Flavoring the meat with different ingredients is required in both hot and cold smoking technique. Many chefs and cooks usually experiment with various innovative ways of smoking in order to preserve nutrients and flavor of their ingredients. Addition of smokiness in either form further enhances look and taste of your dish and makes it more appealing for your guests.
Cold smoking is a technique in which meat is not directly exposed to heat. This process may take days and weeks in order to complete unlike hot smoke cooking. You keep an internal temperature in your smoker and thus the end result of food with cold smoking is usually drier and salty. The internal temperature with this process is kept between 68-86 degrees Fahrenheit and cold smoking requires careful work for correct completion.
In the process of cold smoking, smoke is generated from a different chamber and meat is placed in a different one. Smoke passes through pipes and before it reaches meat it cools down. Meat is kept at room temperature and in dry condition. It doesn’t really cook or cure meat and thus you should brine or salt meat before placing in smoker. Salting the meat would make sure that no bacteria develop.
Features of Cold Smoking
Cold smoking gives you a complex taste at the end and there is also tendency of bacterial growth with cold smoking. Meat is not cooked in cold smoking and thus the texture would remind you of a raw meat. While cold smoking is used to preserve food but keep in mind that it is not preserved completely and you would need to put it in the refrigerator until you would use it. All the expiry dates on cold smoked food items must be strictly followed. Some of these items must be cooked before using such as bacon or any other food that is lightly cured.
During hot summers and warm weather, cold smoking is really difficult. Cold smoking is preferred in cool season or in colder areas. This is because in warm weather conditions, temperature of the smoker may rise and the process may be stopped before completion.
Hot smoking is the most common type of meat smoking. Many of you may be familiar with this term but for those who are not hot smoking is continuously smoking meat at a temperature between 126 – 176 degrees Fahrenheit for varied duration depending upon the kind of meat you are cooking. Many of the electric smokers are now available that make your work even easier. Meat/veggies/fruits are cooked with the heat and smoker adds some different flavor to the good. Temperature is kept low so that meat gets enough of smoke to penetrate through it and would tenderize meat naturally. Slow cooking would also break down meat fibers and it would become tender.
Features of Hot Smoking
Foods that are hot smoked may not require further cooking and they are safe to eat as they are fully cooked. However one needs to make sure that the food is properly smoked. Keeping correct temperature would fully cook the food and would keep it tender and juicy with flavors. Excessive heat more than 185 deg. F may cause your meat to shrink or split. Over cooking on hot smoke with high temperature would dry out all the fats, nutrients and moisture and thus you get a dried shrink yield from the smoker.
Main differences between Cold and Hot Smoking
There are some main differences between both cold and hot techniques of smoking which includes:
- Difference of Temperature: This is quite obvious difference as smoking in both processes involves varied temperature ranges. For cold smoking, you may use a temperature between 68 – 86 deg. F whereas for hot smoking, you may use a temperature between 126 – 176 deg. F.
- Smoke Chambers: In hot smoking, food is cooked in the same chamber where the woods are burning for smoke whereas for cold smoking, food is kept in a different unheated chamber. The smoke in cold smoking is passed through different pipes and till it reaches the food it is cooled down. An external firebox is used for smoke pumping.
- Types of food for Cold and Hot Smoking: Cheese and lox are items that can be prepared easily with the cold smoke cooking process whereas meats like briskets, ribs, shoulders and other items are best prepared with hot smoking process.
Choosing between Cold and Hot Smoking
Cold smoking is preferred when you don’t want to cook food. It can be done in regions where the temperature is cold or in winter season. However hot humid regions, cold smoking is not possible as outside temperature would be more than what is required for cold smoking. Some products like cheese that may melt down in the grill at higher temperature are smoked with cold smoking low temperature. Moreover you can also cold smoke your meat before putting it on the grill for hot smoke for better smoke flavor. Sometimes you don’t get desired smoky flavor over hot grill alone. However where you goal is to have a cooked food ready for eating, you should adopt hot smoking method.
Where cooking is concerned, hot smoking is the most common method of smoking known by many of the cooks and chefs. Food items that you need to give a smoky flavor and don’t want to cook them such as cheese or button or the ones that you wish to cook later; you should cold smoke them. Hot smoking process is best for meats and this process gives them smoky flavor and cooks them well for eating right away.