Author Topic: To brine or not to brine.  (Read 2506 times)

Offline bigcatdaddy

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To brine or not to brine.
« on: April 20, 2009, 01:42:26 PM »
I haven't done much fish smoking, but want to start.  Most of the fish I'll be doing will be Catfish and Crappies.  I've done some Catfish fillets and they turned out pretty good.  I never brined them at all.  Just sprinkled them with some of my rub and smoked until they firmed up.  Should I be brining all my fish or not.

Offline Gizmo

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Re: To brine or not to brine.
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2009, 10:56:26 PM »
I think that is a matter of what taste you are looking for.  You don't need to brine fish to preserve it or add moisture if you are going to hot smoke it and eat it fresh.  If you want to alter the flavor dramatically, make jerky, etc, then brine or dry rubs will do the job.
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Offline Roadking

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Re: To brine or not to brine.
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2009, 08:39:05 AM »
Forget where I got this but here it is:

Hot smoking
There are two methods of making smoked fish by cold smoking and by hot smoking. Cold smoking is a way of curing fish by smoking at an air temperature not higher than 90°F to avoid cooking the flesh or coagulating the protein; with the one exception of smoked salmon, which is eaten raw, all cold smoked products are cooked before they are eaten. Hot smoking means curing fish by smoking at a temperature of 158-176°F at some stage in the process in order to cook the flesh; hot smoked fish products do not need to be cooked any further before they are consumed.
Raw material
Chilled wet fish or thawed frozen fish of good quality should be used for making hot smoked products.
Whole fish should first be washed to remove loose scales and slime, then gutted and if required beheaded. If heads are left intact they should have the gills removed. The belly cavity should be cleaned to remove traces of blood, and any black belly wall lining removed. The fish should be washed again before brining them. If fillets are cut, they should be trimmed and be reasonably free from blemishes.
All fish for hot smoking are brined to give them flavor. The recommended brine strength for most products is 80°; stronger brine reduces the immersion time but has the disadvantage that, after the fish are dried, salt can crystallize on the surface of the skin in unattractive white patches. Fish in brine weaker than 80° absorbs salt more uniformly, but residence time is longer; 80° brine is a practical compromise.
Brine strength
Brine meterdegrees        Weight of salt grams/liter brine
10                            26·4
20                             52·8
30                               79·2
40                               105·6
50                               132·0
60                                158·4
70                               184·8
80                               211·2
90                               237·6
100                               264·0

Immersion time varies with size, thickness and fat content of the fish.
Brining of hot smoked products is critical on grounds of safety. The salt concentration in the water of the finished product should be high enough to inhibit the growth of any food poisoning organisms present, particularly Clostridium botulinum, without making the product unpleasantly salty to eat; a minimum concentration of 3 per cent has been found to be effective for hot smoked fish, particularly mackerel and trout.
If you are the only one that's going to eat the product the choice is yours to brine or not to brine. If other people are going to consume the product and you care about them brine your fish properly.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2009, 08:47:35 AM by Roadking »