Have you ever eaten smoked salmon? Smoked salmon along with bacon, cheese, ham, sausage, and other fish is one of the most common foods that can be cooked using a cold smoking method. In general terms, cold smoking is cooking without heat. Food that is cooked by cold smoking it is still cooked food, it is just cooked at temperatures much lower than if cooked another way. For example, if you are going to throw a piece of salmon on your gas grill, you may set the temperature to 325 or even 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are going to cook smoked salmon, you will likely cook it at somewhere between 80 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit depending on how much time you have to smoke the salmon.
When you are cold smoking food, you are using smoke to cure the food. It may sound unsafe to be cooking meats and other feeds without heat, but smoke has the ability to cook meat and other foods to a temperature where they are safe to eat. To keep the temperature down on the foods you are cold smoking, you absolutely can not have your food in the same container as the source of the smoke.
The best time to cold smoke food depends on your geographic location. For most people, the winter months are the best times for cold smoking. Cooking in the cold gives you full control of the temperature that you are cooking at. If you want to cold smoke a piece of meat at 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but it is the summer and 90 degrees outside, you are not going to be able to meet your wishes because the outside temperature can not be higher than your cooking temperature.
When you are ready to cold smoke your food, start a fire in a box that is separated from you food. Burning coals are one of the best things to use to start a fire when cold smoking. You don’t have to deal with the big flames that comes with some fires when you are cooking with coals. As soon as the coals dry down, you can use a charcoal lighter to add a few more coals in to your fire box and get them smoking. In addition to that, you can also add some small wood chips to your fire box to keep the fire going.
If you have separated your fire from your food in a grill or another safe place to cold smoke food, your cooking is ready to begin. Simply close your grill or other device and allow for the heat of the smoke to cook your food.
There are a variety of factors that will determine how long it takes to cold smoke your food. You may cold smoke food in one day and eat it later that night, but that is not recommended. It is important to remember that the longer you spend cold smoking your food, the better and safer it will be to eat.
Cold smoking your food can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Smoked food that you eat at a lower quality restaurant has likely been smoked for a shorter amount of time. Higher quality restaurants will often smoke their smoked foods for days before serving them to customers to give the food the best flavor possible.
If you are cold smoking fish or meat yourself, it is a good idea to vacuum seal your finished product and freeze it for a few days to control any parasites. This step is not necessary and is commonly skipped, but it is something to consider. One of the great things about cold smoking is that it helps preserve your food for a long time. You can cold smoke foods that you are not ready to eat and keep them in a fridge or freezer for days, weeks, or even months before eating them.