Sweet spot temperature for cold smoking salmon?

Discussion in 'Info and Practices' started by kimbaco6, Dec 7, 2015.

  1. I have been cold smoking salmon this summer in new england and have been able to keep the temperature around 78 degrees. This is the temperature that I have read through my research is ideal.

    I am using a home made charcoal cold smoker using two connected webber grills.

    However, winter is coming, and it is unclear to me whether I should increase the heat of the charcoal to try to maintain that 78 degree temp, or allow the temperature to go lower, possibly between 35 and 40 degrees. Of course, the benefit of that is that it is safer for bacteria growth, but I am only smoking this for 1.5 hours.

    Basically my question is, will the smoke have a hard time absorbing into the salmon at 40 degrees, compared to 78 degrees? I assume closer to freezing would be a bad idea.

    There were some old posts on this topic but nothing really addressing my questions.

    Thank you!
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Below is an excerpt from a world wide, well know website that Stanley Marianski is associated... Leads me to believe 52 deg. F is the "recommended" low temp. to use when cold smoking....

    Cold Smoking

    Cold smoking at 52-71° F (12-22° C), from 1-14 days, applying thin smoke with occasional breaks in between, is one of the oldest preservation methods. We cannot produce cold smoke if the outside temperature is 90° F (32° C), unless we can cool it down, which is what some industrial smokers do. Cold smoking is a drying process whose purpose is to remove moisture thus preserving a product.

    You will find that different sources provide different temperatures for cold smoking. In European countries where most of the cold smoking is done, the upper temperature is accepted as 86° F (30° C). The majority of Russian, Polish and German meat technology books call for 71° F (22° C), some books ask for 77° F (25° C). Fish starts to cook at 85° F (29.4° C) and if you want to make delicious cold smoked salmon that is smoked for a long time, obviously you can not exceed 86° F (30° C). Cold smoking assures us of total smoke penetration inside of the meat. The loss of moisture also is uniform in all areas and the total weight loss falls within 5-20% depending largely on the smoking time. Cold smoking is not a continuous process, it is stopped (no smoke) a few times to allow fresh air into the smoker.

    In XVIII century brick built smokehouses a fire was started every morning. It smoldered as long as it could and if it stopped, it would be restarted again the following morning.
  3. Thanks Dave, that's a good clip. Do you know the URL for that website? I have all of the Marianski and Adam Stanley books, but haven't seen that.

    I am curious how it is possible to cold smoke at such high temps (40-80 degrees) for long periods like 12 hours, without bacteria growing. I am using curing salt, but my understanding is that is not really enough to keep the bacteria growth down during long curing times.

    I know that factories like Acme in Brooklyn have cooled smoking rooms, just not sure what their temps are like.

    So if I wanted to try to cold smoke salmon for longer than 1.5 hours, let's say around 10 hours, can I really do so between 40 and 80 degrees for that long?


  4. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    As long as you use nitrite and salt, from what I understand, it keeps stuff OK from bacteria etc. for 2 weeks or longer.... If you cold smoke bacon or fish, over time, it dehydrates.. like 30 days or so, when the water level gets down to a certain point, bacteria can no longer "survive / replicate" so the food is good for long term "non refrigerated" storage... There's a whole great big thick study on preserving meats...
    The food can not be cooked during the cold smoking process, as cooked food "acts differently or something like that...

    I have cold smoked bacon for 6 days at 65 ish deg. F to get a more intense smoke flavor... 6 hours of smoke per day type thing....

    The Marianski site is Wedliny-Domowe... originally a Polish web site that expanded world wide...

Share This Page