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Methods of smoking – Which one to choose for my meat?

Climatic differences between individual countries and regions hasa decisive impact on smoking methods, with air humidity along the sea coast on the one side and cool climate of the Alps regions on the other leading to completely different results and regional specialties. Smoking can be cold, warm and hot. This means that the smoking process can be conducted at different temperatures. The smoking times can also vary.


Cold smoking
It is conducted at temperatures of 12-24°C. One of the main conditions of the process is that both the food to be smoked, mainly hams and sausages, and wood or sawdust used to produce smoke, should be as dry as possible. If you use sawdust, do not distribute it evenly on the grate, but rather place its pressed pieces under the meat being smoked to prevent flame formation and, in consequence, high temperature. The most important thing in cold smoking is to keep the smoke temperature within the range of 15-30°C and to keep the air humidity in the smoking chamber within the range of 75-85%. As has been said, cold smoking is particularly recommended for ham, which acquires a desired, golden colour, but also an appetising, slight aftertaste of smoke. Reducing the volume of smoked meat is another advantage of cold smoking. It sometimes becomes so dry that it is difficult to cut it. Cold smoking uses smoke from smouldering fuel (wood, sawdust – smoke production is described in the article entitled “Method of smoke production”). The smoking process has to last at least several days, but for hamsit can be extended to as long as six weeks. Meat to be smoked is first cured and it is not hung in the smoking chamber until it is thoroughly dried. The meat being smoked should be treated with fresh air between stages of the process – the fire is periodically extinguished during a cold smoking process. Cold smoking in chimneys of houses in rural areas can be performed only during the cold months of autumn and winter. Smoking cabinets which are usually used for cold smoking should be located in cold, but well ventilated and dry rooms.

meat hooks


Warm smoking
It is performed at temperatures of 30-50°C for 2-24 hours, depending on the type of meat. This method should be applied by those who like Kassler smoked meat or smoked boiled ham. Smoke is produced from hardwood covered with chips of beech wood. Wetting sawdust slightly helps to achieve the desired smoke humidity exceeding 80% in the smoking chamber.

Warm smoking is applied in production of specialities to be consumed within a relatively short time, not exceeding 2-3 weeks. This method is used for smoking large simmered sausages and hams. Meat is treated with smoke from intensively smouldering fuel, without periodically extinguishing the fire.

meat netting


Hot smoking
It lasts shorter and the product stability period is accordingly shorter. Raw or cooked Kassler smoked meat and boiled ham can be made by this method; however, it is not recommended for raw ham, which could be ruined by it. Both hard (beech) and softwood (birch) can be used as a source of smoke; however, high-resin wood must not be used for this purpose. After curing, wipe the meat with a piece of clean cloth; hanging it in a well-ventilated place for several hours is also recommended. Smoking at a temperature of 50-90°C can last for half an hour to two hours, which does not damage the meat tenderness. Large hams to be hot-smoked must be thoroughly boiled beforehand so that they are not raw inside. Boiled hams and Kassler smoked cuts should be eaten immediately after being hot-smoked. Otherwise, they should be kept in the fridge, but also not for too long. Smoking cabinets for cold smoking should not be adapted for hot smoking. A chamber for hot-smoking must protect the food being prepared against direct flame, as this type of smoking uses not only smoke, but also flame (a spirit burner or burning wood), which carries an increased risk of fire.

thermometers for smoker


Humid smoking
It must be mentioned, although it is rarely used in amateur food preparation. It is performed at temperatures ranging from 25°C to 30°C. Vapour from a container with water is another agent operating in the smoking chamber, apart from smoke. This increases the air humidity inside it to 90%. Humid smoking is applied mainly to raw sausages, which – owing to high humidity – mature evenly, without excessive drying from the outside.


Air-dried delicacies are among the tastiest. Patience, attention and careful observation of temperature – apart from good meat or properly selected meat products – are among the things most needed in this method. Air-drying is obviously closely related to cold smoking. It precedes all success in meat smoking. Natural air humidity in a specific geographic region is the most important for successful meat drying. The risk of mould appearing on dried food will be much higher in humid regions than in dry ones. Gourmets have some secret recipes that they pass on in their circles. Just think about prosciutto di Parma, which matures in wind blowing towards the land or towards the sea. The full secret of its preparation is known only to those who inherited it from their ancestors. One must remember about delicious hams from the north of Germany, about hunter’s sausage and smoked cuts from rural Tyrol and Thuringia - to name just a few. In the first stage, meat is wet-cured and – which applies mainly to ham – soaked in proper marinade. The curing lasts for 3-4 weeks. After that, the meat has to be soaked in clean water for about half a day or a little longer. Ham and sausage should be dried thoroughly and hung in a well-ventilated place. Beginner hobbyists may find an electric thermo-fanhelpful; when set up for a medium heating range, it will guarantee at least a low level of humidity.

natural sausage casings


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Rober and Maria
Rober and Maria
Tuesday 21st January 2020

Cool. Really great. This guide is very usefull. Thank You

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