Farmstead virtual tour

Smokehouse

fter butchering, meat was heavily salted to draw out moisture. The meat was then hung in the smokehouse, where a slow-burning wood or corncob fire would smolder for more than six weeks. Smoke would encase the meat in an airtight creosote coating, preserving it for years. Pork was a popular choice for preserving in this way. Before consumption, the creosote was cut off and the salt was boiled out of the meat. The use of smokehouses declined with advances in refrigeration and preservatives.

Sometimes a smokehouse is also called a meat house, with the building functioning more often as a storage locker than a smoking house. In Maryland, the phrase “meat house” is often preferred over smokehouse.

 

Meats hanging in smokehouse

Preserved meat could last two years hanging in the rafters of a smokehouse. Image provided by Conservancy

Smokehouse diagram

The Mt. Pleasant smokehouse features four arching holes in the cornice. Their true function is unknown, though some speculate the holes attracted nesting birds for egg collection, while others believe they provided ventilation. Today, the squirrels sure love running around in them.