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First attempt at Cheese

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I tried to smoke some cheese about a month ago in my behemoth of a vertical smoker.  At the time it was about 10 degrees F out and I was using the 12 inch amazin tube smoker.  I loaded it up and got the pellets good and hot and then went back to the game.  A couple hours later I went to check on the cheese and found that the pellets died shortly after I walked away. I thought it was weird and fired them back up.  

 

I got distracted by the game again and checked on them a couple hours later.  They had died again... This time I realized that there was no draft through the smoker to keep them lit, so being a problem solver, I propped up a box fan in front of the firebox and forced some air through it.  Heh, Brilliant!  By now it was starting to get dark and I decided to give it another couple hours.  When I came out to check on them again there was a 3 inch flame coming out of the pellets.  Whoops, too much air (or maybe beer at this point)...

 

I figured that the cheese was getting no smoke from pellets happily burning instead of smoldering, so I moved the fan a ways back and filled the tube back up.  This time I checked every 15 minutes and kept a decent smoke going for about an hour until the cheese had some color.  Being single digits for most of the smoke and a ton of air blowing by the cheese, they were all dried out and cracked.  Smelled good and looked like a decent smokey color though...  I vac-sealed them and waited a couple weeks to bust into one and see how bad I screwed up.  That was a couple weeks ago.

 

The medium cheddar was really really smokey.  Almost to the point where it was bad.  My oldest loved it, but my youngest swore that he should be exhaling smoke after each bite.  The pepperjack was amazing though.  No where near the smokiness of the cheddar.  I'm about to bust into another block of each and see how a couple more weeks of aging has done to them.  Hopefully the cheddar is more mellow.

 

Will probably do another batch here and try to keep things proper instead of getting distracted by the boob tube.  Will take pics of the next one too =)

post #2 of 6

Yeah, it's cold here too. Usually the radiant heat from the burning pellets keeps my smoker around 60 to 80 degrees depending on how much I open the top vent. That cheddar should mellow out some if you let it age a little more.

post #3 of 6

Jaez,

 

Glad to hear that the cheese came out good even with your learning experiences. I had similar issues with burning the pellets at such low temps without a draft, so I switched over Todd's dust and said goodbye to 15 minute check ups. I can fill the hole tray and get it nice and red hot and walk away for 10 hours! I highly recommend the dust for your next smoke.

post #4 of 6

Jaez after the smoke let it rest over night in the fridge before, sealing it up.If it has any moisture on it let it sit till the moisture is reabsorbed. Hope this batch works out for you.

post #5 of 6

Wow - 10 F is -12 C !!! This was probably why the AMNTS went out. The cheese would have remained frozen too at that temperature. You really need to be looking at about 50-60 F for smoking cheese.

 

A few questions..

What were the pellets you were using? Non food grade pellets can taste quite foul.

Did you allow the cheese 12-24 hours in the fridge to dry before you vacuum packed them? This helps the flavours to mellow as it lets a lot of the harsh volatile "creosote" oils that you get with smoking at that low temperature chance to evaporate. 

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Yeah, there was a good 6 inches of snow on the ground the day of the smoke.  No moisture in the air due to temps and the desert climate I live in...  Next time I'm going to light a few briquettes in a soup can to get the temp up to a more reasonable level.  Hopefully this will give the smoker some draft too =)

 

I was using a mix.  Can't remember the brand name but it's hickory, maple, and cherry pellets.

The cheese went straight to vac sealed because it was all dried and cracked looking.  Too cold in the smoker and too much air flow for the second half of the smoke for any condensation to form.  I was thinking about letting it sit overnight on the counter, but since it was so dried out looking I thought it would be best to seal it up right away.

 

I was having fun a few weeks ago making a venturi type of smoker out of a Jameson tin bottle holder.  I just need to go get an aquarium pump to make it operational.  I'm just not sure if I want to use that or fiddle with the draft in my smoker to make the pellet tube work.  I have the pellet tray too, but can't seem to keep that one lit.  Maybe I should get the aquarium pump and use that to push air into the pellet smokers =)  hehe

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