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Hey Pop's, what do you recall about your dad smoking with corn cobs?

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by shortend, Sep 8, 2011.

  1. shortend

    shortend Meat Mopper

    I do have some serious questions about any recollections you have of your dad smoking with corn cobs, but let me start it off with a little story, since we both remember "the olden' days".

    We had an old neighbor, named Inor Johnson. As with many of us farm folks, "back in the days", he had what we called a "Privey", an "out house" for you unlearned.

    Inor didn't have a sheet of TP or even a Sears & Roebuck catalog in his privey. What he did have, was 2 buckets filled with corn cobs.  One had red (field corn) cobs in it, the other had white (sweet corn) cobs in it. Being, the curious type of kid that I was, one day I asked him, "Mr Johnson, (back in those days, you addressed your elders as Mr. and Mrs. out of respect) why do you have those buckets of corn cobs in your Privey?" Inor laughed, and said, " Oh, dats so I nos when da constitution is dun. Ya gotta uce tu a dem dere red wons, den ya gotta uce won a dem dere white wons, ta see if ya need to uce sum mor a dem dere red wons." [​IMG]  That's a joke that I know Inor would approve of. He had a terrific sense of humor.

    Yes, we really did have a neighbor named, Inor Johnson. He was an immigrant from Denmark, and he did in fact, talk just like that. We loved Inor and his wife, Greta. They were wonderful neighbors, and treated us kids as if we were their own.  They were WWII relocation refugees. They had lost both of their sons in the war and never heard anything about what ever happened to them. Can you imagine the sorrow of that? I never understood why, but the government moved them somewhere else very quickly one day. We never heard from them again, but I do reflect on them from time to time.

    Boy, is that off subject! I may need to write a book someday of my recollections as a farm kid growing up on the cusp of the "old ways" and the new.

    Now, back to the corn cobs. Pops, what do you remember about them? Were they white cobs, red cobs, or a combination of both. Were they dried cobs or were they a bit wet. Can you tell us everything you remember about how your dad used them? How the meat was hung. The type of smokehouse that was used. The heat souce and tending that was necessary? I know you've posted some about this in the past, but it's so scattered that it's hard to put it all together. I know you are proud of your past experiences and you most certainly should be. The Artisian of the past is rapidly getting away from us. If we don't let others know about this stuff it's going to be lost forever. We know you are a terrific resource of information that is tried and true over time, having grown up with it. Some how, some way that has to be passed on.

    Maybe Jeff should consider that as a regualr future newsletter feature. Interview some of the old timers with meat cutting, sausage making, and smoking meat backgrounds and just let them recall it all. Let it all hang out, for the rest of of us to learn from and hopefully keep the goodness of the past alive in some way.

  2. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well, I just posted a pm about pickling different meats that reached back into nostalgia quite far, but used up most of my time before work right now (and killed my typing a/c my stroke hand) so I will have to wait until tomorrow morning.  I get up early (3:30 am) so I can get on here until 5:30 and have time to type (it tkes me a long time, every word has mistakes).  The pm was about mixing meats in brining, here's what I said:

    Putting two different products in a brine together?   Of the same animal, no problem.  But, mixing animals, such as beef and pork, you're also mixing two different blood juices that could affect one or another in the brine (different enzymes, hemoglobins, etc).  We would take any leftover beef roasts, for example (boneless rolled prime rib, rump, shoulder, etc) and put in one small bucket (30 gallon) and pork roasts (rib end, loin end, picnic, butts) in another, and chickens and turkeys in yet another, when unloading the meat cases Saturday night - we were closed Sundays and we had to defrost and clean the meatcases on Sundays.  We kept track of the barrel numbers on a huge chart, along with all the other product we did - date, barrel no, product inside. They would pickle for x days and we'd pull and smoke them (or in the case of beef roasts we'd let them cure 14 days and sell for corned beef mostly, a few we'd smoke into pastrami too).  So we'd have an outlet for fresh product into cured and smoked.  Ok, so then what, if it didn't sell?  Dad invented and got approved through the State different products to further reprocess stuff, lol.  Smoked pork products (ham ends, pork butts and picnics, bacon ends) he'd bone out, season and grind and make up ham loaves - 80 lbs at a time; we'd season and grind them, then form and hand roll into 2 lb. loaves, wrap in aluminum foil and freeze, then take back out and wrap with heat sealed cellophane and labelled (with a State Inspected label) and put in the retail freezer to sell.  One of our inspectors, Mike, bought one at least once or more a week, he was enthralled with them!  Same way with the corned beef, we'd chop up and season and grind them into a corned beef loaf.  Chickens?  Nooo.. once they were in the case a week, we'd toss them, lol!  But we didn't have to toss out that many at all, pickled and smoked chickens sold very well, no one else anywhere had them!  And, we had a big business making regular beef meat loaves and italian meat balls too!  We were able to clean up any trim from the cattle we processed (no box beef back then, it was all fores and hinds) plus from local heiferette rounds we'd buy to seam out an trim for dried beef. 

    Once you've used the pickle, toss out the used brine.  You can keep refrigerated fresh brine for 5 days as long as it's not been contaminated; if it has you'll see foam from the sugars form on it.

    As a side note, my brother and i of course had to work in the store since we can remember.  We were scooping out meatballs (a totally boring, long job), rolling them and placing on full pan bakery sheets to go into the freezer.  My brother and I got fooling around and would take the meatball from the hand scooper (just like you'd use in the kitchen) and toss one up on the ceiling (which was totally impervious and clean - we knew, because we had to clean it every night, lol along with the rest of the meatroom) and see what kind of 'hangtime' until it'd fall back down on the table.  I tossed one up one second before Mike the State Meat Inspector walked in - bro and i stared at each other, totally afraid to look up... he stopped and chatted... then no more than walked into the smokehouse room and plop.. the meatball fell down!  We both burst out laughing so hard Mike came back in to see what we were laughing about!  We never did tell him!

    This took me well over an hour to type.  

    But, i'll reply tomorrow if that is ok!
    daveomak and hoity toit like this.
  3. shortend

    shortend Meat Mopper

    Thanks Pops, I can just picture you and your brother doing that. LOL  I love your life stories. They're priceless. I'll be waiting to hear more from you anytime your ready. 
  4. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Great story Pops!!!


  5. SmokinAl

    SmokinAl SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    It would be great to sit around a campfire with you Pops, and listen to some of your stories!
  6. africanmeat

    africanmeat Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yup it is a great story my friend, you are a fountain   of knowledge  .

  7. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    unfortunately having another stroke in the er being admitted will get back to u
  8. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hang in there Pops!

  9. roller

    roller Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Those memories are priceless....I love that billboard sign you posted..I remember seeing billboards like that up in the Ozarks when I was a kid....We used to always stop and buy something..
  10. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    God be with you Pops!
  11. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have more to add to this thread.  I will not do it now.

    Right now my heart is with Pops!
  12. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Get well soon Pop's!
  13. shortend

    shortend Meat Mopper

    So sorry to hear that, Pop's. Our prayers are with you my friend. Get well real soon.
  14. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I will see what I can do, don't have to be to work after all, but they're taking tests, grrrrr!

    Dad got his cobs originally from the feed store, GLF if I remember. Dad plowed them out during the winters so it was a barter system.
    They came in 50 & 100 lb burlap sacks and they had been crushed by the local grist mill; they were about double the size of kernals of corn and mostly white cob but there was a little red in them too. We stored them down cellar where they were cool and dry - that was key because of the corn sugars in them they were unstable and could spontaneously combust if they were the least bit damp!

    Farmers shelled their corn in the field then picked up the cob separate and took themboth to the mill.

    The employees (meatcutters or us boys if available!) would take the wheelbarrow from the meatroomb
    door outside, wheel it down the driveway into the garage then down a ramp into the dirt floor cellar &into the 'cob room', awalled off room w/ceiling strage area for the cobs; it had to be kept separate because of rats. Then wheel it up to the meatroom dock, toss it up and into the smokehouse room where we'd slit open the burlap and dump into an old curing sugar barrell from Aula Co. (Like taking my dry ingredients and put 200 lbs into a barrell).

    Like i sad I'd modeled my smokehouse after my dad's from Koch Co. Big upper door to hang meat, small narrow door to feed the cobs and drip pans in between; but dad's house had a fancier delivery system: there was a long pipe propane gas burner with an angle iron track above it and a long rectangular cast iron pan on it. The pan was about 12" w 16" long 2" high and you used a metal hand shovel to pull it out to the end of the track, then scoop out some cobfrom an old 30# metal round meat bucket that you scooped some in to.
    daveomak likes this.
  15. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Then push the pan back over the flame to let them smolder. As kids dad would show us the cobs for a second or two to watch the worms crawl out of the cob chunks and burn up - kewl! Lol! I should add that the houses were over 9 ft tall. Dad built a pit 3 ft deep for the smokehoues (two houses facing each other about 4 ft apart. A wood floor (later cement &poured floor a/c State regs) butted up to them and he built a bridge out of 2x6 planks you would raise up and climb down a couple steps to feed the lower door cobs, then when you had to load or fill either house you would lower the bridge and drive the large rolling meat truck on it and process what you had to do. One of us boys' jobs was to slide out the three drip pans and clean them. There was 1 center one and two lower ones, one on each side underneath the center one, the center one overflowing into the two side pans. The fat would render and burn and crust up in the pans and would be impossible to scrape out with block scrapers so we would line the pans with aluminum foil and the ham & bacon grease would slide off much easier; that's why I line my foil pans with foil so I can reuse them over and over!
    daveomak likes this.
  16. smokeamotive

    smokeamotive Smoking Fanatic

    Glad to see your OK there Pops! There's been enough bad news around lately.  [​IMG]  [​IMG]
  17. shortend

    shortend Meat Mopper

    Glad all is well, and it was just a testing experience. As much as it sucks, ya gotta do what the Doc says. Given your history, don't be take'n any chances. Look, you gotta stay around to keep all of the rookies that get on here, from killing themselves!! I'm sure you've probably already saved hundreds of lives explaining the need for cure in the meat! Just look at the number of questions about it each and every day! You're one of our "good guys."  Pops, you have one hell of lot of devoted minions. You lead, we'll follow.

  18. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Pops, you have everyones support.... I am sure there are at least 10,000 spots "reserved  for you"  to post on...  Your entire family will help you through this rough spot...

    Your friend, Dave 
  19. michael ark

    michael ark Master of the Pit

    Get well soon .I always enjoy your post.
  20. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thank you all for the get well wishes! At work I finished resetting the Sprint section and sat down for a minute and had some sort of another stroke; they're determining what kind. Still waiting for results.