Long before the days of refrigeration, meats were cured and preserved on family farms in buildings called smokehouses.

Traditionally, a smokehouse is a windowless building with one door, a vent, smokestack, and of course, a stove for smoking. The building could be constructed of logs, brick, cinder blocks, or other materials that could withstand the smoking process. Many were equipped with racks to hang the meat after curing and smoking. A century ago, pork (primarily ham and bacon) and beef were the primary cuts of meat hanging in these smokehouses, however, once in a while, you could see fish. Since meat was such a valuable product as it provided meals throughout the cold winter months,  there was usually a padlock on the smokehouse door.

While not a complex process, curing and preserving meat needs to be done properly to ensure the meat is preserved safely. Salt is an essential ingredient in the curing process. Usually, the meat is rubbed with coarse salt, and then it is allowed to rest. The rub and rest process, also called salt curing, is repeated several times as it works to bring moisture out of the meat. The less moisture the meat has, the longer it can be stored before being eaten. For example, beef jerky can be saved for much longer than smoked salmon as it has less moisture.