Cold smoking in cold temperatures

Discussion in 'Info and Practices' started by smokingnewfie99, Mar 17, 2014.

  1. Hello and thank you for reading my question.

    I live in Newfoundland Canada, our winters are usually below freezing temperatures pretty much most of the time. I have a cold smoker and I want to expand on the cold smoking of certain meats. I am very safety conscious and I do not want to cause any health concerns, so I would like some advice.

    I would like to know if I can take meat (chicken breast, thawed, or hamburger meat, thawed) and cold smoke it. The ambient temperature outside the cold smoker is below 0 degrees Celsius, the ambient temperature inside the smoker will be very close to the inside of a fridge (maybe colder).

    If I kept these temperatures consistent, will there still be a threat of food spoiling? I know that foods like what I have mentioned above start to spoil at room temperature and it isn't safe to do anything with these, so I am trying to figure out what I can do to cold smoke these without causing problems. I have been reading and reading (and reading, ha) on as much information on this amazing site, and I know I have so much more to read, but right now I would just like a quick and dirty answer so I can proceed in the right direction.

    Thank you for any help on this topic, looking forward to getting serious into this field. Thank you guys.
  2. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Willing to bet they won't spoil but I don't think they will pickup a lot of smoke either.  I have never considered cold smoking those two meats and I am curious why you would want to?   Both would, in my opinion, be better cooked in a hot smoke.

    Welcome to the forum, maybe someone with actual experience cold smoking chicken and hamburger will post up and we'll both learn something!
  3. Actually, I had a whole list of meats that I would like to try (bacon, pork roast, ribs, etc), I just randomly picked these two. It's not so much the meat, but more the health concerns I have for them. If I have to cure/brine these first before I do the cold smoke, then that's just another step I'll do. It's all fun to me, so it's no problem to add/subtract steps, but my end game is to use a cold smoker for this.

    My father and I built the cold smoker I have now, and my next project is to make a hot smoker. But for now, I just have the cold smoker and I want to use this as much as I can. I have already read up on the curing fish process, so I understand that part, but I'm a little hesitant and lack the knowledge of doing the other meats without any health problems.

    Again, thank you for your response.
  4. donr

    donr Smoking Fanatic

    As long as the air temp right around the meat is below the magic 38-40°F mark, yes it is safe.  You just need to practice constant vigilance about watching that temp. though.  I have thought about trying this, but realized I am too lazy to watch the temp. like I should.

    Curing or brining before is going to change the product you make.  After curing you don't have to keep them below the magic temp. when smoking either.

    Pork Belly will be bacon

    Pork loin will be Peameal/Back bacon

    Ribs will be a lot like Bacon on a stick

    All tasty products, just different.

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  6. wolfman1955

    wolfman1955 Master of the Pit

    donr has you covered on this one. Any thing below 38 deg. F is really just a refridgerator with smoke.
  7. Hi Newfie, I'm new as well and terribly inexperienced but built a 2x2x5 ft smoker to cold smoke salmon. I decided to do more so insulated it and added a 800W hot plate. Yesterday it was very windy here and 3 C. Had it up to 215 F in 45 min. Cooked some brined pork tenderloin to 150  in about 3 hours. Why not try the same and save building another smoker.

    It worked great the salmon too.
  8. I don't think it will spoil, but I have never heard of cold smoking raw meats.  I only cold smoke cured meats.  I have on an occasion cold smoked some ribs for 4 or 5 hours (during the winter) and then cooked them in the oven with bbq sauce it did not kill us but the bbq sauce had more smoke flavor.
  9. I am in Wisconsin.  Its been pretty cold.  Below 32F for the highs.  I just picked up a masterbuilt cold smoker attachment and was wondering the same thing.  I have some pheasant legs that I would like to cold smoke.  

    I am going to try smoking them for a few hours then baking them without a brine.  I'm going to put my internal meat thermometer in one leg and see if the cold smoker attachment adds too much heat to the meat.  If it gets too hot, I'll just yank them out and finish them inside. 

    Any cold smoking in the cold advice would help us!!!
  10. bluewhisper

    bluewhisper Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm curious, too, maybe try some cheese.

    One question I have - when the smoker is cold, are there problems with condensation in the cooking chamber? I've always run the offset at +200F and I'm sure I can run it at less than 100F but I just wonder about the cool metal sweating moisture out of the smoke and causing rusty nastiness.
  11. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Most of my cold smoking is done at low temps (winter time). Sausages, meats, jowls.

    I had once a condensation issue - black creosoty liquid dropped from the smoker ceiling . After that, when is very cold I use a cardboard cutout between the meats and the top of the smoker.
  12. Those are both good points and observations.  I think I will turn my cold smoker off when the meat is finished.  Take the meat out.  Then turn on the hot smoker just to burn up all the moisture left inside after.  Just maybe this will have a self cleaning oven type affect too.
  13. Before we started smoking meat as a hobby people were smoking meat for preservation of meat for the winter and the following summer. Smoke houses with fired up most days during the fall and early winter .
  14. 365,

    I wouldn't stab the meat with the probe. I would mount your probe right next to or on the same rack as the probe. I've heard of the MS colder smoker adding about 10 degrees to the chamber so keep an eye on it. Otherwise, smoke on!
  15. I am practicing with the cold smoker right now on some polish sausage I made and froze cause I didnt get time to smoke.  It appears to be running about 8 degrees higher.  Its 32 outside and Im getting a 40 degree smoke box temp. Gonna shoot for 6 hours because its so cold in there, and then finish in the oven.  
  16. That doesn't sound bad at all. Where in the Midwest are you? Likely only gonna get colder as the night comes so you should be fine I'm guessing. Where's the q-view?!?
  17. Wisconsin.  Surprised its actually this warm today.  
  18. brownpeter335

    brownpeter335 Newbie

    I never tried any cold smoking. It sounds amazing, looking for it soon.
  19. lamar

    lamar Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I cold smoked two  chuck roasts a couple of weeks ago for a couple of hours.  Outside temp was 18F.  After two hours,  my smoker temp crawled up to 40,  so I pulled the roasts.  I did not get as much smoke as I would have liked to,  but it still ground up into some very tasty hamburger.
  20. chef krimlar

    chef krimlar Newbie

    Not sure what you intended to do with the finished product other than grind it up anyway, but check out the following......




    Curing and Smoking Meats for Home Food Preservation
    Literature Review and Critical Preservation Points

    Document Use  | Preface  | Table of Contents  | References

    3. Post Processing of Cured Foods

    Cured meats can be consumed as is or undergo further processing to achieve a final product. Typically meats are smoked, fermented, or dried to complete the preservation process.

    3.1. Smoking

    The smoking process both preserves and flavors food. Hams, bacon, salmon, herring, and oysters are frequently smoked. It is important to make a distinction between smoking for preservation (smoke cooking) and smoking for texture and flavor. Generally there are three different methods of smoking foods: hot smoking and cold smoking.

    3.1.1. Hot Smoking

    Hot smoking is done in the smokehouse or more modern electric kilns, usually over a short period of time, just until the meat is cooked. The meat is cooked and smoked at the same time over a burning fire or electric elements of a kiln.

    3.1.2. Cold Smoking

    “Cold Smoking” is done over a much longer period of time, e.g. 12-24 hours, over a smoldering fire (below 85°F). Since foods are held in the temperature danger zone, rapid microbial growth (40-140°F) could occur. Therefore, only those meat products that have been fermented, salted, or cured, should be cold-smoked. Most cold-smoked products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F before they are eaten. However, not all cold-smoked foods are treated this way, e.g., smoked salmon and cold smoked mackerel, which are very delicately smoked for a long period of time and remain raw even when eaten. The US FDA has published a description of a commercial cold smoking process (US FDA 2001c). Most food scientists cannot recommend cold-smoking methods because of the inherent risks and as such, at-risk consumers are encouraged to avoid these foods (US FDA 2001a).

    3.1.3. Liquid Smoke

    Many consumers and commercial operations use liquid smoke to add smoke flavor to their foods. Liquid smoke has advantages over traditional smoking in that it can be more precisely controlled and the smoke flavor is instantaneous.

    3.2. Fermenting and Drying

    Fermenting and drying, as food preservation methods, are covered in separate National Center for Home Food Preservation literature reviews. For the purposes of this review, some cured sausages are also fermented and dried, e.g., salami and pepperoni. Particular attention has been given to this category of sausage since it has been responsible for several food poisoning outbreaks that were generally regarded as low risk. Krizner (1998) provides a brief synopsis of the hazard analysis of dry fermented sausages that have now been questioned by consumers and the USDA (USDA FSIS 1995b).

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