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What is going on with smoking cheese?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

What is going on? Are some so stubborn about placing their smoke generators in their smoker when cold smoking that they are willing to sacrifice quality for convenience?


After observing the drudgery some go through to devise ways of disguising creosote/bitterness on cheese, makes one wonder if they have ever experienced what excellent smoked cheese taste like.


 Posted recently in some threads for individuals and the following was an attempt to help explain why they were having a problem with bitter tasting cheese. I hope that those who are experiencing off taste in their cheese directly out of the smoker will take time to read. The intent was to help identify the likely problem that placing any type of smoke generator within a product chamber can cause when cold smoking. Properly smoked cheese is edible shortly after removed from the smoker. Of course, if you are content with the technique and results you are presently achieving, continue with what you are doing.



 The following is the post.


As you well know, you can take a horse to water but you can’t make them drink. I will take you to the water, you decide if you want to drink.


 A bit of history. Centuries ago, smoking food was a way of preservation. Communities had structures some two or three stories tall where residents would take their meat to be smoked. A fire was maintained inside the structure to provide the required smoke to preserve the food. The residents would place and remove their meat, as they wanted. Old timers on the forum most likely remember smoke houses scattered around at houses and farms. Some utilized fires inside the larger smoke houses while others with smaller walk in houses placed their fires outside and piped the smoke to the house in order to cool the smoke and minimize creosote. Of course, these began to disappear when electrical appliances began to appear such as refrigerators and freezers.


My first walk in smokehouse was built to resemble a three-hole outhouse from the outside. The fire pit being placed twenty-five or thirty feet away, smoke then traveled through six-inch clay field tile buried a foot deep and on a slight incline to the smoke house. A fire was made using available hardwood in the woods where the smokehouse sat, hickory, maple, oak, beech and so on. After starting a good fire, it was then smothered and allowed too slowly burn until it went out. Believe it, there was no TBS here. By the time, the smoke reached the smokehouse it had greatly cooled down and leaving behind a good amount of creosote in the tile. A lot of bacon and cheese was smoked in that three-holer. This is what we want to replicate today only on a smaller scale as the same basic principle applies to our smokers today. Perhaps you will see were problems suffered today by many, come from.


To help you understand the principles behind a successful smoker, look at it as you would a fireplace in your home. You have a hearth a grate and a chimney. The fire placed in the hearth in our case a firebox, a grate is what the fuel is placed on, in our case a tray or smoke generator, and a chimney, in our case a product chamber with a vent. As in a fireplace, the grate burns clean and the smoke travels up the chimney. As the smoke travels up the chimney creosote and other deposits collect on the chimney walls eventually clogging the chimney if not cleaned. The very same thing happens with today’s food smokers only on a smaller scale. Naturally the hotter the fire fewer deposits are collected on the walls but we are talking about cold smoking, not hot.


I find it amusing that those who have used the smoke generators that produce voluminous amounts of smoke complain about tar buildup on the inside of the generators and eventually mothball them. They do not seem to realize that the goo collected there is not being collected on their food, oh well; I have no problem cleaning mine.


Now, how do we replicate the smokers of old in today’s environment? We start by using a remote firebox and pipe the smoke produced by your smoke generator of choice to the product chamber, which could be your smoker or a cardboard box, whatever you want to use. To cool the smoke as much as possible, the firebox is also being used as a heat sink, the more mass the better. The pipe used (preferably single wall stovepipe) to transport the smoke will also act as a heat sink so the longer it is, the better the results.






The above is an example using an Smoke Daddy Big Kahuna smoke generator in conjunction with a wood stove leading to a 22cf product chamber. 




The above is example using a tray type pellet smoke generator inside a wood stove leading to a 22cf product chamber.




The above example uses a tray type smoke generator inside a mailbox feeding an MES.




The above example is using a MES cold smoke attachment feeding an MES.


There are ways to smoke cheese that will eliminate the bitter taste as experienced by so many. At the end of the day, it is your choice as to what you produce.


The provided threads will help you understand how to use different smokes to your advantage. There is no need to be obsessed with producing only TBS, by doing so you are hobbling yourself to a few products. There is nothing that you cannot smoke by using different smokes in different manners.


 Understand it is a lot of reading but you should have a good understanding about smoking food products after doing so.


Enjoy and most of all have fun.




My Cold Smoking Options w/Q - View,  New to smoking or have a new smoker? -- "How to optimize your smoke",


AMNPS & Smoke Daddy Myths?,  Understanding Smoke Management - updated 12/08/14Smoke Color Chart.


Mr T's "Smoked Cheese From Go To Show" w/ Q- View

Edited by Mr T 59874 - 4/9/16 at 7:52am
post #2 of 3
Must have been dumb luck for me. I put a pineapple juice can in my fire box, lit a couple briquettes dropped a couple chunks of mesquite waited maybe 20 minutes for it to get smoking real good and stated laying out the cheese blocks. I had them laying on one of those teflon bbq sheets so i rolled them all around the 2 ro 3 hour mark and pulled them all around the 6 hour mark. I added wood and another briquette or 2 every hour and it came out great. Smoke taste without any bitter or charcoal flavor (though I like charcoal flavor).
FYI, this was done in a OK Joe's with intake and exhaust wide open. Exhaust is always wide open, but I thought I'd mention it for those more noob than me.
post #3 of 3
I'm tracking. It makes a lot of sense.
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