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How cold is too cold?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

So the weather has decided not to cooperate and the temp here is hovering around the freezing mark. So anybody have any idea how cold is too cold? Of course frozen is too cold but the inside of the smoker with an AMNPS is right around 40 degrees. Would i just have to smoke it longer or put the cheese away for another day. 

Thanks for any help or advice given.



post #2 of 17

Paul, welcome to the forum.   40 will work, but 55 would be ideal, just keep it under 75.  Smoke it, let it rest a couple weeks then if you feel it needs more smoke, do it again.  Maybe the following will help.


post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info Mr T that's a nice post on cheese going to throw a couple pounds on and see how that goes. See that you are in Montana so you know the weather I deal with. Now the hard part begins tick, tock, tick ,tock.

post #4 of 17

Tom has ya covered good luck and let us know how it comes out and get us some pics we love pics.

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Well the smoke was interesting and a good lesson. There is a too cold from what I can tell. We ran with the AMNPS  and by the time we got the cheese in the smoker we were averaging about 39. But had to relight the AMNPS or blow air on it to keep it running every half hour It would smoke good for 15 to 20 mins and then start burning out. After 2 hours of this I took out a sample of the cheese and put it up against the control pieces there was very little difference in them. So not willing to be defeated I fired up the burner with the lower door open until the temp hit 80 then killed it and closed the door. The temp slowly dropped and then hung in the low 50's for a period before starting to drop again. The AMNPS also ran perfectly during this and the rest of the test so apparently it also need a little warmth to keep smoldering not a lot but a little. We then took samples again and I have to say the difference between the control the first and the second sample was dramatic. I then put all the cheese in the smoker and ran it this way for just over two hours with great results so happy but will wait till a little warmer for the next batch.

So in my opinion from the results that I saw yes there is a cold that is too cold or inefficient and that would be under 40.

Man I hate waiting my kitchen reeks of smoked cheese that I must eat but not yet.

sorry no photos this round camera went swimming in the Okanagan last fall.

post #6 of 17

I do exactly what you did - I pre heat my MES and then shut it off and start the cheese smoking. 

post #7 of 17

If the mes is cold it wont draft enough to keep the pellet smoker going.  A warm smoker will draft better.

post #8 of 17

I never saw the cold effect my AMNPS.

Some people think this, or opening the drawer, or removing the dumper makes the AMNPS work better. However this is usually because the amount of time it took to do those things was the same amount of time it took to finally get it lit right. You have got to get it lit properly BEFORE you put it in the smoker.

I'm not saying the cold won't effect it. Cold effects everything, but I would say altitude could be a bigger factor than temperature.


Also, if you're cold smoking, you'd be better off using saw dust, instead of pellets. The pellet smokers were originally designed because smoking above 180/200 was too hot for dust.


Saw Dust works Awesome for cold smoking!!!




post #9 of 17

The smoke absorbtion on cheese will be impared at the lower temperatures but you will get some so long as it is not actually frozen. You could smoke for longer to compensate however it would be very tricky to prevent an over smoke unless you did it regularly. Much of the smoke penetration and equalisation occurs during the after-smoke maturation period.


One of the biggest problem with low temperature smoking is the humidity. The lower the temperature the less water that can be held by the air so when the temperature goes down the humidity goes up. It is good to have a reasonably high humidity to prevent the cheese from drying out however when it is too high you are very likely to get water droplets from the combustion forming a fog and a dew on the internal surfaces of your smoke chamber. This can then cause sooty drips to fall onto the cheese leaving surface marks which, although can usually be wiped off, will leave unsightly dark stains in the cheese.


If you are anywhere near approaching freezing and have no way of raising the internal chamber temperature I would really recommend leaving it for another warmer day. Smoke larger batches in the Fall to see you through the Winter...

post #10 of 17

But in mid winter the humidity drops awful. Thats why we have humidifiers in our house. Have not had a problem with cheese in mid winter cept for worring about it freezing and then around 25* didn't effect it any cuz I smoked it at night and picked it off in the morn. Just my 2 cents

post #11 of 17

This is my drawer full. Read on this forum year back and got me fired up on cold smoking. Am ready to do more. Starting out bought price chopper 8 oz cheap cheese. Took notes. Later bought good stuff Asiago, Rasberry and others. Tasted before smoke and was all great. Did with peach on AMNPS. Done wine barrel also and unless putting it side by side couldn't tell the diff. IT'S ALL GOOD

post #12 of 17

I should say I have '99 New Braunsfeld smoker. That is my bud. Going to build a little smokehouse this summer

post #13 of 17

I smoke all winter long in temps, this year, around 30*F. I have never had an issue with the AMNPS as long as I nuke the pellets, Loader and Drawer out 1" then the loader goes all in after 30 minutes. When I light the AMNPS I alternate the torch flame between the Hole and Bottom of the row, learned to get the base of the pellets going from Bearcarver. My last Cheese smoke was in January and outside temp was  30*F, MES off and plenty of draft with top vent 100% open. At the end of 2 hours the Pellets had the smoker temp up to 85*F and I started to open the door periodically to keep the temp Down. There is nothing wrong with preheating the MES on super cold days but if you have the AMNPS inside the MES it should generate plenty of BTU's to keep the Cheese from freezing...JJ

post #14 of 17
I did a batch with it about 15 below zero. Even with the pellets well nuked, and the MES's loader pulled all the way out, it didn't draw well enough to keep the AMNPS burning. I relit it about ten times.

I also ran the heater intermittently to keep the temp in the smoker up to an average of around 50 (too bad the MES won't let you set anything below 100).

I did some cream cheese as well as some cheddar. I haven't tried any of the cheddar yet, but the cream cheese is wonderful. I whizzed some with some garlic and some cream in the food processor, and it made a great spread!

If you have an electric smoker, just give it a minute or two of heat every time you see it drop down below your target minimum temp. That works well.

But I think a person would benefit from a small fan or something to force the smoker to draft enough to keep the AMNPS burning when its that cold out.
post #15 of 17
My first few attempts with my dedicated cold whiskey barrel, the amnps worked perfectly. Now that I am in colder outdoor temps, my amnps did require re-lighting several times after 15-20 minutes of use. Not sure if the weather had something to do with it but I also used mostly corn cob. Trying sawdust this weekend to see how the burn is affected.

Regardless, I now have over 20 lbs of cheese sealed up and waiting for mid year it!
post #16 of 17

Cheese takes on smoke really well at about 70° and starts to sweat at 90° or so

I find that cold smoking under 45° is pretty darn difficult


I heat my MES 40 up to 100° and turn it off

It takes about 2 hours for the temp to drop under 70°

I've also heated some patio bricks my MES and used them as a heat sink

A 100 watt bulb works too!


The trick is to get the temps in your smoker higher than 45°




No Creosote! A-Maze-N Smokers

post #17 of 17
Originally Posted by TJohnson View Post

Cheese takes on smoke really well at about 70° and starts to sweat at 90° or so

I find that cold smoking under 45° is pretty darn difficult


I heat my MES 40 up to 100° and turn it off

It takes about 2 hours for the temp to drop under 70°

I've also heated some patio bricks my MES and used them as a heat sink

A 100 watt bulb works too!


The trick is to get the temps in your smoker higher than 45°





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