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What you should know about cold smoking

Prepare your product, use salt or brine to remove water and you can begin smoking!
There is no need to keep watch over your smoking items like you would watch over milk in a pan - 5 minutes more or less will make no difference. By using a gentle smoking method, you are sure to get great results.
Here are a few ideas for getting started with cold smoking.

The TomPress editorial by Philippe.

Prepare your product, place it in salt or brine so that it releases its water and you are ready to smoke!
You don’t need to watch over your smoked foods like milk in a pan – 5 minutes either way makes no difference. If you smoke gently, you are sure to have marvellous results.
Here are a few tips about cold smoking.

For cold smoking, you should be thinking ""conservation"", even if these days we are primarily looking for the taste experience that smoking offers.
A ham, magrets or fish such as cod are placed in salt to lose their water content and to preserve them. Before you cold smoke, you so the same thing: you need to release the water to concentrate the flavours and allow the smoking aromas to propagate. By diminishing the amount of water, you will inhibit the bacteria responsible for rotting, and by smoking, you protect your food from mould.

Salting and desalting: the first step

To salt your product, plunge it in brine or salt. You can even use sugar or a blend of salt and sugar.
The goal is not to salt or sweeten for taste, but to dehydrate.
Up to a certain point, the longer you leave your product in salt, the more you dry it, but you will need to desalt bigger pieces.
Nothing could be easier. Immerse the product in a basin and change the water as you would for cod. You will dilute the salt, but not really rehydrate the product. Why?
By placing your product in salt or brine, you create imbalance between the water that the cells contain and the water around them. To restore balance, the water crosses the semi-porous membrane of the cells as though it wants to “dilute” the salt.
This osmotic dehydration, as it is called, only works one way. When you immerse your product in fresh water to desalt, you do not reverse the imbalance because now there is fresh water on both sides of the membrane.
To take the example of cod, you notice that when you immerse it in water to, you will not get the same fillet of fish that you had before it was salted.

Moving on to smoking

Smoking is carried out at less than 30°C (86° F). Between 20 and 25°C (68 to 77° F) is ideal, but a degree or two either way is fine. You just need to avoid cooking.
Smoking at a low temperature has the advantage of making the fats more fluid, encouraging the migration of the flavours to the heart of your product. In concrete terms, you place your product in the smokehouse and you light a few embers that you will not completely cover with sawdust to avoid suffocating the combustion. It’s not very complicated. When the embers are well lit, they will continue to burn and maintain the sawdust alight. Just remember that a little air must circulate to feed the oxygen combustion.

Hints and tips

Lighting a traditional smokehouse:
The most practical way is to take some embers that are truly well lit from a fire or a barbecue.
Easier still: place some charcoal in the drawer of your smokehouse and put it over a camping stove. Ventilate so that it takes. The embers must be white hot before you cover them with sawdust.

Basic brine recipe:
Your brine should contain around 20% of salt (around 200g per litre of water).
You can sweeten your brine by adding a little sugar: for 1 litre of water 180 g of salt and 50 g of sugar. The mixture of salt and sugar dehydrates a little more quickly than brine that is exclusively made from salt.
Why not perfume your brine by adding ingredients for marinating: chilli pepper, dill, cloves…

How to brine
Completely immerse your product. It must not be in contact with the air. You can weight it by placing an upside down plate over the piece you are placing in brine.

Salt or brine: how long?
It all depends on the size and especially the thickness of your product. In brine, a very thin fish fillet can be done in 30 minutes and a very large fillet will take 6 to 10 hours. A fillet of salmon weighing 2 kg should spend 4 hours in salt and be desalted afterwards. All our recipes and salting times are given in our book “Fumage & Fumaisons” : 190 pages of recipes!

My recipes

Smoked salt

It can be very pleasant to aromatise food using smoked salt.
Spread some salt in a thin layer in a dish or on a tray. Enamelled metal, stoneware or Pyrex dishes are perfect. Avoid using steel which may rust or add a bad taste.
Spread the salt thinly and place it in the smokehouse. Keep the temperature low, ideally lower than 20°C (68° F). You can stir the salt during the smoking process, but avoid creating clumps.
In a few hours, your salt will start to turn brown: it’s ready!
Keep some to hand in the kitchen.

Smoked magrets

At TomPress, we take our magret fillets seriously. We are based in the south-west of France where everyone has an opinion about them!
So, after many tests and much deliberation, here is the recipe that was voted for unanimously. It is very simple.

24 hours in salt.
Rub well to remove any salt that has stuck and sprinkle generously with pepper.
Place in a cold smokehouse for 3 to 4 hours (under 25°C or 77° F is ideal).
Hang your magret fillets to allow them to mature in a cook, well-aired place.
How long? It all depends on the weather conditions where you live. Test them regularly by pressing them with your thumb. They should be firm, but not hard.

To preserve them, the ideal is to vacuum seal them and they will keep in the fridge for one month. The fats do not turn rancid in a vacuum and the drying is stopped at the point that suits you and will not change.
Cut into thin slices and enjoy with your friends while thinking of us!
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