How to make a Jerky smokehouse out of an old Refrigerator or upright freezer
First you need an old round top refrigerator or any that might have a metal interior.
Or, an upright freezer with a metal interior. Some plastic interiors might be o.k. if they aren't exposed to more heat than it can stand without melting. Jerky would normally not be heated enough (165 F ) to melt most refrigerator plastic.
The door gasket would have to be replaced on the sides and the top with a higher temperature gasket. The bottom gasket you can leave off for fresh air inlet.
You need a 3" flu pipe in the top center with a damper control. The damper doesn't have to be there to smoke and dry jerky.
Next, on the inside, have a professional electrician install an electric burner on the bottom. This can be a simple stovetop burner off an old kitchen range. Even though these are normally hooked to 240 volts, have the electrician wire it for 120 volts. That's enough heat to cook jerky and some other products and you can hook it up most anywhere.
For the smoke, if you are not using liquid smoke, use hickory, ash, or pecan sawdust. Some sawmills give it away. Pour a half gallon of sawdust on top of the burner and it will start smoldering in about 6-8 minutes. If any of it flames up, you may need to wet the top of the sawdust before turning on the electricity. You only need enough sawdust for the first 2 hours of smoking. The rest of the time is just cooking and drying.
Pour a half gallon of sawdust on top of the burner and it will start smoldering in about 6-8 minutes. If any of it flames up, you may need to wet the top of the sawdust before turning on the electricity.
You will need a temperature control. The range should be between 70 and 250 F or within the top range of the product temperature you are making. Your electrician will help you find the right one and wire it with the burner to control the heat.
Thermometer; Drill a small hole about eye level in the side or front so you can insert a stem thermometer. When smoking jerky, the only necessary temperature reading is of the chamber. The thermometer, seasonings and many other related items can be found at Midwestern Research and Supply in Wichita Kansas including a home type smoker (not yet listed) at www.midwesternresearch.com/
A JerkyUSA.com publication