SOFT smoked/canned salmon?



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  • SOFT smoked/canned salmon?


    Several years ago, a guy that I used to know brought over some home smoked and canned salmon that was soft ...soft enough to mush around on crackers anyway. Excellent stuff. But MY smoked and canned salmon never turns out that way ...great flavor, but the meat tends to firm up rather than stay soft.

    My question is this... how the heck do you create a smoked/canned salmon that is SOFT?? Cold smoke? I think that some brine salinities drive water into the meat while others draw it out, no? Maybe the right brine, one that pushed water into the meat, would result in a softer canned product? Anyone? How do you create a soft smoked and canned salmon? I know it can be done ...look at sardines and herring in the can ...very soft. Even if salmon was firmer due to less oil content, it seems that I can do better than what I have been. I'm open to learning...


  • #2
    I am by no means an expert but I had a similar problem with a batch of canned smoked salmon last summer. I am pretty sure I just over smoked it. It has a nice flavor but is rather dry. It's good to have a variety so I didn't mind. However, the next batch I did differently, a lot differently and it was the best canned smoked salmon I think we have ever had. I used a sweet and sour brine rather than salty, made with soy sauce, brown sugar and some honey and pineapple juice. I also added just a few chunks of crushed pineapple and a few small slices of hot Thai pepper to each jar before canning. It came out delicious and I will do it again this year for sure. Looking forward to hearing what other folks might have to say and always interested in new recipes too.

    Grandma Lori
    If God had intended us to follow recipes,
    He wouldn't have given us grandmothers. ~Linda Henley


    • #3
      we cold smoke our fish, so it is very soft, and if i want it to stay that way i vacuum pack and freeze it. we can a bunch too, and it gets firmer, due to the high heat of the pressure canner, it gets cooked. i dont see any way around this cooking action in the canner. there might still be some tricks out there to insure the cooked fish stays soft, i am all ears.


      • #4
        I would bet that the meat quality plays a part in this.

        I smoked some pink salmon that was not so sea fresh a few years ago and then canned it. Smoked for 3 hours or so before canning so it was pretty moist still.

        Came out pretty soft and spreadable.

        I have not been able to repeat it, but most of the fish I smoke is from or just came out of salt water, so the flesh is pretty firm still.
        Just a bitter Alaskan clinging to his guns and religion.....


        • #5
          I've heard of the pineapple juice trick before, and I think it works because it contains papain enzyme that breaks down protein. It's a natural tenderizer, so maybe that's what the guy did? I'm going to have to experiment. I think I'll see what I can find out about brines too. I know that the brine that we use for chicken and turkeys makes those meats super extra juicy with flavor clear through, so I know that some brines go INTO the meat instead of drawing moisture out ...and the chickens/turkeys are always more tender when brined as well. Need to clean out the chest freezers of fish to get ready for the upcoming season...



          • #6
            Based on the info in the following (see below), I'm going to use a brine that has a 3% to 6% salinity today and will try smoking/canning with it to see how it works. I'm also using a recipe that incorporates about a cup of pineapple juice per gallon of water (contains protein enzymes). If this produces a softer product that is just as good, I'll post the recipe and process here...

            "The Science Behind Brining

            With Turkey Day quickly approaching, there has been a lot of talk on the web about whether or not you should brine your bird. Although there are good arguments from both camps, I think it is first important that the science of brining is understood before making any decisions.

            A traditional brine is a water based liquid that contains between 3-6% salt by weight. Along with salt, a brine will contain aromatic herbs, spices and sometimes vegetables (usually mirepoix, garlic, etc).

            So Why Would You Brine Meat?

            Brining has two distinct effects on muscle tissue.
            First, the high salinity of the brine “disrupts the structure of the muscle filaments” (On Food and Cooking, Pg 155). At about 3% salinity, the brine will partially dissolve “the protein structure” which supports the muscle filaments that contract when cooked. The more these muscles filaments are allowed to contract, the tougher your meat will be.
            At about 5.5% salinity, the muscle filaments themselves are partially dissolved. Since their contracting ability is hindered by the salt, the muscle filaments contract less, effectively making your meat more tender.
            Second, they way in which salt interacts with protein, allows the protein to retain more moisture, which is absorbed from the liquid of the brine itself. According to Harold McGee’s on Food and Cooking:
            The meat’s weight increases by 10% or more. When cooked, the meat still loses around 20% of its weight in moisture, but this loss is counterbalanced by the brine absorbed, so the moisture loss is effectively cut in half. (PG 156)
            This is what allows brined meat to stay more moist, compared to its unbrined counterpart."




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