Dry brine smoked salmon

OceanSun

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  • Mar 26, 2013
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    Dan Meyer
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    Great post and discussion guys - thanks! I've always made most excellent smoked salmon as all my friends will attest but... I picked up a few new tricks today on temp/timing.
     
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    Woodfighter

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    May 8, 2014
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    Tried the dry brine as posted and I had clear liquid standing in the score marks with white stuff. I used pink salt and brown sugar ration as posted in recipe. Little chief smoker. What went wrong?
     
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    Hard Chargin'

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    Since this got revived anyway...

    I use something much closer to 1:2 salt vs brown sugar and other spices. I let it sit out for about 6-8 hours then fridgerate till I start the smoke. Cold smoke it for about 2 hours of continuous smoke and then can it.

    No one ever complained about it being salty yet I use way more salt. Is that because the reduced brine time? Obviously the curing doesn't matter as much in this scenario because it is canned. Or does it? What I said above was empirically derived, I wanted to can some smoked salmon and I found that if I smoked it like normal it became dry after the bottling process. I really prefer it smoked and canned when it's done well. Who else bottles up their smoked salmon and how do you do it?
     
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    sgwill122

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    Feb 21, 2011
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    Tried the dry brine as posted and I had clear liquid standing in the score marks with white stuff. I used pink salt and brown sugar ration as posted in recipe. Little chief smoker. What went wrong?

    Not sure what you are describing. Was this after smoking? Do you have pics? How long did you smoke in the little chief and how packed in was the fish?
     
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    koopa

    Arima Adventures
    Feb 3, 2018
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    Since this got revived anyway...

    I use something much closer to 1:2 salt vs brown sugar and other spices. I let it sit out for about 6-8 hours then fridgerate till I start the smoke. Cold smoke it for about 2 hours of continuous smoke and then can it.

    No one ever complained about it being salty yet I use way more salt. Is that because the reduced brine time? Obviously the curing doesn't matter as much in this scenario because it is canned. Or does it? What I said above was empirically derived, I wanted to can some smoked salmon and I found that if I smoked it like normal it became dry after the bottling process. I really prefer it smoked and canned when it's done well. Who else bottles up their smoked salmon and how do you do it?
    HardCharging: are you putting your into actual metal cans or just jars? Only reason I ask is that Sekiu use to have a canary that smoked or baked salmon and then metal canned and it was the best salmon I ever had and literally lasted near a decade. I havnt seem metal canned salmon since (unless in high end stores) so was maybe thinking of giving it a shot.
     
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    Hard Chargin'

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    HardCharging: are you putting your into actual metal cans or just jars? Only reason I ask is that Sekiu use to have a canary that smoked or baked salmon and then metal canned and it was the best salmon I ever had and literally lasted near a decade. I havnt seem metal canned salmon since (unless in high end stores) so was maybe thinking of giving it a shot.

    Jars. I would love to put it in actual cans but I've never looked into that. I'm sure Its possible but I don't currently have equipment to do that.
     
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    Woodfighter

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    During smokig. Not packed at all, only 3 piecess per rack. Started to see if after 3 or so hours in little chief. Total time was 9 hours. I understand it was cooler yesterday so it was going to take longer. Still not as firm as I like it. It was like the salt didn't get all the water out of the fish.
     
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    Woodfighter

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    Photo after took them out. See how where the scored mark is it kind of white. That is where there was standing liquid throughout the smoking process.

    fish.jpg
     
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    sgwill122

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    The 'liquid' is congealed fat and protein that gets trapped in the scores, if it is thick I remove it before eating. I would have done more thinner scores in your fish and make sure you don't skimp on the dry brine. Assuming you are using the pink salt from costco, it is not as dense as the bag of white granulated salt from Costco, you would want a 7-1 ratio with the costco pink salt to keep my ratio consistent. I measured a cup of granulated and it is 11.2ounces and a cup of costco pink it is 10.2. If you like it salty or really want to preserve it using salt then you will want more. My objective is taste, I do not like it super salty.

    You can make the fish firmer by doing more/thinner scores, longer brine or longer smoke time. I assume you brined for 36-48 hours. On cool days I put the box the big chief came in around the smoker to speed the smoking time so I don't run out of day light. Below is pic of a coho chunk and you can see the 'liquid' which is very thin which we just eat.

    63BB559B-190E-4679-878B-9AFEBBA6B928.jpeg
     
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    Woodfighter

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    Yes costco pink salt. I made a styrafoam box to put around my little chief and had it on. Taste plenty salty. I think I needed more than 24 hours dry time in the fridge. Or maybe I should of laid the pieces meat side down for a bit after rinsing them to get all the water out of the scores? Do you pepper once rinsed or wait and pepper after pellicle formed? I peppered after rinsing and wonder if that screwed up the pellicle?
     
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    sgwill122

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    I rinse on one side of the sink and stack on the other side to drain off then put on racks and immediately pepper. I then put in the smoker racks and put in front of a fan in the garage for 90 minutes before smoking. Sounds like you just needed more smoke time.
     
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    Wild Bill

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    That white stuff is called albumin. It is proteins being forced out of the flesh, usually by raising temp too high too fast. Make sure and let a good pellicle form before starting the smoking process and raise temps In steps starting
    at 100 degrees for an hour or so and upping temp 10 degrees every hour.
     
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    Hard Chargin'

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    I'm no smoking guru and the term "Pellicle" keeps coming up so I had to look it up. I found this online and I thought I would drop it in this thread to help out others like myself.

    "Before cured foods are cold smoked, they can be allowed to air-dry to form a tacky outer layer, known as a pellicle. The pellicle plays a role in producing better smoked products as it acts as a protective barrier for the food and also plays a role in enhancing the flavor and color produced by the smoke"
     
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    Tail Chaser

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    Have you tried a whole slab, brine with same recipe, fold in half skin side out wrapped in plastic wrap then weighted down to push moisture out for 24 hrs.
    Wash using clean water
    Let it dry till opaque looking on counter
    Then smoke it very slowly
    I use a green egg because propane causes smoke not to penetrate the fish.
    You fish looks delicious by the way!
     
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    Woodfighter

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    That white stuff is called albumin. It is proteins being forced out of the flesh, usually by raising temp too high too fast. Make sure and let a good pellicle form before starting the smoking process and raise temps In steps starting
    at 100 degrees for an hour or so and upping temp 10 degrees every hour.

    I use a little chief....it is either on or off. :) Guess it could of been cause it was right out of the fridge and into the little chief. But it was only 55F outside so I thought the fish would heat up slowly.
     
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    Woodfighter

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    Looks like you need better ventilation. All that moisture will resettle on top if it can’t leave the smoker. I had the same problem with my Bradley.
    I did have a piece of cardboard over the top trying to hold in the heat as it was only 55F outside. Smoke was still coming out so it must of been venting.
     
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    Wild Bill

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    I use a little chief....it is either on or off. :) Guess it could of been cause it was right out of the fridge and into the little chief. But it was only 55F outside so I thought the fish would heat up slowly.
    Use a controller like this to cycle element on and off to hold lower and staged temps. Plug it in and put probe in middle of smoker racks and set to desired temp. Plug little chief element into controller and you now have total temp control. I use a little bit higher end Ranco controller on my custom made smoker but these cheaper inkbirds work great as I own many for fermenting beer.

     
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    TooManyHobbies

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    Smoking fish is a lot of trial and error. Most people rave over my smoked salmon and tuna, but I still haven't made a batch of halibut of black cod I thought was worth 2 shits. Fuck black cod anyway!

    FYI, just stay away from smoking crack or meth, and you should be ok.
     
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    Reel Hooker

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    @Woodfighter
    Smoking fish is a lot of trial and error. Most people rave over my smoked salmon and tuna, but I still haven't made a batch of halibut of black cod I thought was worth 2 shits. Fuck black cod anyway!

    FYI, just stay away from smoking crack or meth, and you should be ok.

    black Cod is amazing 😉 if done properly
     
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