Saturday, January 7, 2012

How do I control the smoke flavor, temperature, and humidity in a barrel smoker?

Fred from East Rochester, New York said:

I have repeatedly watched ALL five of your advanced processing videos. Thanks for all the information and advice!

I do have a couple of questions:

Instead of using non-fat dry milk in sausage, could I substitute bread crumbs?

Also, in your videos, you use a Bradley smoker with all the digital controls to control smoke and temperature. For those of us with a barrel smoker that uses the fire to heat, do you have any advice on how to control the smoke flavor, temperature, and humidity in these "old school" smokers?

By the way - love the videos and even bought an  Outdoor Edge Flip n Zip knife for the next deer season!!!!!



Thanks for the question Fred!

Brings back old memories of the clay brick smokers we started with in the meat industry 25 years ago. We made some incredible products in those houses. Just takes a little more work and talent, that's all. We would use charcoal on the bottom of the grate and then place slabs of hickory wood on top; take a torch & get the fire going really well and then smother it with hickory saw dust. Hurry up and place it in the smokehouse and close the door and all the dampers on the house. Be sure there are no flames and just let it set and smolder. It keeps the temperature down and smokes like CRAZY. After an hour of solid smoke rolling out of the house, we would begin to open the damper and let the flame catch up to create the heat and bring the product up to final internal temperature. 

No bread crumbs, they are for baking not smoking.

Good luck Fred,


How do I make sausage from fresh hog?

Paul from Waxahachie, TX said:

I have now killed two hogs to make sweet Italian sausage. This will be my first attempt at making any kind of sausage. Besides seasoning, do I have to mix other kinds of meat or can I just use hog? And if I'm using hog only, will this sausage be dry. If so - what exactly should I use? Any advice would be awesome. 

PS: I will be attempting breakfast sausage also.

Thanks for all of your great advice in the past as well!


When making boar sausage, a lot has to do with the age of the hogs. Old hogs tend to be strong flavored and create limits on what you can make. Young hogs are much like domestic hogs and you can make virtually any pork product you would like from those. On older hogs, I try to make strong flavored products like hot sausage and kielbasa. On young hogs, any type of a breakfast sausage will work well. If the hogs are really big boars, I reserve those for smoked products like pepperoni, smoked kielbasa, and smoked sausage. If you need information on stuffing, grinding & smoking I would refer you to our Advanced Sausage Processing DVD which covers the proper processing of fresh & smoked sausages as well as the operation of home smokers.

Good luck Paul and I hope this helps.