Altona ovens: Fire free for the trout

Stone oven, beech logs, a few juniper berries and spices – more is needed (fast) not in our smokehouse, for the finest fish as before 100 to smoke for years. What makes our stoves special and why we rely on tradition and craftsmanship.

They are walled with black bricks, about two meters high and locked with heavy iron doors and bolts: 18 Altona ovens heat the Aalen in our smokehouse in Erftstadt, trout and more. Behind the iron gates: blazing fire, glowing beech shavings, poet, spicy smoke and an iron frame, on the lined up around 240 golden colored trout hanging.

Smoke as before 100 years

Who enters our smokehouse, automatically feels transported back to a time around 100 years, when the first Altona ovens were built in Hamburg and fish was still smoked and cooked in the traditional way over an open wood fire. The ovens originally came from the Altona district. The Ottensen district in particular has excelled in smoking. Fish processing flourished here a century ago. Numerous smokehouses competed for the best fish. roasting and marinating facilities, Canning factories and fish waste processing transformed the city into the German center of the fish industry.

After the war everything changed, smokehouses went out of fashion, until finally in the 1980s the last logs burned up in the last company. Only two square chimneys and a wrought-iron fish on the Hohenesch road are reminders of Ottensen's smoky past.

Good taste with time and patience

Today only a few companies in Germany preserve the tradition of the Altonaer ovens. The reason: On the one hand, the ovens are no longer built at all, because it requires expensive technology, to wash and filter the resulting smoke. On the other hand, this traditional smoking method is also very time-consuming, it requires a lot of time, patience and experience. A smoking process can take up to twelve hours, is after, whether it is smoked cold or hot. Smoking our trout this morning doesn't take that much time, around 90 minutes they will be at 80-120 degree smoked.

However, the time factor is particularly important for large companies. Many therefore rely on gas- or electric ovens or even liquid smoke processes. But: There's a real difference in taste, whether a smoked fish from a chemical-free, historic Altona oven or from a modern gas system.

cultural history, that we care about

For us, the Altona ovens are a convincing piece of cultural history, that we have been for more than 60 preserve for years. 1960 company founder Josef Wechsler started with two ovens, in Cologne-Worringen on the Rhine with the smoking of eels - there are now more than a dozen ovens, which will continue to refine many hundred kilograms of fish with the best smoke notes and the most modern emission protection. Our smokers have long since perfected their craft. From salting and drying to the height of the flame and smoke development, they meticulously control every single step without computers or electronics. One 5:30 o'clock they already started their working day today. They fire the stoves with wood chips, monitor the vents and vents, keep the fire at bay and check regularly, how even the incense is. A lot of skill and experience is required here - every move when handling the stove must be right.

Come to the factory outlet!

In the meantime, the trout in the smokehouse have reached perfect cooking. With a skillful grip, the smoker pulls out the iron frame - and with them the steaming trout. So mild, as it is smoked by our Räuchermeister, the trout is a real delicacy and simply something very special. Just like our Altonaer ovens.

Have a craving for trout? Then take a look at our shop. Or come to our factory outlet. Every day you will receive at our site from 8 bis 16 Freshly smoked fish - straight from the Altona oven, of course.

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