Best way to smoke cheese

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by 3rivers, Nov 27, 2015.

  1. 3rivers

    3rivers Newbie

    Just got a mes 30 and smoked some chicken and salmon now want to try smoking some cheese . What the best way to do this ..
  2. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Cold smoke. You will need a smoke generator like the ones sold by Amaze N Smokers.

    You need to keep your smoker under 70 for hard cheeses and under 60 for softer cheeses.
  3. travisty

    travisty Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    The MES stock will not work for smoking cheese since the lowest setting will fully melt the cheese! [​IMG]

    Youll want to either looki into some mods or tricks or go for something separate. Ive heard of people just leaving the door propped open about 2 inches, but I don't think that would work unless it was really cold where you are at to offset the heating element.

    One "Ghetto" Method I ran by, and have now done several times that will be much cheaper than buying another smoker or smoke generator:

    You can either accomplish this by doing it inside of the chamber of your MES or by purchasing a plastic storage tote and a rack of some kind.

    Simply take a basic electric soldering iron and put it into a coffee mug (point down obviously), fill said mug with wood chips and BOOM![​IMG]Youve got a cold smoke generator!

    I have used this method dozens of times, the first 3 or 4 times I did it I used a clear storage tote and a cookie cooling rack with the long legs, and just put the mug on a brick in the tote under the rack, and now I just put the mug on the bottom rack of my smoker (MES 30) and put the cheese on the top racks.

    I think it is a simple cheap solution to cold smoking in an MES
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2015
  4. travisty

    travisty Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

  5. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Just so happens I smoked about 3 pounds of cheese a week ago. I used my MES 30 Gen 1. I left it turned off for the most of the smoke but the interior temp never even got up to 60°. I also used apple wood pellets in my AMNPS and they would burn for awhile then started going out every 20-30 or so. I thought the interior might be too cold so I turned on the controller and tried to heat up the interior only to 100° before turning it off. Unfortunately the temp got up to over 130° before I turned it off the last time. Since the outside temp was around 41° the smoker cooled down fairly quickly.

    However, despite a tiny bit of melting the cheeses stayed firm and absorbed the amount of smoke I wanted them to get. It took me 6 hours when I had planned on 4. To keep the cheeses from melting into the racks I first placed Q-MATZ that I bought from Todd Johnson on the racks and they did the job. Next year I'll use Dust in my AMNPS since I've been told it burns better during cold smokes.

    What was just a bit less frustrating than the pellets going out during the smoke was this: during the last hour of the smoke when I had the heating element going the pellet smoke just took off--plenty of smoke flowing from the top vent. After I removed the cheeses and the smoker had been turned off for about 30 minutes I opened the door to remove the Q-MATZ to wash them and the wood pellets were still smoking and this was with the top vent closed!

    That's why I think wood dust will be best for cold smokes.
  6. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I see a problem, only three pounds? Your going to run out quick!:biggrin
    3rivers smoke extra cheese,it goes fast!!
  7. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    For my situation, 3 pounds is a lot. It's only my wife and I in the house these days and she's not a huge fan of smoked cheese so I have to eat all I smoke. In this case, my daughter and her boyfriend love my smoked cheese so they'll get a pound. My wife runs a home daycare so a couple of dads who like to smoke food will get some. And I get the rest which will be more than enough for me!
  8. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    To each there own and very nice of you to share! I'm planning on trying to save some and see if I can tell a difference it's only Vaccum sealed and maybe I will need to look into waxing for some real aging. I take a cheese board to all our family parties over the holiday so we use it up pretty good then a couple of chunks to work to share and next thing I know no more cheese!
  9. I use the cold smoke attachment for the Mes 30. I use a 8 ft. Flexible dryer vent pipe and never turn smoker on. Works great and doesn't get warm.
  10. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I learned on SMF that after cheese is smoked it needs to be vacuum sealed and aged in a fridge for at least 3 weeks. I've seen a batch of change that I made go from lightish in color to noticeable darkening and deepening over the course of those weeks and the rack marks become even more apparent. As the cheese darkens in color the smoke flavor is also deepening as it further permeates the cheese. It's very cool.

    This time around I smoked mozzarella and cheddar cheese. The daughter said she prefers cheddar so I smoke more of that. For the smoked mozz I like using it in recipes (like burgers, sandwiches)and, yes, just for snacking.
  11. brickguy221

    brickguy221 Smoking Fanatic

    What kind of cheese do people use to smoke it ... Cheddar or Longhorn  or Gouda, or etc etc?
  12. travisty

    travisty Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    You can smoke anything you like really. My all time favorite cheese to smoke is pepperjack, but also love mozzarella, gouda, provolone, sharp cheddar (well I guess ive just named about every cheese!).

    I would like to try bleu sometime, I think that would be delicious.
  13. brickguy221

    brickguy221 Smoking Fanatic

    Which wood is the most popular for smoking cheese and how long do people smoke it?
  14. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I just cold smoked cheese using my AMNPS. In cold weather you don't have to worry about the wood pellets melting cheese because the small bit of heat generated by the smoking pellets is more than offset by the cold weather. Last week our high was around 40° and the problem I had was with the temp being too cold inside my MES 30 which also tended to snuff out the pellets. My workaround was to turn on the controller to heat the smoker up to 100° and then to turn it off to let the smoker interior cool down again. It worked: the cheeses got a bit softer (but didn't melt) which enabled them to absorb smoke more completely.

    I won't buy the MB Cold Smoker Kit because I place my MES on a small table where there's no room for the cold smoker. It would be too much of a hassle to connect and you also have to plug it in to an electrical outlet. Much easier to deal with the just my smoker and the AMNPS inside it. Some guys put 1-2 jugs of frozen water inside the smoker to keep the air chilled. My experience with that has been that the frozen water thaws way before the smoke is done so there's not a lot of benefit to using it unless you've got several jugs of the stuff you can keep swapping out.

    As for the types of wood to use,. the two most popular woods for smoking cheese are hickory and apple. Looking at professionally smoked cheeses in the supermarket deli section will tell you that. When I smoked cheeses a few weeks ago I used alder because I was also smoking salmon. The alder wouldn't stay lit for a cold smoke so I added apple wood. The combo worked fine but I didn't care for the taste of alder in the cheese. The cheeses I smoked were sharp cheddar, mozzarella, and imported Gouda. I used only apple this time around but I needed to heat up the smoker to keep it lit, as I described above. This time I smoked only mozzarella and sharp cheddar.

    The first time I cold smoked cheeses I used hickory, which imparted a stronger smoke flavor to the cheeses. Apple is more mellow. It's just a matter of what kind of smoky character and flavor you're after. I had planned to smoke the cheeses for 4 hours but because of the ongoing hassle of the wood pellets flaming out I stretched it to 6. From the way the cheeses looked when I vacuum sealed them this batch may be the best I ever made.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2015
  15. brickguy221

    brickguy221 Smoking Fanatic

    Rick, how long do you smoke the cheese? 

    For example 30 minutes or an hr or 2 hrs or etc?
  16. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I just edited that onto the end of my answer. Generically speaking, Jim, 2-4 hours is about average. But at the end of 2 hours when I smoked cheeses last week, the cheeses hadn't absorbed any color that I could tell and they were too cold, in my answer I explained why I stretched the smoking time out to 6 hours. In my opinion, 4 hours of smoke is about right.

    As for which cheeses to smoke, choose what you like to cook with, include in sandwiches, and snack on. I like part-skim milk mozz but you can smoke fresh mozz, too. I love sharp cheddar but mild and medium are also great smoked. My favorite cheese in the world is Jarlsberg but I haven't smoked it because I can buy it already smoked at the supermarket. You can also find smoked Gouda, smoked Edam, smoked Gruyere and smoked Provolone at the supermarket but those are all cheeses you can smoke yourself. I smoked some Gouda a few weeks ago and it was mighty tasty. Travisty likes smoked pepper jack. But because I'm limited in space for the amounts of cheese I can smoke at one time, I stick to mozz and sharp cheddar.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2015
  17. brickguy221

    brickguy221 Smoking Fanatic

    Last question ... hopefully ... when you smoke the cheese, do you slice the slab and smoke the pieces or smoke the slab before it is sliced?
  18. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    There's a thread on aging and smoking cheese. Slicing cheese into sizes like sticks of butter is what I'll do when my 3 and 5 lb. Blocks are done aging in my crisper drawer. I've had these cryovaced white and yellow sharp cheddar blocks aging a few years. Most of the time I've been buying 12 - 16oz. One inch thick bars of cheese I just throw on the grate.
  19. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I take a 1 lb. block of cheese and slice it into about 4-6 sections. I double that for 2 lb. block. For my last cold smoke I smoked 3 lbs. of sharp cheddar and 2 lbs. of mozzarella. The daughter prefers cheddar so I have to go heavy on it.
  20. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I don't slice mine that small. I think the bricks I slice them into weigh about 8 oz. but I've never weighed them. I cut them in sizes that are perfect for recipes (especially cheeseburgers and Panini sandwiches) or for snacking.

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