Cold Smoking problem

Cold Smoking problem

Postby lemonD » Wed Nov 28, 2007 10:22 am

I've started out cold smoking and the problem I'm getting is the surface of the food is tainted.
My homemade wooden cabinet is 600mm sq and 1220mm high.
When I first started I was getting a condensation problem inside the box this I thought was the cause of the problem however I insulated the box, which cured the condensation and I'm still getting the tainted taste.
I've tried chips, sawdust and chunks.
I've tried generating the smoke in a metal box fitted with a hob ring and 3metres of ducting (100mm)into the bottom of the box.
The best results I've had or should I say the least worst are from using sawdust in a tray inside the bottom of the cabinet.
The box is sealed as I'm using it in my garage, the smoke exits via a 40mm pipe at the top.
Anybody got any suggestions?

LD
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Postby saucisson » Wed Nov 28, 2007 10:37 am

What wood are you using, how dry is it and what is the taint like?

A problem I found was if my wood was at all damp it acted like green wood with a tendency to convert to charcoal rather than burn properly, producing an acrid smoke and the food had a slightly bitter taste to it. Drying the wood (chips, shavings) in the oven first helped a lot.

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Postby lemonD » Wed Nov 28, 2007 11:22 am

Dave,
It's hard to describe the taint, it's just not right. I would'nt say the smoke was acrid.
I've used francos chips, scobies beech chips, beech chunks, beech dust and hickory chunks.
The last lot of salmon came out with a tainted smell and taste to the surface however it wasn't too bad inside and was close to a good smokey flavour.
The only thing to come out without the taint was Mackerel and tasted very good.
I don't know how dry the wood is so I'll give your suggestion a go.

Cheers,
LD
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Postby jpj » Wed Nov 28, 2007 4:05 pm

maybe it has something to do with the wood used to create the box?
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Postby lemonD » Wed Nov 28, 2007 4:56 pm

jpj wrote:maybe it has something to do with the wood used to create the box?


The thought did occur to me early on, so I piped the smoke into a large cardboard box and tried some cheese still no good.

I am thinking about making a new box as the one I have is so tainted I'm fighting a losing battle.

Do you think the exit pipe is large enough?
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Postby jenny_haddow » Wed Nov 28, 2007 5:26 pm

My only real experience with cold smoking is with the Bradley. The bisquettes they burn are shunted off into a bowl of water before they burn right down to ash because its reckoned the food would be tainted otherwise. Just a thought that maybe the collection of ash in the tray could be doing it.

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Postby saucisson » Wed Nov 28, 2007 5:56 pm

Could be Jen, especially if the ash is building up on the hottest part of the tray where it contacts the hotplate.

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Postby lemonD » Wed Nov 28, 2007 7:06 pm

What colour should the ash be, if using beech sawdust? I'm smouldering the sawdust in a steel tray, not using a hotplate.
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Postby saucisson » Wed Nov 28, 2007 7:26 pm

Ah, sorry, I thought you were still using the hob ring in the cabinet.

Dave

Edit: what's the airflow like? I do wonder whether the amount of oxygen available could affect the make up of the smoke (from a flavour point of view) to quite a large extent. If oxygen is restricted such that the smoulder is very slow I could envisage volatiles being driven off rather than burnt off. Which one is more desirable is a matter of conjecture from where I'm sitting though...

What colour ash are you getting?

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Postby lemonD » Thu Nov 29, 2007 9:23 am

Dave,
The airflow is a 50-60mm hole in the bottom of the box and a 40mm pipe in the top.
Here's what the burnt sawdust looks like, the one on the left is oven dried sawdust and the one on the right is undried.Image
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Postby lemonD » Thu Nov 29, 2007 9:37 am

This is the box, you can see the air intake hole in the bottom.
Image
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Postby Fallow Buck » Thu Nov 29, 2007 9:38 am

Lemon,

Are you eating the salmon as soon as it comes out of the smoker?

I find that you need to hang the fish for a couple of days after you finishs smoking to allow the flavours to mellow and distribute through the fish.

Also at the previous stages how long are you curing for and do you alow a pellicle to form on the fish before smoking?

Your ash looks much like mine does. Also if you have limited ventiation to the box, you may have a very high density of smoke in there so perhaps yu can reduce smoking time.

Rgds,
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Postby Fallow Buck » Thu Nov 29, 2007 9:45 am

Lemon,

We just crossed posts.

Now that I see your smoke box, do you burn the dust in the box with the fish? If so do you have any cooling mechanism for the smoke?

The mackrel may have been OK given it was smaller and didn't smoke for as long. The salmon being bigger may jjust be getting a bit warm, especially given the box is insulated. Personally I would think that you need as little insulation as possible to cool the whole unit off. It is amazing how much heat even the kiln dried dust produces, let aloone the chips.

Again just some ideas thrown into the pot.

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Postby johnfb » Thu Nov 29, 2007 9:57 am

I have been watching this thread with interest as I am thinking of trying to smoke some things, but really never knew what to do.
I had looked at smokers on the net but now seeing the photo of a home built one I am thinking of trying to make one myself...anyone any other pictures they can put up for me to look at???

I will wait to see the outcome of this smoking probelm and I have to say all the advice comming in is great...and welcome.

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Postby lemonD » Thu Nov 29, 2007 10:18 am

FB,
The sawdust tray is inside the box when smoking, temps at food level are at the moment 5C-6C above ambient, the highest temp I've had was 22C.
My first try with sawdust was burnt in a metal box and ducted (100mm) from 3 metres away into the bottom hole, then temps were only 1C above ambient and I still had the same problem.
I seen a couple of setups that use a small fan to push/pull the smoke thru the box. Maybe I'll give that a go.

Cheers,
LD
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