Lately, I seem to be posting about things that went wrong. This is another one.
Yesterday, the outside temperature got a bit higher to about 40F and I decided it was the day to smoke some cheese. I had five 2-lb blocks of various cheeses. Cut them into 8-ounce smaller blocks. Spread them out onto the right hand 3/4 of three racks in my MES30.
Cheeses were sharp cheddar (2 blocks), pepper jack, monterey jack, and colby jack.
Loaded my A-Maze-N smoker with peach and maple dust. Lit it at two ends and put it on the left hand side of the fourth (and bottom) rack -- the one that would be just above the water pan. Did not use water. I turned on the MES to monitor the internal temperature, but did not turn on the burner. I put an aluminum foil tent over the AMNS to keep any cheese oil from dripping on it.
Opened the top vent wide, and pulled the chip loader tube out a bit for air circulation.
I cut three small slices of the cheddar with the intent of using them as samples along the way to taste how the progress was going.
Started at 1400, temp of box was 43F. Nice thin smoke.
checked at 1500. Temp was up to 60F, still smoking nicely.
checked at 1615. Temp was up to 71F, AMNS had finished one row on each side. Tasted one of my samples, and it was doing good.
checked at 1800. Temp had soared up to 120F. Verified using my remote probe thermometer stuck through an onion. The AMNS was almost completely finished, just a single long glowing area in the middle row.
At this point I took the cheese out. We've vacuum sealed up the blocks (and melted lumps) to age in the frig.
I have no idea why the temperature took off like that. I am quite sure that the electric burner of the AMNS was not on. The little red light was never on, the count down time was 0. So far as I can tell, the controller box was doing nothing other than measuring temperature. From the melt patterns, it was clear that there had been heat collecting at the top, along the back wall and rising from the AMNS.
Has this happened to anyone else?
The things I can think of for next time:
a. put the AMNS all the way to the bottom
b. don't open the vents and chip tube as much
c. put water in the water pan.
Any other suggestions???
Here are the pictures. The first picture is the colby, most melted, some interesting shapes.
Next is the cheddar, some sagging on the two blocks that were above the edge of the AMNS.
And then the monterey jack and the pepper jack.