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The Pre-Smoking Method:    page 6

Braining the Hide Before Softening it

Soaking

We found it is best to go right from the smoker, to an already prepared, warm brain solution. The hide when coming out of the smoker will be slightly stiff but as you put the hide into the warm solution it will readily soften up and absorb the brain solution. Slosh it around to make sure all the hide is wet.

Working it Open

Leave the hide in the solution for about an hour then take it out and work it over a band. You might find that the hide feels a bit rubbery or dense at this point, some hides do and some don't. The ones that do, you will want to make sure you work on the band well, as it will soften as you do. Some hides at this point just stretch like crazy and feel very soft, work them a bit anyway.

We have a metal band connected to a post in a vertical manner with enough room between the post and band to easily put a hide behind and pull it side to side. Just work it back and forth to make sure the fibers open up a bit. You don't have to really pull hard, just enough to feel the hide stretch. I like to pay special attention to the hair side of the hide, at the neck, back and hip area. When you have done this to the whole hide then put it back into the warm solution to soak over night. We use a piece of screen to lay over the hide in the solution, just in case it floats to the top. A towel would do also. Just something to keep the hide moist in case it floats to the top of the solution.

Some Thoughts On Brain Solutions

If we are starting out on a whole new batch of hides and need to pre-brain some hides, we will make up a brain solution and pre-brain up to a dozen hides doing as many as four or five at a time. Usually we then discard that solution. When it is time to brain hides that have been presmoked, we make another brain solution and brain however many hides we will be softening up the next day, usually two.

This solution is used many times as the smoke seems to preserve it. Even after a dozen hides or more the solution still smells like wet smokey wood and does not have a spoiled smell. After that many hides we use then use the same solution for the prebraining step and make a new solution for additional presmoked hides. Thus it is cost effective and also shoots down the theory of one cow brain per hide (ed. note: I'm not sure what theory they are referring too).



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