Cold Smoking and Hot Smoking on my Apartment Balcony...
I'm not supposed to have a barbecue out there, because you're not supposed to bring propane tanks on an elevator, and obviously for safety etc. Some of my neighbours have them anyways, sneaky little rascals.
I'm not going to go full barbecue, but I was wondering if I could perhaps get away with a smoker?
I'm assuming a hot smoker gives off a bit of smoke.. Would it be more or less than a normal barbecue?
What's the best option for a small cold smoker? Should I buy something or make it myself? Also would it be possible to cold smoke during the winter outside, or would it get too cold? I live in Canada..
As someone who's smoked stuff on the balcony of his apartment in TO you'll have to remember that it's very invasive to people around you. I had someone tell me they almost called the fire department.
If received my share of leers, dirty looks and complaints but take it from me. If you're nice about things and try to bribe people with some nice smoky pulled pork, you may just get away with it.
I now have a Charbroil Silver Smoker (offset firebox) and have yet to cold smoke. I keep thinking I'll try it in the winter when it'll be easier to keep the temperature down.
I think if it's electric, you can probably get away with it. In my city, we can't use propane/charcoal in apartment complexes unless it's 50 feet away from any structure, but electric grills are allowed.
I've had similar problems as Miss Priss though with smells wafting into my apartment like lighter fluid. I think that was just some idiot next door trying to put a fire in the fireplace, but when it's a blizzard outside, you can't exactly pop open a window. I think the smoke is something to keep in mind, especially since you live in Canada and would be in a similar situation.
Here is a youtube link to someone using a very simple, inexpensive homemade smoke generator
I made one and it works really well and for around $10 how can you go wrong. You may already have a soldering iron laying around.
I have made cold smoked Nova salmon "lox" which was excellent and most recently made a smoked corn soup by cold smoking a tray of cut corn which was then incorporated into a soup. Fantastic. I used my grill as the smoking box but the smoke generator will maybe raise the ambient temp by maybe 5 degrees so you could use a cardboard box as the smoke box using this method. you could even do this indoors under a hood seeing as you live way closer to the north pole than I do.
For hot smoking on your balcony you could get one of these electric smokers
The Masterbuilt is pretty cheap and they have a large following of dedicated users. You only want a wisp of blue smoke coming out of the smoker anyway. It shouldn't be bellowing like a factory smoke stack.
The Masterbuilt has only a single heating element for both the smoke and the oven so it "cold" smokes at 100 degrees. The Bradley digital has has an oven element and the wood puck sits on a tiny hot plate that causes it to smoke.
Alton Brown has a setup in his book (and on his show) using a cheap hot plate with a pie tin and sawdust on it for cold smoking in a cardboard box or other chamber. It's definitely not rocket science.
I've had a Bradley electric smoker for over a year and it's fantastic. The smoke generator is independent of the heating element so you can smoke with no heat at all (cheese, etc.). Also does an excellent job with salmon, ribs, brisket and poultry. We use it all year in Chicago (although some days we have to shovel a path to it). It produces no more smoke than a charcoal grill, albeit for 6 to 8 hours for brisket.
You can also buy the smoke generator separately and convert an existing grill (or any chamber) for smoking. The wood "pucks" are proprietary and more expensive than hardwood chunks but the tradeoff on convenience is easily worth it (you can load the chute with 8 hours worth of wood and walk away -- sometimes I'll put a brisket on before I go to bed and it'll be done when I get up). Their "theory" is that hardwood chunks give off "good" smoke early and then start giving off bitter resins after a while. The smoke generator burns each puck for 20 minutes, then ejects it into a pan of water and starts to smoke a new puck.
The disdvantage of the Bradley is that the pucks are proprietary and cost an arm and a leg. If you smoke a lot, it can get to be a big chunk of change out of your pocket, especially compared to prices for loose wood chips.
The advantage of the Bradley is that with the puck stacker, you can keep it going for a long time without having to refill the wood... as long as you don't mind your money going "up in smoke".
Bradley also uses some really cheap Chinese components, including the $1.50 servo motor that cycles the puck. Mine went right after the warranty ran out. I tried to just replace the motor, but they told me that they didn't sell that - I had to buy a whole nother unit for $85. This was a pretty common complaint on their support site. This was about 5 years ago, so maybe they've cleaned this up.
That looks really cool too, and I like that it would work in winter and maybe let me get away with hot smoking.. maybe. :)
Mmmm so how many pucks are you going to use to make the common things you make? I can deduce that an 8 hour long smoke would cost... Around $14-15 in pucks.. Based on $31 price for 60 pucks at canadian tire.
This isn't really responsive to your question but ... I too live in an apartment building with balconies, and I'm very grateful for the city fire code that prohibits cooking on them. So I want to support your inclination to abide by the rules! When my new neighbors naively fired up their charcoal grill one evening, my entire apartment was filled with the acrid odors of lighter fluid and charcoal smoke, followed by the overpowering--and long-lingering--smell of fatty grilled meat. It felt like a home invasion. (OK, I'm exaggerating. But only slightly!) It must have annoyed others too, because the very next morning we all received a flyer from the building management company reminding us about the rules. Fortunately my neighbors are considerate people who, as far as I know, have not tried to cook on their balcony again.
re: Miss Priss
I hear ya... I figured since I'm in the corner of the building on the 3rd top floor, and all the penthouse suites in this building have wood burning fireplaces, and since it's winter and everyone has their windows closed.. I could get away with at least cold smoking. Hot smoking I pretty much knew I was screwed!
Hot smoker = way more smoke than a charcoal grill. I have an acre, and my neighbors always know when I'm smoking. Good luck with the apartment rules.
Here's a cold smoker attachment that you can adapt to fit onto a small grill. I just got mine a little while ago and have only used it a couple of times - there's definitely a learning curve, and I'm going to post on it in some detail soon - but I want to get a couple of more shots in there. In the meanwhile, I can make a recommendation anyway - I think it's perfect for your situation. Take a look around the site - this guy's stuff is very interesting.
OTOH, if the only restriction is for propane, then get a good electric smoker. Here's one good one: