Time: 5 minutes – Patience: 10 hours – Difficulty: Trivial – Knackynes: Low
So I built a cold smoker, and then it was time to try it!
The items in my first smoke run were the cured salmon fillet, a piece of home-cured bacon, three garlic bulbs and about a dozen home-grown chillies. These were loaded into the smoker on the racks – I considered hanging the bacon piece from a hook but decided against this time. The loaded smoker looks really empty so the first lesson is to have more items ready for smoking and do them all at once.
The ProQ smoke generator lit very straightforwardly and behaved immaculately, smouldering gently without any noticeable heat output for almost exactly the advertised ten hours. I used oak sawdust in the smoke generator for the first attempt, and the 100g pack I had was a little bit more than I needed.
The smoker itself leaked like a sieve from the junction between the roof and box, and also from the side of the magnetically-attached door panel. I suspect this meant the smoke density inside the box was rather less than it might have been. Before the next run, I plan to plug as many of these leaks as I can using silicone mastic and some batons, and we’ll see if I get a more concentrated smoke as a result. I could conceivably run a second smoke generator, but this would increase my costs, so I’d rather not!
Overall, the salmon was a great success. It was firm, glistened slightly with oil on the surface, and cooked wonderfully into the creamy home-smoked salmon pasta I made for dinner on Monday. You can see photos and more discussion with the recipe.
The garlic and chillies didn’t appreciably change in appearance during smoking – at odds with the smoked garlic I’ve seen before which was dark yellow to brown in colour. I have seen recommendations for smoking times for garlic up to 36 hours, though, so 10 may not be enough to achieve this, especially in a leaky-smoker. They smell wonderfully of oak smoke though and the flavour of the garlic is a treat – nice fresh flavour with a subtle but distinct note of oak smoke, not too obtrusive and lovely for general cooking. I might re-smoke one of the bulbs next time I run the smoker, if I’ve not eaten it all by then.
The bacon has a bit of smoke staining on the rind and has darkened on the meat side. I think you might get more discolouration on the rind with the bacon hanging rather than sat rind-up on a rack. Apart from that, it looks and smells as I would expect from good smoked streaky bacon. I haven’t tasted it yet – but plan to have some for my lunch!
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