How to smoke fish for
When you are smoking fish for
process is different than
when you are making ready to eat smoked fish.
Fish that are smoked in
preparation for the canner are partially cooked. Heat from the canning
process brings the fish to the desired stage of doneness.
These directions on how to smoke fish for canning
with the gracious help of my friend Bill from Smoker-Cooking.com.
Check out this page for some smoked
. Thanks Bill!
Use only fresh, good quality fish for the canner. Clean the fish,
removing all traces of blood. Remove the scales, or skin the fish if
Fillet the sides of the fish from the backbone. Small bones can be left
in or removed as desired.
Using a pint jar as a guide, cut the fillet into pieces that will fit
vertically into the canning jars, but about an inch shorter than the
jar height. Try to keep the pieces close to the same thickness so
they'll cook evenly when smoked.
Before smoking the fish, it needs to be brined in salt water. Use a
concentration of one cup salt in 7 cups of water per each 3 to 4 pounds
of fish pieces. Thinner pieces, up to 1/2 inch thick stay in the brine
5 to 10 minutes. Over 1/2 inch get 30 to 45 minute of brining time. The
salt water brining is important because it prevents spoilage.
Remove the fish from the brine, pat dry with clean towels, and allow to
air dry on a cooling rack until the outer surface dries a bit. When it
barely tacky, it's ready for the smoker.
The smoker temperature needs to be low enough that the fish can be in
the smoker long enough to get the desired flavor, while being minimally
cooked. A temperature in the range of 140 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit is
ideal fish going into the canner.
The popular Big Chief and Little Chief smokers operate at about 170
degrees on a calm day of 70 degrees or so, which would be fine for
smoking fish for canning. If it's colder outside and the smoker runs
cooler, that's ok too. Smoking time will be a bit longer.
Fill the pan with the desired amount of your favorite wood. Follow the
smoker manufacturers' recommendation for amount of wood for best
results. A favorite wood for smoking salmon is alder. Smoke the fish
until it's ready for the canner.
How do you know when your smoked fish is ready for the canner? Instead
of going by internal temperature, as you would for ready to eat smoked
fish, it's determined by weight loss.
Weight loss is moisture loss, and as the fish dries, its texture
becomes more suitable for canning. For good quality, moist canned
smoked fish, a 10% loss of weight is what you're looking for. If a
drier fish is preferred, shoot for a weight loss closer to 12.5%.
To determine the percentage of weight loss, start by weighing the fish
right before smoking fish. Small kitchen scales are fine to use. Steps
to determine weight loss percentage are:
1. Weigh a piece of fish before it's
smoked and record the weight.
2. After a time in the smoker, remove
the piece and weight it again.
3. Subtract Step 2 weight from Step 1
weight. This is the weight loss.
4. Divide the lost weight by the
5. Multiply by 100 to get the percentage
of weight loss.
Here's an example.
1. 8 ounces - (pre-smoked fish weight)
2. 7 ounces - (weight after smoking)
3. 8 minus 7 = 1 ounce (weight loss)
4. 1 ounce divided by 8 ounces = 0.125
5. 0.125 x 100 = 12.5% (total weight
This smoked fish would be slightly dry
One thing to remember about smoking fish for canning is that the oilier
fish, the more moist it will be. An oily fish, like good salmon, will
moist when dried to 12.5% weight loss than a less oily fish would be.
Fish that have a lower oil content are generally drier in texture after
Venison -raw pack