Smoking: refining and preserving

Smoking | Image: gkrphoto

Smoking | Image: gkrphoto

"Smoked over beech wood" – who can say no to that? How you can smoke yourself at home and what preparations are mandatory to make your meat not only tasty, but also durable, you can learn now!

Smoking is almost as old as salting or drying, treatments that are all used to preserve foods. As early as the Stone Age, people smoked in their caves, and later also in fire pits provided for this purpose. The smoke aroma, which is imprinted via aroma carriers and salt-spice mixtures, is also a flavor enhancement of meat, fish, cheese and co. In other words: a pleasure!

Preparation: salting, resting, drying


Fish and meat are completely rubbed with salt before smoking. This gives the fish or meat Water extracted. One speaks of Osmosis. This chemical process causes a balance by diffusion. The increased concentration of salt outside the meat stimulates a molecular movement of the fluids inside the meat. In this way, the meat water passes through the outer skin to the outside, it diffuses. This process covers all areas within the meat and thus also the cells themselves, in which healthy bacteria cavort for humans and animals not only. Harmful bacteria are deprived of their basis of life by dehydration, because in many cases they absorb their nutrients through the cell sap or are themselves only active in liquids. The decomposition of the flesh the salting will thus strongly slows down. It is preserved.

Salt - stimulant and preservative | Image: lenafomichewa

Salt – a stimulant and preservative for fish and meat | Image: lenafomichewa

If people used to salt food with simple table salt, the discovery of saltpetre for the preservation of the salt with this chemical additive provided. Saltpetre contains nitrate which, under the influence of bacteria in the body, is converted to Nitrite transforms. Nitrite makes the meat even more durable and at the same time has a coloring effect, but above a certain amount it is just as toxic – for infants it is life-threatening.

Even the notorious pickling salt (sodium nitrite, additive: E 250) consists of nitrite, which at very high temperature – from about 110° C – with the protein separating from the meat to form Nitrosamine can combine. This in turn has a carcinogenic (mutagenic) effect. For this reason, cured products should always be not grilled become. Although it depends here strongly on the quantity, which is prescribed by the way European Union, because only nitrite can be used 0.5 to 06, percent nitrite may contain nitrite pickling salt, in addition vitamin C the compound to nitrosamine inhibit, but heating of meat treated with pickling salt is still not approved.

But why use pickling salt? The nitrite in the pickling salt prevents a Meat poisoning (botulism), by inhibiting the growth of the causative bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Simple table salt (sodium chloride) is not capable of doing this. Nitrite has also as already mentioned a coloring effect. In the process, nitrite attaches to the muscle fiber myoglobin, resulting in nitrosomyoglobin. This combination enables the so-called Reddening, speak: cured meat looks longer beautifully red. In addition, nitrite can slow down the rancidity of meat, so it has a antioxidant effect.

cured meat, reddened, sealed | Image: ebraxas

cured meat, reddened, sealed | Image: ebraxas

If you use simple table salt instead, the meat loses its color faster. It is therefore not only a question of aesthetics, which salt is used. If you do not want your ham to stay for months, you can also resort to the common salt. Alternatively, besides common salt sea salt used for curing – especially in southern countries this is the case. One only has to think of the northern Italian Parma ham.

Parma ham is cured with sea salt and air-dried | Image: Rita E

Parma ham is cured with sea salt and air-dried | Image: Rita E


curing salt can be wet cured, i.e. the meat or fish is placed in a brine dipped. This can be done in different ways. For example, you can dry cure the meat and then pour a (cold) decoction of spices and herbs over it, or you can mix everything together and pour salt and herbs in a pour over the meat. The meat should be cleaned from the brine completely enclosed its.

Spray curing

By means of Pickle syringe the brine is injected into the meat. This procedure is intended to improve the burn-through. Pickle syringe can also be found under the terms marinating syringe or lakespritze.

Dry curing

Use only salt and herbs, you should use the dry curing method. In this process, the meat is rubbed with the salt-herb mixture and placed in a container already filled with this mixture. The salt causes the liquids to diffuse out of the meat and on the surface of the meat a Own brine.

Resting/Burning through

This phase occurs as soon as you have the salted meat rest let. By burning through is meant the even distribution of the salt in the meat. The burn-through should be airtight and with a Temperature from 7° to 9° Celsius take place, for example, in an airtight container such as a vacuum bag in a dry cool room or appropriately prepared refrigerator compartment.

It is advisable to smoke the meat or fish individually to pack. If bacteria have accumulated in one piece, they will not spread to the other pieces.


After the burn-through comes the cleaning and drying process. During the drying phase the remaining water should disappear from the meat. To do this, wash the surface of the meat after burning through by placing it in a bowl or bucket of water. It can stay there for up to 10 hours. However, you should change the water in between, depending on the quantity and size of the meat product. Then blot them and hang them up to dry.

Sausages ready to dry | Image: dejtan05

Sausages hung up to dry | Image: dejtan05

For hanging, you can use your inactive smoker or convert a metal or wood cabinet into a drying cabinet. As hanging material is suitable Roll roast string or Sausage thread, thus a yarn that Suitable for food is.

Sausage net and sausage twine | Pictures: Outdoor kitchen

Sausage net and sausage twine | Pictures: Open air kitchen – a sausage net brings your piece of meat into shape, with a sausage yarn you tie the ends of the product together or hang it up to dry

To pass the yarn through the meat, use a Ham or bacon pin. Drying does not take place in an airtight container, but below air exposure. By the way: Up to the drying process the steps are identical. Stop here, have you at least once air-dried goods, such as air-dried ham, made. To protect your ham, which is hung up to dry, from insects, you can provide it with wafer-thin bags, for example made of linen. For a better shaping dress in it in a sausage net.

Dryer with fan | Picture: Open Air Kitchen

Dryer with fan | Image: Open-air kitchen

Support the drying process in your drying cabinet with a dryer. This component you put in the wall. Equipped with a fan, the dryer acts like a ventilator and reduces the humidity in the drying cabinet caused by the evaporation of the product.


After drying can be smoked. You have the choice between Cold smoking, hot smoking and Hot smoking.

Cold smoking

Cold smoking is the gentlest way to preserve food for a long time. But it is also the one where you have to be most patient. In addition to a smoking cabinet with a temperature between 15°C and 20°C you also need a Cold smoke generator – in frame form (angular) or smoking screw – and smoking meal. The most popular type is beech. How long a smoking process lasts depends on the size and complexity of the cold smoke generator as well as the amount of smoked meat.

Cold smoke generator/Sparbrand | Image: Thuros

Cold smoke generator/Sparbrand | Picture: Thuros

Slow burning means long smoking time. For this reason, a cold smoke generator is also often called Economy firing called. The flour in the auger is ignited by lighter or similar and the smoke spreads slowly and evenly in the smoker or smokehouse. It can take weeks or months for the meat to be fully smoked.

typical dishes for cold smoking are ham or sausage.

hot smoking

Hot smoking uses a heat source in addition to the cold smoke generator, usually a Heating coil, or you use a smoking barrel from the start, then your heat source is Fire.

Smokers: heating rod (electric) or combustion chamber (fire) | images: Barbecook

Smoker with heating coil (electric) or combustion chamber (fire) | Pictures: Barbecook

In the smoker, temperatures between 60°C and 100°C. The smoked meat is cooked after a few hours and is ready to be eaten. Hot-smoked goods must be consumed within a few days, because the high temperatures cause the protein to coagulate, which contributes to a short shelf life. Hot smoking is therefore worthwhile at family gatherings or garden parties, where many people with an appetite for smoked foods get together.

Typical dishes for hot smoking include fish such as trout or eel, sausages, rolled roasts, and ham for prompt consumption.

Warm smoking

In the medium variant warm smoking, the temperature in the smoker is between 30°C and 60°C. Here, too, the protein can already coagulate, so that the smoked product can only be kept for a few days.

A typical dish for warm smoking is, for example, Kassler (smoked pork).

With a little equipment, tasty salt-herb mixture, good smoking flour and the right meat or fish, you can also make real smoked goods at home. Try it!

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