Cold Smoking and Air Drying

May 13th, 2012

We often talk about the one difficulty when cold smoking food at home – and that is ensuring that your food has dried sufficiently to make sure it is safe to eat.

If you weigh your food before you brine it – to ensure it is dry enough to eat – fish should have lost 20% of its weight and meat should have lost at least 25% of its weight.

So what do you do if you are smoking a side of salmon and after 10 or 12 hours or more in the smoker it has still not lost the required weight? Well there are two things that you can do –
1) you can either light another fire but then you run the risk of it tasting too smoky
2) you can find some way of air-drying it either by putting it under a fan or even putting it in a fan assisted oven WITHOUT any heat!

Last weekend was such a time at Smoky Jo’s. I had salted a small side of salmon for about 6 hours and then cold smoked it for 12 hours. When I came to test it – it was not dried sufficiently, so off I went to put it in my home-made air dryer – an old fridge with a blade fan from an ‘expel air’ in the bottom.

Air drying a side of salmon with a desk fan

To my horror the fan did not work. Despite my efforts in changing the fuse and checking the wires I still could not get it to work. In the end I simply put the salmon on top of my chest freezer on a rack and angled a simple desk fan at it. The air flowed over the salmon and within 3 hours it was ready to eat! So simple!

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