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Thread: Timeline for smoking salmon. Am I just right or way off?

  1. #1

    Default Timeline for smoking salmon. Am I just right or way off?

    I don't have very much experience smoking salmon and my batches last year weren't all that great. I would like to have some salmon done by Wed morning. Here is what I am thinking. Please let me know if this sounds about right or if I am way off.
    1200 : Today I started brining them.
    0530 Tomorrow 17 1/2hr brine: Take them out and put them into fresh water.
    0630: Lay them out to dry (Fridge or counter at room temp with a fan?).
    1730 11 hour drying time: Pop them into the smoker.
    2000 2 1/2 smoke: Take out and cool them off before bagging.

    So what do you think? Fridge or counter drying? Is 2 1/2 hours too long/short of a smoke? Brinning time ok?

    I will be leaving some pieces in either the smoker or oven at a low temp Tues night in an attempt at squaw candy. We'll see how that works out.

  2. #2
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SemperFi View Post
    I don't have very much experience smoking salmon and my batches last year weren't all that great. I would like to have some salmon done by Wed morning. Here is what I am thinking. Please let me know if this sounds about right or if I am way off.
    1200 : Today I started brining them.
    0530 Tomorrow 17 1/2hr brine: Take them out and put them into fresh water.
    0630: Lay them out to dry (Fridge or counter at room temp with a fan?).
    1730 11 hour drying time: Pop them into the smoker.
    2000 2 1/2 smoke: Take out and cool them off before bagging.

    So what do you think? Fridge or counter drying? Is 2 1/2 hours too long/short of a smoke? Brinning time ok?

    I will be leaving some pieces in either the smoker or oven at a low temp Tues night in an attempt at squaw candy. We'll see how that works out.
    depending on your brine, that's way too long if you ask me. I only brine for 6-8 hours in a brown sugar/kosher salt brine.

    This site will answer any questions you may have on brining and smoking.
    http://www.salmonuniversity.com/rs_htss01_index.html

  3. #3

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    You're going to get a few opinions here....I usually brine overnight, about 10-12 hours on average. With a fan running, I can get them dry in 2 or 3 hours, then I smoke for 10-12 hours. These times would be for steaks/chunks about 2-3 inches thick. If I'm doing red fillets, brine time would be shorter, as would smoking time, but not much. I like a heavy smoke, so I might just keep it cooler and not much shorter. Also, a little tin foil on the tail sections of fillets keeps them from drying out while the rest of the fillet smokes through.

  4. #4
    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SemperFi View Post
    I don't have very much experience smoking salmon and my batches last year weren't all that great. I would like to have some salmon done by Wed morning. Here is what I am thinking. Please let me know if this sounds about right or if I am way off.
    1200 : Today I started brining them.
    0530 Tomorrow 17 1/2hr brine: Take them out and put them into fresh water.
    0630: Lay them out to dry (Fridge or counter at room temp with a fan?).
    1730 11 hour drying time: Pop them into the smoker.
    2000 2 1/2 smoke: Take out and cool them off before bagging.

    So what do you think? Fridge or counter drying? Is 2 1/2 hours too long/short of a smoke? Brinning time ok?

    I will be leaving some pieces in either the smoker or oven at a low temp Tues night in an attempt at squaw candy. We'll see how that works out.
    Couple of things I'd do differently. The brine time is probably ok...it's a matter of personal preference. Mine usually sit over-night, so about 10 hours, give or take. Your drying time is way longer then I normally do. I take them out of the brine, rinse thoroughly in cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Then I throw them on the rack for about 2-3 hours, just enough to get the tacky skin look on the meat.

    Pop 'em in the smoker. My smoke times vary considerably depending on fillet thickness and temperature outside, but 4 hours is short. I do 4 pans of chips and inspect the fish to check on progress. It almost always needs longer, so I may do another pan of chips but it's not necessary. Just the heat from the smoker will finish it off eventually. Typically for reds it takes about 5-6 hours for thorough smoking/curing of meat. Just did some big silvers that took longer, both because they were thicker and it was much cooler outside. That took 8 hours in the smoker plus about 15 minutes in the oven to make sure they got hot enough to kill any parasites.

    I let them then cool to room temperature, and then throw the whole batch in the fridge over night. Not sure why, but that extra cooling before freezing seems to really lock the flavor in.

    There's a million answers to this one, and no one way to do it, so you have to kind of experiment. Good luck!

  5. #5

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    Well I am wet brinning if that changes anything. I am not brinning any shorter due to the fact that my ***** ain't getting up earlier than 530. The smoke times seem a bit long. Last year I did some kings for about 5 hours and they were almost jerky (160ish degrees). Since you guys are recommending less drying, I am thinking I'll do them in the fridge. I have work so that time can't really be cut down too much. The big factor it seems is smoking time. If I start at 6 I can be in bed by 10:30 which would be nice. I'll let you know how it works out I guess.

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    Member G_Smolt's Avatar
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    Lots of different ways to smoke, as someone else pointed out. Experimentation is the key, find out what you like and work backwards from there...

    Having said that, my personal preference is strong brine (2lb/gal) or dry brine, both for no longer than 1 hour, 24-36hr equilib and dry period, then a short smoke and long, low heat. Vac pack and freeze at -20 F to kill the beasties, then into the home freezer.

    Chuck Crapo is a great guy, and he taught one of my Seafood Tech classes at SJC in the '90s. This is his very good advice on smoking fish - courtesy of your local cooperative extension service, which has info on just about everything you need to know to make your own food, shelter, etc in AK...a highly valuable and grossly underutilized resource, IMHO.

  7. #7

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    We have smoked salmon for quite a while with various recipes and results.
    Mostly reds and silvers.

    The brine is different every year depending on what my wife puts in it.
    Last brine was 4 lbs of salt, about 4 pounds of brown sugar, some honey,
    a jar of lemon pepper and 1/2 jar of powdered ginger. This was cooked up strong and diluted in five gallons of water. Brine time 1/2 to 1 hour depending on thickness. (Put thick fillets in first). We don't rinse, just hang in 4' x 4' x 8' smokehouse to dry for about an hour, this was a problem last week due to very wet weather. Tried using a couple of electric heaters, which helped skim over the fillets. Then cool smoke (finally put a meat thermometer at top of smoke house to keep tabs on temp), keeping below about 80 degrees for about six to eight hours. Four to five bags of chips, using two hot plates. Then wrap & freeze. Cook in frying pan with a little water for about ten minutes to prepare for eating. Haven't tried this batch yet, but usually turns out pretty tasty. Keeps up to two years if well wrapped (we don't vacuum pack), don't seem to have trouble with freezer burn. Fish aren't very salty which is how our elderly parents like them.

  8. #8
    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    Default brine

    I use 3 parts brown sug to 1 part salt...add a can of dark beer. soak for 7-12 hours. Take out and put right on the smoker grill - add spices to desire, pepper, white pepper, cayenne, crushed red, garlic, black, honey etc....aft it is on the grill to reduce spice usage.

    I don't rinse and I put them right on a hot smoker. Smoke for 12-18 hours dep on temp outside - you want it firm, but not overdone. Wrap in shrink and vac pak.

    Works well every time.

  9. #9

    Default check the AK pantry

    Tons and tons of good info on this in the Alaska Pantry forum of this site. I've gone to the simples, quickest method I've found in there, using it three or four times this year with good success.

    -Mix 3 parts dark brown sugar with 1 part kosher (or at least NON-iodized) salt
    -Fluff mixture and toss either strips or portions of fillets that have been scored through the meat to the skin at about 1" - 1.5" intervals one or both directions into the mixture one at a time, fluffing in between each piece
    -Layer pieces skin to skin and meat to meat in a glass, plastic, or non-stick coated pan (not bare metal) or other container (I bought some large lidded tubs to tumble the fish)
    -Put fish in fridge and stir or tumble a couple of times over 5 or 6 hours
    -Take out, rinse lightly, pat gentry dry with paper towels, lay on oiled smoker racks
    -Air dry for 8-10 hours or so (I do it downstairs where it's relatively cool)
    -Smoke for 4-10 hours - time depends on outside temps, sunlight, and size of pieces...best to check regularly....also depends on how dry of a product you like

    This has worked really well for me this summer. I get the fish prepped and into the fridge by 3 or 4 in the afternoon, dry overnight, the smoke the next morning/day. If I want to do several days in a row, this method works especially well. You'll find this detailed in writing and with pictures if you search the AK Pantry forum.
    "The Gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent in fishing" Assyrian Tablet 2000 B.C.

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    Default Everyone has their own

    Everybody has their own style I have been happiest with a 24 hour drying time in the fridge followed by a 4-6 hour smoke. Usually about 4 pans. For me the most important part of the smoking process is the drying period prior to smoking.

  11. #11

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    Ok. Just so I know what I am dealing with, let's run over the details of everybody's methods:
    -Recommended 1 to 48 hour dry or wet brine.
    -Recommended rinse for 30 min to 3 hours.
    -Recommended don't rinse at all.
    -Recommended 1 to 24 hour drying time in fridge or counter.
    -Recommended 1 to 18 hour smoking time.
    -Recommended cool or hot smoking temp.
    Seems to be some wiggle room....

  12. #12
    Member anticipation's Avatar
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    so ultimately what everyone is saying is youll have to figure it out for yourself but use 3 parts brown sugar to one part kosher salt lol

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    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by anticipation View Post
    so ultimately what everyone is saying is youll have to figure it out for yourself but use 3 parts brown sugar to one part kosher salt lol
    I don't even use that much brown sugar...lol. Everyone up here seems to like it super sweet. I like mine a little tangy or with some kick. Instead of just water, I mix soy sauce and bbq sauce in equal amounts. On about half my fish, I coat wiyh Cajun seasoning.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by coho slayer View Post
    I don't even use that much brown sugar...lol. Everyone up here seems to like it super sweet. I like mine a little tangy or with some kick. Instead of just water, I mix soy sauce and bbq sauce in equal amounts. On about half my fish, I coat wiyh Cajun seasoning.
    Or can it with Jalapenos!
    "Happiness is a warm gun - bang bang, shoot shoot!"
    -Lennon/McCartney

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    Member L. G.'s Avatar
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    How I do it:

    1. Cut up fish into appropriate sized pieces.

    2. Set alarm for around 1 am

    3. Put fish in brine your your selection - I go for less salt and more sugar. Fresh garlic is killer.

    4. Go back to bed.

    5. Wake up normal time and remove from brine. Rinse if it's a salty brine.

    6. Pat dry and place on racks (I'm using a Big Chief)

    7. Place fans on it for a couple of hours to get a nice pellicle.

    8. Ready to start smoking around noon.

    9. Smoke 7-10 hours - till done to perfection!!!

  16. #16
    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hiker View Post
    Or can it with Jalapenos!
    Do you can the smoked salmon with Jalapenos? I've had canned salmon with jalapenos, which is pretty good. And salmon dip with jalapenos...mmmm. But not smoked canned salmon with jalapenos.............

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    Default Jalapenos

    +1 on the Jalapenos I can all my smoked fish with jalapenos. It makes great dip, spread, or it's really good straight from the jar. My only problem is finding good consistent peppers. All my jars have 1/2 a jalapeno in them and some are really spicy and some not.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by coho slayer View Post
    Do you can the smoked salmon with Jalapenos? I've had canned salmon with jalapenos, which is pretty good. And salmon dip with jalapenos...mmmm. But not smoked canned salmon with jalapenos.............
    The new smoker/canner out here does it that way. Not my favorite but still really good.

  19. #19

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    Ok, well I screwed tha pooch with the salmon. Lessons learned:
    -With the smoker I was using, Big Chief, 4 hours was way to short a smoke time and 12 hours was way too long. I fell asleep and woke up to find out that my smoked salmon and squaw candy had turned into smoked hockey pucks and jerky (jerky was pretty good though).
    -I am not going to bother with wet brine again. Even after 18 hours and a concentrated mixture, the brine barely penetrated the fish. The squaw candy on the other hand, which I had packed in brown sugar for 9 hours, tasted great.
    -I should have drastically increased drying time or dried at room temp with a fan. Even though most of the filets were dry as a bone on the outside after I smoked em, the inside was still too moist.
    -I will cut my filets into smaller pieces next time. Anything bigger than 1.5-2 inch strips doesn't seem to work out too well.

  20. #20
    Member dieNqvrs's Avatar
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    Default my experimented way

    I skin all my salmon to smoke.
    cut in to 2" X 2" pieces give or take.
    I cut off and seperate bellies(without fin), sides and tails in one bowl and the thickest part of fillet with bones in another looking for thickness consistency and bone and non bone peices
    mix 1 bag of brown sugar with 3/4 cup of kosker salt and black and red pepper
    take a zip lock bag and sprinkle sugar mix in bottom, then a layer of salmon 2- 3 peices, sprinkle more sugar mix, more salmon and repeat until ziplock is full. I continue to seperate bone and non bone peices.
    brine for 1-4 days, get to it when I find time to put on racks, only overnight is necessary. dry brine will turn to a syrup in bag rather quickly and will squeeze and roll fish around in bag a couple of times.
    I don't rinse and put directly on racks and add pepper and spices
    don't air dry
    I put thickest peices on bottom and thinnest on top in smoker.
    I smoke usually on coolest raing days possible and takes 18-24 hours of smoking/drying get moister fish
    I rotate my racks 180 degrees in the smoker at least once for consistent heat on the rack(my right side gets way hotter than the left.)
    rotate lower racks for upper racks 2/3 the way through so thick peices almost done go to the top and thin that needs more time to the bottom and all tend to be done within an hour or two
    I ususally use 3-4 pans of chips in my big chief one every 4-6 hours or when I remember
    I can get 6 -7 reds and 4-5 coho in one batch in the smoker. 3 1/2 gallon bags of brining fiish for my 5 racks.
    none of it is an exact science just go with it

    I only smoke it 2-3 hours if i am going to can it.

    My method FWIW

    good luck

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