Guide to Cold Smoking

Jason Webster
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What is cold smoking?

Cold smoking is done at temperatures lower than smokehouse temperatures at about 100C (212F) above the ambient air temperature. It is different from hot smoking, which is done at higher temperatures of about 160C (320F) and higher.

Cold smoking can be done indoors or outdoors. It uses a wood smoke to impart the smoke flavour and can be accomplished with a cheaper and smaller smoker. It enables you to preserve meat and fish using the principle of curing.

Cold smoking is done using hardwoods that yield a dense, slow-burning smoke. Hickory is one of the most popular wood to use for cold smoking.

Hot Smoking vs Cold Smoking

Cold smoking is one of my favorite hobbies, besides biking, of course! It’s simple, doesn’t require a lot of attention, and it can produce delicious food.

Cold smoking is also known as cold smoking (as opposed to hot smoking) because it doesn’t require the smoking object to be subject to a fire. In order to smoke cold, you can place your meat, fish, cheese, or whatever you’re smoking on an electric smoker or a smoke box. The heat from the box warms the insides and the smoke that you’ll be using is cold.

Cold smoking allows you to smoke your food without cooking it. This means you can transform low-quality meats and other foods that can’t be cooked in a way that preserves their nutritional value and, even, nutritional value you wouldn’t expect from those foods. Cold smoking has been done for centuries and the reason you still see people smoking their meats and other foods is that it adds that special flavor that is often hard to achieve through cooking. Add a little bit of sugar, seasoning, and a beautiful smoked flavor and you’ll achieve great results.

What types of food are best for cold smoking

Cold smoking is a good way to preserve and extend the life of certain foods you might be preserving in the fridge for a while. Unlike other forms of smoking, cold smoking tends to preserve food better than it does impart strong smoke flavor.

While this is great for smoking cheeses, cold smoke meats tend to acquire the smoky flavor more subtly. Think more like the way a potato chip subtle flavor of a smoker (whereas, hot smoke does the opposite). Thus, cold smoking can be considered more delicate than hot smoking.

The good news is that, with a little know-how, you can build a cold smoking plan and actually cold smoking away. This will require more work than you can imagine. You should also note that cold smoking is a protracted process unlike hot smoking.

The best foods for cold smoking are anything that has a fat content (like cheese or nuts) and meat that you want to extend your shelf life without refrigeration. Some of our favorites? Ham, wild game meats like duck or turkey, homemade bacon, and sliced flats of fish.

But really, you can cold smoke almost any kind of meat that has a fat content. Depending on the meat, you can cold smoke a week to a month on the counter. Not a bad deal, right?

The dangers of cold smoking (or how not to die from botulism)

Cold smoking allows you to impart a smokey flavor to your meat without cooking it, which allows you to create hard-cured charcuterie like ham, salami, and other dry-cured sausages.

This process is significantly less dangerous than hot smoking, which is why the USDA states that cold smoking is safe if you ensure certain conditions are in place.

With cold smoking, it’s unlikely that you’ll receive any of the dangerous bacteria that can cause botulism poisoning. Botulism is a deadly illness caused by botulin-producing bacteria, which thrives in the anaerobic conditions created during the actual smoking process.

This, however, doesn’t mean cold smoking is entirely free from bacterial dangers. For example, if you’re curing some meat at home, you’re probably not inspecting it for bacteria either. It’s one of the trade-offs of creating something delicious and preservative-free out of your own home.

Here’s a few extra precautions you should take when smoking frozen meat to cold smoke:

The temperature of the basement (or other lower level location) should be 40 degrees or below. The USDA recommends 40 degrees, though lower is better.

Why is cold smoking more dangerous than hot smoking?

While both hot and cold smoking involve exposing food to smoke for flavoring; success in each form of smoking depends on the type of food you are smoking.

The reason why cold smoking is more dangerous is because it involves exposing food to smoke for a much longer time when compared to hot smoking.

Hot smoke, which is the most common form of smoking among cooks, involves exposing food to smoke for shorter periods of time. Hot smoking is usually done with a liquid-fueled smoker that regulates the smoke at a temperature of 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cold smoking is used to smoke food items that cannot be exposed to the heat of a smoker that might cook them and convert them into a different food item.

Cold smoking is done with smoking equipment such as an electric smoker that produces smoke at much lower temperatures such as at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or less.

Cold smoking is also known by another name, cold curing or cold pasteurizing.

When smoking fish, for example, cold smoking involves exposing the fish and other food items to smoke at temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit or less for a long period of time. Some smokers that are suitable for cold smoking maintain a temperature of 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Certain people should avoid cold smoked meats at all costs

Namely pregnant women, children, and any person with a weak immune system or chronic health problem. Also, cold smoked meats must be eaten within one month of being refrigerated, after which they can spoil and possibly cause illness.

Summing up the risks

Smoking is not a healthy activity. But when you’re freezing your butt off in the wilderness, what you need is a hot smoke to keep you warm.

Cold smoking is even worse than smoking the conventional way. You will expose yourself to high levels of harmful chemicals and carcinogens.

But if you’re willing to endure the risks, you can have a great time making some delicious smoked food. The good news is that you can reduce these risks by doing a few smart things.

First, you need to make sure that you use only the best quality of wood chips. The cheap ones will make your meat taste like ash rather than smoke.

Next, keep a careful watch on your fire to keep it burning mellow and slow. The smoke should be just warm, not hot.

Finally, minimize direct exposure to the smoke. Smell it, or better yet, taste it through a trivet or a pipe.

For example, you can start by smoking a few pieces of wood, next try a few fish and then smoke some meat.

DIY cold smoker setup

Even if you are a beginner, it doesn’t mean you can’t make great cold smoked meat.

The cold smoker setup for beginners may not look as glamorous or expensive as a high-tech professional smoker, but it will most certainly get the job done.

You can even piece together different designs and your own design from available materials to make your own cold smoker.

Remember to give plenty of time to monitor and to learn how to use the smoker. Start with something simple and keep working your way up to more challenging things.

Cold smoking in a Weber Smokey Mountain

Cold smoking is a slow and gentle process, so once you start the fire, you have to be prepared to leave it smoldering for at least 6 hours, maybe more. If you are not comfortable keeping the fire going for that long, you can place another burner underneath the bottom pot.

Prepare for the smoking by placing a piece of wood on the fire to create smoke. You are arranging the wood to look like a teepee with the base of the pot being the nest. The bottom pot gets its heat from a burner underneath.

After arranging the wood, pour water in the water pan, light it and let it simmer inside the cooker for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, close the vents and put the top of the cooker on. That’s it, it as that easy. You will have to monitor the fire every now and then (depending on how cold the day is) to ensure that the smoker maintains the correct temperature to cold smoke your meat.

To cold smoke, point the vents at the wood and adjust them slightly to allow more or less smoke to come out. This will also determine the temperature inside the cooker.

If you do not get enough smoke coming out of the vents, you can open the bottom lid to allow more air to flow into the cooker which helps raise the temperature inside and flows out of a lower vent.

Cold smoking in a Masterbuilt smoker

The Masterbuilt is a staple in the cast-iron smokers world. While many manufacturers have been producing these machines, the Masterbuilt 140 Mini is a long-standing favorite due to its popularity and its history as a commercial-grade machine.

The Masterbuilt 140 Mini cold smoker does not come with an internal temperature gauge, and as such users may experience temperature discrepancies from one use to the next. Because of this, it is essential to monitor your temperature using an external thermometer if you are looking to obtain more consistent results from one use to the next.

All you need is a pack of cheap wooden chips, and you are ready to go.

You will be smoking foods, like fish and beef jerky, sausage, and nuts, which are often low in fat and moisture, which means that the foods do not need to cook. In fact, the cold smoking process will begin to cook the food, so long as you have a low enough heat setting, and long enough smoke.

These low-moisture foods are perfect for smoking. The ideal technique for smoking foods in this section is cold smoking.

Cold smoking is much like cold smoking in a Masterbuilt smoker that you would do with more traditional food products. The difference between cold smoking and cooking is similar to the difference between cooking a steak and the effects of pasteurizing milk.

Use a pellet tube smoke generator

How to cold smoke? Only when it comes to smoking meat does the first answer that comes to your mind is real wood fire. However, that is not always possible for those living in apartments or having small yards that may or may not allow access to wood fire.

For such people, there is a better alternative to real wood fire. Have you ever heard of the pellet tube smoke generator? Pellet tube smoke generator is a relatively new product in the market that provides the cold smoke that real wood efficiently produces. It works by using the heat source to fill the generator with smoke, which is then released into cold smoking.

What is cold smoking? Cold smoking is done by the use of a smoker that is kept at a low temperature for at least an hour. This type of smoking allows the preservation and the production of a food product that is not affected by the temperature.

Cold smoking also requires less monitoring than hot smoking since the process does not get very hot. And if you are just starting out, that will be a big relief! Cold smoking is also less time consuming, allowing you to prepare your samples in just a few hours.

Cold smoking offers a simpler way to smoke the meat without drying it out. Smoking meat without drying it out but still giving it flavor and aroma is a task that is now accessible to non-experienced persons.

Cold smoking cheese

Is an easy and relatively cheap to get started. It also requires only a few pieces of equipment and the supplies are readily available at your local home and garden (hardware) store.

Commercial smokers are usually very expensive and very difficult to purchase for home use. They are, on the other hand, easy to make for the dedicated novice. They are also quite easy to locate in the brochures of some mail-order companies.

Tips for cold smoking safely

Cold smoking is a form of food preservation that is used to enhance the flavor of your fish, meat, and other meats.

It is different from regular salting as it involves storing the food over the smoke from cold smoking, which is dry as opposed to salty.

Here are a few tips you can use to cold smoke safely:

Selecting your smoking meat:

Remember to purchase your meat/product in season.

Ensure you read the labels and look at the product’s nutritional information.

Look for the term “hassle free”, which indicates the product is pre-cooked and ready for you to start cold smoking. Ensure that the ingredients are of high quality.

Check if there are preservatives in the product before you start smoking.

If the product you are planning to smoke is not pre-cooked, then cook it as you like.

If you’re cold smoking wild game, don’t brine or marinate it first.

Selecting your wood:

You should use hardwoods for cold smoking.

You can either buy wood chunks or chips.

Avoid using softwoods like pine or cedar as they produce an overpowering flavor.

Selecting your smoker box:

1) Make sure you follow expert recipes

Starting cold smoking is relatively easy. However, it’s important that you follow a few pointers to ensure that your first cold smoking experience is a success.

First, make sure you follow expert recipes. Smoking some meat isn’t as straightforward as others. It’s also not a precise process.

What you’d end up with depends on multiple factors, such as how much smoke is passing through the meat, the season in which you smoke your meat, the climate, and what your personal preferences are. This means that when you make your first cold smoking experiment, it’s important to stick to a recipe and follow it to the letter.

For example, a lot of experts proffer that the best cold smoking temperature is 54?F. So set your smoker to 54?F. Don’t try to think outside of the box and think that you’ll get a better result if the temperature is 55?F. It won’t. It’ll be the same.

There are several cold smoking recipes available online on that you can follow.

2) Source the highest quality meat or fish from a local butcher or fishmonger

3) Use cold smoking combined with salting

Many times we try to keep cooked meat, vegetables or fruit for long periods of time, hoping to have the food at our disposal when we need it.

The difficult part of this is that we refrigerate, and this process alters the texture and structural integrity of the food.

However, another factor of food deterioration that we often underestimate is the action of bacteria, which as a general rule are present in all foods.

When exposed to moisture and oxygen, bacteria thrive and multiply, producing waste products, causing processed foods to soften and lose their texture and nutrient value.

Cold smoking combined with salting can be the solution to these problems. When you smoke foods with a low temperature, you will expose them to less oxygen, which will reduce the rate at which their ultimate quality deteriorates.

Combined with salting, you will minimize the growth of small aerobic bacteria. Salting is excellent for creating a slightly acidic environment in foods. The ideal salt level will have a pH of 6.0–6.3. This level is just higher than the acidity level of your tongue. The rest of the human body has an acidity level of 7.0–7.4, which is lower than the level set by the tongue, but not enough to kill bacteria either. This is how you can keep food preserved without altering its texture.

4) Use cold smoking followed by another cooking method

This is my favorite way to smoke food for its extreme versatility.

I like to smoke foods and then finish the process using other cooking methods. This is ideally some sort of dish that involves baking in the oven or grilling on a barbecue.

When you cold smoke, you char the surface of the food. This prevents the interior from drying out, and it preserves the juices. Charring the surface also adds rich flavor and helps the smoke penetrate the food.

Let’s think about smoked salmon for a moment. Even though you may char the surface of the salmon, the inside remains moist because you don’t cook it until the center reaches a high temperature.

The same concept works whether you are smoking food for economy or flavor.

6 Best Charcoal Grills for 2022

A charcoal grill has been used for smoking and grilling since forever. You may not have heard of a charcoal grill as a cold smoker but it actually works because you can use low temperature and indirect heating in your charcoal grill.

So you may be wondering, “What is cold smoking?”

Cold smoking is a process where food is smoked with low heat and/or in an indirect manner for preserving the food.

Using charcoal is relatively easy to setup and also safe to use as you don’t have to worry about flares or grease fires as you would in propane grills.

While there are a ton of charcoal grills on the market, the best charcoal grill for cold smoking is a Kamado grill.

So in this article, we’ll discuss what to look for in a kamado grill and we’ll give you a few helpful tips for the best cold smoking experience.