Wade – Woodchurch Smokery – Wade in Woodchurch OTBS #304
Location: Kent, UK – The use of Nitrite will depend on the brining stage of the process and is not required unless you are trying to produce a low salt version. It is not usual practice to add Nitrite when making cold smoked salmon unless you are trying to produce an end salt content of less than 3.5% – Remember that as the fish loses water during the smoking/drying stages the salt taken up during the salting step actually becomes more concentrated within the fish. If you did want to add Nitrite, as Dave does, then you would need to use an immersion brine as it would be very difficult to know how much Nitrite is being taken up when using a dry cure.
The dry brining stage should be carried out at 40 F (4 C) in the fridge and then the cold smoking is done at higher temperatures to help remove the required amount of moisture. In the USA the FDA recommendations say this can be at up to 90 F (32 C) for up to 20 hours. I smoke mine at ~75 F (24 C) for 20-24 hours.
Once smoked the salmon needs to then be cooled to below 40 F (4 C) where it has a shelf life of up to 10 days. Frozen it will last longer. The limit of the 10 day chilled shelf life is there to ensure that if there are any botulinum spores present (they are actually all around us every day) they will not have time to develop sufficient toxin to become a hazard to health
The UK and USA guidelines are very similar and as I produce and sell my smoked salmon commercially on a small scale I am governed by UK food standards and am subject to regular inspection. For traditional smoked salmon I do not know of any producers (UK or US) that use nitrite in their production, however that does not mean that there are not any.
More from Wade
The smoldering pellets will also create more moisture so compounding the problem of the high humidity.
The fan works well and I use one on my cold smoker. It helps to keep the air flowing over the AMNPS but it also helps to remove moisture when cold smoking salmon. I found that it was easier to control though when I switched to using an inexpensive variable speed fan http://www.frozencpu.com/fan-109.html
Smoking fish – An old dog can still learn new tricks by Wade of Woodchurch.