In my younger days I assume I never really understood the actual significance of smoke flavoured food and smoked products. I ate Bacon and Ham readily without having a single thought of how that magical taste was produced, as I grew older smoked onion soup, smoked Trout and Salmon as well as other smoked goods found their place upon my plate. At the same time I was experiencing the flavours and taste of the products however, not really thinking too hard about how exactly it was made.
The art of successfully see has always been shrouded with much mystique and secrecy; many home recipes have been handed down through generations of families and closely guarded by those who practice it regularly, commercial producers guard their proprietary recipes with all the law……serious business this smoking sometimes.
Smoking is one of the oldest strategies for preserving a lot of fish, meat and game. A long time before there is any technology including refrigerators and freezers, people learned to use a combination of salt and smoke to maintain fish and meat from forming harmful bacteria and spoiling. This is not endemic to the particular region, race or country and people from cultures worldwide have relied on the smoke-curing of fish and meat products for longterm storage.
How many of you may have even been slipped some fish or meat through the old guy in the future every now and then that tastes just magnificent and wondered how he manages to really make it taste so great, or even a mates mate who turns up at a backyard BBQ with many smoked foods that end up being the primary conversation topic as many a alcoholic beverage is consumed.
For several years now We have practiced, experimented, failed dismally and often produced some fantastic smoked foods and found the toughest part of the whole process is consistency…….constantly producing a product that’s is great is never an easy task and requires complete control of many aspects.
Hopefully in the article that follows I can dispel some myths, offer some facts and science and direct you to having the capacity to produce some great smoked foods and impress your families and mates with a few tasty morsels.
In modern days go now has stopped being considered an essential process for retardation of food spoilage nevertheless it remains popular for the complex and tantalising flavours it gives to numerous different foods. Throughout the mid 1800s the industrial revolution influenced a lot of the food world as well as in particular the ocean-fishing industry. Transportation of fresh fish produce was a hugely difficult job but with the arrival of rapid transportation for foodstuffs a long shelf-life was no longer so essential. Because this became more widespread so did the availability of fresh fish, the recognition of heavily salted, heavily smoked products of history then began to decline.
This is when the smoked fish products we now regard as traditional came into being; they are mildly smoked and dried and contain minimum salt content when compared to the heavily salted fish of before.
During the mid to late 1900s the marketplace for smoked fish underwent an important change however the actual technology of smoking fish remained much exactly like it had been for hundreds of years. What we should do see much more of is now commercial cures that colour and flavour these products to please an enormous consumer market and less in the traditional smoked produce based on these age old processes.
Ideally, smoked fish should get its flavour and mahogany colour from your smoke, but many cheaper smoked fish have smoke flavour added, and a few varieties, like some hot-smoked and garishly coloured ‘kippered’ salmon, use artificial food colour too. Actually, some of the brightly coloured cured fish available in supermarkets are certainly not smoked at all, simply flavoured using a cure which includes smoke flavouring.
There are 2 main reasons to smoke food, one is for preservation as well as the other is for texture and flavour, with food preservation not nearly as vital as it once was the western world smoking today is utilized mainly to impart an enjoyable mild smoky flavour.
What can’t you Smoke…!! This really is basically up to your imagination and private tastes, Fish, Meat (Beef, Pork, Chicken, Turkey), Game (Venison, Wallaby, Duck), Vegetables, Cheese, Eggs even Salt…..when you can eat it fair bet you are able to probably smoke it, unsure how smoked Apple would go though…?? I am sure at one stage or any other pretty much every type of food has probably been experimented with to determine if it can be smoked. Because the saying goes though….
You can’t create a high quality smoked product from second rate food, should your smoking the fish you catch treat it well from the very beginning, straight on ice and remove all gills and gut contents, same goes with your meat if you hunt yourself, slaughter quickly, take care of it well and treat it with respect as well as the final product will be well worth the extra effort. In case your buying products use reputable butchers and fish processors, go for the best quality produce and in terms of poultry always buy organically raised birds…..believe me it will make all the difference.
Some individuals tend to be of the opinion that smoking can conceal mouldy or stale fish and meat off-flavours, this really is completely untrue as well as any unpleasant odours or flavours will be readily apparent rapidly.
Smokers come in all shapes and sizes and all types of styles, you can get them from many tackle stores and camping shops and you could even make one at home from many thing, almost all of you will be very familiar tgyika the tiny box shaped galvanised or see, the things i term the “lunch box” smokers in which I am sure many people have done a lot of their smoking in. These come in a selection of shapes, sizes and brands, are user friendly requiring merely a bottle of methylated spirits for your burner or burners along with a bag of sawdust. They are doing however only give a hot smoke product and therefore are not advised for virtually any foods other than fish while there is little if any control of the temperature or smoke quality, any attempt at cold smoking will need a much more sophisticated setup.