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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have had a problem with a batch or two of fish turning "sour" in the smoker. Does anyone know what causes this to happen? What am I doing wrong. I utilize two smokers, a little chief and a big chief, both given to me, but no handbooks came with them. I have had the same problem in both. Any suggestions out there? I have successfully done a number of batches.
 

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I would guess either not enough salt in your brine or not enough heat in your smokers. I make sure my smoker get up to 160 for at least 1 hour during the 6 to 10 hours it takes to do a batch.
 

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I've only had the problem once and it was with duck jerky. I was told that I didn't get the meat to smoking temp fast enough and bacteria took over spoiled the meat before the temp killed it.

Make sure you preheat the smoker. CHoose a location for it out of the wind. And if smoking on cold nights, you may want to get an insulation blanket.

Good luck.
 
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I always smoke at 85-95 degrees and have never had this problem :depressed:

Describe "sour".

Cosmo,
If you take care to keep everything extremely clean bacteria shouldn't be a problem.

[ 09-17-2003, 09:00 AM: Message edited by: Keta ]
 

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I insulated my Big Chief with foil backed rigid foam insulation. Before insulation, I was having trouble getting the temp over 160 for sustained times. With full insulation, it gets too hot, so I built in some flaps to let me regulate the temp. I also poked a hole in the top of the smoker so I can stick an instant read thermometer in and keep an eye on the temp.
 

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This topic has me wondering about some things.

I Started smoking meats and fish a long time ago before I really knew what I was doing. For salmon I would take a slab and marinade it in a soy based sauce for an hour or so but that was the extent of my brining. I would then only smoke it for 1 to 2 hours max. Never had a bad batch and to this day my friends think I've got this great secret when it comes to smoked salmon. The big secret is that I don't do too much! Of course it comes out as a very moist rather than a dry result.

By not really brining am I increasing the risk of bacteria or is the soy vay doing that job? Also, am I asking for trouble only smoking it for 1 to 2 hours? I do make sure the temp is above 160 and/or finish it in the oven.

Appreciate all comments from you smokers who actually know what your doing :)

WLW

[ 09-17-2003, 09:33 AM: Message edited by: West Linn Wader ]
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Originally posted by Small Fry:
I would guess either not enough salt in your brine or not enough heat in your smokers. I make sure my smoker get up to 160 for at least 1 hour during the 6 to 10 hours it takes to do a batch.
<font size="2" face="verdana,arial,helvetica">I will have to get a thermometer. I also must be loading to much, with to big of pieces. I am using a brine of 3/4 cup salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar along with 1/2 gallon water.

Also, has anyone heard of keeping the box from the smoker and putting it around the smoker for insulation? I think that West Linn has something there also!

[ 09-17-2003, 09:46 AM: Message edited by: Crabby ]
 

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Yes leave the box around it and cut holes for chips works great and looks neat after many smokings.... :grin: :grin: :grin:
 
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Also, has anyone heard of keeping the box from the smoker and putting it around the smoker for insulation?
<font size="2" face="verdana,arial,helvetica">That's what it says in the (missing) instructions.

I cut my fish into 3/4" strips
 

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That would be my guess as well if you haven't changed your brind any from the past. Put a thermometer in your smoker to see what temp you are getting.
 

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Finishing in the oven is the trick. I always put it in a 200 degree oven for 20-30 minutes after brining and smoking for 3-4 hours to make sure it's cooked. The smoke is just flavoring anyway. I don't feel obligated to leave fish in the smoker for 12 hours unless I'm making jerky.
 

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I do big pieces in my big chief. I did a 28# salmon last night. I have a thermometer in the lid and watch it closely. I was at 140 for 4 hours then I put the box on and finished it off at 165 for the last 5 hours. My fish always comes out moist.

I use a modified version of the deluxe recipe in the book that you don't have. Heck I tweek the recipe everytime. Still trying to get it just right.
 

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Personally, 3/4 cup of salt is nearly twice what I use. No need to make it shelf stable with all that salt. I have never had a batch turn sour, not sure what that means exactly. I let my brined fish sit in the smoker for up to 4 hours before I even plug it in. The fish will create a pectin or glaze that keeps the fish moist if you allow it to air dry for a few hours before smoking. My brine consists of less than half a cup of canning salt, dark brown sugar and organic unfiltered apple juice. I sprinkle cracked pepper on the fish after I pat it dry and let sit in the smoker for several hours before I begin smoking. Then vac pac while warm and then allow 3 days or so in the fridge before eating. The vac packing surrounds the fish with oils which allows the surface of the fish to become moist again. This stuff is great and friends and family really go crazy over it. I have even smoked fish for other people using this method. Never had a batch go bad, ever.

p.s. you wouldnt want to air dry for more than an hour or two on any day over 70 degrees. In the fall and winter, 4 hours works great. I use less salt than what most people use simply because the fish gets eaten so fast there is no reason to cure it with so much salt.

[ 09-17-2003, 10:14 AM: Message edited by: TundraIII ]
 
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Run a fan on the fish and the time to skin over is reduced. I use 100% salt and no water. Salt for 15-45 minutes.

I only smoke high quality fish. "Smokers" should be left alone :mad:

[ 09-17-2003, 10:22 AM: Message edited by: Keta ]
 

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Here's where you can get the recipe books;

Recipe Books

Copies of the "Home Electric Smokehouse Recipe Booklet", which contains dozens of recipes and other helpful information on smoke-curing with the Little Chief and Big Chief smokehouses, or copies of Lue & Ed Park's 211 page "The Smoked Food Cookbook" are available. Call Luhr Jensen Customer Service at 1-800-535-1711 for price information or to order. Copies of the "Home Sausage Kit Recipes" booklet are also available.

Here is the recipe book if you have Adobe Acrobat reader: http://www.luhrjensen.com/recipes/LCRBweb.pdf

Other helpful hints: http://www.luhrjensen.com/index.php?page=smokers

JK

[ 09-17-2003, 10:53 AM: Message edited by: Artwo ]
 

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I know that if you harvest your own wood to use for smoking and you dont get ALL the bark and under bark off - then it will leave a sour taste to fish or meat.
 

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ventalation is the problem, getting up to temp is key but you have to vent the smoker, also over smoking can cause a sour taste..
 

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I just posted a thread a week ago about smoking with the box on - it certainly works as an insulator, but be aware that the instructions with the new Big Chiefs say not to do it - I'm sure because of the potential fire hazzard. My new Big Chief gets too hot with the box on, but my two old Big Chiefs get up to about 150 with the box over them.

Your brine looks light on the sugar, but there are as many different brines as there are fishermen! I've been using a dry brine of

4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup kosher canning salt
3 T Celery Salt
3 T Onion Salt
3 T Garlic Salt
3 T Dry Yellow Mustard
3 T Ground black pepper

You don't need water - this juices up real good in the fridge for a few days - I don't rinse it and smoke for about 4 hours. The last batch I did I tried doing what 5-cents recommended and finished it in the oven for 30 minutes with honey brushed on top - it was awesome!

[ 09-17-2003, 01:00 PM: Message edited by: Killertraylor ]
 

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Brad- I hope that sour stuff isn't the batch you gave me :shocked: :sick:

I like the stuff you smoked up for me and that Tule wasn't that bad. I just noticed it to be a little milder than the nooks that I gave you. Not bad though. Keep those smokers hot cause hopefully I'll have a couple more nooks to smoke on Friday :dance:
 

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A smoker is the ideal enviroment for bacterial growth at less that about 140'. I alway use a real curing agent for anything going into the smoker. The easiest one to find is Morton's Tender Quick, which has the cure in a salt carrier. Sub the TQ for salt, or go 50% salt 50% TQ, you will have a "safer" end product. Also helps keep color in the product, the cure is what causes ham and other cured products to have that nice color. Other cures are Mortons Suger Cure, Instacure, and a few others. I find the Tender Quick at most grocery stores.
 
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