Have Any Of You Built a Smokehouse or Smoked Meat to Preserve it?

Megan Venturella
Megan Venturella Posts: 678 ✭✭✭✭
edited October 2020 in Building Projects

I feel like the answer is obviously no, but if anyone has done it, they’ll be here on TGN! My husband bought me a book, “The Lost Ways”, and it gives directions on how to build a simple smoke house. I love the idea of it, but how does it actually preserve meat? Does it just preserve the meat while it’s in there? What happens when you’re done smoking it? What did people do with smoked foods before refrigeration?


  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,502 admin

    We don't have a smoke house at the moment but have had one in the past. Currently we have a Big Chief Smoker and don't do nearly as much smoking as we used to. Now it is mostly fish. Smoked fish will keep for quite a while but we like it canned after smoking. I liked our smoke house cause we could put so much more meat in there. We always brined our meat before putting it in the smoker so it is like a flavourful jerky. Usually it was moose or venison and depending on the cut it was almost like bacon. Keeps quite well in a cool dark place. We did hams and bacons one year. We used a very old recipe with lots of salt and then smoked them. They would have kept pretty well without refrigeration but had to be soaked before cooking to get rid of the excess salt. More modern recipes for hams and bacons need to be stored in a freezer.

    A good book explaining the older methods of preserving meat before refrigeration is "Butchering, Processing and Preservation of Meat" by Frank Ashbrook. Another good one is "A Guide to Canning, Freezing, Curing & Smoking, Meat, Fish & Game" by Wilbur Eastman.

    This might be something to suggest as a course for the Academy.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,356 admin

    Well, we used an old, gutted, burnt out freezer with a few alterations. It was done much the same way in the past, but people had another form of smokehouse, since a freezer body was not an option.

    Our sausage recipe is generations old. We do freeze our meat afterward, however, but in the old days, some people here would put smoked things like sausage into their granaries for further preservation through the winter. But too...it does get cold here.

    @torey I think we have that first book.

    This is a good suggestion for a course!

  • silvertipgrizz
    silvertipgrizz Posts: 1,990 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I smoked spare ribs on the grill...and boy were they good...smoked enough I suppose to preserve if they lasted long enough. Is there a time required for preserving?

  • Jannajo
    Jannajo Posts: 173 ✭✭✭

    i am not one for this! But, my grandson and brother have the smokers and smoke away, happily, not known to preserve anything so far-but, they do love it! Being vegan, I do not partake!

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,353 admin
    edited August 2020

    Yes, certainly! Smoking and salt curing meat and fish is a passion of mine. Here is my family's old smoke house, now in a museum called Hall in White Oak, NC. It is called the Brisson Smoke House. My great grandfather was a Guyton, and his mother was a Brisson (both French families). He raised hogs and cattle. He made the most amazing bacon, sausage and ham! Salt and smoke preserve the meat through dehydration and creating an inhospitable environment for bacteria. You cure and smoke your meat in the winter and if you do it correctly, it will be preserved and will need no refrigeration. A mix of fat and black pepper smeared over hams keeps bugs out. It is the same principle for beef jerky - a country ham is like a big beef jerky, only more tender.

  • silvertipgrizz
    silvertipgrizz Posts: 1,990 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This picture reminds me of the days I worked for a tree farm. One of my jobs was to classify each tree and I loved it when I had to go to the pine grove. More than any other tree just being in the presence of pine trees was like an immediate relaxing cool stream in a warm forest and a sense of deep relaxing experience taking all stress away, until the boss yelled at me for seemingly enjoying myself.🤣

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,353 admin

    Similar.... but that is the eastern swamps of NC, right on the Cape Fear River....nearly 100 degrees and 100% humidity!

  • silvertipgrizz
    silvertipgrizz Posts: 1,990 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It's such a pretty and peaceful picture. I'm going to ignore the fact that it's hot and humid lol...

  • Megan Venturella
    Megan Venturella Posts: 678 ✭✭✭✭

    @torey Great information, thank you!! I will look into those books.

    @judsoncarroll4 I’m jealous. My ancestors must have been slacking big time instead of doing things like building historic smoke houses. I’ll have to file a complaint with them some day!