Fish Smoking Kiln

 

 

 

Smoking is a traditional processing technique used to preserve fish. It also gives color and a range of tastes appreciated by consumers.

It consists of exposing fish to the effects of heat and smoke, both produced by the combustion of biomass (wood, sawdust, coconut husks, etc).

The main difference between the CookClean Ahotor Kiln and the baseline kiln is the design of the former’s combustion chamber, which is based on the up-draft principle. The CookClean stove is also insulated with a mixture of clay, wood ash and sawdust between the combustion chamber and the stove body brick walls. A metal sheet with perforated holes is fixed on the top of the combustion chamber as a buffer to avoid direct flame to the fish.Above the perforated metal sheet, the combustion chamber is widening in a conical shape to the size of the fish smoking tray.The trays are stacked one on top of another and at the top a hood and short chimney are installed.According to preliminary energy assessments conducted by SNV Ghana, the burnt brick Open Source stove shows about 26% fuel saving over the Morrison stove. This improvement is mainly due to the design of the combustion chamber, which is smaller and insulated.

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Overview of the Small Pelagic Value Chain and Key Issues

Fish processing is the main economic activity for women living in and around the coastal and lake areas of Ghana. Preservation methods include salting, frying and freezing, but smoking is the most prevalent form: practically all species of fish available in the country can be smoked and it is estimated that 75% of the domestic marine and freshwater catch is processed this way. Most processed fish is sold in major markets across the country and within the West African region, with some products making their way through to the global diaspora.

Poor product quality and unhygienic handling practices are a major concern in the local fish processing industry. The illegal use of chemicals and explosives in fishing are a major contributor to poor quality fish catch and microbiological contamination can occur at multiple points through the value-chain, through the use of unclean sea or fresh water and the processing, storage and sales of fish in poorly kept and unhygienic surroundings.

The fish smoking sector in Ghana is highly dependent on fuelwood as source of energy, and in a 2014 study SNV found that there were over 120,000 fish smoking stoves in near-constant use along Ghana’s coastline and the Volta Lake basin. Where there are limited forest wood resources, mangrove is used and the extent and rate of mangrove forest depletion outstrips the slow rate of regeneration, leading to the degradation of these forest systems. Between 2005 and 2010, Ghana’s deforestation rate was estimated at 2.2% per annum, the sixth highest deforestation rate globally for that period.

Contributing to this high rate of deforestation is the widespread use of inefficient fish smoking technologies, with the most popular being the Chorkor stove, first identified, developed and scaled in Ghana in 1969 by the FAO together with government institutions. However, using this technology, women work under often strenuous conditions (exposure to heat and smoke) and for marginal incomes. The World Health Organization estimates that harmful cookstove smoke is the fifth leading cause of death in developing countries.

Against this background CookClean joined the USAID Fish Smoking Builders Training Workshop where the technique of Fish Smoking Kiln construction was acquired. This range of production is only available on demand.

OVERVIEW OF FISH SMOKING

Smoking is a traditional processing technique used to preserve fish. It also gives color and a range of tastes appreciated by consumers. It consists of exposing fish to the effects of heat and smoke, both produced by the combustion of biomass (wood, sawdust, coconut husks, etc).

Smoking process

There are two types of smoking: hot smoking and cold smoking, characterized by the processing temperature and the temperature reached at the centre of the fish flesh.

– Cold Smoking: It is practiced primarily in the North. The smoke temperature is maintained between 20°C and 25°C and should never exceed 28°C as the fish should neither cook nor be too dry. The length of treatment varies from a few hours to several days, depending on the type of installation and the desired product. Cold smoking requires strict hygienic conditions and quality control as the final product has high water content. Its shelf life is limited and it is usually vacuum-packed and stored cold or frozen.

– Hot smoking: In this case, the fish is cooked while giving it a smoky flavor. This is the most common practice in developing countries because it gives a relatively stable product. The fish is usually salted and dried before smoking. The smoking temperature varies between 60°C and 120°C. The water content of the finished product is quite variable because it depends on the desired product and the fish species used.

Depending on the type of fish being smoked and the product presentation (species, thickness, and way of cutting it), its ultimate use and the length of time it has to be stored. The hot smoking process can take from 1 hour to 2 days. It is done at temperatures above 80°C which is high enough to cook the fish:

“Soft smoking”, which usually takes about 1-2 hours, yields a moist, versatile product with about 40-55 percent moisture content and a shortened shelf life of 1-3 days which limits its market distribution radius.

“Hard smoking”, which is usually preceded by soft smoking, takes about 10-18 hours depending on the weather, yielding fish with 10-15 percent moisture content. It is even possible to bring it below 10 percent. Fish smoked by this process have a shelf life of 6-9 months when stored properly. As a result, it can be traded over a large geographic area.

Actions of smoke

During the smoking process, smoke has different actions on the fish:

Organoleptic action: the color of smoked fish is mainly due to the Maillard reaction (hot smoking). The longer the smoking process, the more the color of the fish will be transformed, but it can also vary with the species of wood used. Phenols are primarily responsible for the aroma.

Chemical Action: smoked fish using traditional techniques may undergo slight denaturing of some proteins. The important chemical action is the effect of phenols on fish lipids: they inhibit the propagation of auto-oxidation.

Bacteriological action: in hot smoking, it is the heat that destroys microorganisms. Smoke may have an antiseptic role through the phenolic fraction but this action is low.

Toxic Action: the preservative functions, flavoring and coloring of the smoking process are well correlated with the smoke intake but it is also known that the smoke carries polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), known for decades as carcinogenic in humans. Today, smoking processes are under surveillance of the authorities as the European Union (EU) applies a new health standard to smoked products. Per EU standard, level of PAH(4) in smoked fish products should be ≤ 12 mg/kg and that of Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) should be ≤ 2 mg/kg.)

Toxic Action: the preservative functions, flavoring and coloring of the smoking process are well correlated with the smoke intake but it is also known that the smoke carries polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), known for decades as carcinogenic in humans. Today, smoking processes are under surveillance of the authorities as the European Union (EU) applies a new health standard to smoked products. Per EU standard, level of PAH(4) in smoked fish products should be ≤ 12 mg/kg and that of Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) should be ≤ 2 mg/kg.

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