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Old 03-03-2008, 03:54 PM posted to
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Default Fish flavor but no fish from cold smoker

On Mar 3, 6:24 am, JeffH wrote:

I just did a 2nd run (1st real run) with a cold smoker I just built.


than that it was 80F or below, and now I have it down to an easy 40F
while smoking. The main items being smoked are a couple sides of bacon
and some hocks, and the venison was more for a test, but they came out
"fishy" tasting. I've never smoked fish in this box, and I've found
this flavor in other smoked foods purchased from elsewhere. What
causes this flavor to develop? It isn't bad (not very strong), but it
is definitely something I'd like to avoid. Any tips?

Since I am not there, it would be hard to say. Heck, even if I was
there, I might not be able to help.

But as for opinions, I do have some based on my experience. Really
slow (wow.... 80F? 40F?) doesn't cook anything to my knowledge. If
there is anything left on the grates the fire will not consume any
excess oils, spices, or bits left behind. This also extends to the
smoker itself, depending on its design. I used to smoke jerky in an
old barrel, and on the end farthest from the fire "stuff" would
condensate on the walls of the smoker. This oily residue was probably
a mix if creosote, wood smoke, and the evaporated seasoning liquids
that came off the meat.

It made my next smoke tastes a little funky, and it was because I just
wiped the inside of the smoker down with a paper towels. I knew this
was the culprit because when I scoured the inside out really well and
did the same with the grates under this area it all went away. Not
being the sharpest knife in the drawer, I had to do it again after
preparing jerky for a long hike.

A couple of amigos of mine had some slow smoke sirloin tips a couple
of years ago at his house. He does not eat fish or chicken for any
reason. His tips smelled and tasted funky/fishy and we decided that
the grates weren't clean from the last smoke. He put the raw meat on
the cool side of the pit on the grates to smoke before cooking. His
marinade included oil remained on the cool side after he finished with
a light char over the coals.

A good cleaning of the grates fixed his problem. We figure the oil in
the marinade went rancid, and mixed with the spices made the fishy
smell. It was strong. I recognized the smell (now check this out if
you doubt) from my old mother's grease that she had when I was a

I never figured out how bacon grease could smell like bad fish, but
after a couple of weeks in that jar it sure did. I just went rancid.

Especially considering the extremely low temps you are using, I am
thinking a really good scrubbing and cleaning is in order to get any
old oils and tiny bits of "stuff" off the grates (including the
undersides) as well as cleaning the insides. Since it sounds like
this is a new piece of equipment, you might want to re-season it with
a hot fire as well.

Just my 0.02.