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Old 12-29-2011, 11:16 AM   #1
nrok2118
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Default How long do need to cure salmon for cold smoking?

Since I made my easy soldering iron cold smoker, I really would love some cold smoked salmon. Im not familiar with "curing" food but research shows I basically can just wrap up some salmon in a salt and sugar mixture and compress in the fridge. But how long is really needed for this? Some sources say overnight, others say DAYS. I mean I love sushi, and raw salmon is at the top of my list, so if curing is only to add salt flavor and texture, does it really need to be that long? Otherwise if its for health reasons, whats the minimum I should cure it for?

Than, for clarification, Im gonna rinse it, test it for saltyness (too much and more rinsing), than back in the fridge on a tray for a good couple hours to form the pedicle (sp?). This stage I can also "flavor" the salmon with some pepper and maybe a little Jack Daniels? Than into some cold smoke for a few hours, and mellow in the fridge.

Sound Good? Great! O yeah, how long do I have to cure?
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Old 12-29-2011, 12:05 PM   #2
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alright well I bought a 3+ pound salmon, cut it in half and coated with kosher salt and brown sugar (about 2:1 sugar to salt) and into the fridge under a gallon of milk and a few beers. Its 1:00 on Thursday ( to keep track myself ) and I guess Ill go till tomorrow morning sometime? I would like to be able to smoke it tomorrow evening so it can rest and I can bring some to a New Years party.
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Old 12-29-2011, 12:27 PM   #3
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Check out this thread by Don Marco on cold smoking salmon. I think Don brines for 2-3 days. I've been meaning to give this a try.

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=75692
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Old 12-29-2011, 04:38 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trucky1008 View Post
Check out this thread by Don Marco on cold smoking salmon. I think Don brines for 2-3 days. I've been meaning to give this a try.

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=75692
Yeah Ive seen this one, 48-60 hours!

Than Ive found this which says 13 hours:

http://www.newenglandprovisions.com/...kedsalmon.html

As much as I dont want to admit it, many do say 36+ hours, so we wont be ready for new years
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Old 12-29-2011, 04:59 PM   #5
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It really is up to you. I cold/warm smoke salmon about every other week. How you cure (recipe and time) depends a lot on personal taste. This is about as simple as it gets (and believe me, it is simple):

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=119830

Here are some others (they're slightly more labor intensive than my latter, lazier efforts):

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=119317

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=97010

You have to realize I am lazy and have tried to make this about as easy as possible for myself. I usually start my cure in the evening, rinse the next morning, rest a few hours, then smoke. Warm smoking usually takes 2-4 hours depending on temp and cold 2-4 hours depending on how ambitious I feel and how much smoke the wood is putting out. It always tastes good.
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Old 12-29-2011, 05:51 PM   #6
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I usually do mine with a 4:1 mix of brown sugar and pickling salt. Since you're using kosher with bigger grains you're probably pretty good on concentration. I just let mine go overnight, then rinse and smoke.
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Old 12-29-2011, 07:23 PM   #7
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Cool, this is what I wanted to hear! Figure I can get about 20 hours cured, than hopefully 4-5 more hours in the fridge and I can get some smoke on them in the evening. Thanks guys!
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Old 12-29-2011, 07:56 PM   #8
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Once again tons of information on cold smoking.

I'm sort of cracking the nut on this myself, so I'm taking all kinds of notes. Here is a link to one more thread here. It has some recipes and some information I've put together during the search I've been doing.


http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...ht=nova&page=2
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Old 12-30-2011, 08:23 AM   #9
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Once again tons of information on cold smoking.

I'm sort of cracking the nut on this myself, so I'm taking all kinds of notes. Here is a link to one more thread here. It has some recipes and some information I've put together during the search I've been doing.


http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...ht=nova&page=2
Great info! Im still confused on whether curing times is based on flavor, or is there a certain amount of time needed to cure for safety reasons? Most people dont just buy a salmon fillet from the supermarket and eat it raw....not to say I havent
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Old 12-30-2011, 08:40 AM   #10
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i think i will try this. sounds really good, and love smoked salmon
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Old 12-30-2011, 09:12 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nrok2118 View Post
Great info! Im still confused on whether curing times is based on flavor, or is there a certain amount of time needed to cure for safety reasons? Most people dont just buy a salmon fillet from the supermarket and eat it raw....not to say I havent
This is a very good question. 100+ years ago it was for safety reasons. Since then, refrigerators have come into fashion and we can preserve food this way. Per person salt use dropped dramatically, more than a factor of 10, as you can imagine. People were able to eat a lot more fresh food and they preferred it. Of course they still liked the old foods, like bacon, ham, sausage, salmon, etc. that were cured in salt, but in most cases, not as much salt was being used in the cure as we could put that bacon in the refrigerator. People generally preferred the lighter cures. Some of those old-fashioned cures were REALLY salty. I don't worry about safety reasons as our smoked salmon usually is eaten in a couple of days. Our cures are generally pretty light. We get the same basic "cure" texture without so much salt. However, two weeks ago I made a LOT of cold-smoked salmon that ended up in the back of the fridge while we had company over. We finally worked our way through the leftovers and we're eating it now. It is still quite yummy.

Incidentally, smoking (without salt) is another means of preserving meat -- yes, that smoke we all know and love is also a preservative . It is not done much in this country, but it was common, especially in regions where salt was not available. I've seen it done with reindeer meat in the arctic.
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Old 12-30-2011, 10:10 AM   #12
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Good explanation Gore.

One other thing that folks don't realize is hundreds of years ago salt was cheap, and food was very regional. So if you lived near the coast you had a lot of fish, if you lived inland you might have access to wild game or if you were lucky you might raise a pig or a goat for food. Plus the seasons were a huge factor in certain parts of the country.

Just imaging how boring it was for the Plains Indians to eat bison and pronghorns almost all the time. Plus they had to pack up and follow the herds all year long or they would not eat. Or how about having to force yourself to eat shrimp, lobster and fish everyday if you lived on the coast.

The transportation industry (aka sailing ships) gave people some options to import and export food, but there were two choices..... preserve it in salt, or ship it live to keep it fresh. Shipping live animals was super expensive and there is a lot of maintenance involved. Shipping barrels of salted or salted and smoked foods was much less expensive. At one time if you wanted a ham sandwich in California, the ham might have been on a ship for 6 months and was smoked in Virginia.

Smoking without salting, and dehydrating used to be for survival, making food lighter and easier to transport (no need for the weight of the salt or the barrel)........ now we just take jerky for granted, and it's still popular because it gives us a taste of the old days.
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Old 12-30-2011, 10:36 AM   #13
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Ok, so I understand the preserving ideals, but for all those who think its unsafe to eat raw salmon from the store, is salting it really gonna make it safer when eating the product right away (not storing it before hand)? Or am I running the same risks eating raw salmon cured or uncured?

Edit: Snapped some pics after the cure, started an actual thread for this first attempt

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=123156
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Old 12-30-2011, 11:07 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nrok2118 View Post
Ok, so I understand the preserving ideals, but for all those who think its unsafe to eat raw salmon from the store, is salting it really gonna make it safer when eating the product right away (not storing it before hand)? Or am I running the same risks eating raw salmon cured or uncured?
Maybe. You know, I'd love to hear a more scientific explanation here. And in the mean time, I'll toss something else on the table, and I may be wrong on this too.

Salting in my family was always known as "koshering", my mother and grandmother always used that term and did it on chicken, rabbit, squirrel, and the like. The salt was either sprinkled on, or mixed into water for a brine (although as recent as last weekend my 81 year old mother still calls brining "koshering").

My family has no Jewish roots, but a Jewish friend of mine raised a discussion point one day that keeping kosher, with respects to food preparation, does help with food safety. He shared some examples of the particular order of handling foods and utensils, and mentioned that in the olden days, blood was a carrier of disease (this was back when most folks didn't even realize that washing your hands was important). Anyway, during this discussion he suggested that using salt did in fact draw blood from certain meats, and possibly reduced chances of spreading disease. Of course, we now know that other advantages to using salt include moisture retention, aids in curing, can improve flavor and texture, etc. So maybe salt's roots are deeper than we think.
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Old 12-30-2011, 11:08 AM   #15
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If you don't trust the fish from the store, do not buy it. If it smells fishy, looks grey, feels slimy or just does not seem right, just leave it. Ask what day the fresh salmon arrives and go to get it on that day. If you are just wondering if grocery store salmon can actually be an accaptable product, the answer is yes (depending on your grocery store) Look for a grocer who moves a lot of fish. Around here I have gotten nice fresh salmon (or steelhead when it looks better or is less expensive) at Sam's club or Costco. The cure will kill many of the possible bacteria etc. on the fish. If you feel safe eating fish as sushi it is safe to cold smoke. Because of my equipment and the usual ambient temperature in south Florida I always hot smoke my fish to an internal temp of 140-145. Part of the cure is for long term preservation... at my house we rarely have any leftovers with smoked fish so that does not matter. Enjoy.
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