For thousands of years the meat and cheese smoking process was used for preservation since there was no refrigeration. This process is used to remove the moisture from the food which takes away one of the key elements needed for bacteria to grow in, which results in the rotting of food. Homesteaddreamer.com has posted an awesome article that actually unravels the mystery surrounding the smoking of meats and cheeses by looking at what you are really doing when you smoke food.
Smoked meats and cheeses is a gift that is well received at any time of the year!
I don’t know too many people who don’t enjoy smoked meats and cheeses. Some smoked salmon or smoked cheddar makes for a wonderful flavor in your dishes or even as a stand alone meal or snack. What blows me away is how incredibly easy it really is to smoke up your own tasty food! I used to think it was difficult, complicated, and a specialized education was needed to be able to successfully craft such delectable and highly sought after food. I was very, very wrong. Smoking foods comes from the time before modern refrigerators. It was used as a way to preserve meat primarily, but it also serves to add flavor and tenderize. These days, it has evolved more into a culinary art but there are still many people (myself now included) who smoke and then jar up the food for shelf-stable food preservation. Smoked salmon is a great example of that.
Here in rural Alaska (and the Pacific Northwest), smoking and canning up fish is a normal way of life for many people. In this article, we will unravel the mystery about smoking meats and cheeses by first looking at what you are really doing when you smoke food (the science of it), to what you need to have a greater chance of success as a newbie, and then I will touch on the basics for smoking fish and cheese.
The Science of Smoking Food
There are two different kinds of smoking: hot and cold. A hot smoke has temperatures that will actually cook the food and are generally 160 degrees Fahrenheit and up. The important thing to note here is the temperature for red meats and fish should be above 145 degrees and any poultry should have a center temperature above 165 degrees to ensure any bacteria cannot grow and it is safe for consumption. Not only does a hot smoke cook the food, the smoke itself dries out the outer layers of the meat a bit which makes it harder for bacteria to grow.
Cold smoking is done to give flavor and tenderize meats. It is not meant to cook food and additional processing is required unless it is something like cheese. Any meat that has been cold smoked must be further processed to ensure it is safe to eat. Cold smoking only affects the outside layers of the food and does not make it to the middle. Now that we have a good understanding of how and why it works, we move on to the process and equipment.
The Equipment and Process
Smoking Meat and Fish
Find more on the meat and cheese smoking process over at Homesteaddreamer.com