Difference Between "Free Run" and "Free Range" Eggs

Going Up in Smoke

In a posting recently, you mention cold smoking.  Can you please explain the difference between cold smoking and hot smoking?



Traditionally, smoke was used to cure and meat, fish or other foods to help prevent spoilage.  Nowadays, smoking may also be done simply to add flavor or complexity to foods such as cheeses or vegetables.

Cold smoking adds flavor and helps to preserve meat without cooking it.  Typically, cold smoking is done in a temperature range of around 70°F to 90°F ( 21°C to 32°C), depending on what kind of food is being smoked.  Because the temperature is so low, equipment for cold smoking usually has a firebox where wood is burned and the resulting smoke is routed into a separate chamber where the food is placed.  Because the temperature is so low, the meat or other food isn't cooked, but the smoke accumulates on the surface and penetrates into the outer layer of the food.  Cold smoking may be combined with other techniques like salting or brining to further help preserve the food.

In hot smoking, the firebox may be integral to the smoking chamber or attached directly to it.  The temperature of the smoking chamber will usually run between 140°F to 180°F ( 60°C to 80°C).  Hot smoke foods may be eaten immediately, as in traditional barbecue, or may be cooled down to be eaten later, as happens with some forms of sausage.

In either case, the food is either hung or placed on racks in order to maximize the surface area exposed to the smoke.

For something different, try taking your favorite blue cheese, cold smoking it for about 15 to 30 minutes, depending on taste, and then mixing it with equal parts mayonnaise and sour cream to make a dip for vegetables.  You can play with the flavors even more by adding a little cumin or curry powder to the mix.

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