By Cat, Jan 2016 (Photo, right, from End Times Report, Guide to Sustainable Living(1))
Salmon is a delicious fish but its season is short, so if you love your salmon, its a good idea to smoke it as a preservation method.
There are two types of smoked meat; both methods involve brining to extend the life of the smoked product without refrigeration. The main differences are the brining process, and the temperature during the smoking process.
When I was growing up here in NW Montana, on the shore of Flathead Lake, we had a smokehouse on our property that looked very much like the photo, above. My dad used it a few times to smoke trout and salmon when I was a toddler, and that’s how I learned to love it. Years later, our neighbor’s son, Skip, who was an expert salmon fisherman, took over the smokehouse, and I loved to watch him make it. But I have never smoked fish on my own.
Two types of smoked meat and salmon
(Photo, left, from Wikimedia Commons)
- Hot-smoked: actually cooks the meat (to 145°F) as well as smokes it. An example is kippered salmon (6).
- Cold-smoked: smokes at 80°F, so remains raw (6). An example is lox or gravlax.
While this method is used for many different types of meats, this article focuses on salmon and other types of fish. The steps for both processes are (6):
- Brining or salting, to flavor the fish and extend it’s keeping time;
- Drying to form a pellicle
The simplest brine includes salt, water and sugar. Salt breaks down protein and removes water from the meat while helping to preserve (by discouraging growth of bad bacteria), and to improve flavor of the smoked product. Sugar adds flavor, extends freshness and retains water. (7) Note that salt and sugar have opposite effects on the water content of the end product.
Other ingredients can be added to impact the flavor of the smoked product, including herbs, spices, hot peppers, garlic, onion, wine, soy sauce and more (7). “The brine for smoked salmon must be 40°F or lower before dropping in the fish. Keep the brining fish refrigerated, and out of the food danger zone [between 40° and 140°F, when bacteria – good and bad – will rapidly multiple] to prevent spoilage.” (7)
- Photo, End Times Report, Guide to Sustainable Living (endtimesreport.com/smokehouse.html)
- Storing Meat, Part 3: Building & Using a Smokehouse: butchersupply.net/blog/2010/04/01/hot-smoking-and-cold-smoking-whats-the-difference
- Storing Meat, Part 2: Jerky: endtimesreport.com/storing_meat_2.html
- Storing Meat Part 1: Pemmican: endtimesreport.com/storing_meat_1.html
- Southern Indiana Butcher article on the difference between hot and cold smoking (butchersupply.net/blog/2010/04/01/hot-smoking-and-cold-smoking-whats-the-difference)