The Smoking Process Explained
At Falls of Dochart Smokehouse, our small local team passionately care about every step of the process, from curing and smoking through to slicing and packaging – it's all done by hand. Fresh salmon isn’t naturally smoked, it’s smoked through a careful step-by-step process. So, we’d like to give you a little insight into our smoking process which gives our salmon its unique full-bodied flavour!
What exactly is smoked salmon?
There are two main types of smoked salmon we produce at our smokehouse: hot-smoked and cold-smoked. You may have already guessed the key differences but the smoking method for each is also slightly different, each method provides a unique taste and texture.
Salmon has been smoked for centuries, mainly as a way of preserving the fish. It is thought that people from ancient times first discovered the benefits of smoking food and would smoke their fish to preserve it in preparation for long winters. Back then, salmon would simply be hung high over a fire with ash placed over the flames to create a smoky environment. Since then, smoking processes have improved and modernised and salmon is smoked mainly to add that distinctive flavor rather than to preserve it.
Before our smoking process begins, we diligently inspect the salmon that gets delivered to our smokehouse to ensure it is in perfect condition. Our small team is fully trained to spot any blemishes or imperfections. We use only the finest salmon for production.
Curing is the first step of the smoking process. Curing simply involves coating the fish in salt or sugar which draws out the moisture and kills bacteria, thus preserving it. At Falls of Dochart Smokehouse, our salmon spends 24 hours curing in a mixture of rock salt and demerara sugar. Curing the salmon for 24 hours intensifies its flavours and gives it the perfect texture. We then wash the salt off to ensure our salmon have low salt content.
Once the salt has been washed from the salmon, they are then hung or laid on trays to dry, or in other words, to dehydrate. Any remaining moisture is drawn out during this stage. It is important for the fish to dry first to ensure they can properly soak up the smoke. This process can also take a few hours depending on the size of the fish. Once the salmon’s skin becomes tacky, it’s smoking time.
Finally, the salmon is moved over to our smoker. To produce our unique subtle whisky taste, we source the finest aged Glenturret whisky casks and pound them into dust. Our Production Manager and Head Chef, Ada, gently smokes the sides of the salmon over the ground down whisky casks. This dust creates our aromatic smoke, which gives the salmon a rich, full-bodied flavor.
Hot smoked salmon and cold smoked salmon each have a slightly different smoking process. Typically, hot smoked salmon is smoked at 120-180 ℉ (50-80 ℃) to ensure it is cooked all the way through. Cold smoked salmon, on the other hand, is smoked at 75-85 ℉ (24-29 ℃). Cold smoke doesn’t actually cook the fish, so it’s left with a raw-like texture.
Slicing and packaging
The smoking process is over, but it doesn’t end there. Ada then spends hours hand slicing and packaging the salmon.
When we receive an order, the freshest salmon is packaged for delivery in specially designed temperature controlling boxes, which keeps it chilled for up to 48 hours. Our smoked salmon has a 21-day use by date and should be kept refrigerated once delivered to you. Once opened, the salmon should be eaten within three days.
Try our delicious hot or cold smoked salmon by ordering through our online shop! You’ll receive your salmon promptly to eat as it is or to cook in delicious dish at home. We always aim to post orders on the same day we receive them. For phone orders, please call 01567 829366.