Smoking meats to preserve them is a thousands of years old tradition. American Natives smoked their fish and meats over open fires to keep the insects away as well as to preserve the foods.
There are mainly two types of smoking.
One is Hot Smoking. Using this method you smoke the meats in hot smoke which cooks and adds the smoky flavor to the meats. Meat prepared this way should be kept above 160* to kill off the bacteria and parasites that may be in the meats. Food fixed this way should be consumed within 7 days.
The second method and the beast for long term storage is placing the meats in the cool (under 100*s) smoke from an hardwood fire. The smoke pulls the moisture from the meat and any bacteria or parasites that may be in the meat. Thus killing the things that cause meat to spoil. This also builds up a dark layer on the outside of the meat that prevents the introduction of new bacteria to the meat.
Examples of the second method are Virginia Hams. You know the hams that hang from the ceilings of the old time stores in the cloth bags.
When using either method to smoke the wood of Pine or fir types of trees should not be used as they will impart a bitter resinous taste to the meat, making it inedible.
Woods such as fruit trees ie Apple or Peach will imbibe a distinctive flavoring to the meats. Mesquite will also do so and is one of my favorites.
In a future post I will add some designs for a smokehouse to save your meats in.