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Cured & Smoked Salmon


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Thinking about some cured & smoked salmon for Xmas.

Done Gravlax last couple of years, thinking maybe smoked this year ...... anybody got a real good recipe, and secodly once smoked, how long will it keep if vac packed and in a fridge ? Be nice to do it early.

Edited by Sargan
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You should only store the cured/smoked salmon in the fridge for a maximum of 10 days. Longer than that and it should be frozen. Even frozen it will only last for about a month before it starts to become opaque.

I am required to have my commercial smoked salmon lab tested for shelf life and, when vacuum packed and kept refrigerated, it is technically safe to eat (from a purely bacteria count level) for up to a month. If stored for longer than 10 days though, the risk is from the c.butulinum spores. Most fish will have the botulinum bacteria and spores in their gills and this will cross-contaminate the meat when the fish is filleted. This isn't usually a problem as there are botulinum bacteria all around us in every day life and they don't usually have the right environment in which to produce toxin so usually do us no harm. The problems begin when any of the spores are packed in an oxygen reduced/free environment at neutral pH - this is when they slowly start to produce the botulinum toxin. Vacuum packing is ideal for this to happen. Unfortunately there is currently no practical, cost-effective, food safety lab test for botulinum toxin and so we have to rely on laboratory modelling. The UK FSA, American FDA and European EFSA give similar advice that, when vacuum packed, the levels of any toxin produced will be below human toxicity levels if eaten within 10 days. This obviously also has a safety margin, however with something like botulinum toxin it is not worth taking the risk.

Usually we eat fresh fish within a few days before it goes off, however we also cure it which helps to extend its usable shelf life. As we eat the cured smoked salmon and gravlax raw this is where we see the highest risk. If eaten within 10 days then it is safe - store it for longer then the risk will increase exponentially.

To kill the botulinum spores the fish would need to be heated to at least 115 C for about 15 minutes (pressure cooked). Any toxin can also be broken down by heating to above 85 C for at least 5 minutes but this would then not be gravlax or smoked salmon.

Stick to a maximum of 10 days at <= 4 C and you will be fine.

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