The meat inside brined for up to twelve weeks prior to being placed into the smoke house to begin the smoking process. This year we are using a combination of apple and cherry wood to apply the smoke. We build our fire in a large iron pot in the corner of the smoke-house to help facilitate a smokey fire and control the heat so we are infusing the meat with smoke instead of cooking it with fire.
The following description of a smoke-house by a Western New York farmer was published in the Thursday, January 5th, 1860 edition of The Prairie Farmer published in Chicago as well as the Southern Cultivator’s January, 1860 edition and the Baptist Family Magazine in the fall of the same year.A Cheap and Good Smoke-House
“No farmer should be without a good smoke-house, and such a one as will be fire-proof and tolerably secure from thieves. Fifty hams can be smoked at one time, in a smoke-house seven by eight feet square. Mine is six by seven, and is large enough for most farmers. I first dug all the ground out below where the frost would reach, and filled it up to the surface with small stones. On this I laid my brick floor, in lime and mortar. The walls are brick, eight inches thick, and seven feet high, with a door on one side two feet wide. The door should be made of wood and lined with a sheet of iron. For the top I put on joints, two by four, set up edgewise, and eight and a half inches from center to center, covered with brick, and put on a heavy coat of mortar. I built a small chimney on the top in the center, arching it over and covering it with a single roof in the usual way. An arch should be built on the outside, with a small iron door to shut it up, similar to a stove door, with a hole from the arch through the wall of the smoke-house, and an iron grate over it. This arch is much more convenient and better to put the fire in, than to build a fire inside the smoke-house, and the chimney causes a draft through into the smoke-house. Good corn cobs or hickory wood are the best materials to make a smoke for hams. The cost of such a smoke-house as I have described is about $20.”
For a more detailed description of curing pork, read “The Art of Curing Bacon” in The Farmers’ Cabinet, 1840.