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Cold smoking crash course?

Ty520

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I was wondering if anyone could provide a quick rundown of the ins and outs of cold smoking? Had been itching to try it, but had second thoughts after reading an article that had some major warnings about the potential for botulism.

that being said, I still am interested.

Obviously, cold smoked meat would need to be cooked afterward (unless it is fermented or cured) - so my understanding is that cold smoking mostly is intended to extend shelf life and impart flavor?

When is cold smoking appropriate? when is it not appropriate?

How do you determine when it is "done?"

Also any other important inputs/ considerations are appreciated
 

smokerjim

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Basically uncured meats need to get to 145 degrees within 4 hours to kill the bad stuff unless you can keep your smoker under 40 degrees ,not sure about chicken I wouldn't could smoke that at all unless I can keep the smoker under 40 degrees. Then is your meats injected, sliced, whole muscle, ground meat.This all plays a part. Curing kills off most bad things so we could cold smoke safely. Hopefully someone with more knowledge will jump in and help you stay out of the hospital. I determine when it's done by temp
 

smokeymose

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Cold smoking is primarily for flavor, not shelf life.
You have to use a cure like Instacure#1.
The ambient needs to be above freezing and I don't like it above 70F.
It's done when you have enough smoke on it for your taste. I only cold smoke bacon and 4 or 5 hours is plenty for me.
Anything longer than that makes me nervous, even with a cure. Maybe that's just me...
 

chef jimmyj

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In general, any meat you wish to smoke below 225 to180°F, requires the addition of Cure #1 to your mix of 1 to 3% Salt and any other spices or sweeteners you like.
This low temp smoking is typically divided, for simple, easy to remember numbers, into COLD SMOKE, 40° to 100°F.
And COOL SMOKE, 100° to 180°F.
Which temp range you use depends on what you are making. Meat items that are Cured, Smoked and left Raw to be cooked later, ex. Belly Bacon, is Cold smoked at the Ambient temp. Depending on your area, Spring and Fall are good times to Cold Smoke as the temps are 50 to 70°F, which is optimal, though 20°F one way or another is fine as well. Again, this meat is Raw and needs to be Cooked.
In contrast COOL SMOKE, adds smoke flavor and color, along with Cooking the meat to the point that it is Ready to Eat, no further cooking required. Well, unless you want to heat it. Ex. Kielbasa, Hot Dogs, Canadian Bacon, Buck Board (shoulder) Bacon and Ham. These all use a similar recipe to Belly Bacon of Cure #1, Salt, Flavoring and Sweetener. The Smoking temp, lets go with Kielbasa. Start at 130°F for an hour, no smoke, to dry the casing. Next bump the temp 10°F each hour to no higher than 170°F and smoke until the Internal Temp is 150 to 155°F and Fully Cooked. The other meats listed, also need to be smoked to an IT in the 150's.

A little bit on what Cure #1, Salt and Sugar do to make Cold/Cool Smoking Safe...
Clostridium Botulinum is a very common Bacteria that, as it reproduces, gives off one of the most Deadly Toxins known and causes BOTULISM. CB is found in Dirt, Plants the grow in dirt and in Animal Feces. CB comes in two forms. Active Bacteria, that makes Toxin, and Dormant Spores. Spores form when conditions are going bad for the active Bacteria. Getting too Hot, too Cold, too Dry or Food running out. The Spores are resistant to temps as high as 250°F and they can't be killed by Freezing. Think Spores as a Cocoon, protecting the Bacteria inside. When conditions return to favorable, above 40°F, there is Food and Water...AND...There is a Very Low or No Oxygen Environment, the Spores reactivate and become Live Bacteria. They begin multiplying and making TOXIN!

So...Where do we find Favorable conditions to activate Spores? YEP...COLD OR COOL SMOKING MEAT and SAUSAGE! We add Cure #1 with it's 6.25% Sodium Nitrite, Not because it Kills Spores, but because it Disables their ability to Activate in our Smoker. In addition Cure #1, inhibits multiplication of Live CB, Salmonella and Listeria, all common harmful Bacteria that can be found on meat. Cure #1 also, gives Red Meat, that Pink Color, when cooked, helps keep Fat from going Rancid and when combined with Smoke, produces the Hammy/Bacon Flavor associated with Cured Smoked Meats and Sausage.

Both Salt and Sugar are added for Flavor but they also are Hygroscopic, they BIND Water so it is unavailable for rapid Bacteria Growth. Salt can kill some Bacteria by Dehydrating them.

When Cure #1 is added to Meat at a rate of 0.25% of the meats weight. It gives the desired protection to COLD Smoked meat, ( 40 to 100°F), like Belly Bacon, for about 30 days. For this reason you can SAFELY COLD Smoke Bacon for Hours, Days or with 8 hours in Smoke, followed by at least and 8 Hour Refer Rest, you can Cold Smoke for a couple of Weeks, with Complete SAFETY.
Using Cure #1 to Cure Meat and Sausage that will be COOL Smoked, offers the Same Protection from the Bacteria Nitrite inhibits while the Meats Internal Temp, is below 130 to 140°F. Beyond 140°F, no Living harmful Bacteria will grow and most are Killed...BUT...Not the CB Spores! Hence the reason, Bacon, Ham, Smoked Sausage, ect. That is COOL Smoked and Ready to Eat, or COLD Smoked and still Raw, MUST BE REFRIGERATED.
I hope this somewhat lengthy explanation gives you an understanding of Why We Cure Meat. And the confidence to give it a shot. Post the Recipe you wish to use and how you plan to Smoke it and we will Review your plan for a flavorful and Safe result...JJ
 

Ty520

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Joined Feb 25, 2021
In general, any meat you wish to smoke below 225 to180°F, requires the addition of Cure #1 to your mix of 1 to 3% Salt and any other spices or sweeteners you like.
This low temp smoking is typically divided, for simple, easy to remember numbers, into COLD SMOKE, 40° to 100°F.
And COOL SMOKE, 100° to 180°F.
Which temp range you use depends on what you are making. Meat items that are Cured, Smoked and left Raw to be cooked later, ex. Belly Bacon, is Cold smoked at the Ambient temp. Depending on your area, Spring and Fall are good times to Cold Smoke as the temps are 50 to 70°F, which is optimal, though 20°F one way or another is fine as well. Again, this meat is Raw and needs to be Cooked.
In contrast COOL SMOKE, adds smoke flavor and color, along with Cooking the meat to the point that it is Ready to Eat, no further cooking required. Well, unless you want to heat it. Ex. Kielbasa, Hot Dogs, Canadian Bacon, Buck Board (shoulder) Bacon and Ham. These all use a similar recipe to Belly Bacon of Cure #1, Salt, Flavoring and Sweetener. The Smoking temp, lets go with Kielbasa. Start at 130°F for an hour, no smoke, to dry the casing. Next bump the temp 10°F each hour to no higher than 170°F and smoke until the Internal Temp is 150 to 155°F and Fully Cooked. The other meats listed, also need to be smoked to an IT in the 150's.

A little bit on what Cure #1, Salt and Sugar do to make Cold/Cool Smoking Safe...
Clostridium Botulinum is a very common Bacteria that, as it reproduces, gives off one of the most Deadly Toxins known and causes BOTULISM. CB is found in Dirt, Plants the grow in dirt and in Animal Feces. CB comes in two forms. Active Bacteria, that makes Toxin, and Dormant Spores. Spores form when conditions are going bad for the active Bacteria. Getting too Hot, too Cold, too Dry or Food running out. The Spores are resistant to temps as high as 250°F and they can't be killed by Freezing. Think Spores as a Cocoon, protecting the Bacteria inside. When conditions return to favorable, above 40°F, there is Food and Water...AND...There is a Very Low or No Oxygen Environment, the Spores reactivate and become Live Bacteria. They begin multiplying and making TOXIN!

So...Where do we find Favorable conditions to activate Spores? YEP...COLD OR COOL SMOKING MEAT and SAUSAGE! We add Cure #1 with it's 6.25% Sodium Nitrite, Not because it Kills Spores, but because it Disables their ability to Activate in our Smoker. In addition Cure #1, inhibits multiplication of Live CB, Salmonella and Listeria, all common harmful Bacteria that can be found on meat. Cure #1 also, gives Red Meat, that Pink Color, when cooked, helps keep Fat from going Rancid and when combined with Smoke, produces the Hammy/Bacon Flavor associated with Cured Smoked Meats and Sausage.

Both Salt and Sugar are added for Flavor but they also are Hygroscopic, they BIND Water so it is unavailable for rapid Bacteria Growth. Salt can kill some Bacteria by Dehydrating them.

When Cure #1 is added to Meat at a rate of 0.25% of the meats weight. It gives the desired protection to COLD Smoked meat, ( 40 to 100°F), like Belly Bacon, for about 30 days. For this reason you can SAFELY COLD Smoke Bacon for Hours, Days or with 8 hours in Smoke, followed by at least and 8 Hour Refer Rest, you can Cold Smoke for a couple of Weeks, with Complete SAFETY.
Using Cure #1 to Cure Meat and Sausage that will be COOL Smoked, offers the Same Protection from the Bacteria Nitrite inhibits while the Meats Internal Temp, is below 130 to 140°F. Beyond 140°F, no Living harmful Bacteria will grow and most are Killed...BUT...Not the CB Spores! Hence the reason, Bacon, Ham, Smoked Sausage, ect. That is COOL Smoked and Ready to Eat, or COLD Smoked and still Raw, MUST BE REFRIGERATED.
I hope this somewhat lengthy explanation gives you an understanding of Why We Cure Meat. And the confidence to give it a shot. Post the Recipe you wish to use and how you plan to Smoke it and we will Review your plan for a flavorful and Safe result...JJ
This was great info, thanks!

I started this thread after reading through Steven Lamb's River Cottage Smoking and Curing handbook - I've always admired the River Cottage's practice, but was very surprised at how casual - almost primitive - their process is, and their lack of use of Cure #1
 
Last edited:

GaryHibbert

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Cold smoking is primarily for flavor, not shelf life.
You have to use a cure like Instacure#1.
The ambient needs to be above freezing and I don't like it above 70F.
It's done when you have enough smoke on it for your taste. I only cold smoke bacon and 4 or 5 hours is plenty for me.
Anything longer than that makes me nervous, even with a cure. Maybe that's just me...
I've never had any problems with my belly bacon. I like LOTS of smoke flavor on my bacon. I always cold smoke it for 12 hours, refrigerate it over night, and smoke it for another 12 hours. Then I let it sit uncovered in the fridge for a day, slice and vac seal it. Some is kept for immediate frying and eating, the rest is frozen as soon as it's vac sealed.
Gary
 

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