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He returns all questions . . . . . . .
Topic: Curing meat and fish using low temp smoking . . . . From: Greg,
Subject: Re: Smoking temperatures and times
Could you please give me some information about properly curing meat and fish using low temp smoking. I would like to know about times and temps for different meats plus different cuts and thicknesses like jerky and smoked salmon. I just bought a vertical smoker from OK Joe's and as I'm as green as a cucumber. Since hard wood is hard to come by here my main source of fuel is charcoal. I have some hickory, misqueit, and apple chunks and would also like to know about the frequence to add them to the charcoal?
Also, I have a source (back home in Nebraska) of these hard woods Elm and Ash. Would you recomend using them as a main source instead of charcoal? Or maybe as a smoke source instead of hickory, misqueit, or apple along with charcoal as the main heat source?
Thank you very much for your information it is greatly apprecited. When I need stuff you will be the first place to look to buy it.
If it is more convienient to communicate in other ways here is my info and I'd be glad to give you a phone call if it would be more convienent for you.
1. I do not recommend someone who's experience is as you describe, start out with curing and smoking fish & meats. Curing involves either soaking the fish in a brine at no higher than 60°F. temperature or rubbing in a salt/seasoning mixture. Depending upon the size of the fish/fillet and type, the length of curing time varies considerably. Afterwards the cure is wash off, then the fish is exposed to moving air for a period after which it is exposed to smoke at not more than 90°F. for 1 day to 3 weeks.
2. Your grill is not suitable for cold smoking fish.
3. Jerky is a snap, however, and nutritious as well as delicious.
Excellent jerky is easy to make but easy to over smoke. Jerky is dried rather than smoked. My favorite recipe is an oldie which aptly reflects the origin of jerky. "Sprinkle with enough salt to dry it out and enough black pepper to keep the flies off, then hang it in the sunshine until it is dry."
Meat used to make jerky should be the leanest available, then have all fat removed. Slice across the grain into 1/4 slices, sprinkle with salt and pepper as above then expose to temperatures not exceeding 150°F until dry. A small amount of smoke may be introduced, but if you are drying over charcoal, it will impart enough smoke flavor for those with discerning palates. Other favorite seasonings may be added after the meat is dry.
I prefer sirloin tip roasts for making jerky. They have few pockets of occluded fat and provide rather large slices which reduces the slicing time. Remember that you will lose the 60% water weight and mass. Venison, elk and moose also make excellent jerky.
4. Use charcoal as the main source of heat and add small amounts of wood. Mesquite is not on of my favorites. (read the FAQs) Elm and ash are fine cooking woods.