Air vent for smoker

Discussion in 'Recipes, Storage and Preparation of Seafood' started by the butcher, Jun 28, 2020.

  1. the butcher

    the butcher Well-Known Member

    I have a Bradley and usually keep the air vent at the top of the smoker between 50-75% open.

    If I want more smoke in my smoked salmon, is keeping the vent 50-75% open a good setting or should I close the vent or just slightly open? I have a water bath at the bottom where the pucks are dropped into. I assume the water bath produces a lot of moisture in thr air which needs to be released through thr vents. I also assume that a wet surface on salmon from water or humidity may act as a barrier to thr smoke infusing into the salmon meat. So closing the vents would keep more smoke in thr chamber but would also increase the humidity which may have a negative effect on smoke getting into the salmon.

    Can anyone clear this up for me?
     
  2. Rain City

    Rain City Crew Member

    Don't close your vent more than half at most. You need to create a good air draw through the smoker so the smoke doesn't become stagnant. Your food will turn out bitter otherwise. I'm sure someone else will argue this...
     
  3. Tsquared

    Tsquared Well-Known Member

    I’ve used a Bradley on my smoked salmon for 15 years. I agree with Rain City in not closing your top vent, I usually keep mine wide open. The most important thing to avoid a bitter taste to your fish is to make sure the surface of your strips/ fillets have a nice pellicle on them before you roll the smoke- the surface should be dry. If you want a smokier product just roll smoke for longer.
     
    getbent and IronNoggin like this.
  4. casper5280

    casper5280 Well-Known Member

    I also run mine wipe open.
     
  5. the butcher

    the butcher Well-Known Member

    I usually have it 50-75% open but now going forward will keep it fully wide open. I keep the fish in front of a fan for between 2 to 3 hrs and it is dry and tacky before going into smoker. I start off for first 2 hours with a temp between 120-130 degrees F and then bring it up to about 160-170 for last hour. I baste with maple syrup once every hour. I was told that the fish won't take on any more smoke after 2hrs but I keep the pucks going up till I remove the salmon at the 3-3.5hr mark. Never have done a 4 or 5 hr smoke. Is there a benefit to smoking salmon for 4 to 5 hrs? Wouldn't it dry out the Salmon smoking it for that long? Is it a more smoky flavor when done for 5 hrs? Like I said I've never smoked for 5 hr because I was told the Sal. In won't take up any further smoke after 2 hrs or so.

    Wonder if basting my salon once an hour with maple syrup limits the smoke infusion due to the layer of mapme syrup on top of the salmon.

    As you can see I am still experimenting and any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.
     
  6. Tsquared

    Tsquared Well-Known Member

    There are 2 variables to think about: how dry you want your fish and how much smoke taste you want. I find the Bradley imparts quite a bit of smoke taste in a fairly short time so if I want a drier fillet after a couple hours of rolling the smoke then I stop the smoke but continue with some heat to further dry the fish. I don’t raise my temp to the 160-170 mark as it makes those white boogers appear on the surface of the fillets. Instead I keep it at 140-150 for longer. I do 3 kinds of smoked salmon: cold smoked(temp never gets above 85F), hot smoked strips(like the recipe on the Bradley site) and smoking fillets with the intention of pressure canning.
     
  7. the butcher

    the butcher Well-Known Member

    Once you smoke your salmon, wouldn't vacuum sealing them and putting in freezer be better for taste than pressure canning? I've never done pressure canning and wonder what the benefits of it are? The only benefit that I can foresee is the fact that you csn keep your food at room temp. Is there other benefits that I don't know about? Does it taste different when pressure canned?
     
  8. JuandeOne

    JuandeOne Well-Known Member

    Wide open. One of the enemies of a quality smoked salmon is too much moisture/humidity. This becomes increasingly a problem when the cabinet is over filled. Keep the moisture and fresh smoke flowing through for the best results.
     
    getbent and Whole in the Water like this.
  9. the butcher

    the butcher Well-Known Member

    Should I keep the water pan which the Bradley pucks drop into at a bare minimum or perhaps even no water at all in that case? I am sure there's a lot of moisture from the water evaporating into the chamber from that water bath.
     
  10. Tsquared

    Tsquared Well-Known Member

    I pressure can smoked pink or in a non pink year, coho. I do the small jars as I find them handy to make a quick smoked salmon dip. 1 Block of cream cheese, minced onion and some fresh lime juice Mashed together with a jar of smoked salmon makes a great appie dip. I do vacuum seal and freeze my strips and cold smoked Chinook.
     
  11. Tsquared

    Tsquared Well-Known Member

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    My generator gave up the ghost a few years ago so I bought one of these Amazn smoker trays. $45 best money I ever spent. It negates the use of the water bowl and makes it very easy to cold smoke.
     
  12. Rain City

    Rain City Crew Member

    I have 2 of those as well. Like you say perfect for the cold smoke. The dust I bought them with was magic but ive switched to pellets because of availability. What do you use in them?

    How do you do your smoked canned? I do a 1 hour cold smoke and find it's just enough. Do you do a brine as well when you're canning?
     
  13. the butcher

    the butcher Well-Known Member

    Do you find the amount of smoke produced to be equivalent to what is produced with the Bradley smoke generator? I was told you need some airflow throughout the cabinet to use that device. I wonder if I can double up with using that device in addition to the bradely smoke generator at the same time for hot smoked salmon.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  14. Tsquared

    Tsquared Well-Known Member

    Rain City: I brine fillets in a quart of kikkoman teriyaki, 3 quarts of water, 1 cup of pickling salt, 2 lbs of brown sugar, 2T cayenne and a handful of garlic cloves minced. 12 hours then out without rinsing and dry them(3 or 4 hours with a fan in the basement), then into the smoker for about 2 hours of smoke, and more Time with just Heat(140-150) and then into the jars with a 1/4 tsp of vinegar In each jar, which makes all those gnarly little pink bones disappear. I use Traegar pellets:something called Texas blend(mostly hickory I think) for everything except fish and alder for fish.
    Butcher: when I’m hot smoking I use additional heat from the Bradley element which provides enough warm air that rises with the smoke. I’ve never had an issue with draft when cold smoking although I usually do it when the outside temp is relatively cool so the warm smoke coming off the pellets is enough to provide draft. The bonus with the amazn tray is you can put it under the unlit side of your bbq grill and smoke a chicken right in your bbq. I keep meaning to get some cherry pellets and do a duck the same way. Damn, I’m making myself hungry!
     
    Rain City likes this.
  15. the butcher

    the butcher Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info Tsquared.
     
  16. Whole in the Water

    Whole in the Water Well-Known Member

    You need to fully extinguish the old burnt pucks otherwise they keep burning and they produce a strong acrid smoke that gives an acrid, bitter taste to the salmon. That is why they drop them in water. I seldom smoke my salmon above 100 degrees as I like it on the moister side (I just smoke it longer at a lower temp) and thus it is not that hot to cause a lot of evaporation.
     
    leaseman likes this.
  17. leaseman

    leaseman Active Member

    If you have your vent closed 1/2 or less, besides the above reasons, you WILL run into problems with the smoker "brains". as a few said, wide open or close to it.

    I buy several a year for clients and usually have 1-2 act up due to vent being closed up. Us it a lot and you will have this problem.

    Open it up!
     
  18. the butcher

    the butcher Well-Known Member

    I have always been told to ensure salmon temp is 140 with a temp probe to make sure it's fully cooked. How would it get to 140 degrees if your smoker cabinet temp only hits 100?
     
  19. Tsquared

    Tsquared Well-Known Member

    That might be true for raw salmon but for instance my cold smoked is dry salt/sugar cured— fully edible before it goes into the smoker. After all gravlax is simply cured but uncooked salmon sliced thin and gobbled down with some good vodka.
     
  20. Rain City

    Rain City Crew Member

    You don't. That's why many sites won't allow cold smoking recipes on them. Proper curing and cleanliness is key. Personally I run all my smoked salmon 150 for the last hour just in case.
     

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