Things you need to know about hot and cold smoking in an electric smoker and other meat smokers
Hot smoking and cold smoking are two common smoking methods of smoking foods with the electric smoker. Each has its benefits and shortfalls.
If you are looking for a well-moisturized meat with a lot of smoke flavor, the obvious option for you will be hot smoking. However, some types of delicate foods may not survive the high temperature used for hot smoking. In that case, a cold smoking method will be more ideal for such foods.
Also, cold smoking is basically used to add a smoky flavor to foods while preserving them for later use.
Though Cold smoking is a controversial way of getting or infusing smoky flavor in the food. Still, it is used in some cases where it is considered safe.
This content shall explore the meaning of the two concepts, their benefits, differences, and the smoking accessories used for both types of smoking methods.
First, let’s find out what it means to prepare food using the hot smoking method.
What is hot smoking?
Hot smoking is a food smoking process which completely cooks foods at a hot temperature. When using the hot smoking method, the temperature is generally set between 170 degrees and 300degrees. Some prefer smoking at a temperature of above 200 degrees to make sure the food receives enough heat for a period of time.
The main reason of hot smoking is to increase the moisture levels of the meat and add rich smoky taste. It’s basically used to prepare food products like wild game, fish, beef roast, chicken, and other whole meats.
Woodchips are used for hot smoking to add smoky flavor to the food. Without woodchips, you may not get the natural smoky flavor of most barbecue meats. To increase the level of flavor, woodchips like maple, mesquites, and oak are great options to use.
To hot-smoke foods effectively, you can make use of electric smokers, charcoal smokers, or gas grills. Obviously, the electric smoker will give you better control of the temperature as they have a wide variety of temperature settings.
But when it comes to the time of cooking, a gas grill cooks faster because the heat from the grill is stronger and higher. If you are looking for a smoker with a higher smoky flavor, the charcoal grill is more suitable.
It combines charcoal with wood pellets to provide stronger and thicker smoky flavor. Overall, the different types of smokers have their own benefits and shortfalls. It all boils down to what is more appealing to you.
Benefits and purpose of hot smoking
- Hot smoking brings out more moisture from the meat then cold smoking. When the food is cooked in hot temperature, moisture comes out more from the meat.
- It also brings out the smoky flavored taste of the meat. That’s why most barbecue shops prefer to hot smoke their food than the cold smoking method.
- In addition, hot smoking uses a high-level temperature, which completely cooks the meat and leaves no trace of To most people, this is the healthier form of cooking compared to cold smoking. Although some people still reheat hot smoked foods, they are still safe for consumption without any extra cooking.
- When you use hot smoking, the meat is usually served immediately, which means they do not need curing. But it’s important to soak the food in the marinade for some hours before you cook.
Risk factors associated with hot smoking
The following are some risk factors you need to take note of when smoking meat with this method.
- The size of the food will depreciate considerably when put under high temperature for a long time. Meat usually shrinks from their original size when the cooking temperature is more than 180 degrees.
- Generally, hot smoking is done within a certain temperature range of (1250F to 1750F). When meats and other foods are cooked with this high temperature, the food is usually flavorful, moist, and fully cooked. But when the smoker gets hotter to more than 1800 F), the food may split, buckle, or shrink extremely.
- Smoking at very high temperature equally lowers yield, as both fat and moisture are cooked away.
- Also, using extreme heat to cook certain types of food may not be good. Salmon and other types of fishes do not need high temperature. So you need to be careful when hot smoking to avoid overcooking them Best electric smokers for hot smoking
Hot smoking needs a smoker that produces heat from an oven or stove-top, an electric base smoker, or a gas base smoker.
These smokers will effectively heat the foods, ensuring a properly cooked meal and more flavored food. Below are the best smokers you can utilize for smoking your meat with using the hot smoking method.
Masterbuilt 30-Inch Electric Smoker is a true master of hot smoking. The smoker has a temperature control of between 100 to 275 degrees, which is enough for any hot smoking you want to do. Whether your priority is to add smokier flavor, create more moisture, or effectively cook your meat, this Masterbuilt 30-inch electric smoker is the real deal.
Best propane smokers for hot smoking
When it comes to adding full flavor through a slow cooking process, many grillers prefer this Masterbuilt40-inch Propane Smoker. It has a stainless steel burner that keeps the food in the right temperature throughout the cooking process. Moreover, the smoker can reach 300 degrees in temperature, making it perfect for any type of hot smoking task.
Smoke Hollow 44-Inch Propane Smoker comes with the right features to give users the required heat levels they need for hot smoking. It comes with 2 different burners with 12,000 BTU each for perfect temperature control. You can hot smoke virtually all types of foods with this propane smoker.
Best gas smokers for hot smoking
Char-Broil Vertical Gas Smoker is another great option for those looking for gas smokers for hot smoking. It comes with a double drawer design, multiple task locations, as well as large smoking chamber that can contain enough meat. The temperature also reaches 300 degrees, which is ideal for hot smoking different types of meals.
Camp Chef 24-inch Smoker is a very popular smoker brand for hot smoking techniques. It brings rich smoked flavor when combined with woods such as cherry, hickory, and mesquite. Interestingly, it’s one of the best smokers to cook at an extremely high temperature. The smoker’s cooking temperature varies from 160 degrees to 350 degrees. That’s certainly enough for any hot smoking task.
How is hot Smoking different from cold smoking?
Hot smoking and cold smoking are both popular choices for grillers. But there are reasons why one may be preferred to the other. Below are the differences between the two methods of smoking.
The heat levels for hot smoking is quite different from the heat levels for cold smoking. While cold smoking is done under low temperature for an extended period of time (between 700 F and 1000 F), hot smoking requires a higher temperature range of 1600 F to 3000 F.
Because the cold cooking method leaves some bacteria alive, which may be harmful for consumption, the meat is usually cured with sodium nitrites or sodium nitrate before it’s subjected to cold smoking. But hot smoking does not need to be cured since the process uses a higher heating level.
The smoking time for hot smoking is usually quicker (between 1 hour and 3.5 hours) while that of cold smoking takes longer time (from several hours up to a few weeks).
Types of food
Most foods for hot smoking are generally stronger compared to foods for cold smoking. You can hot smoke foods like meatloaf, corn, spare ribs, pork butt, pork loins, beef brisket, turkey leg, as well as chicken. On the other hand, cold smoking can be done with sausage, beef jerky, cheese, salami, ham, and bacon.
Overall, hot smoking leaves the food juicer, more flavored, and smaller compared to cold smoking. The main reason for cold smoking is to keep the meat for a long time by taking out its moisture.
Cold smoking is simply the method of preparing smoking meat and other foods without the usual high temperature it takes to completely cook meat. It is an extremely slow process of smoking meats that can even last for months in some cases.
The cold smoked meat usually produces saltier and drier foods as the moisture is dried away in a slow process. However, this method needs proper care because of the health implication of leaving bacteria in the meat.
Generally, most cold smoked foods are put at a temperature below 1000 F. This is usually not high enough to completely cook raw meats.
But there are some foods like vegetables and seafood that will be enough for this temperature. Foods you can cold smoke include ring bologna, cheeses, baked beans, bread, salmon and other types of fish.
Why people use the cold smoking method
One major reason why people use cold smoking method is for preservation. If you want to keep your meat for a long time before use, cold smoking the meat will help prolong its shelf life.
But this is the major reason in the past when there were no refrigerators. These days, food preservation is usually done with a refrigerator. Most grillers usually put their meat through the cold smoking process mainly because of the extra smoky flavor.
Cold smoking is done especially for foods that may not be eaten immediately. Some meats that are cold smoked may even last for several weeks before they are used. However, to preserve the meat properly, they need to be cured.
Most grill masters usually cold smoke their food just for the added smoky flavor they get.
What are the uses and benefits of cold smoking?
Most foods that are cold smoked are usually kept for later use. Grillers use this method to preserve meat they may likely not need immediately.
For richer flavor
Another benefit of cold smoking is to add smoky flavor to food. Some grillers just had to use this process to add some smoky flavor to their already cured meat. Since the heat level for this method is low, the griller doesn’t have to worry about overcooking or burning the food.
It’s ideal for certain types of delicate foods
Cold smoking allows you to prepare some foods that may be too fragile for hot smoking. Vegetables and some types of fish may be too delicate for the high heating levels of hot smoking. So cold smoking may the most ideal method of smoking such food.
Are there risk factors associated with cold smoking?
One point to remember when cold smoking is the process doesn’t completely preserve the food. In other words, if you leave a cold smoked food for some time, it may get ruined with bacterial. That’s why you need to keep the smoked food in a refrigerator after smoking. This will preserve the food and leave the smoky taste until it’s needed for consumption.
Cold smoking is not really a process for a novice griller because it requires patience and precision. Otherwise, you will do a very bad smoking job that will expose the food to more bacterial infection.
Listeria is one of the every common risk factors associated with the cold smoking process that causes serious health hazards.
How to use cold smoking safely for properly cooked food?
Since we know how tricky cold smoking can be, what are the things to do right to make sure it’s done the right way?
Buy the highest quality meat
Your cold smoking task will even be more hazardous if the meat you’ve bought already has parasite infestation. Only buy meat or fish from a trusted fishmonger or butcher.
Combine salting with cold smoking
As stated earlier, you may not effectively get rid of bacterial only by cold smoking. Your meat has to be cured, slated, and possibly fermented before they are cold smoked. These are all processes of keeping the meat free of bacteria.
Finally, follow expert tips
As the health of you and your family is concerned, it’s important to follow the advice of grilling aficionados who have a lot of cold smoking experience. If you are learning how to cold smoke properly, follow tips from experts to learn how to do it safely.
Review of the best cold smoker attachment kits and best cold smoker
You need certain tools to effectively carry out your cold smoking task. The following will work perfectly with your smoker to give you the best meat with the right flavor.
Masterbuilt 20070112 Cold Smoking Kit is a chip heating/feeding system which makes sure there are constant heat levels in the smoker. You can easily attach it to your smoker’s woodchip loading port. The cold smoking kit provides a consistent level of temperature at a low heat level of 1000 F. This makes it exceptional for curing and smoking foods. Masterbuilt Cold Smoking Kit works well with all Masterbuilt smokers and other types of electric smokers with a similar design.
Experienced grillers will tell you that adding smoky flavor is the primary reason they love to cold smoke their food. Well, to do this right, they make use of a smoke infuser. Breville BSM600BSS smoke Infuser provides natural smoky flavor to sauces, vegetables, fish, and meat. It comes with durable steel burner, removable extender hose, as well as an integrated stand. It’s the perfect smoke infuser to get more flavors to whatever food you are making with the smoker.
Breville PolyScience Smoking Gun is the perfect smoking gun for professional grillers who want to get the best result from their cold smoking task. It adds natural smoke aroma and flavor to your food without cooking for many hours or soaking woodchips. The smoke infuser is easy to use. It also comes with sample woodchips, replacement smoke screens, batteries, and nozzle extender hose.
It’s obviously clear why hot smoking and cold smoking are the main methods of smoking your meals with an electric smoker.And as seen in the content above, seasoned grillers have different reasons why they prefer one type of smoking method to the other.
But the fact is, safety is the key. There are lower risks in preparing hot smoked meat or recipes because in the higher temperatures the bacteria are killed and the food is not kept raw which make sure the risks factors are merely there.
But with the cols smoking method, you have to be extra careful, in curing marinade, and even the selection of the safe meat to cold smoke.It better not to rely on cold smoking as the sole method to prepare food rather the method should only be used in combination with boiling, or cooking food and then infusing the smoky flavor to give the aroma and taste you need.
With the above information, we are sure you now have a better knowledge of their differences and the method that’s more ideal for you.