I wish somebody had told me many years ago how easy it is, and how terrific that meat tastes; I call it Candy. The costs involved are virtually nil. Here is the smoker I made this year. Note that it is all made of only scrap lumber found around the Cabin from various little construction jobs over the years and also scrap lumber donated by others who don't have a Cabin to take their leftover lumber to. You can make your smoker just about any size you want.
Here is mine; note the "runners" on which the screens sit. A visitor named "wk" wrote to offer this excellent comment:
"My only concern would be that the wire mesh the meat sits on are industrial grade and not meant for contact with food. Do you know what type of solder was used to make the mesh and if it contains lead or other heavy metals, and what about the wire also? Suggest you test for lead or contact the manufacturer and ask about food safety and things like potential lead exposure."
Here is a shot of the entire setup. Note the following ingredients:
- 1 deer legally bagged and tagged
- one fire pit
- pile of green willow
- tub for brine
- one smoker
- about 8 feet of old stove pipe
- cover for the fire pit
- OPTIONAL: one ARGO A.T.V. for hauling deer and firewood to the Cottage
In many places, such as where we farm, the deer population is much too high. There have been many accidents where vehicles have hit them, with dire consequences, and many farmers are very irate about the damage done to crops. Here is a good example: my one and only field of crop is 130 acres. In 1998, the Provincial Government paid us $1,000 to compensate us for "Wildlife Damage." And there are a LOT of hunters here; if we did not hunt deer, farmers might all just as well go on welfare.
Please be super careful when you use a smoker, especially one made from wood. I had a near disaster. I'd made a wooden smoker and put an electric hot-plate in it with a "gold pan" full of wood chips. To test it, I turned it on and went downtown to do some shopping. When I came back, I found to my horror, that the thing had caught fire and a "Good Samaritan" neighbor had noticed it, used another neighbor's garden hose and doused the flames. By then the vinyl siding on my house was badly burned and had to be replaced. PLEASE be VERY careful; keep a hose handy and WATCH IT!
1. Get some TenderQuick Salt. I use Mortons, and get a 907 gram package at the local Co-op store for $4.39
2. Pour 6 liters of water into a tub; as you can see below, I used a RubberMaid 68-litre tub, and add the salt. Mix well.
3. Add the meat; cut pieces no thicker than 1 1/2 inches. I was not particular about what parts of the deer I used; whatever looked like a "nice piece of meat without a lot of gristle in it" was fine.
4. Let the meat sit in the brine for 20 hours and stir "once in awhile." If you want the meat extra salty, take longer.
5. I did not rinse the meat off before putting it into the smoker; you can if you like.
6. Smoke the meat for 25 hours, longer if you want a "heavy smoke."
7. Bag the smoked meat and freeze it.
Note the smoker, the 8-foot stove pipe, the screens, the tub and pile of firewood (green willow) The screen is metal and has holes prox 3/8" across; you can get it at any building materials store.
One of the trays of meat has been put into place and the smoke is already coming in. Yes, I am using GREEN willow, and YES, it works FINE. To start the fire, I filled the pit with crumpled newspapers and put a layer of very dry 50-year-old fire-killed pine kindling on that. Once that was going well, I added a layer of the green willow and once it caught, I put the lid over the firepit. Yes, I did have to get up during the night to add fuel; once every 3 - 4 hours.
Note the tin cover for the fire pit. A piece of leftover roofing from the cabin. I usually lay a rock on this. The fire pit actually is a short piece of culvert sunk into a hole. Specifically, it is a "connector" used to connect two pieces of culvert together, but you can use whatever you can lay your hands on.
Note the smoke leaking out around the tin cover over the fire pit. The blue section of the smoker is tin
to prevent the whole thing "going up in smoke."
Smoke leaking out at both ends; no problem! The bottom of the smoker consists of two 2x6 skids, and the whole thing is sitting on a "stone boat" as well. This gives it some height; you know, smoke likes to go UP. The bottom end of the stove pipe is notched to fit the steel edge of the firepit.
After 25 hours, I took the meat out. Note the cardboard box with an old bed-sheet lining to keep the "candy" clean for the trip back to the city where I packed the pieces in Ziplock bags and froze them.
Here is the net result of my efforts; some 22 pounds of the most delicious smoked meat you'll ever make!
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