The Smoking Process
So what is the smoking process? Well, before the smoking process even begins the raw material is cured, by either dry salting or submerging the product in a salt solution (a Brine). Salt helps to preserve the material to be smoked, however this is not so important in today’s world as modern refrigeration techniques have allowed us to reduce the salting / brining levels, however in today’s market the smoking process is used more for seasoning and flavouring the food.
Cold Smoke flavours the product dependant on the type of wood used, but will not cook the product. Smoking is usually carried out between 10 and 29 degrees C (50F and 85F). As you will discover Cold Smoking temperatures are dependant on the outside temperature, and when temperatures are low, it is possible to smoke your products successfully, provided you are prepared to spend more time on the process. When ambient temperatures are high, the smoke temperatures are to be kept as low as possible to avoid cooking the product and also causing the fish to disintegrate.
Hot Smoking exposes the foods to smoke and heat in a controlled environment. Like Cold Smoking, the item is hung first to develop a pellicle, and then smoked. Although foods that have been hot smoked are often reheated or cooked, they are typically safe to eat without further cooking. Hot Smoking occurs within the range of 52 to 82 °C. Within this temperature range foods are fully cooked, moist, and flavourful.