Tinker and Try Again – second burn of the DIY cold smoker

It was obvious on the first burn of the DIY cold smoker that despite my best woodworking efforts (I do *not* possess joinery skills!) it leaked like a sieve from almost every edge and corner.  It was always going to be an iterative design process, so we broke out the mastic and panel pins and sealed the sides as best we could.  Then I cut and fixed batons along the edges of the slate roof to improve the seal between this and the sides of the smoker box.   After leaving it overnight for the mastic to go off, it was time for the second burn.

The morning dawned unconvincingly, grey damp and foggy.  Even the hens seemed unimpressed when I opened their pop door before turning my attention to getting the smoker set up for its second outing.

Smoker set for second burnI chose a mix of oak (~70%) and apple (~30%) dusts for my second burn.  In the smoker I had a whole side of cured salmon, my experimental Christmas bacon, a slab of cheddar, the bulb and a half of garlic from my first smoker run which hadn’t already been eaten, and a mix of already-smoked and unsmoked chillies.  Oh, and a little muslin bag of sea salt.  It was more or less full.

The smoker was greatly improved by the modifications, and breathed whisps of smoke out through the intended ventilation gap at the front steadily for about 11 hours.  The burn time was longer on this occasion, and I’m not sure whether that was due to the different mix of wood dusts or the weather (it stayed damp and foggy all day and never got above about 7 degrees celsius).  The apple smoke smelt wonderful, sweeter and softer than the 100% oak from the previous burn.

I plan to write more about the salmon in due course.  The bacon took the smoke very nicely and I’m very pleased with the results.  The garlic has definitely benefitted from a longer total time in the smoker, so I suspect I’ll batch garlic smoking to weekends I plan to run the smoker for two consecutive days to give a stronger smoke.

The cheese was a request from a friend, so we await the verdict!  As for the salt, it *smells* of smoke, though that may be the muslin.  I’m gratified that it doesn’t appear to smell of salmon at all.  It looks entirely unchanged – photos of caramel-brown smoked salt I’ve seen on other blogs aren’t the case here, though most of those have been hot-smoker efforts – but I look forward to tasting it soon!

Read more DIY Cold Smoker & Home-Curing posts >>

Read more from the Country Skills blog >>