Cold Smoking

Sometimes you need to step out of your normal barbecue comfort zone. Learning how to cold smoke opens up a world of flavor possibilities.

But a word of caution, before you run off and buy up everything you need to start a world class backyard cold smoking operationa.

As a pitmaster you should know that cold smoking takes precision and care. There are some very real health risks involved. The good news is that these risks can be mitigated with a proper setup and expert knowledge.

If you are keen to learn more about cold smoking, we have bundled all you need to know into the following article. Decide for yourself if you are ready to take up the challenge.

Click to jump straight to each topic

Cold smoking overview

Cold smoking is a process that, when used in conjunction with curing, preserves and adds a distinctive smokey flavor to meat.

Some food products can be cold smoked and may not need to be cured like meat does. Cold smoked products can last for months without being refrigerated.

To cold smoke meat, the basic process is as follows:

  1. The meat goes through a curing process to extract moisture and inhibit bacterial growth.

  2. The cured meat is exposed to smoke, which imparts the distinctive smoky flavor. Smoking the meat takes time, from hours to days, depending on the product.

The trick is to expose the food to smoke without much heat. The food needs to be kept lower than 90°F. This is usually accomplished by keeping the food in an unheated chamber while smoke from another chamber is pumped in.

Cold smoking goes back a long way. The technique was often used to preserve meat through the winter when food was otherwise scarce. In western culture, farms often included a “smokehouse”; a special building for the purpose of smoking and storing meats.

You may even have memories of grandparents, or great aunties and uncles, cold smoking lox or something similar.

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