What Are The Techniques For Smoking Food
Do you love that rich, smoky flavor? If you, like my dad love having smoked salmon or cheese then you have come to the right place. It is my dad who taught me what the techniques for smoking food are and trust me it is quiet easy. You can dole out smoked slices of meat and salmon to your family without any worry once you grasp these simple techniques for smoking food. Here is how I can help you:
What food can you smoke?
Amongst poultry, duck and turkey can be smoked well and when it comes to meat smoking suits venison, ham and bacon. Fish like salmon and mackerel are perfect for smoking. One cannot forget the exquisite taste of smoked cheese. Brie, cheddar and Gouda are perfect specimens for your smoking experiments. The woods you can use are alder, mesquite beech, apple, cherry, birch, oak, ash or hickory. Remember each wood gives a different and distinct flavor to the food.
There are basically four kinds of smoking techniques. They are
- Dry Smoking
- Wet Smoking
- Cold Smoking
- Hot Smoking
Dry smoking involves the use of indirect heating with a very low smoldering heat source. The food is cooked slowly and throughout the time it is being infused by lovely smoky flavors of the wood of your choice. It is usually done in a smoker, which is a device that cooks and traps smoke. The low heat of the fire (180 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit) causes the wood to smolder and not burn. The smoke that is produced as a result of the smoldering ends up saturating your meat.
Though wet smoking works exactly like dry smoking, there is a simple difference. In wet smoking a pan of water, fruit juices, wine, or other liquids are kept inside the smoker such that the meat remains moist and tender because of the steam that is created and obtains not only the smoky flavor but also the flavor of the liquid used. Remember that everything else including the low temperature and the smoldering woods is the same as dry smoking. Ensure that you keep refilling your pan with liquid as required.
In cold smoking the food is not really cooked rather it is smoked only after it is cured. After curing the food, it is smoked at temperatures below 100 degree F where the fat is slowly liquefied. The food can be subjected either to dry curing or wet curing. Dry curing is where in salt is rubbed into the food, while wet curing is where the food is soaked in a brine solution usually made with salt, pepper or other spices. During the curing process the food looses a high percentage of its fat but it also gets drier. Curing can take anything between two or five days. The smoking process that follows this can take between 12 hours and three weeks. Remember that cold smoking doesn’t cook the food because of which cold smoked food do not have a long shelf or refrigerator life. You can cold smoke bacon, hams, and fish. Cold-Smoked Salmon takes about two to five days to cure and then 12 hours to smoke. Most store bought salmon including the one sold as nova salmon is cold smoked.
Hot smoking, just like cold smoking involves a curing process before smoking but the difference lies in the temperature at which the food is smoked. The food is smoked and cooked at the same time in hot smoking. In hot smoking you can employ dry or wet curing of your food for close to three days. You can also marinate or baste your food. You can also use rubs to tenderize your food or flavor it well. The food is then smoked over a fire with a high temperature (anywhere between 120 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit) for a maximum of 12 hours. Unlike cold smoking the food will be cooked and is generally eaten immediately. It will also last in the refrigerator. E.g. Hot-smoked salmon is a much drier and flakier than cold smoked salmon and has a higher smoky and “cooked” flavor.
The time taken to smoke any food by any technique will depend upon the type and quantity of food you're smoking and what you are smoking it in; a smoker or a smoke house.