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Cold Smoking with Seasoned

Seasoned is a Midlands based cookery school run by Clare Tetley. Not only does she run a business providing  fabulous day courses throughout Derbyshire & Shropshire she has a brownie recipe to die for. I met Clare back in September 2010 when I started my business and we have worked on various projects over the last year. As Hubs has dabbled with smoking food in the past, he helped Clare road test a food smoking course that is now available through Seasoned. Both Hubs & I believe smoking has the amazing ability to transform a food. I certainly believe a bacon sarnie tastes even better if the bacon is smoked.

Essentially there are two ways of smoking food. Smoking food at home doesn’t require lots of expensive equipment.

Hot smoking – not only are you flavouring the food with smoke you are also cooking the food so this method is not suitable for temperature sensitive food like cheese.

Cold smoking – This method purely smokes the food without cooking it. Perfect for food like cheese, olives, eggs and some types of fish. Although the smoke has slight antibacterial properties, food like fish and meat must be cured before being put in the smoker.

Of course you can buy ready-made smokers, but did you know that all you need to hot smoke is just a burner and old tin/bread bin. For cold smoking you can do it with as little as a burner and cardboard box. Of course if you realise you are going to cold smoke a lot you can even build your own cold smoker and they can be made of so many objects. How about a filing cabinet smoker or a giant one in a shed or even in an old Robin Reliant?

Turan, who leads the course at Seasoned, has many years’ experience of smoking food and it’s fair to say Hubs learnt lots from him when doing the course.

To build a basic cold smoker you need:

smoke generator. Of course you could just put some wood shavings on a grate, but it will burn faster and its harder to keep the embers smouldering this way. The generators that coil or zig zag are better because they allow controlled smoke generation.

large cardboard box

long dowels

wire rack

gaffa tape

a selection of food suitable to be cold smoked. E.g cured fish, nuts, boiled eggs (without shells), olives, cheese.

To build the smoke chamber put small holes in the side of the cardboard box to slide the dowels through at an appropriate height for the rack to sit on.

Cut a 2 inch hole in the top and cut another piece of cardboard that is bigger than the hole. This will be used as a flap to control the air flow inside the box. Seal all the edges and corners of the box with gaffa tape except for the top so the food and burner can be put in.

Light the burner and place in the bottom of the box. Place the rack with the food onto the dowels.

Close the top and seal with gaffa tape. Open the vent at the top so that there is enough airflow to maintain the smoke.  Check the box every so often and adjust the vent if needed.

Sweet Oak Smoked Almonds

250g    Almonds (with skins)
40g      Salted butter
4 tsp    Granulated sugar
1 tsp    Table salt
Ground Star Anise / Chilli

1) Spread the almonds on a baking tray and place in a pre-heated oven (180C / 350F Gas mark 4) for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

2) Melt the butter in a pan and remove from heat. Add the almonds coating them with the melted butter thoroughly.

3) Remove and transfer to a bowl

4) Add the granulated sugar / salt mix and the flavouring as desired

5) The almonds are now ready for smoking. Transfer them onto a baking tray, or if you have one, use a fine wire mesh tray, and place in the coldsmoker. Cold smoke the almonds for 4 hours over oak or beech.  Alternatively they can be hot smoked for 15 minutes.

6) Transfer the smoked almonds back to a sealable container / serve. These make a great treat for any occasion.

If you are interested in doing a food smoking course through Seasoned you will smoke an array of different foods, as well as learning how to build your own smoker. The course covers the basic theory of Coldsmoking:-

  • How to construct and use a cold smoker
  • Sourcing your wood,
  • Brining & salting the salmon,
  • Health & Safety including food hygiene
  • Producing smoke and principles of combustion
  • Coldsmoking 3 types of food including Olives and Cheese
  • Hot smoking a trout.
  • Building your own cardboard smoker that you will be able to take home with you
  • Making up brines
  • Smoked Almond dessert

It is a practical relaxed hands on day. Turan will be teaching and is always happy to answer any questions you may have on the subject of smoking food. If a smoking course isn’t for you I can highly recommend Seasoned’s Indian Food courses and the cake courses by Great British Bake Off finalist Ruth Clemens.

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About the author

Jules

Freelance food geek who's passionate about food education.

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