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Minimum cold smoking temperatures

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Everything I have read about cold smoking advises not to exceed a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, however, I never see any mention anywhere about how COLD it can be to still be successful! For example, my smokehouse is outdoors, with a smoke/heat source 6 feet away. As such, the smokehouse interior never got above 20 degrees Fahrenheit  last week here in Mid-Michigan! Is there a minimum temperature  in which smoking of meat or fish is not recomnended?
post #2 of 8

Can't say I would smoke anything frozen.  Sure you can lay smoke on it.  Wouldn't think you would get any penetration until it thawed.


What are you smoking and why are you cold smoking it?



post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply. Funny thing was the pork belly's I was smoking for bacon never froze. I think it was because of the salt, dark brown sugar and real maple syrup marinade I soaked the belly's in for a week. They were approximately 31 to 32 degrees farenheit when placed in the smoke house. I smoked them for about six hours. My smoke source is 5 feet away from the smoker. The bacon smelled smokey, tasted somewhat smokey, but did not have a good darkened color, which was probably due to not smoking it long enough! I am wondering if 35 degree meat requires a longer smoking time than say meat that is at 65 degrees! Additionally, I don't think I need a lot of color on bacon to begin with. I also wonder if moisture formed on the cold meat when the smoke made contact with it. Would exterior moisture on the meat cause complications?!
post #4 of 8
Marianski "seems" to imply 52 deg. F is about the low end.... A word of caution... Cooler meat temps will be a magnate for condensation... Meats with wet surfaces and smoke, taste very acrid and bitter... I like to call it "Acid Rain" affect... but, then again, some folks may like that flavor....

From Marianski's web site...

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.
post #5 of 8

You are correct, by properly curing a side of bacon, it will be difficult to freeze solid.  It's good that you have a external smoke source, it will give you a much cleaner and smoother smoke.  Rather than smoking your bacon or cheese, if you smoke cheese, by time alone, learn to smoke to a desired color.


Smoke adheres to a colder product more than a warm one.  Smoke will also adhere to moisture more than dry. Due to these issues the smoke can be less forgiving.  Keep detailed notes on the product being smoked, type and cut of wood, color, and density of the smoke, temperatures ambient and internal smoker, and the outcome. 


Related threads:  Mr. T's "Sugar Cured Bacon",  Mr T's "Smoked Cheese From Go To Show" w/ Q- View,  Understanding Smoke Management - updated 12/08/14




post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Great! Thanks for all the help; I appreciate it! Looks like the weather may be warming up into the high 30's, so I'll smoking some more!

My smokehouse is a 3'×3'×4' tall plywood box. The smoke source is a sealed 2 gallon stainless steel pot resting on a turkey fryer burner. The wood chunks are placed in the sealed pot and then about 6' of 5" aluminum vent pipe takes the smoke from the pot and it then enters the side of the smokehouse. The smokehouse is raised up on a platform, putting things at eye level.
post #7 of 8
You can smoke as low as you want as long as the meat is not frozen...for obvious reasons. But the meats will need a longer time in the smoker. You are correct , the meat won't freeze at 0C (32F).

Most of my cold smokes are done below 4C. I get colour , smoke flavour, great texture.

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply!
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