easy to oversmoke some things. It was fun, cheese, fish, pork loin.

oznabrag
08-27-2017, 10:08 AM
Sorry, but your suggestion is nonsensical and arrogant to boot.

Go back and read the original post. Go slow: word by word until you get it.

It works fine. Plenty of smoke, very little heat. The thermometer on the Weber kettle (100F min) doesn't register at all: that's good.

What I asked is how to extend the time a load of chips will smoke without constant attention. So far, a bigger container and/or more chips are the only suggestions to address that.

You're just like a band of newbie boat builders upstairs.

You ask advice from the experts, the experts kindly tell you how it's done, then you turn around and declare the expert doesn't know what he's talking about and he's an arrogant moron, to boot.

It really is comical.

Due to your efforts at disparaging me, I now have two other suggestions for your smoker, but I'm going to let you keep ruining meat rather than insult your so-called 'intelligence' by pointing them out.

Best of luck, aerosol.

LeeG
08-27-2017, 10:08 AM
Sorry, but your suggestion is nonsensical and arrogant to boot.

Go back and read the original post. Go slow: word by word until you get it.

It works fine. Plenty of smoke, very little heat. The thermometer on the Weber kettle (100F min) doesn't register at all: that's good.

What I asked is how to extend the time a load of chips will smoke without constant attention. So far, a bigger container and/or more chips are the only suggestions to address that.

More chips, less heat?

Chip-skiff
08-27-2017, 11:07 AM
More chips, less heat?

That's what I'll try for the next test, along with a better smoke pan. There has to be enough heat to start the wood smoking along with a lid to keep it from flaming up (it's basically a charcoal-burner's oven in miniature). I looked at quite a few designs on the Net, some of which use a sealed smoke generator (a gallon can or the like) sitting on a hotplate, with an aquarium air pump to move the smoke.

The flex duct isn't coated with anything: it's two layers of thin foil laminated over a thin layer of plastic, intended to carry exhaust air from a clothes dryer (which can be hotter than the smoke in this setup). I couldn't see any surface damage or evidence of deterioration. Likewise, the bread box hasn't gotten hot enough to discolor the paint. If the hotplate was on with the duct fan off, it would heat up. But with the fan, the temperature of the smoke is about 10-15F higher than the ambient air temp. The target temperature in the kettle is between 60 and 90F. Most sources suggest cold smoking be done at night or in winter, when air temps are low.

I'll run a few more tests before I actually try it with salmon. Thanks for the suggestions.

Chip-skiff
08-27-2017, 11:11 AM
You're just like a band of newbie boat builders upstairs.

You ask advice from the experts, the experts kindly tell you how it's done, then you turn around and declare the expert doesn't know what he's talking about and he's an arrogant moron, to boot.

It really is comical.

Due to your efforts at disparaging me, I now have two other suggestions for your smoker, but I'm going to let you keep ruining meat rather than insult your so-called 'intelligence' by pointing them out.

Best of luck, aerosol.


Have you ever cold-smoked any meat? None of the posters mention having experience at cold-smoking. It's quite different to hot smoking, which I've been doing successfully for years.

Here's a brief description:

http://www.finecooking.com/article/smoked-salmon-hot-vs-cold

The only contribution you've made is to confirm my impression that you can be tedious and annoying on any subject.

oznabrag
08-27-2017, 11:21 AM
Have you ever cold-smoked any meat?

What do you care? You sure didn't ask before you declared me a moron.





None of the posters mention having experience at cold-smoking. It's quite different to hot smoking, which I've been doing successfully for years.

Well goody for you.



Here's a brief description:

http://www.finecooking.com/article/smoked-salmon-hot-vs-cold



And?



The only contribution you've made is to confirm my impression that you can be tedious and annoying on any subject.

Which is still far superior to YOUR contribution.


I know how to solve your problem.

Too bad you're such a jerk, or I would tell you.

Bobcat
08-27-2017, 11:33 AM
What do you care? You sure didn't ask before you declared me a moron.






Well goody for you.




And?




Which is still far superior to YOUR contribution.


I know how to solve your problem.

Too bad you're such a jerk, or I would tell you.

Some people need to switch to decaf

LeeG
08-27-2017, 11:36 AM
Guys it's Sunday and a subject around which acrimony and grumpiness doesn't make for good cooking vibes.

When my daughter made her setup I caught on after a bit her initial suggestions were right on. Anyway Chip have you tried sawdust of your favorite smoking wood? I used her portable circular saw to cut thin discs of dried apple wood and put the sawdust and chips into a can with holes in the bottom with a few smoldering briquettes around it. Worked very well. I could see the hot plate being a good idea. I think she went to that later.

So what's being smoked?

oznabrag
08-27-2017, 11:44 AM
Some people need to switch to decaf



I tried to help the guy, and he started flinging poo, and I'M the one who needs correction?

Really?

I'm gonna go get another cup of coffee.

Can I get you one, while I'm up?

Canoeyawl
08-27-2017, 11:56 AM
I tried to help the guy, and he started flinging poo, and I'M the one who needs correction?

Really?

I'm gonna go get another cup of coffee.

Can I get you one, while I'm up?

I'd love another cup...

amish rob
08-27-2017, 11:57 AM
On Sunday, I drink Unstoppable Coffee.

A big pat of unsalted butter and loads of cream, please.

Peace,
Robert

Bobcat
08-27-2017, 12:13 PM
Guys it's Sunday and a subject around which acrimony and grumpiness doesn't make for good cooking vibes.

When my daughter made her setup I caught on after a bit her initial suggestions were right on. Anyway Chip have you tried sawdust of your favorite smoking wood? I used her portable circular saw to cut thin discs of dried apple wood and put the sawdust and chips into a can with holes in the bottom with a few smoldering briquettes around it. Worked very well. I could see the hot plate being a good idea. I think she went to that later.
bit
So what's being smoked?

About 40 years ago I had my first smoked turkey leg. The logger that gave it to me smoked it over a hot plate with a pan of alder sawdust on it. No idea if it was hot or cold smoked. He said he used a chainsaw over a tarp to make the sawdust; so it would be coarse compared to sawdust from a table or circular saw.

cathouse willy
08-27-2017, 01:43 PM
"Have you ever cold-smoked any meat? None of the posters mention having experience at cold-smoking. It's quite different to hot smoking, which I've been doing successfully for years. "

I have been cold smoking food for a number of years.My smoker is a Bradley with the cold smoke attachment. The smoke generator has a 150 w heater that makes enough heat to char the chip pucks (they don't catch fire) the smoke box sits about 20" below the food cabinet. I leave the oven vent wide open and it fills with smoke.The 20 in of metal tubing cools the smoke so it doesn't add any heat. I've seen setups like yours work very well with a cast frypan over low heat with no fan involved. Get that oven up above the smoke box with a good vent on top and an air intake on the smoke box below, with the lower heat and the largest pan that fits the chips will smoke longer.Here's a shot of one bradley setup using a cardboard box, a bit of a fire hazard but it works.

http://i1011.photobucket.com/albums/af233/quarlow/Picture011.jpg

Canoeyawl
08-27-2017, 01:57 PM
I had a good friend, probably double my age and long gone now, that was a hunting guide in Colorado in the 1940's. He retired in Astoria, Oregon and for a lark would "track" poachers until he came upon a recently discarded carcass of a deer (poachers only take the hind quarters then skedaddle) He would set up a camp right there, strip the carcass and build an indian style smoker using green Alder wood, the leaves and brush in a sort of small tepee covered with sod and some flat rocks . It took several days of tending that little fire and made the best jerky I have ever had.
Cold smoked in the same manner the "tube" was flat rocks ovr a trench in the dirt covered with dirt all well below the little "tepee" which captured the smoke.
I haven't had any for 40 years, and I can still remember it. The man was a born story teller, a sailor and skilled woodsman, so spending a few days with him was as good as it gets. I always came away with a 2 pound Folgers coffee can full of jerky.

(An anecdote; The man was born in Pennsylvania about 1920. As a lad riding up on a wagon load of potatoes headed to the market, he fell off and was run over by that (heavy) wagon. Left for dead at a nearby farmhouse, when his father returned from market the next day to recover the body he was still alive. He was the toughest and sweetest man I ever knew, in his prime he was a bare knuckles prize fighter.)

Chip-skiff
08-27-2017, 02:12 PM
"Have you ever cold-smoked any meat? None of the posters mention having experience at cold-smoking. It's quite different to hot smoking, which I've been doing successfully for years. "

I have been cold smoking food for a number of years.My smoker is a Bradley with the cold smoke attachment. The smoke generator has a 150 w heater that makes enough heat to char the chip pucks (they don't catch fire) the smoke box sits about 20" below the food cabinet. I leave the oven vent wide open and it fills with smoke.The 20 in of metal tubing cools the smoke so it doesn't add any heat. I've seen setups like yours work very well with a cast frypan over low heat with no fan involved. Get that oven up above the smoke box with a good vent on top and an air intake on the smoke box below, with the lower heat and the largest pan that fits the chips will smoke longer.Here's a shot of one bradley setup using a cardboard box, a bit of a fire hazard but it works.

Thanks for the comment. I think the Bradley is a favourite with people who cold smoke. Since I already have a Weber charcoal smoker and use wood (including alder from our riverfront) rather than pucks or pellets, I decided to go improv/cheap. The Weber has a single top vent, not large, and the intake opening of the smoke box is 4", which makes a natural draft problematical, even with the Kettle well above the smoke box. I did try it, and any breeze causes a backdraft.

In any event, thanks for the details. I'll get a better pan for the wood and test it again.

Canoeyawl: When I was a range rider, on ten-day hitches in the mountains with no way of cooling food once the snowbanks melted, I used to catch brookies and smoke them over a pit. I'd build a fire and then shovel coals into the pit, with some chunks of alder and the trout on a rack at the top. Then I'd cover it with an old dishpan that the horses stomped a couple holes in. I'd shovel dirt around the rim and wait 'til the smoke ceased and the pan was cool to the touch. They looked and tasted wonderful.

cathouse willy
08-27-2017, 03:08 PM
A suggestion for the venting, A bit of foil covered plywood would suffice to make the smoker box intake smaller and the oven vent? just leave the lid slightly ajar. Hope this helps

oznabrag
08-27-2017, 03:13 PM
On Sunday, I drink Unstoppable Coffee.

A big pat of unsalted butter and loads of cream, please.

Peace,
Robert

Butter in coffee?

Is that some sorta hipster thing?

John (ducking and running)

:D

amish rob
08-27-2017, 03:19 PM
Butter in coffee?

Is that some sorta hipster thing?

John (ducking and running)

:D

Well, I did get it from L.A. :) The Lakers.

Really. They were one of the first sports franchises I know of to advocate a high fat diet for their athletes, as an option. Those who took the option, including Kobe, didn't look back.

The Unstoppable Coffe moniker, as far as I know, is theirs. Butter in coffee is pretty old, though. Cold weather cats do it a lot. Because fat has more calories per gram than other macronutrients. And it's what we burn during aerobic work, which is our most efficient setting.

People are amazed that I run marathons and halfs and I hardly EVER eat pasta. Bread sometimes, but no carbs other than veggies and fruit, normally.
Not a really grainy guy. :) I do like chia, but I think it's a seed, not a grain. Oh. Corn. I would die without corn.

Peace,
Rambly Threaddrift

Canoeyawl
08-27-2017, 07:23 PM
Whipped cream is just as good in your coffee as butter!

LeeG
08-27-2017, 09:22 PM
Butter in coffee?

Is that some sorta hipster thing?

John (ducking and running)

:D

My daughter does it. She doesn't have any refined grains in her diet. Takes care of two little kids and lots o animals. Trim girl. I remember a few older cyclists (in their late 30's!) who were on the small side and they found fats worked best for their motor.

Chip-skiff
10-16-2017, 05:53 PM
The grocery had some nice late-season Coho salmon, so I bought a piece and tested the slightly revised cold smoker.

https://i.imgur.com/rwiiRfq.jpg

Cut a hole in the flap door on the Weber (I have another stainless one) and upgraded with an all-aluminum stretch duct. The smokebox is an old breadbox with an electric hotplate grafted to the bottom and a small duct fan to push the smoke. I used alder cut on our lot and cherry chips from the store. The can was about 3/4 filled with chips. Plenty of smoke. I stirred the chips after a half hour, then emptied the charcoal and put in fresh chips on the hour.

https://i.imgur.com/jEPpcEn.jpg

Since it was a test run, and wild salmon's not cheap, I didn't load the Weber smoker up.

https://i.imgur.com/7zEsxsK.jpg

Used a gravlax cure on the salmon, less of it than last time when it came out super-salty. Set the smoker in the shade, with air temp in the 50s, and the dome of the Weber never even got slightly warm, which is good. The end product is deep red with a dry surface, moist underneath. Excellent, complex flavour.

https://i.imgur.com/NrqUd0l.jpg

Here's the byproduct: hardwood charcoal, that can be used in the grill or a battery-powered solid fuel camp stove.

https://i.imgur.com/IujeKtz.jpg

So the design worked out. Hope there's still wild salmon at the grocery.

cathouse willy
10-16-2017, 07:53 PM
The salmon looks excellent. Now that you have the cold smoker worked out there are some things you should try. Smoked nuts,cheese, bacon, pickled eggs,sausages and ham to name a few.

Chip-skiff
10-16-2017, 07:57 PM
The salmon looks excellent. Now that you have the cold smoker worked out there are some things you should try. Smoked nuts, cheese, bacon, pickled eggs, sausages and ham to name a few.

I hot-smoke bacon. Probably try some sausages. I'm asking for a really, truly stuffer for Christmas, as the plastic KitchenAid thingie I've used is maddening.

Since I'm in Wyoming, I should try a cold-smoked haunch of Republican. Have to trim off the excess fat.

Chip-skiff
10-16-2017, 08:11 PM
In answer to the original question (which nearly everyone ignored) the solution was to use dry (not moistened) wood chips and fill the can about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Given enough heat and a mostly-sealed container, the reduction burn that produces the smoke was complete and even. I stirred the chips a few times, but it wasn't really necessary.

Stiletto
10-17-2017, 05:18 PM
Since I'm in Wyoming, I should try a cold-smoked haunch of Republican. Have to trim off the excess fat.

I've heard they still taste of bullsh!t.

Chip-skiff
10-18-2017, 01:28 PM
Wrapped a piece in butcher paper and refigerated it overnight, then sliced it I sharpened the knife, but it's moist and rather delicate and thus hard to slice thin.

https://i.imgur.com/cngfA6L.jpg

Didn't mess with the saturation at all: it's really that colour. Brilliant.

https://i.imgur.com/aU218kf.jpg

Served on toasted onion bagels with a healthy schmear and fresh-ground black pepper. Better, more complex and smoky than the usual packaged product.