How we smoke our salmon

Home How we smoke our salmon

Since 1963 Kerryfish and the Quinlan family has been famous for the production of Wild Irish Smoked Salmon. Our smoking technique is one that we have practiced since 1963 and Kerryfish has built up a loyal following of gourmet customers throughout the world. Here is some more information on the smoking process.

The salmon arrives fresh from fisherman in County Kerry to our custom built smokery in Renard, Caherciveen. In the case of our Organic and Superior Salmon it arrives from the fish farms on the Irish Atlantic coast. All Salmon is processed to our recipe which we have perfected over the last 58 years.

Our master smoker, Ronan Quinlan, makes a quality control inspection on the salmon, ensuring that the salmon are first class and in tip-top condition. Ronan uses the experience gained from his father, Michael, to control the quality of the fish and his trained eyes look out for any blemishes or imperfections. Only the finest salmon are used for production. Ronan selects the fish and works skillfully with the filleting team to prepare the Salmon.

The salting process is extremely important to cure the salmon, it kills off any bacteria and gives taste. The curing process also improves the shelf life. The salmon fillets are left on the salting table with dry sea salt (we also use a Dill and Sea Salt cure) covering their surface, for 3 – 5 hours depending on the size. We then wash the salt from the side and as a result, our Smoked Salmon has a very low salt content of less than 3%.

The fillets of salmon are wet once the salt has been washed off them, and they need to be dried before they can absorb the smoke. The fillets are placed on racks and the trolley is pushed into the kiln. The air gently passes over the salmon fillets bringing away any moisture that is left. This process would take up to eight hours depending on the size of the salmon.

Once the fillets are dried, Ronan starts the fire in the smokebox, the “nerve centre” of the Smokehouse. When the fire made of kindlings is burning brightly, wood shavings are put on top to produce the necessary smoke. Ronan uses oak shavings to generate the smoke and to give our smoked salmon a distinctive flavour. Oak is the traditional wood that has been used for smoking in Ireland since ancient times and Ronan selects our oak chipping from specific sources and forests to ensure their quality.

The Cold Smoking method used at Kerryfish is the traditional Irish way of smoking salmon. Cold smoking is a distinguished and traditional style of smoking applied in the production of Smoked Salmon. During smoking, heat is never directly applied to the salmon, the Salmon is gently “cooked” through contact with the smoke. Smoked Salmon is typically smoked for about 10 to 14 hours, leaving the salmon moist with a faint smoky aroma. Quinlan’s Kerryfish Smoked Salmon contains no additives apart from smoke and salt to flavour.

After the smoking process, the Salmons are brought to the processing room where they are hand sliced and vacuum packed. Vacuum-packing together with salting and smoking ensures a long shelf life for our products. This product has a shelf life of 28 days between 0°C and +3°C, which makes it perfect to withstand shipping for 48 hours. Our smoked salmon can also be frozen for up to three months.