Smoked foods are meats or fish that have been preserved by drying slowly in aromatic smoke. The most common smoked foods include smoked salmon, smoked beef and smoked pork ribs. Although meats and fish are the most commonly smoked, some cheeses and vegetables are also smoked for flavor.

The Purpose of Smoking Foods

Smoking foods is a process that has existed for several hundred years. In order to make food (meats and fish) last longer, these had to either be salted or smoked. In the early days, it was already proven that smoking food deterred bacteria from contaminating it, thus allowing the food to last longer than it normally would.

Today, smoking foods not only serves to preserve food, but also to add a distinct flavor to it as well. A lot of people now prefer the taste of smoked foods than that of non-smoked ones. There are also different kinds of aromatic woods that are used in order to achieve different smoky flavors in food. Smoking also enhances the flavors of fish and meats.

Ways of Smoking Food

There are three ways to smoke food: cold smoking, hot smoking and smoke baking. Cold smoking involves exposing food to smoke at temperatures below 38 degrees Celsius. In this condition, food takes on a smoky flavor, but still remains relatively moist. It is important to take note that food is not cooked during cold smoking.

Hot smoking involves smoke a temperature between 74 to 85 degrees Celsius. Because of the relatively high temperature that the food is exposed to, this can be eaten without reheating it or cooking it further. At this temperature, even though the food is cooked, it will still remain relatively moist. Smoking food at temperatures above 85 degrees will cause it to shrink, split and become dry.

Smoke baking involves smoking the food and baking it at the same time. This is also sometimes called pit baking or barbecuing. For this kind of smoking, carbon monoxide poisoning is a possibility and thus it is important to do this in a well-ventilated area.

Risks Associated with Smoked Foods

Regular consumption of smoked foods has shown to increase the risk of developing certain kinds of cancers.

Smoke particles that are absorbed by the meat are actually hydrocarbons that stop the breakdown of protein in meat. Consumption of smoked foods opens opportunity for carcinogens to enter the body. This is because very minute particles in coal (pollutants) attaches to the meat and are consumed along with it. Also, there are newer processes of smoking foods nowadays that even include the addition of preservatives which may lead to an even greater risk for several illnesses.

Admittedly, smoked foods offer a distinct and delicious treat. However, regular consumption of these kinds of food is not advised as it can lead to problems in health.