The Salmon of Doubt

There’s a lot of positivity on this site about preserving food, reducing food waste, etcetera, but sometimes things can go wrong. We shouldn’t fool ourselves into believing that salt solves every food preservation problem, even though sometimes it seems that way.

For instance, meat. I haven’t done much with meat on this blog, because I don’t want to put information out there that could be incorrect and dangerous. Case-in-point: I was going to post about making cured, cold-smoked salmon. I’ve made cured salmon before, so I just assumed that I knew what I was doing. I looked up some information about the cold-smoking part, but I missed a crucial detail that I didn’t realize I needed to be aware of: parasites.

Just about all wild-caught salmon is infected with roundworms—thank climate change for that. This is normally not an issue if you’re going to cook it: heating to the FDA recommend 145°F kills off any eggs and you’ll be parasite-free. If you aren’t cooking it, even if you salt-cure and smoke it, the eggs may survive. If you’re lucky like I was, you may notice a tiny white worm-like thing on your salmon right when you’re ready to finally slice into it. If you’re not, well… Just be careful with this stuff, ok?

I posted about this in the official Crock of Time Discord and learned that you’ve got to freeze salmon (or any wild-caught fish) for at least 13 days (let’s just say 2 weeks, eh?) to kill these parasites. I think I’ll be buying frozen, farmed salmon for the foreseeable future, at least once I’ve worked up the courage to try again.

It pays off to always have a little doubt in yourself, in what you recall of the process, when preserving food at home. Find authoritative sources, ones that tell you up-front about any dangers and how to prevent or at least mitigate them. Know what you’re getting yourself and potentially your loved ones into.