I did this post for a couple guys on a hunting site I participate in and thought maybe you guys might like to see this creation ......
This first picture is of the can showing the bottom cut out and with the hanging rods in place. The rods are 1/4" stainless steel and the holes the rods fit thru are 5/16" spaced about four inches apart.
Next is the smoke tube on the grill in place centered as much as possible.
The last image is the whole unit set together as if I were actually smoking. The lower portion of the grill kettle has only one of the vents open during the smoking. The grill cover vents are open about half way. Not shown but used are a couple old bath towels that get put around the base of the can to cover the exposed grill grating that the can doesn't cover.
Put together in this fashion the smoke tube creates its own draft and assures a very good smoke coverage to the meat inside. As has been mentioned, the ring bologna is the only sausage that I water finish and I do the water after the smoke. It may work ok the other way around but I have always been told to do it this way, so...
The hot dogs shown were packaged in vacuum bags and sealed just as you see them in the picture. 5 to a package. I could have done a hot water finish on them but I grill these anyway so why bother with the extra dinking around and any link with an open end would simply lose some of the wonderful moisture that these sausages have. Cooked on the grill these are as juicy as can be even if the casings split during the cooking, which many will. I stuff these fairly tight and splitting is not uncommon and for the last couple years I have knick-named them "splitters" and when the kids are asked what they want grilled it always "splitters".
The sticks and summer sausage get finished in the oven at a temperature of 190 degrees. The sticks will be in the oven about three hours at this temp, then get hung to dry for up to a week in the garage, which is un-heated and right now pretty cold. The summer sausage is heated in the same oven at the same heat in a single layer, I don't stack them. I lay a sheet of heavy wide foil on the floor of the oven to catch any drips but seldom get any. The sausage is on the top rack only and at the second highest rack position. After about 6 hours of heating I check the internal temp of the sausage using a probe type digital fast read thermometer inserted a full 4" into the end of the chubs. As the chubs attain a temperature of 160 degrees they get removed and taken to the garage to get hung. When that load is finished I do the next load the following day.
I've used the same rods for hanging for maybe twenty years and in that span I have replaced the garbage cans maybe six times. I currently have a new grill to assemble as the one in the picture is about twenty years old now and the legs are held together with zip ties...lol. Starting from scratch a new 18" grill, new garbage can, some dowels, and a smoke tube with some pellets won't come close to touching a c-note and will cover any smoking needs for sausages as I have done. Its not fancy, its functional. With the exception of the sticks, all of the sausage I made this year was done with Waltons seasonings [waltons.com]: waltons "H" summer sausage, waltons ring bologna and waltons wiener and bologna seasonings. The sticks were done using Backwoods seasoning blends. The 19 and 26 mm casings used for the sticks and hot dogs are waltons casings. The ring bologna casings are edible collagen from http://www.sausagemaker.com
. The 12" X 2.4" casings for the summer sausage came from Waltons as well and are the perfect size for game sausage. The 12" casings are the easiest to handle, they seal up in vacuum bags beautifully and when opened and in the fridge don't take up a ton of room and seem to not get wasted as people get tired of eating sausage done in 20 inch sticks. Every season used in these sausages came with the appropriate cure for the batch size.
In mentioning cure, all of these sausages got cure added simply because its needed when smoking meats. I have bulk cure on hand and use it in my fish rub so any fish I smoke will have the benefit of cure in retarding bacteria. Bratwursts can be done without cure as well as breakfast types of sausage, even those containing game meat, as long as they are stuff and immediately sealed and frozen. As a rule, any sausage that will get slow or low grade heat of any type, such as in a smoking process, needs to have cure in it. There are a couple bacterias that a person does not want to eat that cure alone will not kill and heat alone will not kill....heat and cure together kill these bacterias at 152 degrees. I get my sausages up to at least 160 degrees during the oven or hot water heating processes. There are two kinds of cure: one is pink cure that comes with or is used for smoking meats and such as I have described. The other is type 2 cure which is used for dried and/or fermented sausages that get no smoke or any kind of heat treatment. The second style of sausage making is complex and has a bazillion control measures that have to be followed so I stay away from making those types of sausage. The only time I deviated from this was this fall when I used a dried pepperoni seasoning blend but used the type I cure and finished the pepperoni in the oven then hung it to dry. The seasonings used in the dried pepperoni product Intensify during the drying process. My using the type one cure and finishing in the oven served to kill all the bacteria as well as helping to eliminate some of the moisture from the meat which helped to hasten the drying time. This pepperoni is some unreal sausage....darned near rock hard until its on a pizza and the flavor bounces all over the place.
As far as the smoking goes, a person can start some charcoal on the grill's coal grid and then set up the smoker can atop the cooking grill and use it that way as well. I haven't done it to this can yet but a new, smaller grill can be bought that will fit inside the can on a couple rods set lower. Set a simple tin cookie sheet cut to fit the cooking grill on the grill and you can add smoke chips to the coals and smoke fish using this get up. I use chunks of apple and pear wood [4" long and split to about 1"] wrapped in heavy foil and just laid on the coals. The cookie sheet helps diffuse direct heat from the coals. I've had commercial smokers and I have built a couple big units but the big thing is controlling heat and temperature. I've found that way too much smoke goes on meats that don't need that much. Smoke should be a flavoring, not a burden. Too much heat during the smoking process is as bad as too much heat period. Many smokers offer heat at the bottom where the smoke is generated....items hanging down get too done and too smoky at the bottom while the same items at the top are left near raw and sort of smoky. Take away the bulk of the heat ant and use the smoke in moderation, then finish the product where heat control is way more controllable and you'll end up with a far better finished product.
I got stung taking a deer to a processer when I was 19 years old. I'm 67 now and have been processing my own deer since that episode. Most of the time in between I have made my own sausages and done my own smoking. I never get tired of doing it and relish at the goodies I have during the winter months that have cost me not much more than some time while others are stuck waiting on their stuff to come back from a handler and not knowing who's meat is stuffed in with theirs. There a lot of good books on sausage making out there and websites that sell seasonings will also have a help area or a contact us area for getting more direct questions answered. The process is pretty simply and getting set up isn't all that expensive. Buy a good #5 grinder. It'll come with stuffing tubes. Chunk up your meats, add the seasoning and cure and some water, grind, then re-grind, then remove the knife from the auger and add a few flat washers to act as a spacer. attach a funnel and stuff away. This is as simple as it gets. The key is to keep it simple....keep it controllable. Think in terms of a grill and a garbage can.