First Fresh Ham Question.

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R.I.P. Gone But Never Forgotten.
Original poster
Dec 4, 2010
NW Iowa
Been awhile since I've posted anything on here and I figured this would be a perfect time to do it.

One of my co-workers asked me if I would smoke a couple hams for him and I thought why not?

After all, I've made bacon, cured porkloins for that canadian bacon taste and so far everything gets rave reviews.

Then he shows me a picture of the hog that he butchered and tells me both hind quarters have been hangin for a week.

He wanted them cured and smoked only.

I weighed the one that appeared to be a little smaller and it weighed 27lbs.

I mixed up Pop's brine and placed each one in a cooler. They were also injected.

Then it hit me..

I don't have a big cold smoker!

That's when the fun began.

There is a place close by that makes insulated buildings and they throw scraps away daily.

I have picked up maybe a dozen pallets of a combination of 2x4's, 2x6's, 2x8's, 2x10's. and 2x12's all ranging in length from 3ft to 5ft.

I had some 1/2" plywood that came out of a local school and it has a varnish type finish on one side only. I think they were cupboards or closets in a home-ec room or something.

Here are just a few pics I took in the process..

Of course temps outside were -0 and mistakes are always made when you think you're in a hurry.

I thought the isles in the old dairy barn were wide enough to move the smokehouse to a different soom once I finished it. Why move it you ask? because the other room has not lighting (it's on the bucket list)

isle measurements..

You gotta be kidding me!

Ok so I dismantled it, moved it to the other room and ran drop cords and spot light.

Between all the other things going on at the same time I did manage to order one of those propane burners from Northern Tool. Man they are nice and not a bad price either.

I added vents on the sides and the top..

And I'm hoping that the finish on the outside will not be a problem but this is what I ended up with.


Now it is sitting on cement at the moment but I am planning on putting sand in the bottom so any cracks are covered so less smoke gets out.

My big question is this..

The hams were injected and cured for 8 days before the weather got bitterly cold. When I checked the temp inside the refrigerator it said 10 degrees. We have a huge enclosed patio that is not heated and I left the coolers there for the last 10 days.

1. What is the possibility that the hams are cured completely?

I'm thinking I'll have to add some type of heat to keep the temps above freezing in order for the hams to smoke for a couple days. I'm leaning towards a heat plate. I realy don't like the idea of leaving propane burning while I'm at work.

I think I will take these in on Wed if everything works like I hope.

Any input would be greatly appreciated and thank you in advance.

Dan, morning..... Nice smoker..... I would heat the hams and brine up to 38 ish for several more days, just to be on the safe side... Can you temporarily heat a small area, like maybe your new smoker, for the curing process to finish.... a few light bulbs and close up the vents.. maybe a blanket or 2 and a thermometer monitoring the temps of the smoker and brine....

One thought on sealing up the smoker..... I would NOT seal it up.... The vents you have are very good.... Leave them WIDE open....... The reason I say that is....... Your propane burner is inside the smoker.... it gets it's combustion air from inside the smoker..... Once you get wood smoking, and it's consuming oxygen, along with the propane consuming the oxygen........ and a reduced oxygen atmosphere...... if the burner flames out, you will have a HUGE propane bomb waiting to go off..... Hope that makes sense......
Good luck with the hams..... take pics for us.....
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Thanks Dave, your input is much appreciated, I understand completely about not sealing it up and the gas. I will be using the smokehouse primarily for cold smoking but if I do decideto hot smoke, it will be closely monitored. Plus, for hot smoking I still have my pull behind or an electric smoker for much safe ways of getting the job done.

More updates to come.
Having a hard time keeping AMNS and AMNPS burning.

I had 1 complete tray of apple dust that burned great. Now nothing seems to want to burn. I even nuked the pellets.

I have come to the conclusion that perhaps the size of the smokehouse has something to do with it and having the vents open only means that it has oxygen.

I think a small fan to move some air around may be in order.
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I went back to the dust and filled both smokers.

I have an old speaker that was gutted and had a blower installed inside it with a toggle switch mounted to the outside of the box. I plugged it in before I left for work this morning and placed it close to one of the vents down on the floor.

My wife called me before she left for work and said only one tray was still smoking but when she returned 7 hours later, that tray had burned up and the other one was smoking.  I thought that was very strange.

I'll try to get pictures of the fan tomorrow but it looks like something out of an old car.

Used fresh oak pellets tonight and 2hrs later they were still burning.

There's still hope!

I do like your idea Dave. That would at least be adjustable, should a person decide to put it in something else.

More later
Ok I smoked these hams for a couple days, which in my opinion was way too long. I think my pellets were a bit moist so I ended up putting some in the microwave to dry them out a bit and had no trouble after that. (first time evidently wasn't nuked long enough)

Here are a couple pictures.

I also managed to keep temps above freezing by adding a heat bulb (thanks Dave)

I cut a little off one ham and fried it up. I thought it was too smokey.

I didn't take enough pictures but when I delivered the hams, my co-worker thought they smelled great in his car.

Due to the holidays, I won't get the final verdict until I go back to work.

This project was all thrown together rather quickly and weather was a big factor but we learn by doing right?

thanks for looking.

Co-worker sent me an email that said, and I quote "Smoking meat is your gift - the ham is great!! I can't believe you did this good your first time on whole hams and in a new smoker"

Nice to know that once in awhile I get lucky.
The AMZN smokers need to be above the bottom vent.  The burner needs to be above the AMZN smokers.  I would put the AMZN right next to the inlet vent & the burner as far away from the inlet as I can.


You could make a smoke house similar to Flareside92's attaching the sides together with full length piano hinges so it will basically fold up.  Alot of people use the smoke/rest/smoke/rest method.  Smoke at night, fold it up during the day.

Or bribe the ass'n with delectable smoked meats.  Old country folks will love the country hams & sausages.  Hoity toits will like the european sounding stuff.

     It's great to have friends like you. Looks like you did a great job and I'm sure your friend really appreciated your efforts. Dave really came through with some good advise too. Good post ...... I really enjoyed it.
Thank you for the comments and the advice.

None of this would be possible if it weren't for friendly advice.(and VERY appreciative)

Thanks again everyone!

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