How to Cold Smoke
Are you getting bored of the traditional barbecue? Do you want to try some new and unique tastes in your food? Well, you should give a try to cold smoking. However, before you probe further, it is essential to learn how to cold smoker properly. The type of smoking takes precision and care. Remember, there are various health risks linked to cold smoking. However, you can mitigate such risks with proper setup and smoking knowledge. Take a look at the expert’s way of how to cold smoke at home and what are essentials to consider before you start cold smoking foods.
• What is Cold Smoking?
Cold smoking is a unique process that involves cures, perverse and helps to add ideal smoked flavor to your food. You can easily cold smoke various foods easily and don’t need any cure such as meat. One of the best things about cold smoking is that such smoked products can last for months without any refrigeration.
• Cold Smoking process
Here is a process for cold smoking to get desired results.
It is essential to take the meat through the cooking process to extract moisture and bacterial growth.
The meat is then exposed to the smoke which adds a unique smoky flavor. Remember, the meat may take some time from hours to days depending on your product.
You have to expose the meat to smoke without much heat. It is essential to keep the food from lower than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The process is accomplished by keeping the meat in an unheated chamber whereas the smoke from another chamber is pumped in.
• Origin of Cold Smoking
The origin of cold smoking goes back a long way when this technique was used to preserve meat in the winter season when the food was scarce.
An interesting fact about western culture is that there is a smokehouse on most farms. This special building is created for the purpose of smoking and storing different meats.
• Best Foods for cold smoking
When you think of cold-smoked foods, salami or smoked salmon are the two first things that spring to the mind. However, there is a wide range of foods that can be coldly smoked such as cheese.
If you are a beginner to cold smoking, it is wise to start with low-risk foods including cheese. Smoking salami takes some expertise. You can easily learn the technique without caring about the safety risks.
Meat such as bacon that is smoked before serving is also a low risk. It helps to get rid of any bacterial growth that might have grown. Also, sausage and fish are famous cold smoking foods. But, it is important to know that they may have high risks as compared to other types of meat. Remember, if not handled properly, it provides an ideal condition for botulism to grow.
Here are foods that are ideal for cold smoking and carry lower health risks.
- Olive oil
- Hard-boiled eggs
• Difference between cold smoking and hot smoking
Hot smoking is the most typically used worldwide for different cooking different foods. The smokes come from combustion at high temperatures to smoke the meat. Typically, the temperature for smoking meat is between 225 degrees Fahrenheit to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Commonly, the meat is held in the same chamber as heat and burning fuel.
The food is eaten hot immediately after smoking. Hot smoking involves temperatures above the danger zone of 140 degrees Fahrenheit; therefore it doesn’t need to be cured first. The high temperatures of the smoking chamber are good enough to kill bacterial growth.
You can cure or marinate hot smoked foods to add your desired flavors. Hot smoking may take hours even a day if you are smoking large cuts of brisket. Smoking depends on the size and type of food.
• The dangers of cold smoking
As mentioned above, cold smoking is different from hot smoking and it is essential to have the proper knowledge to prevent health issues such as botulism.
Make sure to cure meat properly because if you don’t follow the instructions, you will properly end up in hospital.
Smoking meats carry some risks like fish and sausage is particularly risky. Cold smoking is an ideal atmosphere for harmful bacteria to grow. When the meat is cooked properly, the ingrown bacterial is normally killed with high temperatures.
When you cure meat before smoking, the salt inhibits bacterial growth but still does not kill it completely. In simple words, the cold smoking temperature encourages bacterial growth if not monitored properly.
The modern factory production techniques have increased the issues of harmful bacteria ending up in the meat. Such pathogens include Clostridium botulinum (botulism) and Listeria monocytogenes also known as Listeria.
When it comes to homemade smoked foods, botulism is dangerous as compared to Listeria which is fairly common but less dangerous.
Remember, ground meats carry a high risk of bacterial infection. Bacteria tend to live in the gut of the animal are distributed evenly throughout the meat when it is grounded up. When the meat is not cooked, harmful bacteria can flourish.
• People who most avoid cold smoked meats
As mentioned above, there is a high risk of Listeria contamination, so people with immunocompromised conditions such as elder ones, pregnant women, or chronically ill should avoid eating cold-smoked fish products.
These foods don’t have any shelf life which leads to Listeria risks. The shelf life of a commercial smoked salmon is about two weeks.
A cold-smoked fish also has a risk of parasitic infection. For instance, tapeworms can make their way into the waterways through runoff from the mammal’s feces that live on the land nearby. Cooking may kill these parasites but cold smoking doesn’t.
• What are the common health risks of cold smoking?
Remember, cold-smoking food is not cooked properly. The food is kept in the temperature range which is known as the danger zone because it is an ideal atmosphere for bacterial growth.
The risks of Listeria or botulism are high when cooking smoking sausages and fish.
Parasites in the meat are not killed through cold smoking.
People with different health conditions (mentioned above) are advised to stay away from cold-smoked foods.
•• How to build a cold smoker smokehouse
You cannot use regular combustion techniques to produce smoke. The simple way to cold smokes is by utilizing an external firebox that pumps into the chamber via pipes. The smoke travels through the pipes which makes them cool.
Make sure to have a vent in the firebox to control the heat of the fire along with the smoke production. The food is placed in the smoking chamber which is a separate container.
You can also install racks in the chamber to get the most out of the space and vent for ideal airflow and temperature control. This chamber can be as simple as an old wooden barrel or a plastic cooler.
Experts also use some ice blocks in the chamber to ensure the temperature doesn’t reach the levels at which bacteria can grow. Take a look at the video to set up a DIY cold smoker.
There are many other ways to create a cold smoker depending on the available gear.
• How to Cold Smoke with Weber Smokey Mountain
You can do this by keeping the fire and food in the same chamber but it can be a challenging task to maintain the temperature below 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use the Weber smoky mountain as the chamber for storing food and from another source, pump the smoke.
An easy option is to place an electric cooker in the cardboard box and place wood chunks on the skillet. Now place the small computer fan in the box.
To keep the air flowing, cit some vents in the box. Run foil ducting from the box to the smoker. There will be a bite fire issue here, so make sure to keep an eye on it.
When the wood starts to smoke, the fan pumps it through the ducting into your smoker. Also, make sure to use the best smoking thermometer with a Weber Smokey Mountain smoker.
• How to Cold Smoke with Masterbuilt Smoker
Masterbuilt is a without any doubt, the king of the smoker industry. You can use a Masterbuilt smoker to cold smoke your favorite food. You need to attach a piece of wood chip port to the smoker. You can easily hope for consistent smoke for up to six hours at a temperature of 100 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
This smoker can also produce smoke creosote leaving your food with a bit of bitter taste. However, you can deal with such problems conveniently.
The first solution is to add about three inches of dryer tube for removing the creosote. It will also help to provide better temperature control.
Another solution is to give the fire plenty of oxygen. Allow the chips to flare up properly and then let the white smoke settle down. When the thin, blue smoke is produced feed the smoke into the smoking chamber.
• How to use a pellet tube smoke generator
This smoker generator was designed to produce smoke for cold smoking. You can place it right in the cooker and it will produce smoke without generating much heat.
Fill the smoke generator with pellets and use a torch to light them at one end. Make sure to hold the flame to the pellets until they light properly.
Allow the pellets to burn until they glow red hot and then blow out the flame. Place the smoker in the cooker and you are ready to smoke.
Lightweight and portable, this adds is a great way to produce smoke using sawdust or pellets. Although the unit claims to produce smoke for 4-6 hours it may fail in some conditions.
• How to cold smoke cheese
If you are worried about botulism, there are still some safe options available for you. Cold smoking cheese can produce distinctive results in about 2-4 hours without any risks linked with cold smoking meat. However, you have to prevent it from getting too hot as it can melt away.
By keeping the temperature below 90 degrees Fahrenheit in your smoking chamber, the cheese should remain solid. You can easily keep the temperature in control if you are smoking in cold weather conditions.
However, if you want to cold smoke cheese in warm months, it is ideal to smoke in the morning or evening when the temperature is cool. Another best way is to add some ice in the smoking chamber to keep the air around the cheese to keep the temperature low.
The smoke flavor only penetrates the surface areas of the cheese. For best results, cut the cheese into smaller chunks. Make sure to turn the cheese regularly to provide even coverage of smoke over the cheese surface.
Another useful tip is to bring your cheese up to room temperature before start smoking it. Once the cheese is done, use plastic wrap for wrapping and leave it in the refrigerator for some days to create a more intense flavor.
• Useful tips to cold smoke safely
Cold smoking is not a piece of cake, so it is essential to do it safely with precision and patience. You must invest time and money to ensure you have a proper cold smoking setup. Take a look at these tips to ensure cold smoking safely.
• Always follow expert’s recipe
Don’t make any experiments or follow the amateur chef recipe because it’s all about your health. Always try to follow bona fide experts who are prepared to share their expertise.
• Use cold smoking combined with salting
Remember, cold smoking itself has nothing to do with meat curing. That’s why it is important to cure meat before smoking. The NCHFP (National Center for Home Food Preservation) stated that only those meat products that have been salted, fermented, or cured should be cold-smoked. Make sure to cure the meat before cold smoking it.
• Prefer high-quality fish or meat from a local fishmonger or butcher
We have discussed the health risks associated with the fish that has been infected with parasites. Fish is a fishmonger that provides high-quality fish free from any parasitic infection. Apply the same rule when you are buying meat for cold smoking. If the animal is healthy and free from infections, the risk is automatically lowered.
• Use cold smoking followed by another cooking method
There are many ways to apply this advice.
The best and safe way is to cure the meat, cold smoke it and then cook it before eating. NCHFP says “Most cold smoked products should be cooked to an internal temperature of about 160 degrees Fahrenheit before eating them.”
Another safe option is to smoke then meat when it is in raw form. Make sure that it doesn’t reach high temperatures and then cook it immediately after the cooking smoking. The purpose of this process is to impact a smoky flavor to the meat before you cook it.
• Final Words
The cold smoking process needs patience and proper care to get the most out of your food. Although there are some health risks involved when done properly, you will enjoy a unique smoked flavor. There are the best cold smokers available on the market to help you enjoy delicious smoked flavor easily.