Is Cold Smoking Worth The Hassle?

Discussion in 'Fish' started by jazzy, Sep 9, 2011.

  1. jazzy

    jazzy Newbie

    I'm in the process of looking into starting a local fish smoking business.  Cap'n Mikes Holy Smoke in California is widely regarding as some of the best out there.  However he uses the cold smoking process which from brine to cure to smoke takes up to 3 days.  

    I want to keep the business simple and costs down but also want to turn out a superior product.  It seems the hot smoking process typically takes less than a 1/3 that time from brine to smoke.  I've tasted "the best" of both types at some point put haven't done a direct head to head comparison.  

    I'm also going to be shipping the stuff to friends and family around the U.S. as gifts.  So I think my primary concern then is not having significant risks of parasites, etc.  

    I've done some reading and hot smoke you just need the salmon to at some point reach 165F.  Cold smoke you need to freeze it to at least -4F for 7 days, or -31F for 15 hours (according to the FDA).  You can also freeze it to -4F for 7 days after smoking.

    I suppose I may just need to experiment but wondering if anyone here has experience / expert knowledge on hot and cold smoking salmon.  

    It seems if I need to store the stuff, maybe cold smoking then freezin and -4 is the way to go.  If I need to ship, then I don't need ice (if using 1 or 2-day shipping) as then it should be still cold on arrival?

    But if I can get close to the quality taste of a good cold smoke using hot method, seems like cold smoke is just making thing harder than they need to be.  I've read it is pretty tricky to get consistent results, even if you have a set recipe.
  2. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    IMHO, cold smoking salmon gives it a better flavor & texture.

    I cure it with cure #1 to make it safe from any pathogens.
  3. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Looks like you have done your homework and have a good idea of both processes.

    Early in your post you said that the producer you want to emulate makes a superior product.  Super product to me means higher price point, higher price point means less product.  You need to decide on your market and how you will attack it.  Do you want to concentrate on high quality, even if it is 90% marketing or do you want to compete in a larger market, lower price point?

    I think you need to decide on the  niche you want to fill, where you think you can be successful.  Remember marketing and getting customers to try your product then continuing to live up to their expectations is what builds a business.
  4. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    What Al & Al Said +

    Your competitor most likely has a smoker that's NSF Approved, and there are regulations that must be followed to sell food commercially.  If you try to sell thru local stores, they will want to be sure your product is safe.


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