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1st Cold Smoke

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 

While I am waiting for a little help with my hot smoker... (PLEASE click here if you think you could help me)


... I thought I'd have a go at a cold smoke.


Picked up a nice side of salmon from my local supplier. FisInABox

Chose a 'simple' recipe.












Been turning it and weighting it down every 12 hours.
Just coming up to 60 hours.

Going to take it out and wash it now!


Wish me luck.

post #2 of 51
Thread Starter 

Well, moving on.


Isn't it mad how the fish changes! Hard as cardboard now!


















Guess I just wait and let it do it's thing.... VERY exciting! nana2.gif

post #3 of 51

Hello slimjim...Looking good so far!  I'll be following to see how it finishes.


I love the design of your sawdust cold smoker box!  Very similar to an A-Maze-N Smoker, but I'll bet yours will burn longer on one load of dust.



post #4 of 51

Looking good.  I'm in for the duration.





post #5 of 51
Looking Good, can not advise n Cold Smoke Salmon, as I do not like fish and fish doesn't like me!
post #6 of 51
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone...


So two "newbie" errors made on this, my first ever smoke.


One... I think I packed the sawdust too tightly, guess is needs some air to work properly too. So the dust stopped after about an hour (could also have been because I didn't have the vents open all the way)

Thinking I was clever I lit it in a couple of places and it burned VERY fast.


Worried it wouldn't be smoked enough, I tried again. This time the maze did a superb job and burned exactly how you would expect it too.

6 hours (the recipe says to do 5 but after it going out, I went for 6) only one 'leg' of the second maze had burned, so I managed to put it out and save the dust.

Really happy with the way it went, once I loaded the maze right.

The other error I made was only hooking the fish in one place (middle of the tail) with one hook.

After 20 mins the damn thing ripped off! So I re allocated it at the head end, with FOUR hooks to be sure and it was fine.




Had a sneaky taste last night, after a final JD & EVO baste and dill sprinkling. (Will be better this morning after a stint in the fridge) and it was very nice!


May be a little over smokey but we all know why that is.:)



Feeling much more confident about a hot smoke now. But (As SeenRed and a couple of others have discussed with me) I am going to need to sort out a rack for the food (rather than hanging) and a grate for the firebox. Going to try and source some this weekend.

Will let you know how it tastes after a rest in the fridge and is sliced nice and thin tomorrow!

post #7 of 51

Hi Jim. That is a good start. The fish is a lovely colour. I am looking forward to hearing how the fish tasted.


Some questions and suggestions from your great Q-view Thumbs Up


What was the mix of salt and sugar in the cure? Was there anything else in it?


I notice that you applied the cure to only one side of the fish and that you placed both halves together and wrapped them tightly in clingfilm. The main reasons for curing at this stage is to increase the salt content of the fish but also to remove water. By doing it that way you will certainly increase the salt content (but it will probably be too salty) however you may not remove much of the water.

Next time try coating the cure on both sides of the fish and place them separately on a wire rack over a tray, loosely covered with clingfilm. Leave in the fridge for 24 hours. This way you will get sufficient salt to penetrate but it will also allow the water to run off. You will be surprised just how much liquid comes out of the fish. One of the biggest problems people find when they first start to cure fish is that it tastes very salty - and then they try to add more sugar to mask the saltiness.


Hanging the fish is fine and in that design of smoker you will get more whole fillets in if you hang them. If you are going to smoke things like cheese or nuts then you wull need to rig up some shelves.


Yes the fish will rip if you simply try to hook it up by the tail - you found that out the hard way... When I fillet fish I leave the collar on by the gills but this method will work with full fillets too. At the thick end of the fillet weave a metal or wooden skewer through the skin at each side and through the flesh in between. Take a length of string and thread it through the skin just below the skewer at each sides of the fish and then tie the ends to make a loop. This will then provide a good firm fix from which you can hang the salmon in the smoker.



I have one of those ProQ generators too which I used to use and they can be quite difficult to keep burning sometimes - especially if the dust is a little damp. A good tip with them is to microwave the dust for a few minutes on high power to warm the dust and drive off some of the moisture. 


I hope this helps. I am looking forward to seeing your next batch photos Thumbs Up



post #8 of 51
Thread Starter 

Some fantastic info there, especially about microwaving the dust. Thank you Wade!


As for the fish, I followed the a recipe (http://www.macsbbq.com/cold-smoked-salmon) to the letter but I only used ONE fillet of fish.

"Mix 1 cup salt with 1/2 cup brown sugar, grind up some black pepper and add it to the mix"


I only bought and smoked one, to see how it went. In case (as you suggested) I over salted.

This meant the fish was all ready filleted and had no head/tail to use to keep the hook in.


The instructions on the recipie said for me to wrap the fish 'very' tightly. So I did.

Happy to use yoru experience and do it looser next time.

Saying that, liquid litrally poured out of this fillet (as you can kind of see in the pink bag in the photo)


post #9 of 51

That is great. From your second photo it looks as if you had packed two of them together skin side out.


You may find this link helpful. This thread is with Trout but it is the same method as I use for Salmon which I sell commercially.



When I get home tonight I will upload a photo that better shows the curing rack.

post #10 of 51

Good morning Jim,


The salmon looks delicious!  I'd say it was a successful first try...and as you gain in knowledge and experience, and learn your smoker, things will only get better!


Wade caught something that is a concern I wish to repeat.  The link you provided in your other thread regarding your smoker indicated that it might be constructed of galvanized steel.  As Wade mentioned over there, hot smoking or cooking with galvanized steel is risky.  Before you hot smoke in it, I'd suggest making sure it isn't galvanized...and if it is, taking the precautions Wade already suggested.  If your unit turns out to be stainless steel, you're certainly good to go!



post #11 of 51
I love making smoked salmon. It's one of those things where you can really play with the recipe. It's criminal how much they charge for smoked salmon compared to the small amount of effort it takes. I just wish I had a use for the skin because nothing goes to waste normally. Smoked Salmon got me into the whole smoking game. I strongly recommend that you try making bacon. It's just as simple as smoked salmon. This great community will help you no end.
post #12 of 51
Originally Posted by Morrit View Post

It's criminal how much they charge for smoked salmon compared to the small amount of effort it takes. 


Sssshhhhh! don't let everyone know that or I will have to reduce my prices :th_crybaby2:

post #13 of 51
Aaah... but there's a difference between mass produced and artesan ;)
post #14 of 51
Thread Starter 

So... the results are in...


A load of relatives came round and we did a few slices of salmon with a Cucumber, dill and lemon salad.

Very happy with it for a first attempt.






Need to get a bit of a better technique for slicing, especially as I found (after wards) we have a salmon knife!!!!


Only minor issue was (as predicted by you clever folk) was it was a little salty. Not too much but I think the curing setup recommended by Wade will solve that issue.


Right... Bacon next then, Morrit...? :36:

post #15 of 51

Today salmon, tomorrow bacon - after that the world!!!


Be very careful when you start to make bacon. Once you have tasted your first home made bacon you will never want shop bought bacon again.


A couple of pointers before you begin...

  • Make sure that you buy your Nitrite cure from a reputable source - some cheap sources on the Internet do not supply what they claim
  • In the UK it is permissible to use both Nitrite and Nitrate (Cure #2) when curing bacon however in the USA only Nitrite (Cure #1) is permitted. As the EU are currently trying to stop the use of Nitrate, in line with the USA, I would recommend that you only use the cure #1. The reason for the Nitrate ban is that Nitrate at high temperatures (e.g. when bacon is fried) produces Nitrosamines which has been linked to cancer in animals.
  • Get yourself a set of digital scales that weigh to an accuracy of at least 0.1 of a gram for weighing out the cure.
  • Belly pork will give you streaky bacon and pork loin will give you back bacon. For your very first attempt I suggest that you try back bacon - mainly for the reason that it is less fiddly to work with and is more compact. You will get the most flavour though from the streaky bacon due to the greater proportion of fat.


I have attached a quick guide that may help get you started

DryCureBacon-Stepbystep2.pdf 624k .pdf file


Your smoker will be perfect for cold smoking it after it has been cured.


If you would like some recommendations as to where to buy your cure then please let me know. If you want, to get you started I could send you some (enough for 3-4 Kg bacon). I use quite a bit of it.





post #16 of 51
Looks very tasty indeed! Slicing salmon is a pain but this video is actually really good. This is how we used to do it in the kitchen. The D cut. Also a good knife is a must. https://youtu.be/UmkBn25IcL0

I once witnessed the Maitre d at Claridges slice a salmon. Expertly done and wafer thin near transparent slices. Never been able to reproduce it myself... One day though!
It is an art just like slicing a prosciutto.

I like a hollow ground knife, also known as a scalloped slicer for slicing but it's whatever you feel most comfortable with.

As for bacon try and get some juniper berries... believe me... It transforms it... and Wade is correct... you will NEVER buy shop bacon again!
post #17 of 51
Hi Jim, glad to see the Salmon went well.

Home made Bacon is like a drug, once you start there's no going back. You to will have to admit to being hooked.

Plenty of advice on here for guidance.
post #18 of 51
Baconolics anonymous...
post #19 of 51
Was trying to think of name for it last night!

Off for a fix now!
post #20 of 51
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the info and help guys. REALLY appreciate it!

Think Bacon may be the next job. Wade's very kind offer will be taken up.


I guess my next question is going to be around slicing. Took a few attempts but we managed to get quite good with slicing the Salmon, although I wish I had watched that video Morrit posted before I started! Will know for next time.
As for the bacon, will I get away with using a sharp knife or will I very quickly realise I need a decent slicer?


Back/Loin is not for me, I'm a streaky man through and through. So going to get hold of a nice piece from my local. :)

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