The smoking of meats, fish, cheeses and even vegetables is an old traditional way of cooking, flavouring and preserving that goes back in history thousands of years. Right now, it’s back in a massive way. There are two main ways to smoke your meats, fish and vegetables. Hot Smoking and Cold Smoking, but what’s the difference?
Hot Smoking or Cold Smoking? What’s the Difference?
Before I get into the main differences, I’d like to point out that both hot and cold smoking include curing the meat or fish before smoking usually using a combination of salt and sugar in the form of a rub or brine. Here is some more information on curing.
To put it simply, hot smoking is a way of cooking with heat and flavouring with smoke at the same time. Generally, with hot smoking, you maintain a cooking temperature between 100°C and 120°C or 212°F and 280°F. Here is a list of meats and fish that are commonly hot smoked:
- Slow-cooked Spare Ribs
- “low and Slow” Pulled Pork
- Hot Smoked Sausage
- Beef Brisket
- Hot Smoked Salmon
- Smoked Mackerel
- Hot Smoked Trout
Hot smoking is not just for meats and fish. Try smoking some of these vegetables:
- Corn on the Cob
The list is endless.
Hot smoking is cooking with temperature and flavouring with smoke.
With cold smoking, you do not cook the food during the smoking process however you flavour it using smoke. Cold smoking does not include direct heat as hot smoking does. The smoke is often created in a separate compartment and fed through a tube or pipe to the main smoking chamber. Cold smoking can often be a much longer process lasting anywhere between 1 and 30 days and often used as a way of preserving. Here is a list of foods that are commonly cold-smoked:
- Olive oil
Cold Smoking can often involve higher risk so I would highly recommend doing plenty of research and maybe starting with some of the lower risk foods such as, butter, cheese, olive oil, nuts and garlic to gain experience.
Which Wood should be used for Smoking?
Using hardwood is recommended for smoking so avoid using softwoods. Hardwood for smoking is available in many forms including logs, shavings and dust. Which one you use depends on the techniques and equipment you’re using. I will list below some of my favourite wood and equipment you will need to get started for both hot and cold smoking.
- Bradley Smoker Bradley 4 Rack Digital Smoker
- Bradley Smoker Cold Smoke Adaptor
- Bradley Smoker Apple Bisquettes
- I’m a big fan of the Bradley Smokers having used these myself. A great way to get started at home.
- Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
- Weber Chimney Starter
- Weber Smoking Wood Chips
- Weber Smokin Wood Chunks
- Weber is another brand that I’ve personally used and loved so I highly recommended especially for hot smoking.
- Remember Smoking whether hot or cold takes attention and experience to do it well.