Where did I go wrong?

Discussion in 'Cheese' started by imurhuckleberry, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. Well, my first post on this forum, I wish it was under better circumstances.

    I tried smoking some cheese a couple weeks ago.  I have been patiently waiting for it to mellow in my shrink wrap.  Today is the big day.....I opened up the shrink wrap and the acrid smoke smell was a little overpowering which immediately made me concerned.  Cutting into my first hunk of sharp cheddar confirmed my fears, I feel like I am eating a dirty ashtray.  Where did I go wrong?

    First a little set up of what I am using and the steps I took:

    Masterbuilt electric smoker

    A-Maze-In pellet smoker

    Apple wood pellets

    Sharp Cheddar, Monteray Jack, Swiss, Colby cheeses cut into blocks

    - I cold smoked the cheese with the a-maze-in smoker at the very bottom of the smoker and the cheese on the very top rack.

    - The temp in the smoker got to about 73-74 at one point when I opened the door for a few minutes and got it back down to 50-55.  It finished around 65 degrees.

    - I smoked for a total of 4 hours

    The cheese did have a little sweat on it when it was finished.  I took it out of the smoker and brought it into the kitchen.  I did dab off some of the sweat and then packaged it up in shrinkwrap and placed it in the fridge.  It looked amazing at this point and had a pleasant smell.

    Maybe I should have let it settle on the counter for awhile before packaging?

    When I cut some of the "skin" from off the outside of the cheese it did taste better, but it just isn't right.  Was two weeks not long enough to wait?

    I did a lot of research and read a lot on this forum and others.  I really felt like this was going to turn out well

    I can still smell the acrid smoke on my fingers as I type this, bleh!

    I have some almonds in there right now.  I hope they don't suffer the same fate!

    Any comments or ideas would be appreciated.
  2. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Did you have both intake and exhaust vents totally opened?   For me, I normally cold smoke cheese for 2-3 hours.  Never done 4.  But yes it's possible that maybe the longer you smoke, the more time you need to give the cheese to mellow out before opening.  I normally let the cheese sit for a couple hours in the kitchen before I vacuum.   Did you have water in your water pan?
    imurhuckleberry likes this.
  3. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    Sounds like you went about it the right way to me.

    4 hours, IMO, is a little long, so maybe it still needs to mellow in the fridge for a while.  I did a batch last night for 2.75 hours.  That gives me the best flavor and I'm the cook!

    Don't throw it all away yet.

    If the cheese sweats, it's just an indication that it got a little warm.  Nothing to worry about and it's okay to wipe it off.  When it happens to me, I usually wait until it's evaporated/reabsorbed before I vacuum pack.  Sometimes it's a few hours, sometimes overnight.  Just put a cloth or paper towel over it.  

    My guess is that you put a lot of smoke to it and it still needs some time.  

    Try this...take a package out and set it out at room temp for another couple of weeks.  After a couple more weeks, cut into both and compare the flavor.  You got nothing to lose.

    Keep us posted.
    imurhuckleberry likes this.
  4. No water in my pan.  I figured I didn't need it as this was a cold smoke.  I did have the top vent open wide.  There really isn't a bottom vent on the masterbuilt, unless you count the wood loader which was closed.

    I thought I read four hours was the right time, but after awhile you read so much it all becomes a blur.

    I think where I could do it different is maybe 2.75 - 3 hours, then let it sit on my counter for a couple hours or more before packaging.

    So Mfreel, I can set this out on my counter at room temp for a couple weeks?  I don't know why but I thought it had to be refrigerated.  Looks like I have a lot to learn.

    As far as the package that I already opened, perhaps I can cut the outer layer of cheese off and re-wrap it?  I hate to waste it and maybe it will mellow out a little more?
  5. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    Make sure your chip loader on your MES is pulled out a couple inches, too.

    If the cheese is vacuum packed, yes, you can leave it out.  Sounds gross, but it will be okay.  I have some that I'm dying to try that's been on my workbench in the basement since November.  Looks great and no sign of mold.  That's for 4 months!!!!  I'm going to bust it open this weekend.

    I'm sure you could rewrap and let it sit.
    imurhuckleberry likes this.
  6. Thanks for the help!

    I cut the skin off it and re-wrapped it.  I also pulled the other couple of packages out of the fridge.  I am tempted to do the same with all of the cheese I packaged.

    Well, I have almonds smoking at the moment.  I better go to the other forum section and make sure I am doing that right!!
  7. lancer

    lancer Smoking Fanatic

    I've only smoked cheese a dozen or so times and so I don't qualify as an expert but would like to offer up how I deal with the cheese after it's out of the smoker.  I figured that if the best advice when pulling sausage out of the smoker is a quick shower with hot water to remove any soot and oils that might go rancid and follow that with a cold water shower to quickly cool the product that that would be my starting point for cheese.  I follow this with patting it dry and air drying until the surfae is dry and firm

    It works like a charm for me so I've stayed with it.  A few minutes is all it takes to clean anything off the cheese that might have carried an off flavor and to cool it enough to stabilize it.  You can't have the dirty ashtray flavor if all that stuff was washed off.   I find that after two to three hours or thin cold smoke it only takes a day or, at most, two for any harsh smokey notes to be completely gone.  I haven't had a sooty flavor issues.

    Of course, your mileage may vary.

    I normally smoke fairly firm cheeses so I have no idea how this would work with soft cheeses.  I suspect that if I made sure to smoke only on cool or cold days it would work fine on anything without a surface mold a la Camembert or similar cheese.

    imurhuckleberry likes this.
  8. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    I love todd's products and use them all the time. But i have found that the pit masters is a bit strong for cheese , I only go 2 hrs for cheese max.
  9. smoke king

    smoke king Smoke Blower

    I smoked some cheese last summer, and used the AMNPS with apple dust for 2.5 hours or so. I decided it wasn't smokey enough. So I smoked another batch in November, and went over 4 hours in the AMNPS with apple pellets and woah....pretty much overkill. I tried it two weeks later and it had mellowed some, but still a pretty sharp smoke taste. Three months later and it has mellowed quite a bit - definately still has a strong smoke taste, but it tastes good. I would recommend you just let it mellow for at least a month more. And if that isn't enough, wait another month.

    And to make sure you don't have to wait a month to eat smoked cheese, make another batch now but keep the smoke time to 2.5 hours or so. That should mellow in the standard 2 weeks.
  10. Thanks for all the help.  I am trying another shot at cheese after doing some more research and with all of your advice.

    Things I am doing different:

    First of all, just trying one block of cheese, haha.

    Next, I pulled the wood loader and the wood chip tray completely out of the MES, I have the vent wide open

    Third, I lit the AMNPS and put it in the smoker and let everything "settle" for about 30 minutes

     - This had me at a very nice TBS and when I opened the smoker, it wasn't overwhelming clouds of smoke and the smell was awesome

    Lastly, I am going for the minimum time of 2 hours, I figure I can work up from there as I move forward in the future

    It is about 15 degrees outside at the moment and when I pulled the smoker out of the garage the temp was reading 40, after the 30 minute warm up it was still only 45 in the smoker, which is what I wanted

    Fingers crossed.
  11. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    Keep us posted  

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