Cold smoking is the process of applying smoke flavor to foods without cooking them. This process is similar to hot smoking, except the cooling temperature is lower. The targeted cold smoking temperature range is between 80 degrees F and 100 degrees F, and the smoking time can range from 4 hours to 4 days.
Due to the fact that the food is not cooked, cold smoked food has a smooth texture that prompts people of uncooked food. Cold smoked food must be cooked before use such as bacon. Other cold smoked foods are sausage, ham, cheese, and fish, most notably salmon.
Food that is cold smoked is usually brined or salted first, to ensure that bacteria will not develop while it is smoked and stored.
Cold smoking is very difficult, and even impossible in the summer months, because the outside air temperature is normally warmer then the temperature needed for a true cold smoke and the smoker can rise too high, putting a stop to the cold smoking process. Winter time, when temperatures are cooler and more controllable, is the best time to try cold smoking.
The key to cold smoking is using smoke to cure the food. To achieve such a low cooking temperature while cooking with smoke, the smoke is generated in a chamber separate from the meat and transferred through pipes so it cools before it reaches the meat.
With warmer temperatures coming to an end we at Streetside BBQ plan to experiment with the cold smoking process this fall and winter. In the research and development pipeline is smoked Gouda, lox, beef and pork jerky and pork bacon. We will keep you informed with pictures and stories of our successes and failures during this learning process. Our hope is you will take what we learned and do some cold smoking of your own.