Garden Diary - March 2014

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Thursday, 27 March 2014
A Visit to a Smokehouse

Idalean's son Glenn has a smokehouse in which he custom smokes meat and fish and cheese. If you remember my experiments in making baconyou'll understand why this fascinated me. This afternoon I took a ride across the river and made a visit to My Place Smoked Meats in New Hope, Pennsylvania.

Glenn was happy to show me around and explain what he does and how he does it. And answer my endless questions too. First issue - my camera didn't want to take a picture of the chamber for smoking meat. Nothing wrong with the camera, merely that the chamber is so dark that I believe the sensor couldn't find something on which to focus. We tried with Glenn standing towards the door opening and I got this nice image of him but still, no details of the chamber. He got a drop light on a long cord, hung it off to one side and eureka!

Here's a glimpse of the chamber's interior. Notice the glistening condensation crystals on the back wall. Bet you could chip it off, grind it up, and sell it as fabulous smoke flavoring. But I digress. The pan in the center is where the fragrant wood slowly smoulders to create the flavorful smoke, ducted around by the tubing. The rods leaning against the back wall are put to use when the chamber is in operation - supported side to side with hams or sausages hanging from them.

Glenn uses hickory wood almost exclusively, preferring the flavor it gives to almost any other type of wood. He does have one client who likes mesquite, and brings it back from Texas for Glenn to use when preparing his meat. Evn then, the mesquite is mixed with hickory as it is too pungent when used on its own. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Before the meat is smoked it is first brined. I used a dry cure for my bacon. Glenn prefers a wet brine cure which is better penetrating a large piece of meat such as a ham. .

Here are some hams just out of the smokehouse earlier this afternoon. Near us, four venison hams. Beyond them, four wild boar hams from pigs shot in North Carolina. They, and the deer hams, were smoked for close to 24 hours at a low temperature. That means the interior of the meat remains pink. A higher temperature would turn it red.

And a closeup of a venison ham.

Here's the exterior of the chamber used for smoking cheese,
made from a commercial double door refrigerator.

The process is much the same as for meat, with lower temperatures and shorter time.

The smoke generator for the cheese is external. Fire below, water soaked wood chips in the heavy metal bowl. The smoke goes into the top of the outside smoke unit. as it cools it sinks, and is then sucked into the smoke chamber. Fascinating.

I came home with a block of smoked Swiss cheese. And as I was getting ready to go home said to Idalean that I bet that it would be wonderful in a sauce. "Mac and cheese." she said with a grin. Clearly, there will be other visits to My Place in the days to come.

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