Making smoked foods - Cold smoker build

I thought I'd finally be well enough to do something, and thought building the cold smoker experiment should be a good thing to do some of.

So I did.

And it looked like this...

I started with a tap.

Then added all the other metal bits that would fit on it.

I don't really need a tap here, but it will make a good heat sink to take any heat out of my smoke, and dump it into the air.

Then I added a plastic fitting that will take a tube I found.

Then for some reason I cut the stainless steel mesh out of a kitchen strainer.

Next I drilled a hole in the lid of a cheese spread jar. (don't know why I have a cheese spread jar), and jammed the tap kit through it. 

I also drilled another hole for the "air in" tube.

I mounted the tap in a vice, and made a foil cup to hold the wood chips.

I used Blu-tack to block any holes where the tube met the lid.

I also connected the air hose into the second hose.

I connected a tube to the tap assembly and poked it into a hole in the bottom of this collection jar.

This is where the food, or in this case the salt to be smoked will go.

The sieve was jammed in place at the top of the jar, and filled with large sea salt crystals.

The lid will just rest lightly on this jar to allow the smoke to flow through it freely.

This jar might be replaced with a large olive oil tin or something to smoke other stuff like fish.

So then I lit it, and turned on the air pump.

The air pump pumps air into the glass jar with the wood chips, and the only escape for the air pressure from that jar, is through the pipe under the smouldering wood chips and into the jar with the food in it.

And screwed on the glass jar over the top.

The problem was the air pump didn't put out enough air.

It worked a bit, but there was nowhere near enough smoke.

As soon as the jar was screwed on, the glow died down to a tiny ember.

But it did work and it did make cold smoke.

This is how much was leaving the tube.

It looked like this when thae tube was stuck into the food filled jar.

If you look closely, you can just make out the smoke escaping from the loose fitting lid covering the jar with the salt.

Nowhere near enough, but close enough for a proof of concept.

All I need is a better air pump.

120 Things in 20 years still doesn't know why cold smoke will help make home made preserves, but when I did a search for smoked salt, I see 23,100,000 people have mentioned it already, so I think I can safely say it wasn't an original idea.


  1. As I understand it, you can smoke and cold smoke. For both, the end result is dehydrating the food.

    The smoking process uses heat, and that heat helps dry the food faster.

    I believe Cold smoking uses just the smoke for flavor and (wait for it...) keeping the bugs off of your food while it's drying.

    I like the baby smoker rig. All the cold smokers I've seen run 4-6 inch ducting between the smoke generator and the smoke house to cool the smoke.

  2. Cold smoke shouldn't really dehydrate food unless it's done for ages (as in the style of the original inhabitants of north america) and turned into a jerky kind of thing.

    There are a few different compounds in smoke (some nasty) that are anti-microbials and some preservation is achieved through smoke alone, although typically it protects only the outside. This still helps preserve the smoked food, as the inside has some natural protection from oxidation due to being inside :)

    Even though I put it under the heading "home made preserves" I'm really just after the flavour, and wont be trying to gain shelf life, mainly because I have no idea what I'm doing and prefer to continue living.

  3. I did a charcuterie class once and the chef just heated up some chips in a fry pan, got them smoking, threw a wet teatowle over them then shoved it in a cold oven with the items to be smoked for 20 minutes. I can't see that piddling amount of heat cooking the items in that time. It perfumed said items with a perfect smokiness in that time. Too much might make them acrid. He used beech chips, just so you know..


  4. Yeah, it seems there are a stack of easy ways to do this, but given I had the air pump, the rest of the kit took only a minute or two to put together.

    I don't think I'll go out and buy a bigger air pump just for this, but if I ever have one, this is yet one more easy way to do it.

  5. I just thought I'd say I have finally made it all the way from one end of your blog to the other. And just in time, too, since I have to work tomorrow. Bravo! Now hurry and write something else so I'll have more to read when I get home from work. :)


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