Cure Smoke Review Post Processing

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3. Post Processing of Cured Foods

Cured meats can be consumed as is or undergo further processing to achieve a final product. Typically meats are smoked, fermented, or dried to complete the preservation process.

3.1. Smoking

The smoking process both preserves and flavors food. Hams, bacon, salmon, herring, and oysters are frequently smoked. It is important to make a distinction between smoking for preservation (smoke cooking) and smoking for texture and flavor. Generally there are three different methods of smoking foods: hot smoking and cold smoking.

3.1.1. Hot Smoking

Hot smoking is done in the smokehouse or more modern electric kilns, usually over a short period of time, just until the meat is cooked. The meat is cooked and smoked at the same time over a burning fire or electric elements of a kiln.

3.1.2. Cold Smoking

“Cold Smoking” is done over a much longer period of time, e.g. 12-24 hours, over a smoldering fire (below 85°F). Since foods are held in the temperature danger zone, rapid microbial growth (40-140°F) could occur. Therefore, only those meat products that have been fermented, salted, or cured, should be cold-smoked. Most cold-smoked products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F before they are eaten. However, not all cold-smoked foods are treated this way, e.g., smoked salmon and cold smoked mackerel, which are very delicately smoked for a long period of time and remain raw even when eaten. The US FDA has published a description of a commercial cold smoking process (US FDA 2001c). Most food scientists cannot recommend cold-smoking methods because of the inherent risks and as such, at-risk consumers are encouraged to avoid these foods (US FDA 2001a).

3.1.3. Liquid Smoke

Many consumers and commercial operations use liquid smoke to add smoke flavor to their foods. Liquid smoke has advantages over traditional smoking in that it can be more precisely controlled and the smoke flavor is instantaneous.

3.2. Fermenting and Drying

Fermenting and drying, as food preservation methods, are covered in separate National Center for Home Food Preservation literature reviews. For the purposes of this review, some cured sausages are also fermented and dried, e.g., salami and pepperoni. Particular attention has been given to this category of sausage since it has been responsible for several food poisoning outbreaks that were generally regarded as low risk. Krizner (1998) provides a brief synopsis of the hazard analysis of dry fermented sausages that have now been questioned by consumers and the USDA (USDA FSIS 1995b).

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Document Use | Preface | Table of Contents | References