Are you a big fan of smoked cheese? Do you want to smoke cheese yourself? Then, you need to get the best cold smoker and start smoking.
The best cold smoker allows you to cook food with the smoke only. No fire, no complex equipment needed. Just a few modifications in your smokers and you are ready to cold smoke. This cold smoking method has existed for years to preserve and flavor food with a unique smoky taste.
With all the benefits, you might want to take a cold smoker home right away. However, there are not many options available on the market, which may discourage you from getting one.
If you are also in that situation, do not ignore this article about the best cold smokers. So, let’s jump in!
Types of Products
Since it is difficult to find a true cold smoker on the market, people opt for cold smoking adapters to modify and turn their regular smokers into cold ones. There are 4 popular adapters, including electric-powered generators, big kahuna, smoker tubes, and maze smokers.
Electric-powered Smoke Generators
These generators aim to transfer smoke into your standard smoker. They utilize wood pellets, a cup of which provides you 3 hours of constant cold smoke. There is a built-in heating element to keep the heat source smolder and deliver smoke.
However, as they run on electricity, you have to always plug them in a socket during the whole cold smoking process.
If you are thinking of one, why don’t you purchase Smoke Chief Cold Smoke Generator 9500-000-0000? This cold smoker operates on 110AC or 12V power and can connect with charcoal grills, gas grills, smokers, or other outdoor cooking methods. Although it can cold-smoke different types of food, it is best at smoking cheese.
If you do not want to waste money on your monthly electric bill, then big kahunas are your solution. They are small fireboxes that attach to your smoker. The adjustable air pump lets you control the smoke into the chamber. Because they are completely sealed, they are suitable for both cold and hot smoking.
The only downside is their complexity. Big kahunas require you to make a hole in the smoker to install the air pump.
Talking of this type of cold smoker, Smoke Daddy Big Kahuna B00WRJ1OQQ is our recommendation for you. Constructed from heavy-gauge aluminum with a stainless steel exterior finish, it is built to last. Thanks to the powerful air pump, Smoke Daddy can perform well in hot and cold temperatures. The biggest advantage of this exterior cold smoker is that you can easily refill the fuel without opening the chamber.
As the name suggests, smoker tubes are metal cylinders featuring lots of air holes. They are the simplest way to cold smoke your food. Just load the tube with wood pellets, light them, and put the tube inside the smoker. No electricity or no manual is needed.
Although they are convenient, you may not get enough smoke due to the lack of control and adjustment.
The LIZZQ Premium Pellet Smoker Tube AMNTS12 is a great choice for cold smokers. Made from stainless steel, this smoker is lightweight, durable, and resistant to rust. The unique hexagonal-shaped design is a bonus point. It makes sure that the smoker stays positioned inside without rolling around.
Maze smokers work similarly to tube smokers, but the former is superior to the latter, thanks to their unique maze design. Fill them in with sawdust instead of pellets, and light them up.
You can choose to light either one end or both ends, depending on the amount of smoke that you wish. The sawdust smolders longer, allowing the maze smokers to work up to 8 hours because of being finer.
Among all maze smokers, A-Maze-N Maze Pellet Smoker AMNPS5X8 is the best. That is because of the fuel efficiency, which can smoke for 12 hours continuously without refilling. Its versatility allows you to smoke all types of food, including cheese, meat, poultry, fish, nuts, tofu, etc.
Choosing the best cold smoker is never an easy job, particularly when it is completely different from the regular smokers. Therefore, before adding something to your shopping cart, there are numerous important factors you must consider.
Cold Smoker Types
As we mentioned, there are 4 main types of cold smokers. But generally, we label them into 2 different categories: electricity-powered models and manual models.
The electricity-powered models have an integrated heating element that can get hot and burn the fuel itself. You can also use them with different containers.
Meanwhile, the manual models use wood pellets or sawdust as the fuel and need to be lit at one or both ends. In that way, the fire will burn and travel through the cold smoker to produce the wanted smoke.
A great example for the manual models is Cave Tools Pellet Tube Wood Smoker Box PELLET SMOKER. It has a slim design with various horizontal holes surrounding the body to distribute smoke properly.
Each cold smoker requires different fuel types. However, sawdust, wood chips, or pellets are among the popular ones.
The size of cold smokers also affects the size of fuel. For example, large wood chips cannot work on small-sized devices. Even when you use pellets, be sure that their size is suitable for your cold smoker.
Don’t forget to take the fuel availability in your place into consideration. Fine sawdust is elusive and not always available in some regions. What is worse than getting your favorite cold smoker without the fuel source to work with it?
Unlike hot smoking, cold smoking may take up for weeks or even months. The longer the fuel lasts, the more smoke you get. And you do not want to refill your fuel every few hours. If any cold smoker runs less than 3 hours straight, skip it.
If you plan to cold smoke at home only, this factor is not a must. But if you want to take it for camping or traveling, you had better get something lightweight and portable. Besides, you can buy a carrying case for better protection.
Fortunately, most cold smokers available are easy to install. But you might find that installing the big kahuna is quite troublesome due to the drilling part. It is difficult to drill without damaging your existing smoker.
What if you are not confident with that job? Selecting a device that can easily attach to or put inside your smoker, such as Smokemiester BBQ Smoker B007VT6RA0, is a great alternative. This cold smoker can be easily attached to the existing grills or smokers in a minute with no additional accessories or power required. The 4-inch diameter is large enough to hold 4 cups of fuel but does not take up your smoking space.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is Cold Smoking Different From Hot Smoking?
Absolutely. The biggest difference is about purposes. People use cold smoking to preserve and flavor their food while using hot smoking for cooking into dishes. Cold smoking had been the traditional way for food preservation in ancient times until the initiative of refrigerators appeared.
Another difference is temperature. As you can guess from the names, cold smoking utilizes lower temperatures, below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, the temperature for hot smoking usually ranges from 140 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cold smoking also takes longer than hot smoking. Hot smoking can complete within a day, but cold smoking can take days or weeks. Some cured meat might take up to 30 days, while veggies and dairy might take up to 4 hours to achieve the smoked flavor.
2. What Food Can Be Cold Smoked?
There are a variety of foods that you can cold smoke. However, we suggest you try simple and low-risk dishes at the beginner level, such as cheese, veggies, fruits, nuts, boiled eggs, and tofu first.
Once you have mastered the basic technique, let’s move to the next level with meat, fish, country hams, sausages, etc. They are high-risk foods, meaning you have to control the temperature properly or else they might cause illness.
Don’t limit cold smoking with the popular ones. You can refer to different cold smoking recipes available.
3. Is Cold Smoking Safe?
Colding smoking is both safe and unsafe. That is because it leaves your food in a danger zone, which is the ideal temperature (40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit) for bacteria’s growth. Even though you cure meat in advance, the salt only slows down the development of bacteria but not kills them. So yes, cold smoking can be unsafe and risky.
But not all cold-smoked foods are unsafe. For some foods like bacon, you have to cook it again after smoking. In this way, you can kill all the bacteria, making them safe to eat.
Also, high-risk people, including pregnant women, the elderly, and the chronically ill, should always stay away from cold smoking products. Either they are commercial or homemade, they still pose a potential health risk.
4. How To Cold Smoke Food Safely?
The risks of cold smoking are undebatable. However, if you still are a fan of cold smoking, you can try some safety tips for cold smoking.
- Use high-quality fish or meat only
Fresh fish and meat can carry potential and dangerous infections to people’s health like tapeworm. It is better to find a trusted butcher in your region so that you can at least know the origin of that meat and fish.
- Combine salting with cold smoking
In cold smoking, curing the meat is a must since it is a way to reduce the unwanted risks and protect your health. According to national experts for food preservation, only cold-smoke food has already been salted, cured, or fermented.
- Cook food after cold smoking process
Although curing can partly reduce the risks, it cannot guarantee that your food is 100% safe. The safest way to treat your meat is to cook it at high temperatures to eliminate all bacteria.
5. Can I Use Charcoal In A Cold Smoker?
No. You cannot use charcoal as a fuel source for your cold smoker. It aims to burn and produce heat, not to smoke for cold smoking. Therefore, you cannot get your desired smoky flavor. That is not to mention that the heat it produces might be too warm for cold smoking.
Nevertheless, you can still use charcoal to heat your fuel at first. Mix a small amount of charcoal and top them up with lots of wood chips. You can try the ratio 3:2 and adjust as long as charcoal is enough to light the wood up.
The Bottom Line
Despite some disadvantages, cold smoking is still perfect for preserving your food, as long as you pay more attention and caution. The whole process is challenging yet rewarding. Looking at the well-smoked cheese or salmon, you might question yourself why not know about cold smoking sooner.
How can you cold smoke your meat without the assistance of the best cold smoker? Hopefully, with the information we provided in this article, you can now opt for the right cold smoker among several options out there.
If you cannot decide which one is the best, here are our suggestions.
Smoke Daddy Big Kahuna B00WRJ1OQQ is one of the best sellers due to its convenience and versatility. It is compatible with most smokers and can be used for cold and hot smoking. The adjustable air pump allows you to control the precise amount of smoke and temperature for cold smoking.
If you find the big kahuna is a huge investment, here comes A-Maze-N Maze Pellet Smoker AMNPS5X8. This maze smoker is affordable, portable, and easy to use. In particular, the 12-hour fuel runtime with wood pellets is quite impressive and desirable, even with products at higher prices.
Another amazing yet inexpensive cold smoker for beginners is Cave Tools Pellet Tube Wood Smoker Box PELLET SMOKER. The slim design, durable and rust-free construction, and horizontal holes make it superior to other manual devices. It also features 25 recipes with detailed instructions and tutorial videos so that you can bring smoking to a new level.