Tips make smoking salmon at home successful

Posted: Sunday, July 15, 2001

Many people like to smoke their freshly-caught king salmon and are proud and protective of their own secret recipes. However, Coopera-tive Extension Service wants to assure that people know and follow the essential steps for producing a good quality and safe fish product.

If you are planning to smoke fish this season, I encourage you to pick up a free copy of the Cooperative Extension publication, "Smoking Fish at Home." This publication outlines the steps necessary to minimize the potential for bacterial spoilage and foodborne illness.

Here are just a few of the steps included in "Smoking Fish at Home:"

n To prevent cross-contamination, the transfer of spoilage bacteria from the raw fish to the finished product, keep all surfaces and utensils clean and sanitary.

n Clean all fish carefully to remove slime, blood and harmful bacteria.

Cut fish into uniform pieces and not more than one inch thick. Pieces larger than one inch thick may spoil during the smoking process.

Keep fish as cool as possible during brining and drying and below 38 degrees while brining to minimize bacterial growth and spoilage.

After brining, fish may be soaked in fresh water 30-60 minutes to remove excess brine.

Use a meat thermometer to measure internal temperature of fish. For hot smoking, cook the fish to 160 degrees internal temperature for at least 30 minutes some time during the smoking cycle, preferably toward the end and within 6 to 8 hours after placing it in the smoker.

If cold-smoked fish will not be cooked prior to eating, freezing the fish for two weeks or longer at 0 degrees or colder before salting and smoking is necessary to destroy harmful parasites that may be present in uncooked fish.

Once smoked, fish has a short shelf life. Even refrigeration won't guarantee that smoked fish will stay safe to eat. The bacteria that cause botulism food poisoning could start to grow after two to three weeks of refrigeration. For long-term storage, smoked fish must be frozen or canned.

Canning tends to dry the flesh, darken the color and intensify the smoked flavor. To lessen the undesirable quality changes the smoking procedure must be modified.

For more information, request a free copy of "Home Canning Smoked Fish."

We also have free publications on freezing and pickling fish. The Cooperative Extension Service office is at 43961 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Suite A and open 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 5 p.m. weekdays. Our phone number is 262-5824 or, outside the central peninsula area, (800) 478-5824.

Linda Athons is an agent at the Alaska Cooperative Extension office in Soldotna. She is a home economist and involved in the 4-H/Youth Development programs.

Many people like to smoke their freshly-caught king salmon and are proud and protective of their own secret recipes. However, Coopera-tive Extension Service wants to assure that people know and follow the essential steps for producing a good quality and safe fish product.

If you are planning to smoke fish this season, I encourage you to pick up a free copy of the Cooperative Extension publication, "Smoking Fish at Home." This publication outlines the steps necessary to minimize the potential for bacterial spoilage and foodborne illness.

Here are just a few of the steps included in "Smoking Fish at Home:"

To prevent cross-contamination, the transfer of spoilage bacteria from the raw fish to the finished product, keep all surfaces and utensils clean and sanitary.

Clean all fish carefully to remove slime, blood and harmful bacteria.

Cut fish into uniform pieces and not more than one inch thick. Pieces larger than one inch thick may spoil during the smoking process.

Keep fish as cool as possible during brining and drying and below 38 degrees while brining to minimize bacterial growth and spoilage.

After brining, fish may be soaked in fresh water 30-60 minutes to remove excess brine.

Use a meat thermometer to measure internal temperature of fish. For hot smoking, cook the fish to 160 degrees internal temperature for at least 30 minutes some time during the smoking cycle, preferably toward the end and within 6 to 8 hours after placing it in the smoker.

If cold-smoked fish will not be cooked prior to eating, freezing the fish for two weeks or longer at 0 degrees or colder before salting and smoking is necessary to destroy harmful parasites that may be present in uncooked fish.

Once smoked, fish has a short shelf life. Even refrigeration won't guarantee that smoked fish will stay safe to eat. The bacteria that cause botulism food poisoning could start to grow after two to three weeks of refrigeration. For long-term storage, smoked fish must be frozen or canned.

Canning tends to dry the flesh, darken the color and intensify the smoked flavor. To lessen the undesirable quality changes the smoking procedure must be modified.

For more information, request a free copy of "Home Canning Smoked Fish."

We also have free publications on freezing and pickling fish. The Cooperative Extension Service office is at 43961 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Suite A and open 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 5 p.m. weekdays. Our phone number is 262-5824 or, outside the central peninsula area, (800) 478-5824.

Linda Athons is an agent at the Alaska Cooperative Extension office in Soldotna. She is a home economist and involved in the 4-H/Youth Development programs.



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