For centuries, fishermen across the world utilized curing to preserve the excess catch that could not be consumed fresh. While this was done under different conditions, the fundamental steps and formulas remain the same, including salmon. In this article, we will provide you with information about smoked salmon and the process of making smoked salmon.
What exactly is smoked salmon?
There are two main types of smoked salmon: hot-smoked and cold-smoked. You may have already guessed the key differences but the smoking method for each is also slightly different, each method provides a unique taste and texture.
Salmon has been smoked for centuries, mainly as a way of preserving the fish. It is thought that people from ancient times first discovered the benefits of smoking food and would smoke their fish to preserve it in preparation for long winters. Back then, salmon would simply be hung high over a fire with ash placed over the flames to create a smoky environment. Since then, smoking processes have improved and modernised and salmon is smoked mainly to add that distinctive flavor rather than to preserve it.
The Difference Between Cold & Hot Smoked
There are a couple of significant differences between cold and hot smoking.
For cold smoking, the product stays below 90 F for 6 hours to achieve a delicate and lightly cured smoke taste. With a hot smoke, the product is smoked for 30 min at a higher temperature, giving a stronger smoke flavor .
When seafood is hot smoked the product is held in the same chamber as the burning wood. During a cold smoke, the product is placed in an unheated chamber, which is then filled with smoke.
Process of making smoked salmon in the factory
Transport to factory
The transport salmon begins in the early morning, when a new arrival of gleaming, silvery salmon is filleted by hand. The rib and pin bones are left in the fillets to give more flavour to the fish when smoked, and two circular patches are cut out of the skin to ensure even smoke penetration.
Curing is the first step of the smoking process. Curing simply involves coating the fish in salt or sugar which draws out the moisture and kills bacteria, thus preserving it. The fillets are laid out under a snowy blanket of rock salt to cure; over the next 24 hours they’ll lose 10 per cent of their water content. Salmon spends 24 hours curing in a mixture of rock salt and demerara sugar. Curing the salmon for 24 hours intensifies its flavours and gives it the perfect texture. Then wash the salt off to ensure salmon have low salt content.
Once the salt has been washed from the salmon, they are then hung or laid on trays to dry, or in other words, to dehydrate. Any remaining moisture is drawn out during this stage. It is important for the fish to dry first to ensure they can properly soak up the smoke. This process can also take a few hours depending on the size of the fish. Once the salmon’s skin becomes tacky, it’s smoking time.
Finally, the salmon is moved over to smoker. To produce unique subtle whisky taste, staff source the finest aged Glenturret whisky casks and pound them into dust. Gently smokes the sides of the salmon over the ground down whisky casks. This dust creates aromatic smoke, which gives the salmon a rich, full-bodied flavor.
Hot smoked salmon and cold smoked salmon each have a slightly different smoking process. Typically, hot smoked salmon is smoked at 120-180 ℉ (50-80 ℃) to ensure it is cooked all the way through. Cold smoked salmon, on the other hand, is smoked at 75-85 ℉ (24-29 ℃). Cold smoke doesn’t actually cook the fish, so it’s left with a raw-like texture.
Slicing and packaging
The entire process takes roughly four days, and the result is in consumers’ hands the same day it leaves the kiln. The smoking process is over, but it doesn’t end there. Then spends hours hand slicing and packaging the salmon.
When receive an order, the freshest salmon is packaged for delivery in specially designed temperature controlling boxes, which keeps it chilled for up to 48 hours. Smoked salmon has a 21-day use by date and should be kept refrigerated once delivered to customer. Once opened, the salmon should be eaten within three days. Smoking the fish slows down its deterioration rate, but the salmon stills tastes best the day after it’s smoked.
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