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How cold is too cold?

Discussion in 'Info and Practices' started by crazycold, Sep 29, 2010.

  1. crazycold

    crazycold Newbie

    Hey all,

    I've been thinking about trying to Macguyver something that will allow for cold smoking during the summer months of Austin, TX (where the ambient shady temperature will be something near 95 degrees F).  My current idea is to drill a hole in the bottom of a minifridge and run a pipe from my smoker into the fridge.  The main problem I see with this (and if you see more, please let me know) is that the fridge will keep the meat to around 40 degrees or so.  Most of the research I've done on cold smoking has recommended a temperature between 70 and 80 degrees, but the only reasoning I've heard for that is to keep the fish from cooking and developing a flaky texture.

    Is there a temperature that is too cold for smoking salmon?  If so, what are the problems caused by smoking at too cold a temperature?

    I've never tried cold smoking before, so all my information is coming from websites and forums, so if I'm missing something really really obvious (be it a major problem or really simple solution), feel free to let me know :)
  2. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    I guess the proper term should be cool smoking.

     You can cool smoke w/ some racks a cardboard box a soldering iron a coffee can and some wood chips. The  cured meat ,fish ,cheese does not have to be kept cold only below the temp where it starts rendering fat or in the case of cheese ,Melting.

     the idea of a mini fridge and piped in smoke could work but instead of using the fridge to keep it cold . Don't plug in the fridge .just use a bowl of ice to keep the temps down .
  3. crazycold

    crazycold Newbie

    eman:  Thanks for the tip about the bowl of icewater!  I'm not sure how long it will keep the minifridge cool in the summer heat, but it sounds like it'll be a heck of a lot more energy efficient than running the fridge the whole time.

    cliffcarter:  I read through the links you posted, but none of them really address the question I had been asking.  The first two links both mention the 70 to 80 degree high, but don't mention anything about what the absolute low temperature should be, or what (if any) problems arise from smoking at too cold a temperature.

    I'm going to be out of town for a wedding this weekend, but the weekend after I should have some free time to experiment around a bit with this.  I'm hoping to make two small batches for the test run- one smoked at around 70 degrees, and one smoked with the fridge running at around 40.  I'll post results once I have them.
  4. tjohnson

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

  5. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    If your fridge temp is 40°F and your smoke temp is 70°F do you think you should be concerned about condensation in side the fridge?
  6. pokey

    pokey Meat Mopper

    Fridges have a thermostats to control the internal temp. I wonder how high one could set it for? It probably depends on the unit. If the idea is to "McGuyver" it, I wonder if there would be a way of fooling the thermostat so that it maintains a temp of 70-80. Just trying to think outside the box!
  7. ismoke

    ismoke Meat Mopper

    Not sure, but if we're "McGuyver"-ing it - shouldn't we use a paper clip and some duct tape somewhere??
  8. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    First off...You got salmon in Texas? Second off, welcome to the forums CrazyCold.

    I can't think of a reason why you can't smoke at 40°, I know some food prossesors will do it below 40° to keep the food in the safety zone. after you pull it out of the cure I would hang it to dry and let it develope a nice pellicle, (a dry tacky surface to the meat) this will help absorb the color and flavor of the smoke.

    let us know what you try and how it comes out.

    PS here's a link to some vanilla ice cream I smoked last winter .....temp was 15° and it came out Sweeeeet. :)

    Last edited: Oct 25, 2010