[Food] – Proto A cold smoker, DIY bacon

Apparently, Weber-Stephen Products LLC does a really, REALLY good job with their enamel coating. My buddy Jared called and reported that even after half hour of attacking the metal with an agressive angle grinder, the coating held on tight.

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So he ended up riveting a section of the exhaust pipe in place.

I then attach a 25ft x 3″ dryer hose to the exhaust pipe, using hose clamps. On the “protein box” side, since it doesn’t get hot, the quickest way to prototype up a door was to cup apart a shipping carton for corrugated cardboard, and duct-tape it in place. To draw the smoke in , I gimped up a computer case fan and some D sized batteries for a 12V power supply:

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(Even with sealing the battery holders in a bag, the smoke still got through and scented the batteries. Nothing a good scrub can’t handle, but I am glad I didn’t put my 7Ah NiMH cells in there!)

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Computer fan after a 12 hour smoke. Still runs, no binding on the bearings, but I won’t be using this for mission critical cooling for sure…

With the outside temperature below freezing, food spoilage and temperature control in the protein box wasn’t much of a problem. I fired up the hot side of the smoker with half a chimney’s worth of lit mesquite charcoal, piled on the wood chips and closed the vents.

Immediately, thick, white smoke started pouring into the protein chamber. w00t!

Now, the pork belly had been pre-cut into roughly 1.5lb slabs, and these are loaded onto the rib rack for a nice long 8 hour soak in the applewood smoke:

Cold smoker closeup

In my haste gimping this together I forgot to check the grain of the corrugated cardboard. If you look closely you can see the scoring I did with a box cutter to allow the cardboard to bend.

Note that there’s almost no leak from the smoke generator side:

Proto-A Cold smoker

For just 3 rivets and angle brackets, Jared did a really good job attaching that pipe. (Since this is the hot side, and since we are essentially vapor-treating the food in the protein box, I’ve decided not to try for a perfect seal with JB-Weld or Silicone. I don’t want degassing JB Weld in my bacon).

After 8 hours, the bacon was removed, slightly frozen, then taken to my local artisian butcher’s for slicing on their meat slicer. It pays to have good relationship with your suppliers.

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This package is headed for Hong Kong via my Mom to my Uncle’s family.

From my buddy MikeZ’s report that his fridge smells like it had barely survived a house fire, it would appear that the bacon “degasses” after it’s been smoked. We are still evaluating whether the smoke and brine flavor mellows out over time – if the remaining bacon lasts that long in his fridge.

I guess we’ll have to make more to try… stay tuned for more experimentation to come. :-)

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