......in my el cheapo Brinkmann Gourmet Electric Smoker that is. Smokin-It # 3 will be here Monday , it's worse than waiting to eat the cheese.
I thought I would try something different today, since I had the time, and broke out the ET-732 which I am still getting to know a bit. I have done several cheese smokes and all have gone remarkably well once I learned to wait to eat the stuff. Always done it the same way, AMNPS in my BGES with not water in the pan for about 2 to 3 hours. So today I thought I would see what those temps were in the smoker just for curiosity. No need to change anything just wondering what they were. So, off I went, and learned a few things along the way today. Guess that was the point anyway.... maybe some others can learn something new from a newbie. Enjoy.
Picked up some cheese on the Costco run last weekend. 2 new ones I have not smoked yet, the Colby Jack is a favorite of the family and goes rather quickly when opened so I always be sure to throw that in with whatever cheese I'm doing.
Left: Tillamook Colby Jack, family favorite
Top right: Cabot Classic Vermont Cheddar
Bottom right: Yancey's Fancy Hot Stuff Buffalo Wing NY Cheddar
Time to get the AMNPS rolling. I used a mixture of peach and apple pellets, 70% peach / 30% apple. I have used all apple or all peach before but never have mixed them, I like both so it should be good. I only need about a 2 hour smoke so I lit from both ends, also never done that before.
Cheese at room temp and cut up, on the rack and ready to go get happy in the BGES.
Cheese sitting pretty with TBS rolling, start time 10:30am.
AMNPS at the bottom, no water pan in the BGES.
Lid on, TBS rolling...
So now I get to starting data recording for chits and giggles. At this point the only thing I have done differently is the empty water bowl is not in, I'm using a mix of apple and peach, and I saddled up the ET-732. Food probe in the center piece of Colby Jack, Q probe hanging in center of smoker about 6" below rack and 12" above AMNPS. Plan to record start temps, 1 hour temps, 2 hour temps and final temp.
Outside temp was 46*, and it was raining (I know, 46* and rain in WA during Jan, who would have thought....). Smoker was on the front porch under cover, wind break on 2 sides.
10:30am: Cheese @ 48*, Smoker @ 73*. Ok, looking good. Surprised smoke temp is so high at this point but whatever, never been a problem before. Monitored the Mav and 11 minutes later the smoker temp was at 80* and rising. Ruh-roh, not good, getting nervous. What's going on? Screw it, I'm putting the empty water bowl in this thing for a heat shield, that should solve the problem and if not for anything else than piece of mind. I don't want $20 in melted cheese to deal with. So, I put the bowl back in and felt much better.
11:00am: Cheese @ 58*, Smoker @ 84*. Hmm, I have to go look, can't handle this. Everything looks fine, looks just like previous smokes so I guess I can relax. I do notice however that the cheese I probed with the Mav is getting about a 2" crack in it. Kind of hard to see in the pic, if you expand it you should see it.
11:30am: Cheese @ 68*, Smoker @ 97*. Holy crap, 97*!? I held fast, cheese was still @ 68* and I have done it this way several times already so no worries. Amazed with an outside air temp of 68* and an uninsulated smoker that the IT was able to get so high.
12:30pm: Cheese @ 70*, Smoker @ 64*. Still have TBS rolling, but the AMNPS has burned through a majority of the pellets and is starting to die out. Nothing but ash and a cherry right in the middle where last bit of the pellets were giving up the last of their TBS. Pulled the cheese, great 2 hour smoke and it picked up great smoke and color, cheese looks mostly good except for the piece that was probed. Slight problem with that one, the crack is now extended all the way to the end where the probe was inserted. It's split open. Oh well, shredded smoked Colby jack is killer for taco Tuesdays.
Broke out the Foodsaver and sealed up the cheese. A few "party" packs with a bit of each, one each of single cheese, and double of Colby Jack with the cracked piece that will be shredded and used for tacos, salads, a fatty, etc. Showing up to a dinner party or get together with a party pack of home smoked cheese and a bottle of good wine will get you invited back for sure.
Into the bottom drawer of the fridge for at least 30 days. I have 3 packages of my 12/7/2012 batch left, I should be able to make it 30 days - right?
So, a few lessons learned for me. On that BGES the water pan needs to be in when cold smoking to act as a heat shield. It helped from it shooting up so fast, but the IT still got to 97* at one point which was something I never knew happened. Also learned what's really going on in the smoker when cold smoking. Cheese turned out as great as it always does, I just assumed things were much cooler in the smoker than they really were. I don't see a need to probe the cheese on a regular basis, so I don't thing I will have a problem cracking any more blocks in the future. Good to know I can hit 97* IT and net melt cheese though, it was barely any more soft than when I put it in. I will probably repeat this process in my new Smokin-It # 3 when it gets in just to see if the AMNPS will stay lit and what the temps are like in that well insulated of a unit.
Thanks for watching!