Tried Cold Smoking Cheese

Discussion in 'Cheese' started by inno, Jun 21, 2014.

  1. inno

    inno Fire Starter

    Ever since I got my MES30 just over a year ago, I keep trying new and different things. I quickly realized that because it is so well insulated, the element does not come on all that often when the outside temperature is warm. Enter the A-maze-n smoker. That quickly solved my lack of smoke issue and lasts for a long time. Only problem I have with it is I often find it hard to light or to keep lit no matter how carefully I store the dust. Looking around the internet I saw many DIY solutions and I decided to try one. I realize there are many commercially available ones and that some of these companies sponsor this website so I won't go into much detail about the one I built. It suffices to say that it far exceeded my expectations.

    And now for the smoke....

    I picked up 3 different supermarket variety cheeses. A Swiss, a medium cheddar and a mozzarella. The temp inside the MES was 78°F when I started. I filled the water pan with ice and opened the top vent fully. I then inserted the smoke generator (see pics) and let 'er rip. Within 20 minutes or so the temp was down to a cool 67°. After that it went down to about 62° and stayed there for most of the smoke.

    After one hour, I turned the cheese over, the top sides all showed a nice bit of color. The smoke lasted the full 2 hours and was nice and thick. Took them out after 2 hours as I have read on here, they smell fantastic! Into some ziploc bags (don't have a vacuum sealer yet) and into the fridge after patting them dry. They were cool to the touch upon removing from the smoker. A true cold smoke if I do say so myself! In two weeks or so I get to sample it, can't wait.

    Here are some pics...






     
  2. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    That looks good and nice job on the Smoke generator...JJ
     
  3. Smoked cheese is great. I am addicted to it now. I hope my family and friends like smoked cheese because they are going to be getting it as gifts for sometime. :)
     
  4. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I would try to avoid using ice or cold water for the cheese will absorb the moisture.
     
  5. driedstick

    driedstick Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Looks good from here, I usually pat mine dry if there is any moisture, then let them sit on the counter or fridge for a few hours or even overnight (wrapped in paper towel only) then vac pac or zip lock them. 

    Yours looks great. - Just opened pac from 1yr ago and it was great. The longer you can let them sit the better I think. 

    A full smoker is a happy smoker.

    DS 
     
  6. link

    link Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    That looks really good and nice smoke generator. You will really enjoy the smoked cheese. I make some every time cheese is on sale at one of the local stores.

    I just opened a Colby Jack that has been sitting for two months and it is fantastic.

    Let us know your results when you try them.
     
  7. inno

    inno Fire Starter

    Thanks for all the feedback. I did pat them dry before packaging them. Got a foodsaver for my birthday so I rewrapped them this weekend and had another chance to smell them. One week to go!!!!
     
  8. I got a foodsaver for my birthday too!  I leave mine sitting out on the counter with the ceiling fan going to dry "cheese sweat."  I smoked 6 pounds of Cheddar and vacuumed it all, I'm going to let them (at least one block) sit for as long as I can possibly stand it.  Wrapping in plastic wrap they usually started molding  on me after about 3 months.
     
  9. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Smoking butter is almost as easy as doing cheese but you really need to do it during winter or a cold morning.   Just checked my cheese inventory and it looks like it's almost time for another batch.  I normally smoke mine for 2-3 hours.
     
  10. Thought maybe I could borrow this thread since it was my 1st time.  I smoked some medium cheddar, pepper jack and a locally made cheese that my family and I like.  I use an MES 30 1st gen and followed the advice on these forums for smoking cheese.  It was a pretty hot day and the smoker was sitting in the sun but internal temps said it stayed below 80 or so I think (been awhile). 

    Here are my questions; Is it normal for your cheese to smell and taste like a dirty ashtray right out of the smoker?  My cheese has been sitting for about 3+ weeks now and it still has a mild ashtray smell and a slight sooty/ashy taste. 

    Based on the above did I smoke it too long or perhaps my smoke was too heavy?  In the beginning, I used a small side smoking unit that goes with my smoker for constant/cold smoke use.  I used pellets rather than wood and the smoke, especially in the beginning was very heavy!  Brownish and bellowing.  I notice that the side smoker has that ash tray smell to it even now.  The other day I smoked a pork butt and used wood chips, smoked nicely without all of the heavy brown smoke.  Nice and blue...and even.  Do pellets taste diff even though they are made of the same thing?  (Pecan and apple)

    I'm going to try again and shorten the time.  I also plan to use wood rather than the pellets.  If the smoke gets heavy I’ll kill it immediately.  I took the cheese to work and the guys like it, as for me, I still taste the ash tray.  Any suggestions?

    Thanks! 
     
  11. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi No Quarter BBQ

    One thing you did not mention in your post was how long you actually smoked it for. Usually 2 to 3 hours is all that is required. 

    Yes it is usual for it to taste mildly  like an ashtray when it comes out of the smoker however during the 3+ weeks maturing this should have mellowed into a nice rounded smoke flavour.

    How and where was it matured? Mine are usually vac-packed 24 hours after smoking then matured in the refrigerator.

    80 F (27 C) is really too warm for the smoke as it is likely to cause the cheese to sweat. You should really be looking to keep the chamber temperature at about 65 F or below. On hot days I usually smoke my cheese or butter either early morning or late evening when it is cooler and there is no direct sun on the smoker 

    I also use pellets for my cheese so the pellets would not be a problem. I usually use either Oak, fruit wood or hickory so your pecan and apple should be fine. The fact that they produced heavy brownish billowing smoke to begin with does not sound good though. Did this reduce to a milder whiter thin smoke after a while? 

    I think that your problem was probably due to the heavy smoke that was produced initially by the pellets. This would quickly adhere to the surface of the cheese - especially if it was sweating slightly in the heat. You should have waited until the thick smoke had stopped being produced before putting in the cheese. I use an AMNPS type generator and have never got heavy brownish bellowing smoke from any of mine - even initially. Was the generator clean? Could it be possible that your pellets had become contaminated?

    Yes you must try again. Try to keep the temperature down lower and only smoke for 2-3 hours. Yes, if you see heavy brownish billowing smoke then don't let that get near the cheese.

    Don't forget the Q-view
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2014
  12. Thanks Wade and Lizziejoy,

    reading your responces I made a few mistakes.  I went from the fridge to the smoker, the cheese did sweat, the smoke was too heavy in the beginning, and the temp did get high enough to slightly deform the cheese.  I did smoke it for a full three hours, I may reduce that to two next time.  I VAC sealed them after letting them sit individually wrapped in paper towels over night.  The smoke did eventually calm down and come out light and blue but not initially.  I will reattempt and let you know how it comes out.  Thanks again!

    ~Eric 
     
  13. My .02...

    I don't think 80* is too hot, it's on the upper end but my cheese has gotten that hot with no ill effects. I think 70 or less is just about perfect, my best cheeses are smoked in winter. The problem I have found when cheese gets too hot, like 90-100*, is it melts and then gets a weird texture change when it cools back down. If its a warmer day, I put my cheese in cold, I will even wrap frozen ice packs in plastic or foil and put them in the smoker to keep temps down if necessary. I don't find the cheese is any different whether it sweats or not, I just let it evaporate before packing. I smoke for no longer than 2 hours, with my mailbox mod cold smoking is pretty heavy and it turns out good, I tried three hours once and it was just too much but was fine for grating for mac and cheese or scalloped potatoes. If your smoke generator is billowing at first while its warming up, just wait until it settles down into TBS before you put in the cheese. And always always always let your cheese mellow for at least 2 weeks, 3 is better, if you vacuum seal, throw it in the bottom of your fridge and leave it as long as you can stand. It will only get better in 2 or 3 months. Cheese fresh from the smoker is nearly inedible.
     
  14. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Originally Posted by Inno  
     
    Good job on your DIY smoker.  You should see some of the contraptions that I have come up with over the last 50+ years.  I now have a half dozen work horses that allows me to smoke anything that can be consumed, from water to water buffalo, finally.  You may enjoy this. My Cold Smoking Options w/Q - View

    You will be going through a learning process as you discover the capabilities and limitations of each of your smokers.  As there are so many variables when using any smoke generator, rather than smoking to a specific length of time, smoke to a desired color.  Keep good notes on the type and kind of fuel along with the color and density of your smoke. After you have learned your specific smoker, you will then be able to smoke for a desired length of time as each will be different.  Good job on trying to control your temps.

     Suggest not patting the moisture dry that may have accumulated on your cheese.  You are removing part of what you just spent time putting on.  Moisture on your product will collect more smoke particles than dry as will a cooler product, so monitor that also, it will all make a difference.  You may find this interesting also. Understanding Smoke Management - updated 5/18/13

    Enjoy your cheese.

    Tom
     
  15. red dog

    red dog Smoking Fanatic

    Nice job on the cheese and the smoker Inno. What are you burning in your generator? Chips or pellets?
     

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