Barbecue (alt.food.barbecue) Discuss barbecue and grilling--southern style "low and slow" smoking of ribs, shoulders and briskets, as well as direct heat grilling of everything from burgers to salmon to vegetables.

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Old 03-03-2008, 12:24 PM posted to alt.food.barbecue
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Default Fish flavor but no fish from cold smoker

I just did a 2nd run (1st real run) with a cold smoker I just built.
Everything seems to work great, and the temperature stays pretty low.
As part of the test, I took a little venison (raw) and dry-cured it in
salt-sugar-spices (just dried cayenne pepper, dried onions, and dried
garlic). I over-cured these (too salty - live and learn) but rinsed
them and went ahead and smoked them anyway with maple chips. Initially
I overshot temperatures a few times and hit 90F once or twice. Other
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?

Thanks,
--Jeff

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Old 03-03-2008, 03:54 PM posted to alt.food.barbecue
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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.


SNIP

Other
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
kid.

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.

Robert

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Old 03-03-2008, 04:26 PM posted to alt.food.barbecue
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Default Fish flavor but no fish from cold smoker

On Mar 3, 10:54 am, "
wrote:
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
kid.


You may be onto something here. While I don't think the smoker boxes
need cleaning (no oil, nothing to go rancid) I am suddenly reminded
that I used a cast iron pan (a seasoned one) from the garage to smoke
the wood chips in. The season in that pan (oil) could well have gotten
mixed in with the wood smoke to cause the taint.

The low temp isn't designed to cook - only smoke. The info I've read
indicates the top end of the cold-smoke range is 80F, but I'm not sure
that "the colder, the better" is the case. However, by locating the
smoke generator remotely (originally it was within the box causing the
80-90F temperatures) the temperature can be held very low now.

Thanks for the tip - I never would have thought along those lines, but
it makes sense.

Any other opinions people have would be helpful as well. Cold smoking
is new to me, and I wouldn't mind having it down before I throw my
20lb hams in there in a few weeks.

--Jeff
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Old 03-03-2008, 04:36 PM posted to alt.food.barbecue
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Default Fish flavor but no fish from cold smoker

On Mar 3, 10:26 am, JeffH wrote:

You may be onto something here. While I don't think the smoker boxes
need cleaning (no oil, nothing to go rancid) I am suddenly reminded
that I used a cast iron pan (a seasoned one) from the garage to smoke
the wood chips in. The season in that pan (oil) could well have gotten
mixed in with the wood smoke to cause the taint.


I have a great old (60 yrs?) Lodge grill pan that I bought many years
ago. I loved it as it put great grill marks on everything as the cast
iron held so much heat the ridges burned those great grill marks right
into whatever you cooked.

When I bought this pan, I took it home, stripped off everything on the
pan, sanded it smooth with sandpaper, finished removing the last bits
of rust with acid, then seasoned the pan. I had been using the pan
for about a year when I decided not to grill salmon outside, but
inside on the grill pan.

EVERYTHING I cooked on the pan tasted fishy until I cleaned it as I
did when I first got it. I tried everything, but nothing worked, so I
just started over and it was fine. No more fish in the grill pan.

To test out your theory you can get a fairly nice inexpensive cast
iron pan at Academy for just a few dollars.

Robert
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Old 05-03-2008, 06:04 PM posted to alt.food.barbecue
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Default Fish flavor but no fish from cold smoker


I checked out the cast iron pan I was using - it was pretty charred
from running about 24 hours, but it still appeared to have some
seasoning left to it, so I scrubbed it with a stainless steel scrubbie
until it was all gone, then put it on a flame and heated it as hot as
it'd go, then quenched it, scrubbed again, repeat a couple times.
Seems to be bare metal now (and had no smell when cold or heated).
We'll see how it does with the next run of venison.

Oddly enough, the bacon that was in there with the venison has no
fishy flavor, nor does the cheddar cheese I smoked. Could be a
reaction specific to the venison.

Thanks for the suggestions,
--Jeff


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