The Process

A Little History

Smoked fish in the begining

In the beginning, our ancestors needed to find ways to preserve their food. Meat and especially fish was highly perishable and would last only a few days if not preserved. Populations that were fortunate enough to live by the sea discovered that they could make salt by the evaporation of seawater. Meat and fish were packed in salt and dried or in some instances stored in a salt solution, or brine. Food would remain edible and safe for weeks. Thus, salt became not only a means of enhancing the taste of food, but also preserving it as well.

Such salting method was man’s first method for the preservation of food. The earliest recording of salting as preservation method is found in the writings of Marcus Porcius Cato the elder, a Roman statesman from about 200 BC. While bacteria and the concept of germs were not known until the Nineteenth Century, ancient cultures unwittingly were killing harmful bacteria when they salt cured their meat and fish and thus had developed one of the earliest disease prevention strategies.

Over the centuries, salt cured fish became more then just a dietary staple; in some instances it assumed certain mystical qualities. During the middle ages, a time when spiritual and supernatural beliefs abounded, cured fish was believed by the Jews to be an aphrodisiac and was an essential part of the post-Sabbath celebration.

In the centuries following the Middle Ages Anti-Semitism flourished in Europe and the Jewish population fell on hard times. Herring was the most abundant fish in the North Atlantic and was quite cheap. Salt-cured herring thus became one of the staples of the Jewish diet but also became a symbol of bad times and a lesser class.

During the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, however, when many Jews began to enjoy prosperity, they turned away from salted herring and its sad reminders and looked for foods that reflected their improved lives. Salmon was a fish prized for the tables of royalty, and Jews soon applied the curing recipes they had used for herring to this more luxurious fish. Salmon yielded a cured fish like nothing people had ever experienced. Its smooth, silky texture, its tender, delicate flesh and its subtle salty taste immediately made cured salmon a delicacy that is treasured to this day.

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Our Secret

Our secret to produce the finest smoked fish starts by choosing the freshest and highest quality raw material available. Every step of the process requires a serious level of commitment to attention-to-detail, consistency, and tradition. At Acme, this commitment is our way of life.  For a deeper inside look of our process take a look at videos and image galleries at our media section.

Receiving and Raw Materials

At Acme, we devote a great deal of energy at choosing the right suppliers. The vendor approval process requires in many instances that we audit supplier practices, conduct extensive testing, and set expectations and standards that go beyond of what is expected in the industry. We believe that setting standards that are superior than the industry-standards will allow us to have a sustainable and safe product that our consumers can rely on.

Curing

Prior to smoking, every fish must always be cured with salt for preservation, flavor, and quality reasons.  The salt allows the fish to preserve its moisture and tenderness during the drying, smoking, and cooking process. At Acme, wet brining and dry salting are methods employeed to cure fish. Brining in a solution of salt, sugar, and spices is generally the method of choice when curing whole fish or bigger fish fillets. Dry curing or dry salting is a process used mostly for smaller salmon fillets. Curing times can range from a couple of hours to several days depending on the size and fat content of the fish.

Smoking

At Acme, every fish is naturally smoked using the perfect blend of hardwoods. Fish can either be cold or hot smoked. Only salmon, tuna, and sable are permitted by law to be cold smoked. All other fish, including whitefish, trout, whiting, mackerel, bluefish, sturgeon, marlin, chubs, ciscoes, and wahoo are hot smoked. Salmon and tuna are also hot smoked. Cold smoking is a drying and smoking process where the heat does not exceed 85°F and the whole process takes up to 20 hours. Hot smoking is a cooking and drying process where the fish must reach at least 145°F or above for at least 30 minutes.

Packaging

Packaging also plays an important role in the production of smoked fish as it helps maintain the integrity and freshness of the fish.  The smoked fish is cooled down to 38°F or below prior to packaging.  At Acme, we are actively trying to find the best materials and technology to enhance and protect the freshness of your smoked fish.

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