Vacuum curing fish

Vacuum curing fish

Postby Fatmat » Fri Aug 28, 2009 9:30 am

Hi Folks,

I have just built my first smoke house in the garden - Hoorah! ! ! It cost me absolutely nothing and works brilliantly.

Anyway, I want to have a crack at cold smoking fish. To take the guess work out of curing, I thought to have a go at vacuum curing the fish to ensure that the levels of salt/sugar/spices etc are relatively consistent in the end product.

before I start experimenting, does anybody have any hints, tips, ideas or advice concerning this? I was wondering if it would have any effect on the consistency of the cured flesh? If it could have any detrimental effect on the curing process etc...?

Many thanks,

Fatmat
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Postby saucisson » Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:46 am

A lot of smoked fish is vac packed after smoking so I don't see why vacuum curing would be a problem. Gravadlax is made under pressure so much the same effect I would think.

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Postby welsh wizard » Fri Aug 28, 2009 8:28 pm

There is much debate over vac packed fish that does not carry a form of manafactured preservative. Vac packing fish is all well and good as long as the fish is "clean" going in. If it is not, then the sealed enviroment can act as an accellerator (scuse the spelink) for the nasties. I personally have cured hundreds of salmon and find that as long as a dusting of salt is placed on the bottom of the tray and the fillet then fairly well saturated with salt, after 8 hours the fish is ready for drying and smoking.

It is widely believed (me included) that a saturation of salt will kill anything that is living on the salmon but this is not true. There are salt resistant pathogens that like nothing better than a salt bath!

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Postby Fatmat » Sat Sep 05, 2009 6:22 am

Many thanks for the replies. I'm doing my first experiment this weekend. My usual first experiments are never particularly scientific because I get too excited (I really must get a life) and just want to get on with it. However I will report back what I've learned - which will probably be along the lines of it tasted great or it tasted crap. If you don't hear from me then the dreaded pathogens got me
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Postby Fatmat » Mon Sep 07, 2009 8:43 pm

My experiment is complete.

Ingredients:

1 side of salmon, scaled and boneless, skin still on.
25g of ground rock salt salt per Kg of salmon
25g sugar per Kg of salmon

Method:

I wiped the salmon to get rid of excess moisture. I then placed it inside a vacuum bag and sprikled it with the mixed sugar and salt. I sprinkled about 75% of the mix on the flesh side and the remainder on the skin side, ensuring that there was an even covering all over. I then vacuum sealed the bag.

The bag was placed in the fridge for 24 hours. After the 24 hours, a small quantity of liquid had leeched out. I removed the salmon from the bag and patted the fish dry but didn't wash it. I then hung the fish by it's tail in my meat cage and left it in the breeze for 10 hours for the pellicle to form.

The fish was then cold smoked in oak smoke for 24 hours.

Results:

'Better than Shop!!'. Really good flavour. As a first experiment I was surprised by how easy it was to do and how good the results were.

One observation is that the flavour in the middle of the fish was far less pronounced than on the outside, which is fairly obvious but it left me slightly concerned that the preservatives hadn't travelled all the way in yet. I've vac packed the remaining piece (what's left after I stuffed myself and gave some to my neighbour) and will test again in a few days to see how the flavour has permeated.

I hope that my notes are of use to some other body starting on the same journey.
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Postby wheels » Mon Sep 07, 2009 8:52 pm

Fatmat wrote:One observation is that the flavour in the middle of the fish was far less pronounced than on the outside, which is fairly obvious but it left me slightly concerned that the preservatives hadn't travelled all the way in yet. I've vac packed the remaining piece (what's left after I stuffed myself and gave some to my neighbour) and will test again in a few days to see how the flavour has permeated.

I hope that my notes are of use to some other body starting on the same journey.


Perhaps the middle wasn't as dry as it should have been? Cold smoked salmon needs about 15 - 18% total weight loss to be classed as 'safe'.

http://forum.sausagemaking.org/viewtopic.php?t=3959

I wonder whether the vacuum packing inhibited this?

HTH

Phil
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Postby Fatmat » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:27 pm

Phil, many thanks for the link. Lots of useful stuff there. Admittedly my head hurts a little after reading it all. :-)

I can't see why vac packing would result in any more or less weight loss than brining. Thinking about it, I imagine that the vac pack method would remove more liquid because it is a dry cure technique. Anybody got any thoughts on this one?

I think the weight loss occurs as a result of the whole process - I hang my bacon in the wind to dry, so I did the same with the salmon. And I guess that the rest of the drying takes place during the smoking period. I'll be a bit more scientific next time and do some measuring.

As far as the centre not tasting so rich as the outer flesh, I guess that has something to do with osmosis. I don't suppose anyone has any figures concerning how long equilibrium takes to occur for different thicknesses of flesh?

Mat
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Postby wheels » Tue Sep 08, 2009 3:23 pm

Mat

You are correct in that weight loss is difficult to achieve with a brine cure.

As long as you get the 15% or so weight loss I don't think it matters which 'stage' to loss occurs.

The middle may not have been as tasty because 24 hours is a very short time in a true cold smoker (not Bradley).

Phil
Last edited by wheels on Sun Dec 13, 2009 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby welsh wizard » Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:47 pm

Have a quick look at this..........

Its worth it just to see the few knife slkills shown.......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bh_BCI1yrfs

Cheers WW
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Postby Fatmat » Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:04 pm

Many thanks WW,

Really interesting vid to watch. Lots of useful info. Judging by their temperatures and timings, I wasn't convinced that they'd be achieving a 15% weight loss. From a commercial perspective, I imagine that they would be trying to achieve the bare minimum weight loss.

Wasn't convinced by the need to include a mix of 26 different spices - I'm not bad with spice blending and I couldn't imagine that most folks would notice the benefits of 26 different ones.

I loved the bit on preparing the fillets - they made it look so easy. I'm still at the stage of getting the book out and working out which way up the fish is. I found this one on slicing too - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9ET3rPJYpY

Mat
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Postby coastie » Sun Dec 13, 2009 7:18 pm

Anybody know what the 26 spices were or can give me an idea which would go nice with cod haddock salmon herring
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Postby wheels » Sun Dec 13, 2009 7:38 pm

Coastie

Personally I'd try them with just salt, or salt and sugar, to start with. Get the basic product correct, and then's the time to play!

Phil
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Postby coastie » Sun Dec 13, 2009 7:53 pm

Thanks Phil did that with the first one plus added a crushed bay leaf and used some real canadian maple syrup a friend sent me. wife says its nice so did sister just wanted to play around a bit. Nice to see you back in the land of the living
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Postby wheels » Sun Dec 13, 2009 7:55 pm

Thanks geoff,

I'm a 'let the product speak for itself' man - no doubt others will advise further on using herbs/booze etc.

Phil
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Postby coastie » Sun Dec 13, 2009 8:06 pm

Hi Phil will bow to your advice as its always spot on and you aint steered me wrong yet :lol:
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