The History of Smoking Fish

Created by: Charlotte Rogers

For many thousands of years our early ancestors have been “smoking” meat, and although we’re not entirely sure how we stumbled upon this process, we do know that in the early years it was as a means to avoid spoilage and preserve meat rather than just create great flavours. Communities that lived on the coasts in the Stone Age were surrounded by a never-ending source of fish, but many also had months where hunting was less fruitful, and so they needed to create a way of preserving their catches.

The smoking process discovered by our ancestors many moons ago slowly cooks the fish (or meat), dehydrates it and deters the growth of bacteria. This process and method has been passed down to us and improved along the way. We know that in Medieval Europe many communities had smoke houses where meat (usually pigs, but fish in coastal communities) were smoked and stored for preservation. Poorer communities would hang their meat high up in fireplaces after placing ash over the flames to create a smoky environment.

Although we know that this process has been used for thousands of years, the first commercial use likely dates back to the seventeenth century in Poland, but today, due, to it’s popularity, smokingis carried out across the world and is used for a variety of meats and fish, mostly for ham, bacon, sausage, salami, kippers (smoked herring), smoked salmon, smoked trout and smoked haddock. Today of course, we are smoking meat to add that recognisable flavour rather than for the sake of preserving it.

Please take a look at our market where you can purchase our smoked fish and cheese.