you are intending to smoke, good preparation will give you a better finished
product. If smoking fish make sure it is completely cleaned and free from
scales and slime. Removing scales prior to salting and smoking allows both the
salt and smoke to penetrate more effectively. You can either butterfly your
fish with bone in and head on or off or fillet it. With very large fish
filleting is recommended. If smoking meat trim away any dangling or loose flesh
and remove any visible blood vessels, sinew and cartilage.
SALTING, BRINING AND CURING
or Brining is an essential step in the smoking process. Salt retards unwanted
bacterial growth, seasons and enhances flavor plus removes excess the moisture
that bacteria need to multiply.
strength and duration of salting or brining depends on the size and type of
food you are intending to smoke. Fish is generally brined in an 80% solution
this is a fairly strong brine however due to the high water content in fish it
is required to remove sufficient quantity for smoking. This strength of brine
also creates a good sticky surface called a (pellicle) once dry, which the
smoke will readily stick to.
calculate the amount of salt required for your desired strength of brine use
the following calculation.
10% brine solution uses 26g of salt in 1litre of water. Therefore to calculate
the quantity of salt required for an 80% solution, simply multiply 26 by 8 =
208g of salt per 1 liter of water. 1 liter of brine is sufficient for about
1.5kg of fish.
times will differ for hot and cold smoking, plus weight and thickness of the
product to be smoked. Hot smoke brining is used more for moisture removal and
flavor than a preservative. Cold smoking on the other hand requires a larger
salt content to stabilize the meat for storage. A basic guide using an 80%
brine solution is ………………..
a rule of thumb if you intend to smoke it you should use a nitrite cure. The
use of Nitrite cures in addition to salt provides a few useful functions.
Although very rare nowadays botulism poisoning is a risk that you run without
the use of nitrite cures. In fact the word botulism is derived from the Latin
word meaning sausage. Regardless how clean you are in your preparation work,
the temperatures that cold smoking and to a degree hot smoking require are
within the danger zone for botulinum to breed and multiply. Potassium nitrite
is extremely effective in preventing botulinum and its spores manufacturing
toxins. The use of readily available cures that contain potassium nitrite and
nitrate give peace of mind and prevent you poisoning your friends and family.
other useful functions of nitrite cures is fixing colour. The distinctive pink
appearance to your see in smoked meat and sausages is due to the potassium
nitrite used in the curing process. It also adds flavor.
fish and poultry all benefit in colour and flavor from adding curing salt, less
so with beef and lamb.
come under many brands however they all contain potassium nitrite. In NZ they
are sold as pink salt. Not surprisingly they are pink in colour to distinguish
them from normal salt. Cures can be obtained from a friendly butcher or butcher
two main varities of available cure are as follows.
N01 (Pink Salt) is 6.25% potassium nitrite in normal salt, used for general
smoked sausage and other products that are not going to be stored for long
periods of time.
No2 6.25% potassium nitrite and 4% potassium nitrate Used for dry cured meats
and salami. The addition of potassium nitrate is a slow release way of
introducing potassium nitrite to the food. It is the Nitrite that kills
botulism. The nitrate is converted into nitrite over time by bacterial action
prolonging the protection plus keeping the colour of the food attractive for
General quantity guide for cures.
- For sausage including salami the rule of thumb is 0.25% cure by
weight. That is 2.5g or ½ a level teaspoon per 1kg of raw meat or fish.
- For dry cured products such as bacon where the cure is rubbed
and pressed into the surface, cure should be added in quantities of 1% by
weight. That is 10g or two level teaspoons per 1kg raw meat or fish.
- For brined products cure should be added at approx 3% that is
30g or 6 level teaspoons per litre of brine solution.
REFRESHING OR SOAKING
salting or brining you may need to soak the fish or meat in order to remove any
excess salt to sweeten it a little. Dry cured bacon for instance can be too
salty to be eaten as a breakfast rasher if it is not soaked a little before it
is smoked. Why not give it less time in the salt? If you are intending to keep
your smoked product for a long time it is important to ensure that the salt has
fully penetrated right through to the centre and removed the desired amount of
water to become stable. In these circumstances’ it might become unpleasantly
salty and need a couple of hours in fresh water. Alternatively if you are
making farmhouse style bacon you are intending to hang in a larder you will
probably need the extra salt to preserve it. With this traditional style of
bacon you can cut off what you want soak it before cooking.
cold or hot smoking, the drying process is essential. If the surface of your
food is wet smoke will not adhere and bitter water soluble compounds from the
smoke will be deposited, resulting in an unpleasant flavor and giving you an inferior
key to drying your food for cold smoking is to place it out of direct sunlight
in a drafty place until it has equalized to the ambient temperature and dry to
the touch preferably tacky. If you smoke your food directly from the fridge
condensation will collect on the surface as it is exposed to moisture from the
air. If you are hot smoking you can dry your food in your smoker by bringing it
up to 50degC until it is dry or tacky to the touch before increasing the
temperature and applying the smoke.