How to Smoke Food at Home
Smoking your own fish (or other things for that matter) is much easier than people imagine.
We can supply you with all the equipment needed to smoke your own food, explain about the different wood varieties and give you a step by step guide to using a hot smoking oven, a BBQ smoke box or a cold smoke generator
We are always happy to help so please feel free to call us anytime on 01326 735017
The methods given for home smoking are not necessarily the only way or the correct way but they are what works for us. It’s very much a case of experimenting and that is the fun part about smoking your own food.
There are two main ways to hot smoke food.
- Using a hot smoking oven which involves putting some wood chips in the bottom of the oven and then putting a rack over the chips, placing your food on to the rack and then sealing the lid. The oven is then put on a heat source and the wood inside will begin to smoulder and produce hot smoke which surrounds the food cooking it and giving it the smokey flavour.
- The other way to hot smoke food is to put your wood chips into a container with holes in it and put it on to the BBQ on top of the coals and under the BBQ rack. You can also soak your wood chips in water and sprinkle them straight on to the barbecue coals.
The second method is better if your barbecue has a lid but even then, the flavour will not be as intense as food smoked in a smoking oven.
Hot Smoking Ovens
The main piece of equipment needed to hot smoke food is a smoking oven that can withstand a great deal of heat and has a seal that prevents the smoke from escaping. It is possible to make your own smoking oven using a biscuit tin or similar and there are plenty of videos on You Tube showing you how to do this. However, we believe it is better to use an oven designed specifically for the job as they are made of stainless steel and are therefore safe and hygienic and will last years.
Cold smoke generators work by slowly burning the wood dust producing a gentle smoke without the heat like the hot smokers. The generator is put in the bottom of just about any closed cabinet, container or BBQ with the food on racks or hanging above the smoke. It is not necessary to purchase a specific cabinet although these are readily available if required.
This is a slow method of smoking, taking up to 10 hours, unlike hot smoking which is much faster. As the food isn’t heated, cold smoking is perfect for products that would melt in a hot smoker like cheese.
The resulting cold smoked food is not cooked and will usually require further cooking before eating, such as cold smoked haddock that is often poached.
WOOD CHIPS / WOOD DUST
Once you have decided whether you are going to use a hot smoking oven, a cold smoke generator or a BBQ smoke box, you will need some wood chips. There are various grades / sizes of wood chips so it is important to make sure you get the correct ones for the method you are using. Different smoking chips also produce different flavours and are therefore suitable for different types of foods. Please follow our links for guides on wood chip suitability.
Some give a stronger flavour than others so it’s really down to personal preference. It’s good fun experimenting with the different smoking chips and dusts available. It is not advisable to make your own due to possibility of contamination, for example oil from a chain saw. Also some woods including many soft woods will give the food a resin taste which is unpleasant.
The important thing to remember when experimenting with different woods is not to use too much. When using a hot smoking oven, it is a common mistake to tip lots of dust into the bottom of the smoker but all that is needed is approximately 1 – 1½ tablespoons of dust.
These images show smoked haddock fillets before and after being smoked in a hot smoking oven. Simply put approximately 1 tablespoon of your chosen wood chips in the bottom of the oven. Put the rack in and place your fish on top of the rack. Seal with the lid and put on any heat source. Leave for approximately 15 minutes and then the smoked haddock is ready to enjoy – it’s as easy as that!
Some ideas of foods to smoke in a hot smoking oven
Chicken, duck, pigoen and pheasant breast are all delicious smoked. All you need to do to prepare the poultry breast for smoking is to make sure it is dry and add a little seasoning. Smoke the breasts whole and then slice them and serve! While it is important to make sure the breasts are cooked properly, be careful not to over-smoke them as they will become a little dry.
Mussels, scallops and other molluscs can be smoked. Scallops can be smoked from raw as they only take a small amount of time to cook and could become tough if cooked and then smoked. However, it is advisable to used cooked mussels for smoking.
Venison and beef can both be smoked. Simply use a little seasoning and smoke from raw then slice after smoking. Cooking times will depend on the size of the steak.
Any type of sausage can be enhanced by smoking. Again cook from raw. It is probably not necessary to season sausages prior to smoking as they are normally already seasoned.