• Regular Contributors Cast Iron Sous Vide Canning Team Blue Power User Military Veterans Ohio

    Dave in AZ you will not regret buying that book.

  • Team Blue Cast Iron Sous Vide Canning Dry Cured Sausage Masterbuilt Military Veterans Power User Regular Contributors

    Okay I have no idea about any of this except I bought some off the store shelf and loved it, so that made me want to try it myself. After reading online I bought alder wood since that seems to be the wood of choice and the cure seems to be up to the producers choice what advice do you folks give to a newbie?

  • Military Veterans Sous Vide Canning Traeger Regular Contributors Power User Arizona

    mrobisr and others, I read lox and cold smoke recipes today for a couple hours and converted them all to standard units for comparison. The results are…confusing.

    1. Marianski uses a brine of 80 degree, which is 21% salt, for his cold smoked and hot smoked recipes. In one table he recommends 1 hour brining for both cold and hot smoke for fish 1 in and thinner. However in his cold smoke recipe he actually says to marinate in the 80 degree brine, that is 21% salt by weight, for 6 to 8 hours and then rinse for 1 hour before smoking. This is obviously not a dry rub or equilibrium cure, and leaving it in that extremely strong brine too long will create a very salty recipe, so the disparity between his two recipes of one hour versus 6 to 8 hours is a big problem. But it probably ends up at 3 to 5% in that 1 to 8 hr frame, after a 1hr rinse.

    All the other sources used a dry rub or dry brine equilibrium cure for 36 to 72hrs:
    2. Kutas in his book recommend a dry rub or dry brine equilibrium cure, his salt to Salmon ratio comes to 5% and his sugar is 5%.
    3. Surg in his recipe here on the forums uses 4.5% salt and a very small amount of sugar, about a quarter percent or less.
    4. The two most popular recipe returns on Google are from Spruce eats and wholesome yum. Spruce eats uses 4.25% salt and 5% sugar.
    5. Wholesome yum uses an incredible 26% salt dry rub. While Marianski uses 21% liquid brine for just 1 to 8 hrs, this one is for 36 hrs!

    These hugely different final salt content recipes leave me scratching my head. It appears anything from 3 to 5%, don’t know what to think on Wholesome recipe at 26% except bad amount of salmon… 1 lb probably should be 5 lbs.

    I have 2 salmon planks in fridge now, and would have done them today if I could decide which of these saltiness amounts to trust! What I need is a report from a data minded user who actually weighed his salmon and salt used, so I can get a real salt % (cups vs grams vs kosher vs table salt can drive a result from 3 to 5%). Then whose report of “THIS was the right amount of salt, not too much or little” I can rely on. At $35 each for the salmon I don’t want to mess it up.

  • Regular Contributors Team Orange Sous Vide

    I have only done a wet brine before which was just kosher salt and brown sugar. After reading this I want to make it all again!

  • Dave in AZ said in Lox or cold smoked salmon--need info:

    processhead thx for reminding me, Paul. I just ordered it, will get tomorrow. That is a book I intended to get but forgot 😉

  • Military Veterans Sous Vide Canning Traeger Regular Contributors Power User Arizona

    fallis10 your recipe sounds good, and like you’ve done it enough times to talk about the final saltiness compared to store bought stuff. Can you give your recipe for the brine, amount of salt and sugar per water? Also, how long do you brine the salmon? Thx!

  • Sous Vide Team Blue Power User Regular Contributors Cast Iron

    Dave in AZ Weeelll, nice analysis of the different methods. Can’t help but wonder the outcome when you go down that rabbit hole. Have fun with the process.

  • Military Veterans Sous Vide Canning Traeger Regular Contributors Power User Arizona

    zbigjeff my wife wants this for Easter tomorrow, the salmon is in my fridge… I’m gonna have to commit to something soon lol!

  • Sous Vide Team Blue Power User Regular Contributors Cast Iron

    Dave in AZ Weeeelll, I would go what you feel in halfway. Just one suggestion on the temp in Arizona. You could put the salmon on top a grate sitting on an aluminum foil tray filled with ice (like we do when the outside temp is higher for smoking cheese) to keep it as cool as possible for the “cold smoke”. Good luck.

  • Military Veterans Sous Vide Canning Traeger Regular Contributors Power User Arizona

    I went with Marianski’s brine recipe, because I could do both hot smoke for dinner tonight, and lox cold smoke in 8 hrs. The 21% brine, termed 80 degree, lets it penetrate fish in 1hr for hot smoke, 6-8 hrs maaaybe for cold smoke. Depending on which page of his book I trust, the table or the recipe. In any case, the gradient brine is way faster than a 2 to 3 day equilibrium dry brine.

    Screenshot_20220416-173627_Video Player.jpg
    I went with 2 Liters or half gallon of brine because that amount, along with 6 lbs of fish, fits in a 2 gallon ziplock I had, and should have plenty of salt etc to cure the fish, just may take a wee bit longer than a full gallon. But with it being such a strong gradient brine, 21%, and being I’m targeting 4 to 5% salt in fish according to all the equilibrium recipes I converted/standardized/calculated, it should have no problems. The issue with all gradient brines is the timing, pulling it at the riggt time to have to saltiness you desire. Marianski is the only source I found that gave any timing with a gradient brine, so he gets the nod.

    Here are the ingredients for 2 L of brine.

    By the way, using Kroger coarse kosher salt, his non-recommended US volume measure table said 2c salt. To show how poor a method that is for anything involving salt and meat, that was 1/2c too much when I actually weighed it to get thw correct salinity brine. Would have given me almost a 100 degree brine, over the max amount you can dissolve in water, and a strength that Marianski lists numerous poor effects on the fish protein vs. 80 degree result. Moral of story, ALWAYS weigh your salt for sausage and brine!

  • Yearling

    Dave in AZ Took me a while to find the recipe. It is for a 3# side of salmon
    1 gallon water
    24 grams sea salt
    15 grams maple sugar (can use brown sugar if you like)
    4 grams of cure salt #1
    The spices are to taste. I don’t measure them honestly. Maybe like a 1/2 cup black peppercorns, 1/4 cup red juniper berries, a couple crushed cinnamon sticks, 1/4 cup fennel seeds, 1/4 cup mustard seed, a handful of whole crushed nutmeg. I crush the peppercorn and nutmeg at separate times in a tea towel. Roast the spices in order of hardiness, with fennel and mustard seed last. Dry skillet, 30-60 second toast for each spice. Keep them moving in the skillet so nothing burns. Boil everything in the water then add ice to get up to the required amount of brine solution. A gallon of water is about 8 pounds or so, so I zero my scale with a brining bucket (or large food safe container) on it then add the brine solution and stir in ice until you have a gallon of water and it reaches about 65-68F. Do not add fish to hot brine. I cure my salmon for 3 days or until the fish becomes pretty rigid. I then soak the salmon for 4-6 hours in distilled water to draw out excess salt then cold smoke.

  • Military Veterans Sous Vide Canning Traeger Regular Contributors Power User Arizona

    fallis10 thx much for your recipe! After I took tonight’s hot smoke salmon fromnthe brine, I added 1t each of toasted anise and coriander, crushed, based on you and othee posts.

    Your brine just adds another odd datapoint for me to get a handle on this though, as it is less than 1%, only 0.75%, salt. So this makes me think that folks pretty much accept lox from 1% salt to 5% or even 10% or higher on one recipe. It is a huge span of flavor profile, considering 1% salt in sausage I always think super bland, and 3% in sausage or cured meat is at top end where you’re thinking, “too salty!” Hard to know which I will like, and doesn’t seem to be a standard.

    I think I will have to do a test, equilibrium cure 5 batches at 1 to 5% salt, and just taste them all!

  • Yearling

    Cold smoke with one of those A MAZE N smoker tubes. Very good tool in my opinion and I use one often. Can even do it in a cardboard box or a speed rack wrapped in plastic.

  • Yearling

    Dave in AZ
    Sausage standard for me is 1.75-2%. Salmon can be treated the same way but would probably go with 1.25-1.75% (tops.) Aromatics are variables up to the chef.

    Cured meats, pork / dry cured to hang in controlled environment I use 2.75-3% salt until 30% weight loss. More salt if sugar is involved in the formula.

    These numbers I’ll swear by. Hope it helps.

  • Military Veterans Sous Vide Canning Traeger Regular Contributors Power User Arizona

    A datapoint. I brined some 1.25" thick pieces of salmon as above for 1.5 hours, dried in fridge for 1 hr, and smoked/grilled at 325f. Pulled them at 145 internal then seared the skin in pan with olive oil for good crisp. They picked up a good bit of smoke, were fantastic. I would say that was the top end of salt I want inngrilled salmon. Not too salty, but I wouldn’t brine in 21% any longer than that.

    Due to that, I pulled the lox cold smoke salmon from the brine at 4 hrs, and am soaking in cold water for 1 hr to take any excess salt out, as per Marianski. Will dry tonight in fridge then cold smoke tonight in my Smokin It, using my side mounted cold smoke generator. Temps should be 59 to 61 degrees at 0400 until 1000, will smoke then.

  • Yearling

    Dave in AZ honestly, even though I do love the results of my recipe, it is pretty time consuming, I have to rearrange my fridge to get the briner bucket in there, crushing and toasting spices is a pain in the butt sometimes… if you’re trying to impress somebody that will truly appreciate the amount of effort that went in to making them a lox bagel or rosettes, try a custom recipe. If I am just making some lox for the freezer or for a dinner party for Easter or Christmas, I just buy the Hi Mountain Alaskan Salmon brine mix. It is fantastic and you can cure about 15# of salmon for $10 or less worth of their product.

  • Team Grey Sous Vide Canning Dry Cured Sausage Masterbuilt PK100

    just an observation…fallis10 recipe has 4 grams of cure #1 per 1 gallon of water and Dave in AZ recipe has 15 grams cure #1 per half gallon of water…am I missing something here ???

  • Regular Contributors Power User

    Mcjagger said in Lox or cold smoked salmon--need info:

    just an observation…fallis10 recipe has 4 grams of cure #1 per 1 gallon of water and Dave in AZ recipe has 15 grams cure #1 per half gallon of water…am I missing something here ???

    Not sure you are missing anything, but when using a liquid brine with salt and cure, there will be some variability in how much of the salt and cure is actually absorbed by the meat/fish.
    The amount of time the fish/meat is in the wet brine is probably the biggest variable, as I see it. The salt and cure will transfer into the meat, and the longer the meat is in the cover brine, the more salt it will absorb until the salt/cure levels reach equilibrium.

    A concentrated brine is going to transfer salt and cure to the meat more quickly. I think you would need to be careful to not leave the fish in a strong brine too long or risk an overly salty product or cure amount that is something higher than what you want.

  • Military Veterans Sous Vide Canning Traeger Regular Contributors Power User Arizona

    Mcjagger yeah, that is an interesting area that you noticed. I saw that too when standardizing and comparing numerous recipes and did some research. Several of the recipes use cure#1 when smoking, to protect fish while it is in danger zone. However, in all the several hundred sausage or salmon recipes I’ve read, only Marianski starts with USFDA FSIS allowable nitrite concentrations and works from there for his recipes. Which he does for brines like this. So I definitely trust his recipe cure amounts over other recipes, which commonly don’t calculate it correctly at all.

    In this case, processhead is correct in all his points above. The much shorter brine time is calculated for, 1 to 8 hrs vs. 36 to 72 hrs most use with a more dilute equilibrium brine. But mostly it is using FDA amounts instead of an arbitrarily lower amount I think.

    USFDA has different amounts of nitrite allowed if mixed into commutated meat like sausage, 156ppm, vs a dry rub, 625ppm I think, vs a brine or pump/massage 200ppm. For a brine, you actually calculate the uptake per the USFDA as well as the total volume of brine vs. Meat volume if equilibrium curing. So if you pump a brisket with 10% brine, that is used. If you just immerse, the water weight pickup is used. So there are different tables for brine. All of that is in his book, as well as the USFDA regs he references. Anyways, due to the large water vs. Meat volumes, the correct amount of cure always looks high.

    You can use less nitrate, but Marianski cites info that shows below 40-50 ppm of nitrite it’s ability to color fix and protect against c botulin are questionable especially for longer danger zone times like you get in cold smoking. By the time you pull from smoker nitrate is hugely reduced and drops off to almost zero in days, due to rapid conversion to nitric oxide. Foods like cold smoked salmon which do not undergo a heat lethality treatment actually have a MINIMUM REQUIRED ingoing nitrite of 120ppm to ensure safety. Most non-commercial recipes which don’t ever get subjected to, or have to pass, a Food Safety Inspection Service review, just ignore all their data and requirements.

    I use a brine calculator at diggingdogfarm
    dot com as well as Marianski’s tables and calcs for the cure#1 amounts 😉

    Since I already typed so much, for answer completion I will paste the start of Marianski’s brine calc example, where you can see the limit is actually 6T with a 10% pickup, Salmon in an 80degree brine is 3-4%:
    “Immersed, Pumped and Massaged Products […]Here, it is much harder to come up with a universal formula as there are so many variables that have to be determined first. The main factor is to determine % pump when injecting the meat with a syringe or % pick-up when immersing meat in a curing solution. We will calculate the formula for 1 gallon of water, Cure #1 and 10% pick-up gain. Then the formula can be multiplied or divided to accommodate different amounts of meat. 10% pump or 10% pick-up mean that the cured meat should absorb 10% of the brine in relation to its original weight. For immersion, pumped or massaged products, the maximum in-going nitrite limit is 200 ppm and that corresponds to adding 4.2 oz of Cure #1 to 1 gallon of water. 1 gallon (8.33 lb) of water Cure #1 in ounces Cure #1 in grams Cure #1 in teaspoons 4.2 120 20 tsp (6 Tbsp)”

  • Military Veterans Sous Vide Canning Traeger Regular Contributors Power User Arizona


    I cold smoked it last night after 6 hrs drying in fridge from 0200 to 0930, so 7.5 hrs.
    Ambient temp in Phx was 61 f to 75 f. I put 2 trays of ice in smoker, and piped in smoke with my Bellas CSG. Smoker temp was 62 to 65 f using thermoworks probe. TONS of smoke, after 7.5 hrs and solid smoke production I still had 25% chips and pellets left. Cherry wood and alder.

    My thoughts:

    1. Waaaaay to smoky. In future I will maybe kiss the lox with 30 min, 1 hr max.
    2. As mentioned above by someone, I didnt love the smoke taste profile, too much bitter note as well as acetic acid vinegar. The airtight Smokin It let the vinegar produced in smoke chips condense on fish for a noticeable taste. You can see a light ring near surface, that is move of a ceviche cooked thing than heat.
    3. Brined Lox vs. Cold smoked salmon… I think most of us are thinking of brined product, I know I was. Nova lox has a light smoke, that is likely all I will do in future, or more likely just brine cure and eat without smoke.
    4. Salt content-- very good, exactly what I wanted, not too salty. This was 4 hrs in 21% brine, 1.5 hr rinse soak. So I discussed a lot of salt datapoints above, this is a good one for strong brine. I will say, I believe the broad range now, I could have 2x the salt as this or half and still like it.
    5. Still tasted great, but such strong smoke it needs to be eaten in small amounts, appetizer style.

    Lastly… my patio, clothes, kitchen, and every blue ice packet I own, all smell like smoke lol. I was up from 0200 to 0700 numerous times checking on my CSG and first smoker use. But I don’t feel it is worth the effort for cold smoked salmon, think I’d rather have Lox 😉
    Great first use and experiment, thanks to everyone for their valuable opiniins and recipes and ideas!

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