A variety of meat inside a large smoker
The Difference Between Hot-Smoking And Cold-Smoking, Explained
By Missy Boylan
Depending on whether you want to cook, flavor, tenderize, or preserve meat, fish, vegetables, and other foods, there are generally two methods for smoking: cold and hot smoking.
Hot smoking is typically used to cook food with smoldering wood and smoke while adding complex flavors. Cold smoking is typically used to preserve food and extend its shelf life.
Known as a "low and slow" method, hot smoking usually takes several hours since meats and other foods typically soften with longer cooking times and lower temps.
There are smokers designed specifically for this cooking method, but cooks can also hot smoke using a gas grill, a charcoal grill, or even a wok.
Hot smoking occurs at 190 degrees Fahrenheit to 300 degrees, while cold smoking occurs at around 90 degrees. It has a lot more health risks, so the curing process is crucial.
Curing meats, fish, and other foods by salting or brining draws out moisture and inhibits bacterial growth. Once the food is cured, it is exposed to smoke without too much heat.
The food is placed in a chamber or box into which smoke is pumped for around 12 to 48 hours, depending on the food. A designated smoker is typically the easiest method to use.