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Mystery of Cold Smoking by Marianski, Stanley; Marianski, Adam.

Discussion in 'Info and Practices' started by daveomak, Sep 10, 2018.

  1. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Marianski, Stanley; Marianski, Adam. The Art of Making Fermented Sausages (Kindle Locations 2216-2222). Bookmagic LLC. Kindle Edition.

    Mystery of Cold Smoking
    The majority of hobbyists think of cold smoking as some mysterious preservation technique that will produce a unique and superb quality product. What makes matters worse is that they start to experiment with different smoke temperatures and establish their own rules which then spread around and are repeated by newcomers into the field of smoking meats. In most German, Polish or Russian meat technology books the upper limit for cold smoking is 71° F (22° C). Let’s put some facts straight: cold smoking is not a preservation method, it will not preserve meat unless the meat will be dried. the higher amount of salt is added to meat that would be smoked to inhibit the growth of spoilage bacteria. cold smoking is an additional safety hurdle that helps to achieve microbiological safety of meat. Cold smoking was nothing else but a drying method whose purpose was to eliminate moisture so that bacteria would not grow. This technique developed in North Eastern European countries where the climate was harsh and winters severe. When meats were cold smoked for 2-3 weeks, yes, the meat became preserved, but it was drying that made the meat safe. If the same meat was dried at 54° F (12° C) without any smoke present, it would be preserved all the same. The pigs were traditionally slaughtered for Christmas and the meat had to last until the summer. Noble cuts were cooked or salted, but trimmings were made into sausages that were dried which was not an easy task to accomplish with freezing temperatures outside. The only way to heat up storage facilities was to burn wood and that produced smoke. They were two choices: hang meats 5 feet above a small smoldering fire OR burn wood in a firebox that was located outside. The firebox was connected with the smokehouse by an underground channel that would supply heat and smoke at the same time.
    As the temperature had to be higher than freezing temperatures outside, the slowly burning fire provided suitable temperatures for drying. It is common knowledge that fire produces smoke so the meats and sausages were dried and smoked at the same time. They were just flavored with cold smoke which not only helped to preserve the product but gave it a wonderful aroma. In addition it prevented molds from growing on the surface. Those advantages of applying smoke were not ignored by our ancestors and smoking became an art in itself. The meat, however, was preserved by drying and the benefits of smoke flavor was just an added bonus. A large smokehouse was also a storage facility where smoked meats hung in a different area where they continued to receive some smoke, although on a much smaller scale. This prevented any mold from growing on the surfaces of hams or sausages, as molds need oxygen to grow.
    It was established that meats dried best when the temperatures were somewhere between 10-15° C (50–60° F) and although the temperature of the smoke leaving the firebox was higher, it would be just right by the time it made contact with meat. Whole logs of wood were burnt. The fire was allowed to die out as people went to sleep. The meats hung until the morning and the fire would be re-started again. So when you see an old recipe saying that ham or sausage was smoked for 2 weeks, well it really was not, as it probably received smoke for about 1/3 of the time. Those meats were not cooked, they were dried and could be considered fermented products. Italians and Spaniards were blessed with a climate that provided cool prevailing winds at right temperatures. There was no need to burn wood to warm up the drying chambers. As a result products did not acquire a smoky flavor. For this reason people in the Mediterranean basin are not particularly fond of smoked products, and people in Germany, Poland, Russia, Lithuania love them, but don’t generally like uncooked air dried products. The majority of all processed meat products in Northern Europe are of smoked variety. There is little difference about Italian salami, Hungarian salami or Polish Cold Smoked Sausage. Italian salami is dried without smoke and Hungarian salami or Polish sausage were dried with cold smoke. The product was drying out and the smoke happened to be there. Preservation was on people’s mind rather than creating cold smoked flavor. Very few products are cold smoked today, notably cold smoked salmon known as “lox.” The texture of cold smoked products is firmer and they can be sliced paper thin. The taste is a different story, you must acquire a liking for cold smoked products. In the past people already knew what we know today, that hot smoked products taste better. Cold smoking was our answer to the lack of refrigeration in the past. Do you think we would have bothered to smoke meats for weeks if refrigeration had been present? No, we would hot smoke them for a few hours and then they would end up in the refrigerator. Cold smoking is performed with a thin smoke, 52-71°F (12-22°C), 70-80% humidity, from 1 - 14 days, and a good air ventilation to remove excess moisture. Cold smoking is not a continuous process, it is stopped a few times to allow fresh air into the smoker. Often recipes call for 3-4 days of cold smoking, but that does not mean
    that the smoking is continuous. Applying a heavy continuous smoke for such a long period (even at a low temperature) may impart a bitter taste to the product. Cold smoking slows down the spoilage of fats, which increases the shelf life of meat. The product is drier and saltier with a more pronounced smoky flavor. The color varies from yellow to dark brown on the surface and dark red inside. Cold smoked products are not submitted to the cooking process. Cold smoking assures us of total smoke penetration inside of the meat. The loss of moisture is uniform in all areas and the total weight loss falls within 5-20% depending largely on the smoking time. It is obvious that you cannot produce cold smoke if the outside temperature is 90° F (32° C), unless you can cool it down, which is what some industrial smokers do. In tropical areas like Florida you are limited to the winter months only and the smoking must be done at night when temperatures drop to 40 - 60° F (4-16° C) or even lower. The question arises to how to continue cold smoking when temperature increases to 80° F (27° C) at day time? Well, do not smoke, move meat to the area of 50° F (10° C) or refrigerate. Then when the temperature drops in the evening, start smoking again.

    Marianski, Stanley; Marianski, Adam. The Art of Making Fermented Sausages (Kindle Locations 2243-2253). Bookmagic LLC. Kindle Edition.

    danmcg and tallbm like this.
  2. kansaskidney

    kansaskidney Newbie

    thanks for the helpful info. So after reading this. i would say im looking for a smoker to use for hams briskets and sausages. I would think then that if i can get the temp to a max of 225 i should be good for all i need it to do. If i want to smoke fish and cheese would i be correct in thinking that a smaller fire would create lower temps that would work for these. Sorry for all the questions. I want to make sure i do my research before i start. My grandpa had a smoker he would cure hams in in the winter and i want to teach my kids the same. The memories still stay with me.
  3. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You are welcome...
  4. Erazun

    Erazun Newbie

    Hi daveomak

    Thanks for the quote
    I actually have just finished reading the book. Probably one of the most useful books I had the pleasure of reading when it comes to smoking.
    I however was left with a few unanswered questions I was hoping yourself or perhaps someone else could help me with.
    I am quite familiar with the procedures and have done a bit of smoking and curing myself. I also come from an Easter European country where I’ve grown up with a lot of people who slaughter their own pigs then process the meat and make a lot of smoked meats including sausages. I remember my grandfather used to put the sausages that he filled in his smoker that was outside (about 2 m tall 1x1 metre wide and lit the fire on the bottom then sprinkled sawdust on it and that created thick smoke. The brick building had small vents on the top for the fresh air to come in and the smoke to escape. Then he left it and carried on with his day. He has done it every night before he went to bed and did It also first thing in the morning. I cannot remember exactly for how long a period but something’s for weeks. Everything was done in the winter. The average temperature would have been below freezing point, sometimes -15 C.
    He has never used any nitrates or nitrites in his sausages.
    The question is of course that what part of this procedure do I need to recreate to makes nitrite and nitrate free sausages ina safe way. What health and safety procedures would I need to follow and what critical control points are there to be aware of.
    My presumption initially would be that the procedure must be done in an environment where the sausages never get warmer than 8 C (or so?) and also have some sort of natural air flow so that the drying can carry on while the smoking. What are the recommendations? A fridge that stores the sausages and is equipped with cold smoke and a chimney? Or perhaps a larger room that is refrigerated?.....
    Thank you
  5. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Nitrites prevent botulism... Botulism grows, or whatever it does, in an oxygen deprived environment... Smoldering wood consumes the oxygen...
    I can't recommend any procedure that does not use nitrite... You only get botulism once...
  6. MeatSkull

    MeatSkull Meat Mopper

    C A P
  7. zwiller

    zwiller Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  8. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    What is C A P ???

  9. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    In the dead of the winter in Northern/Eastern Europe you would need a lot of fuel to keep temps between 12-21C in a poor man's smoke house. Hell...the temp inside my grandmom's house was well below 20 unless you were sitting right next to the cooking stove.
    In households meats and sausages were (still are) smoked closer to freezing temps. Which explains the low incidence of botulism - nitrite being rarely used. Also the reason why such long smoking times are needed.

    The fact that smoke does not work alone as preservative...neither does nitrite...but is a mild antibacterial and keeps molds away - both good and bad.
  10. CAP (case and point)-?
  11. bill ace 350

    bill ace 350 Smoking Fanatic

    I never thought there was a mystery about it at all.