The Process

Fresh seafood smells like the ocean and it tastes sweet and rich…

It may be a clichè, but it’s quite true: You can’t make a high quality product without starting with high quality ingredients.

Ducktrap searches the world for the best tasting, and best harvested, seafood that can be found. Anyone who has ever worked with very fresh seafood, no more than hours out of the water, knows that there’s nothing “fishy” about fresh seafood. Fresh seafood smells like the ocean (or the river) where it was caught, and it tastes sweet and rich.

One of the most important steps in preparing our products for smoking is finding the best mix of seasonings to compliment the basic flavors of the raw seafood. By using only all-natural salt, evaporated cane juice and high quality, fresh dried spice seeds and leaves (which contain many more subtle oils and fragrances), Ducktrap River has developed the finest palate-rich combinations used to brine the seafood before it is smoked.

Smoking seafood is an art…

Our seafood is brined one of two ways: wet or dry. Wet brining is done by mixing salt and spices with water, then marinating the seafood for a short amount of time in this mixture before smoking.

Dry brining is done by sprinkling the fish with a dry mixture of salt and spices and letting this sit undisturbed. The brine is then rinsed off and the fish is ready for smoking.

Brining, whichever way it’s done, draws water and moisture out of the seafood, and replaces it with a small bit of the salt and spice mixture – this begins the curing process. Each type of seafood is brined its own way, with it’s own different brine mixture for a specific period of time. Brining times for hot and cold smoked seafood will vary depending upon the species and size of the fish.

There are different ways to smoke seafood, too. Hot-smoking refers to the smoking process when the internal core temperature of the seafood reaches 145°F or above for a specific period of time. Seafood that is hot-smoked is generally flaky in texture and does not slice thinly. Most hot-smoked seafood has a burnished gold appearance when done. Hot-smoked can also be called “smoke-roasted” or “kippered”. Cold Smoking is a process of smoking seafood in a smoker where the air temperature does not exceed 90°F. Products that are cold-smoked have a similar texture to the raw product. During this process, the smoke is used to enhance the flavor of the fish rather than cook the product. Cold-smoked fish tend to slice thinly.

There are no timers on our smokers (imported from Europe, where smoking salmon is an art); the products aren’t ready until we decide that the proper balance of smoke and moisture content has been reached. On some days this takes much longer than others, but it is critical to the quality of the final product, because nothing affects the flavor as much as the balance of smoke and salt (controlled by the amount of moisture lost in the smoking process).

The quality of the wood used in the smoking process is very important. We draw from the natural mix of native hardwoods and fruitwoods found in the Maine forests:  cherry, apple, oak and maple. We use a unique blend of four woods to smoke our products and provide a mild, delicate, delicious and unique taste. Ducktrap insures its steady supply of wood is uncontaminated by milling its own chips right before those chips will be needed in the smokehouse.

In summary, the two major processes are brining and smoking. At Ducktrap, the ingredients, as well as employee knowledge, used throughout these processes are top of the line. As a Ducktrap customer, you can be certain that each step of the process is treated with care. We know you will enjoy the wonderful taste of our finished product.