Smoking meats and other foods are a great way to preserve them to keep over a long period of time. Smoking also adds great flavor and color to your preserved food products. Bacon is one of the all-time favorites of Americans, as well as brisket, ham and oysters.
The great American tailgate is a great opportunity to do some on-site smoking and grilling. Smoking meats and such only takes a few hours, giving time to tilt a few back and relax while the smoker does the flavoring as well as cooking. Purchasing a smoker can be prohibitively expensive though, and many of the units available commercially are not very portable. And that means taking it to your friend’s house or to the ball game are basically out of the question.
Enter the DIY portable smoker. Is it too much to ask to have your cake and eat it too? Specifically in this case, bacon? The answer… No. A portable smoker may be built on a very low budget, which means more money for beer! Those that have a few tools and some general know-how can build a sturdy, effective and easy to use smoker. The first step in building a portable smoker is in its design. There are a few things that a smoker simply must have in order to function. These are the non-negotiable items, for without them, no smoking can occur.
Every smoker must have the following:
1. A smoking chamber
2. A chimney
3. A rack upon that which is to be smoked can be placed
4. A fire box
5. A door through which the products can be placed and removed to and from the smoker
The next thing to consider is portability and how to execute it properly. Will it be on wheels? Will it break down into separate pieces? How will it be portable? Wheels are one of the simplest ways to make something portable, but can be cumbersome. The ability to break it down makes for ease of transport; however, one must wait for it to cool down before disassembly can take place.
Taking all things into consideration, and then making an informed decision before building is the only option. Going into a project like this blindly can cost money and valuable time. Once the options have been weighed and a decision has been made, the building can begin.
Any cylindrical metal object can serve as the smoking chamber. Choose a spot on the exterior of the cylinder for the door and cut it out with a rotary tool. Place some heavy duty hinges with bolts and install a hasp to keep it closed and, voila, a door.
A simple chimney must also be installed at the top of the smoker and a coffee can or similar object is nearly perfect for this. Cut out the bottom of the coffee can, which when sliced halfway down the middle and bent can serve as the chimney cover. Measure and cut a circle for the can to slide into the top of the smoking chamber and secure it using whatever hardware seems appropriate for this situation.
The firebox must be made of a heavy type of metal and can be of whatever shape one chooses, as long as it has a bottom, surrounding sides and a top. Holes must be drilled in the bottom and sides to allow for air to flow and keep the coals smoldering. Install the firebox in the bottom of the smoker in whichever way seems sturdy enough. Welding or bolting works in this situation just fine.
The last step is to attach wheels to the bottom of the smoking chamber to make it portable and keep it off the ground. Ensure that the legs to the wheels keep the wheels far enough away from the bottom of the smoker so that the heat will not melt them.
Bring this bad boy to the next tailgate or barbeque and show off this magnificent piece of functional art!