Cold Smoking

  • I am new to cold smoking and could use a little help. I’m trying to cold smoke salmon for lox. I am using Cameron’s extra fine premium wood chips in a cold smoke generator inserted inside a stove top smoker.

    I bought a cold smoke generator for use with my Nordic Ware stove top kettle smoker. The cold smoke generator sits underneath the meat tray insert of my stove top smoker. My problem is that I can’t get the wood to ignite and stay lit in the generator even with the vent open a bit. I tried using the tea light candle the manufacturer provides but that was useless as an igniter. Then I tried using my bbq lighter but I don’t think the flame is hot enough as it took forever to get the wood to just singe. I have used this smoker numerous times with heat and it works fine but never as a cold smoker. I don’t think the problem is with the smoker itself. I’m wondering if the minimal amount of space between the cold smoker generator and the bottom of the meat tray is suppressing the heat from the wood chips and causing them to die out. There is about a 1/4-1/2 inch gap between the two and the meat tray is vented. The fish is not dripping liquid either. The generator is seated in the same area that the wood chips go in when the smoker is being used with heat so I find it hard to believe that would be the problem either. I’m going to purchase a torch to see if a hotter flame might get the wood chips started but in the mean time are there any suggestions as to how I might get the chips to ignite and more importantly stay lit for the 6-8 hours the salmon needs to smoke?

    Thanks for your feedback.

  • Walton's Employee

    @Hip-Granny Since we don’t have this type of smoke generator I can’t say for sure what the issue is. I can tell you however when I cold smoke things with our Cameron’s Flip Professional Smoke Box I need to use either Cameron’s Fire Starters or A-Maze-N Gel Firestarter to get my pellets or chips lit. I use the Fire Starter if I am using chips and the Gel if I am using pellets, I dont know if one is really better than the other for the different fuel sources but it seems to make sense to me.

    Now, when I use Extra Fine chips or sawdust in our PK-100 I don’t need a fire starter and I can use just the Blow Torch like you are about to get. I have a feeling that having that torch is going to fix your issue but if it doesn’t then you can try out either the Fire Starters or the Gel.

    Anyone else have any input? I know I am far from the most experienced cold smoker on this board so anyone else’s input would be welcome!

  • @jonathon has anyone used a dehydrator to dry out their sausage before using the smoker?

  • Walton's Employee

    @Hip-Granny The FireStarters are safe for indoor use so yes you could use them indoors but the Gel does not say if it is safe for use indoors so if you were going to try one I would recommend the Firestarters. The main problem you are going to have, from what I can see, is the one you identified in your initial post, Air Flow. With a set up like that I can’t say with any real confidence that the woodchips will continue to burn, the firestarter should do its job even in a low to no air-flow environment but once that has burned out will the chips keep burning? It is essentially doing the same thing as the torch, making sure that a good burn starts but then from there the chips seem to being smothered.

    Without buying a new smoker I would think this is your best option though!

    Let me know if you need anything else

  • @jonathon how long and what temp do you keep your ssusage on before adding smoke?

  • Walton's Employee

    @skipdiggidy When doing summer sausage or snack sticks or really any cured sausage like product I run the first hour without any smoke and I have the dampers pretty much wide open, this is just a drying phase. For starting temp it will change a little depending on the diameter of the product but I usually start out at 120°. Then I close the dampers down most of the way and start adding smoke at that point.

    It has always seemed to work very well for me. Starting out adding smoke is going to cause the water evaporating from the casing to retain the smoke, then when it evaporates your casing has a strong smoke to it but it hasn’t really transferred to the meat.

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  • @KSHusker First, yes they should be safe to eat. You cooked them to 160° which will kill anything harmful. Now, obviously use common sense and your senses, if it smells bad don’t eat it!

    The first thing to know is if you used sure cure (or another version) or not? From the sounds of it, you did but I just want to make sure we are looking at all possibilities. Were the butts untrimmed? If they had a nice fat cap on them then you should have been okay, I still like to use a little more fat than that but you should have been in the realm. How did you mix it, was it by hand? If you mixed for 30 minutes in a meat mixer that is a long time to be mixing it (I don’t think this was your issue, just pointing it out). Starting at 200 is a little high but it also sounds like it came down to 180° pretty quickly but this would be my thought on why the casing stuck, cooking too high can cause this.

    For the color, the only thing I can think of (if you used a cure) is that it looks pinker around the edges because you got a nice smoke ring around it? How deep does the nice pink color go and what type of casing did you use? With wild game, I always use some sort of cure accelerator, either Encapsulated Citric Acid, Smoked Meat Stabilizer or something, it helps burn the color more and then you can skip holding it overnight and go right from stuffing to the smokehouse.

    Anyone else have thoughts?

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