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Smoker Help Needed

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

hey everyone,  very new here just happened upon the site about an hour ago.  the little intro said i should let people know a little something about me.  Well, I'm married a father of 3 I'm 31 years old  run a meat dept for a major grocery chain and also own a beef jerky website. i produce beef jerky and ship all over the world.  needless to say i stay very busy.  But I'm on vacation this week so i got a little time to surf the net. the reason for visiting the site was to get an idea for a smoker.  i have always dehydrated the jerky with a commercial dehydrator from Excalibur.  i use the #1 stainless dehydrator and it works very well.  i can yealed about 50 lbs of dried meat on 1 run.. that's about 130lbs of raw meat.   but lately I've been having customers wanting smoked jerky.  i thought about buying one of those Smokin-it smokers to do test runs in but don't know anyone that has one. i mean i know it want make 50 pounds at a time but i need an idea on the ending product before i spent $10,000 on a smoker right?  i do have another option though.  i have a commercial stainless steel fridge that i might can convert into a smoker. its 7 feet tall and 5 feet wide. it has double doors its 15 years old and runs great.  i just don't need it anymore since i purchased a walk-in cooler in may.  so if there is anyone out there that can give me some idea on how to convert this monster into a smoker i would appreciate it. 

post #2 of 10

Man if that fridge still runs I sure wouldn't go cutten on it.


Are you trying to do a cold smoke on the jerky or a hot smoke?  Are you trying to start small to see if it works out for you or do you want to go big time right away?


You can easily fit 50lbs of pre-jerky in a cold smoke plywood smokehouse and build it for under 200 bucks.  Not sure what the FDA says about cold smoking.



post #3 of 10

First off Welcome Lucas to SMF. Now you can info on your frig smoker build in the build section here. It sounds like you are really good at your jerky and you just want ot find an easier way to create more jerky?? You'll like it here for there are alot of really good folks here that would just love to help you with just about anything to do with smoking. Now there are alot of proven recipes for some amazing things here too.  

post #4 of 10

The main question as mentioned above is are you looking to cold smoke or hot smoke the meat. Since you are selling it to consumers you might want to check with any laws that state you have to cook it a certain way. I have no experience in this so I don't know how strict the laws are but I'm sure there are some guidelines that have to be followed.That fridge would make a great hot smoker with a little bit of work but if you are looking for a cold smoker  you can make a huge out out of plywood for very cheap and have tons of room for your meat.

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

yes it would be hot smokin and needs to maintain at 160 degrees.  being in the meat business for the last 13 years and in the jerky business since 2006 i know the laws. if anyone needs info on jerky making on a commercial level using a dehydrator feel free to ask.  i make and ship over 100lbs a week. as far as cutting into that running fridge i have to think about the money it would save me. i paid $800 for it years ago.  a smoker that size "used" cost about $10,000 on ebay new it prolly cost around $17,000. i think i could have this fridge converted for about $500?  but i really have no idea.  just think how nice this thing would look and operate if done right.  sorry dont have pics posted of the fridge but you could look it up.  its a TRUE brand double door fridge. it 7' tall 5' wide and over 3' deep

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

hey Al,  i would like to start small maybe with a smokin-it smoker for $250.  but i could use that money to go towards coverting that fridge into a smoker. what do you think?

post #7 of 10

You are really in the business and looks like you'll make good use of that converted refrigerator.  Do the laws require a stainless steel surface in a smoke house?  If so it sounds like your decision is easy.  If you can get by with plywood and cinderblock it would be cheaper in my opinion to just build but I am willing to bet your homemade, plywood smoker wouldn't cut it with the health department.


It just hurts me to see you cut into that refrigerator if it still gets good and cold.  What is the replacement cost of the fridge? if you ever need it.


Let us know what you decide, You may want to post your build question in “Smoker Builds” under Smoking Supplies and Equipment.  It is a more appropriate section of the forum to get a better response. 


Good eaten

And welcome to the Forum



post #8 of 10

Welcome to SMF lucasjerkey, lots of good people here willing to help in any way. Sounds like a big project with that fridge. Good Luck and Happy Smoking. Don't forget the q-view. 

post #9 of 10

Like others have said it might be best to check with the local health department first. If you spend the $ and they wont let you use it then it turns into a loss right away.  There are lots of folks here that use the MES to do jerky and it is only around $300 so that might be an option too. If you were to use it with the A MAZE N SMOKER you could easily smoke with different flavors of wood too. Maybe sell the fridge to conver the cost.

post #10 of 10

Welcome to the SMF. Glad to have you here. Lots of good folks, great recipes and knowledge. Looking forward to your first qview.

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