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Safe cold smoking temperature


Steve Harford
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Bacon is not all the same and it depends on how it is cured. For example the storage time for bacon is very different for immersion / pumped cured bacon as it is for dry cured bacon. Although immersion/pumped cured bacon increases the salt content of the meat and adds the nitrite it also increases water content as well - by up to 10-12%. This gives it a chilled unsliced shelf life of only a week. Dry curing bacon on the other hand will slightly reduce the water content of the bacon giving it a chilled unsliced shelf life of about 6 weeks.

The curing process will also have an effect on the safety of the smoking temperature as the higher the moisture content the more likely bacteria will grow. It is a balance though as the salt in the cure (regardless of the curing method) will have an inhibitory effect on bacterial growth.

Assuming you are using Nitrite in your cure then it is preferable to smoke your bacon at between 12-20 C. This is often easier to achieve overnight in the summer. It does not have to be done all at once either. If you are smoking for 24 hours or more, split the time down to 3 x 8 hour overnight smokes, returning it to the fridge during the day. This also helps the penetration of the smoke through the bacon.

If you do not use Nitrite you should keep the bacon chilled, as you would fresh meat.

The only reason I can think of for smoking at higher temperatures is to reduce water content. For example, when producing traditional smoked salmon this is often done at around 24-26 C. When curing salmon this way you are aiming to reduce the weight of the fish by about 18% through water loss.

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19 minutes ago, Wade said:

Bacon is not all the same and it depends on how it is cured. For example the storage time for bacon is very different for immersion / pumped cured bacon as it is for dry cured bacon. Although immersion/pumped cured bacon increases the salt content of the meat and adds the nitrite it also increases water content as well - by up to 10-12%. This gives it a chilled unsliced shelf life of only a week. Dry curing bacon on the other hand will slightly reduce the water content of the bacon giving it a chilled unsliced shelf life of about 6 weeks.

The curing process will also have an effect on the safety of the smoking temperature as the higher the moisture content the more likely bacteria will grow. It is a balance though as the salt in the cure (regardless of the curing method) will have an inhibitory effect on bacterial growth.

Assuming you are using Nitrite in your cure then it is preferable to smoke your bacon at between 12-20 C. This is often easier to achieve overnight in the summer. It does not have to be done all at once either. If you are smoking for 24 hours or more, split the time down to 3 x 8 hour overnight smokes, returning it to the fridge during the day. This also helps the penetration of the smoke through the bacon.

If you do not use Nitrite you should keep the bacon chilled, as you would fresh meat.

The only reason I can think of for smoking at higher temperatures is to reduce water content. For example, when producing traditional smoked salmon this is often done at around 24-26 C. When curing salmon this way you are aiming to reduce the weight of the fish by about 18% through water loss.

Now that's what I call a great post and just what I was looking for. So it looks like I'm pretty safe after just 2 weeks as I did use an all in one cure containing nitrite. 

Interesting point about salmon the smoking temperature being allowable much higher, I have read that but I have always been even more reluctant to smoke it until the colder weather. I can see that the moisture content would be reduced by doing so at higher temperatures though. 

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