How to Make an Outdoor Salmon Smoking Pit

Here is a fun way to liven up your camping trip. With materials found in the wild, you can build your own smoking pit to smoke your own salmon or other fish. This is a project that will take at least five days. To smoke salmon, you will need thin fillets of fish that have been soaked in brine for at least 24 hours. The brine solution should be one gallon of water for each one and a half cups of salt. You can start making your pit and racks while the fish is soaking to save some time.

Making the Smoking Pit

Dig an oval or rectangular pit in the dirt about three feet long, and about a foot to a foot-and-a-half deep. Clear away any grass,wood,leaves or any other burnable material in the area that might catch fire from the pit. Choose a place that is far away from any houses or other structures that could possibly be burned. And of course, before you do anything, make sure you have any permits you may be required to have for burning. Check with your fire department about that.

Pack the sides and bottom of the pit as much as you can, so there isn’t any loose dirt. Line the bottom of the pit with rocks.This will give you a base to build the fire on. Apple, birch ,hickory and ash are all good woods to make the fire with. These woods will impart a pleasant flavor to the smoked salmon. Keep a large supply of wood , as you will be needing to keep the fire going four days. It needs to be a smoky fire–but keep enough air circulation going to keep the fire alive.

Building the Enclosure

You need to make an enclosure to smoke the salmon. Fish can be smoked over an open fire, but it will take a lot longer, and won’t have quite the zesty flavor a really smoky fire gives it.

To make the enclosure, weave together a dome of branches over the fire, like a big inverted bird’s nest. You could also use sticks or slabs of wood and and make the enclosure in tee-pee or log cabin style. The goal is to create a mesh like structure, enough to keep most of the smoke in, but with enough open spaces to keep air circulation going.

Making Racks For the Salmon

Your racks can be as simple as forked sticks pushed into the ground around the top of the pit. Then you would put thin fillets of salmon onto the forked end, and bend the sticks slightly over the fire pit, so the salmon is suspended in the smoke. Another way to make racks is to line sturdy forked sticks across from each other along the long sided of the oval or rectangular pit. Then place straight sticks horizontally onto the forks of the upright sticks. Keep them close together so the salmon fillets can be layed across the horizontal sticks.

The salmon must be smoked for four days. Turn the fillets every few hours, to smoke the fish evenly. On the fourth day, finish the pieces on a cooking fire of hot coals. Your smoked salmon is done when it flakes apart easily.

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