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Thread: Canning smoked salmon questions

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    Default Canning smoked salmon questions

    So I'm new to canning and I tried canning some smoked salmon. It turned out dryyyyy... I smoked our normal process except I only smoked it long enough to burn two pans of alder chips in my little chief. We then stuffed into half pint jars and cooked for 100 min at 10 psi. It turned out edible but very dryy.. I've had other people's canned/smoked and it was far better and not nearly as dry. What can I do better or change?

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    1. Don't smoke it so long since it will continue to "cook" in the pressure cooker
    2. I think 100 minutes is too long in the pressure cooker I think I do 45-50 minutes at 10 psi
    3. A teaspoon of olive oil in the jar prior to sealing.

    I actually use cans for canned smoked salmon.

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    Do you just want to have a smoke flavor or do want the brime taste? The best way to get "smoked canned salmon" is liquid smoke just put a couple drops in and taste just the same but not dry.

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    Strange, your process sounds like ours, and we don't have dry salmon; there's always some liquid in the bottom of the jar. But we do use pint jars.
    Do you brine it before smoking? We do, in salted, spiced water, then let it dry a bit before smoking. We leave on the skin for smoking, but pull if off before we put the strips into the jars for canning. In the past, we have added some oil, but didn't need it so we have quit doing that. We do the canning at 100 minutes at 11 psi. Like I said, there's generally an inch or more of liquid in the bottom of the jar, and the fish is not dry. Dunno what the difference is...

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    Yes I brine in a simple 4:1 bs and salt. I like the smoke flavor so maybe I will try liquid smoke. Never looked into metal cans before.

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    What I do:


    • Skin the fillets and cut to finished length for the jars.
    • Dry brine for several hours with 80/20 brown sugar/salt mixture with a few secret ingredients.
    • Rinse and dip in secret ingredient.
    • Air dry to obtain pellicle.
    • Cold smoke for desired flavor. (NO fake liquid smoke for me, thank you).
    • Pack jars, add secret ingredient and can according to directions for fish.


    The canning process is what cooks/preserves the fish, smoking in this case is for flavor only. The texture of canned/cooked fish will be by nature a little drier than fresh/lox/kippered, but hot smoking (especially if you over do it) before canning can result in what you experienced. Don't hot smoke if you're going to can, cold smoke is best, and only long enough to add desired flavor. Don't brine for quite as long as you might for lox, keep your fillet moisture content just a little bit higher. I try to do all the pre-canning work at around +40F.

    Start with good quality fish. Canning will NOT improve the quality of old, freezer burned, or poorly cared for fish!
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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    What I do:


    • Skin the fillets and cut to finished length for the jars.
    • Dry brine for several hours with 80/20 brown sugar/salt mixture with a few secret ingredients.
    • Rinse and dip in secret ingredient.
    • Air dry to obtain pellicle.
    • Cold smoke for desired flavor. (NO fake liquid smoke for me, thank you).
    • Pack jars, add secret ingredient and can according to directions for fish.


    The canning process is what cooks/preserves the fish, smoking in this case is for flavor only. The texture of canned/cooked fish will be by nature a little drier than fresh/lox/kippered, but hot smoking (especially if you over do it) before canning can result in what you experienced. Don't hot smoke if you're going to can, cold smoke is best, and only long enough to add desired flavor. Don't brine for quite as long as you might for lox, keep your fillet moisture content just a little bit higher. I try to do all the pre-canning work at around +40F.

    Start with good quality fish. Canning will NOT improve the quality of old, freezer burned, or poorly cared for fish!
    What's your process for cold smoking?

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shayno View Post
    What's your process for cold smoking?
    I put the fish pieces on stainless racks about the size of oven racks. They fit in my plywood smoker which is about the size of a phone booth (remember those things?). I make smoke on a little hot plate down in the bottom, just like you do in a Chief or similar hot smoker. All I'm after is smoke, not heat. Need not be fancy. You can smoke in a shed, or a wall tent, or under a tarp. Best smoked fish in the world (imho) are smoked under blue tarp hooches along the lower Yukon every year.
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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    I guess the point being that you want to give your fish more space, and get them away from the heat. You just want to smoke 'em, you don't want to cook 'em. (You're gonna cook the hell out of 'em later when you can 'em).
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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    I guess the point being that you want to give your fish more space, and get them away from the heat. You just want to smoke 'em, you don't want to cook 'em. (You're gonna cook the hell out of 'em later when you can 'em).
    Roger. I think that is what I'll do. I'll just put a box over my little chief (don't have a hot plate) and do it that way. I figure the smoke will stay but the heat wont. I've got lots of scrap plywood to build a box. I don't imagine anymore than 2 pans of chips will be needed cold smoked? I've always figured the pieces can only absorb so much smoke before I'm just wasting time/chips. I think because I only have half pints, I'm going to cut the gishing into strips to pack it tighter. That might help alot I think.

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    We only smoke-can fresh salmon. Good quality but previously frozen fish doesn't come out as good. The smoke-can operation runs around the clock when the dipnet salmon get home until it's done, all with fresh fish. We also use copper fish. I smoked a couple silver's this fall, not the same. We are spoiled.

    I've never had a dry fish issue. We do cold smoke for the majority of the smoking time then raise the heat to just bring the internal fish temperature up to 140 @ the end of smoking. We also wet brine under pressure. Good luck
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    They were dry because you hot smoked em too long and then pressure cooked the dog doo out of them after wards. Do the cold smoke like mentioned and you will be good to go.

    For those who do not like the bitterness of the liquid smoke - try hickory smoke powder. Available at good sausage making stores like butcherpackerdotcom. It is much more better than liquid.

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    if I am going to cold smoke for a short time why do I need to even use a brine?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullelkklr View Post
    They were dry because you hot smoked em too long and then pressure cooked the dog doo out of them after wards. Do the cold smoke like mentioned and you will be good to go.

    For those who do not like the bitterness of the liquid smoke - try hickory smoke powder. Available at good sausage making stores like butcherpackerdotcom. It is much more better than liquid.
    Yea that's the conclusion I came to...

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shayno View Post
    if I am going to cold smoke for a short time why do I need to even use a brine?
    Valid question. The primary purpose of brining is to reduce the moisture content of the fish; secondarily it can be used to impart different flavor profiles. It's certainly not a prerequisite to canning. You could experiment to get the final texture you're interested in... No brining at all will result in a soft moist texture just like commercial canned salmon. The more you brine/lower the moisture content of the fish, the firmer and drier it will be.
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    I'm glad someone caught that the smoking was too hot; I didn't catch that. Yeah, we do a cool smoke on them.
    As for the brine, it makes a big difference, as iofthetaiga said. Unbrined fish is really different. You can add different flavors to the brine, or just do something simple with brown sugar and salt.
    If we have 2 pressure cookers going, we do the canning part out in the shed, on a 2-burner propane stove. Nothing better than sitting out there drinking a beer late into the night!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    Valid question. The primary purpose of brining is to reduce the moisture content of the fish; secondarily it can be used to impart different flavor profiles. It's certainly not a prerequisite to canning. You could experiment to get the final texture you're interested in... No brining at all will result in a soft moist texture just like commercial canned salmon. The more you brine/lower the moisture content of the fish, the firmer and drier it will be.
    Gotcha, I brined the fillets for a couple 3 hours today. I dried to a pellicle and got smoking now. I just flipped the metal garden cart over the little chief, and left the door off the little chief.. haha... I will only run two pans of smoke then I'll can it. I also went and bought some half pint wide mouths, I think it will make a big difference in how much I can get in each jar.

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    Not my vid but shows the process in easy to follow steps

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    I use wide mouth half pints too. They work good for us.

    When I get home with a stack of reds or silvers we usually will have a bag or three of skinless fillets. I bone out the fillets. The parts with the bones go straight into jars (if we don't smoke it first for canning) usually. The strips left go into brine for the smoker. We use a fan for about an hour to get a pellicle coat on the smoking batch and then into the smoker they go. If we do smoke before canning it is the same process except we don't smoke it for near as long and I reduce the canning time because the Big Chief gets the meat started on a cook. I take off 20 minutes from the regular canning time if we smoke the fish first.

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    Update: so did the light brine, 3 hours. Then cold smoked for only for 1 pan of chips. Did the 100 minutes and the fish turned out great. But, not nearly enough smoke flavor for me, so I will up the smoke to 2 pans. And with the wide mouth half pints I was able to pack them neater/fuller which I think made a big difference. Thx for the pointers folks!

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