Buying commercially cured meats can be a very expensive proposition these days. One alternative is building your own smoke house to dry and cure your own meats. An added advantage is that you can control the amount of salt and preservatives used to cure your meat. Building a brick smoke house is a challenging endeavor, but it can be accomplished by the average home owner in two days or less.
Things You'll Need
- Wooden stakes
- Sheet metal
- Wood screws
- Release oil
- Concrete mix
- Cement Mix
- Pea Gravel
- Construction sand
- Masonry pipe
- Metal hooks
Select a location for your smoke house. Ideally, it should be located at the top of a hill so natural convection from the fire box can enter the smoke house. Using wooden stakes and twine, create an outline for your smoke house.
Dig a 12-inch deep hole the same size as your smokehouse. Make sure that the bottom surface of the hole is level. Fill the hole with 4 inches of pea gravel. Add 2 inches of sand on top of the pea gravel and use a tamper to compact the sand. Fill the remainder of the hole with concrete and smooth with a trowel. Allow the concrete to cure for 24 to 48 hours.
Dig a 3-foot deep hole several feet away from the smoke house. This will be the fire pit for the smoke house. The hole should be located downhill from the smoke house, and should be approximately 16 inches by 24 inches in size. Lay masonry pipe from the hole to the smoke house. Cut another 4 inch length of masonry pipe to create an exhaust outlet.
Construct a 12 inch by 20 inch mold from plywood. Coat the outside of the mold with release oil. Fill the bottom of the hole with 4 inches of pea gravel, then cover the gravel with 2 inches of sand. Add 2 inches of concrete on top of the sand. Center the mold in the pit and pour concrete between the mold and the sides of the pit. Use a tamper to compact the concrete. Insert the 4 inch section of masonry pipe near the top of the pit on the side facing away from the smoke house. One end of the pipe should be above ground to allow easy cleaning. Allow the concrete to cure for 24 to 48 hours.
Lay the first course of bricks for the smoke house. Stagger each additional course to add strength to the structure. Use cement mix to fill in between each brick. Once the mortar begins to dry, use the corner of a trowel to smooth it.
When you have built the smokehouse to the desired height, cover it with sheet metal. The sheet metal can be joined with the top layer of bricks using mortar. Affix metal hooks to the sheet metal for hanging meat.
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