In my younger days I assume I never really understood the real 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 developed, as I grew older smoked onion soup, smoked Trout and Salmon and various other smoked goods found their place upon my plate. All the while I was experiencing the flavours and taste of the products but not really thinking too hard about how exactly it was made.
The ability of successfully other has always been shrouded with much mystique and secrecy; many home recipes have already been handed down through generations of families and closely guarded by those that practice it regularly, commercial producers guard their proprietary recipes with the law……serious business this smoking sometimes.
Smoking is one of the oldest methods of preserving a lot of fish, meat and game. Well before there was any technology such as refrigerators and freezers, people learned to utilize a blend of salt and smoke to keep fish and meat from forming unwanted organisms and spoiling. This was not endemic to any particular region, race or country and folks from cultures worldwide have relied on the smoke-curing of fish and meat products for longterm storage.
How many of you might have even been slipped a piece of fish or meat from your old guy down the road from time to time that tastes just magnificent and wondered how he manages making it taste so great, or even a mates mate who turns up with a backyard BBQ with a few smoked foods that end up being the main conversation topic as numerous a alcoholic beverage is consumed.
For many years now I have practiced, experimented, failed dismally and sometimes produced some fantastic smoked foods and found the hardest part of the whole process is consistency…….constantly creating a product that’s is great is never an easy task and needs complete charge of many aspects.
Hopefully in the article that follows I will dispel some myths, offer some facts and science and direct you to being able to produce some good smoked foods and impress your families and mates with some tasty morsels.
In more present times check that is no longer considered an essential process for retardation of food spoilage however it remains popular for your complex and tantalising flavours it gives to many different foods. During the mid 1800s the industrial revolution influenced most of the food world and then in particular the ocean-fishing industry. Transportation of fresh fish produce was a hugely difficult job however with the advent of rapid transportation for foodstuffs an extended shelf-life was will no longer so essential. Because this became more widespread so did the accessibility of fresh fish, the popularity of heavily salted, heavily smoked products of the past then began to decline.
This is when the smoked fish products we currently regard as traditional came into being; these are generally mildly smoked and dried and contain minimum salt content when compared to the heavily salted fish of before.
Throughout the mid to late 1900s the market for smoked fish underwent an important change yet the actual technology of smoking fish remained much exactly like it was for years and years. Whatever we do see much more of now is commercial cures that colour and flavour the products to impress an enormous consumer market and less in the traditional smoked produce based upon 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, plus some varieties, like some hot-smoked and garishly coloured ‘kippered’ salmon, use artificial food colour too. In reality, a number of the brightly coloured cured fish sold in supermarkets are not smoked in any way, simply flavoured having a cure which includes smoke flavouring.
The two main main reasons to smoke food, one is for preservation and the other is made for texture and flavour, with food preservation not nearly as vital as it once was the western world smoking today is used mainly to impart a nice mild smoky flavour.
What can’t you Smoke…!! This is basically up to your imagination and personal tastes, Fish, Meat (Beef, Pork, Chicken, Turkey), Game (Venison, Wallaby, Duck), Vegetables, Cheese, Eggs even Salt…..if you can eat it fair bet you can probably smoke it, not sure how smoked Apple would go though…?? I am certain at one stage or any other almost every kind of food has probably been experimented with to find out if it can be smoked. Because the old saying goes though….
You can’t produce a top class smoked product from second rate food, should your smoking the fish you catch address it well from the very beginning, straight on ice and take off all gills and gut contents, same with your meat if you hunt yourself, slaughter quickly, take care of it well and address it with respect as well as the final product will likely be definitely worth the extra effort. In case your buying products use reputable butchers and fish processors, go for the best quality produce and with regards to poultry always buy organically raised birds…..trust me it can make a big difference.
Some individuals are frequently of the opinion that smoking can hide mouldy or stale fish and meat off-flavours, this really is completely untrue and any unpleasant odours or flavours is going to be readily apparent rapidly.
Smokers can be found in all styles and sizes and all kinds of styles, you can get them from many tackle stores and camping shops and you may even make one at home from many thing, almost all of you would be very familiar tgyika the tiny box shaped galvanised or check this link right here now, the things i term the “lunch box” smokers in which I am sure many people have done most of their smoking in. These come in a range of shapes, sizes and brands, are user friendly requiring only a bottle of methylated spirits for your burner or burners and a bag of sawdust. They actually do however only offer a hot smoke product and they are not recommended for virtually any foods besides fish while there is little if any control of the temperature or smoke quality, any attempt at cold smoking will demand an infinitely more sophisticated set up.