The outside temperatures have finally gotten *almost* reasonable -- highs in the mid 80's, lows in low 70's. I've been itching to try another cheese smoke using my A-Maze-N smoker, so I took a chance. It went better this time than my first one (see, I'm not too old to learn :-}} ), but still had a few problems.
I am using my MES smoker, but only as a box and a thermometer. Not turning on its burner at all.
I had frozen water in an orange juice carton to help cool down the smoker. Started out with just putting the carton in the water pan on a top shelf, but part way through decided the ice needed to be out in order to do its job. Next time I'll just freeze a block of ice in a tupperware container and put that block into the water pan.
I still had a little bit of a problem keeping the AMNS lit. As had been recommended, I am keeping my sawdust in a plastic jar (an old Ocean Spray cranberry jar) instead of just a plastic bag. I also nuked it in the microwave for a minute to drive out moisture -- also a recommendation from "the man" (thanks Todd). This time I put it into a large measuring cup. Next time, I'll put it into a larger flat dish so that it can be more spread out. That should help getting more of the moisture out to start with.
I think that the problem I had with rows going out and needing to be lit again had to do with humidity created by the melting ice. Don't know what to do about that.
I did not bother tenting the AMNS since it was well removed from the cheeses. Don't think that dripping from the cheese had any real impact on the smoker.
I think that the final result turned out well -- time will tell after it ages for two weeks. One cheese had a meltdown -- the Colby Jack. Little bits went through the grates and turned into a cook's treat.
As is my common practice when smoking anything, I kept a log of times and temperatures and notes.
Here it is:
Cold smoke cheese, log for 25 Aug 2010
Using Peach sawdust in AMNS, lighting both ends.
Put orange juice carton full of ice in water
pan sitting on top rack. Put cheeses on next
rack. Put AMNS on top of wood chip box.
Using MES temperature gauge plus a remote read
thermometer probe laying on top of cheese.
All temperatures in degrees F
Time probe MES notes
1645 72 72 ready to go
1745 83 78 took ice out of milk carton
1845 80 72
1945 73 64 opened up to peek. Took pic.
one row of AMNS needed relight
2100 71 62 AMNS was out, relight. Still
some ice left
2200 74 64 needed relight again. Ice
was gone, dump water.
2300 92 82 Add ice cubes
2400 68 64
0100 90 78 ice has melted, still smoking
0130 took it out. AMNS is still going, almost gone.
Total time almost 9 hours.
And now for the pictures:
Cheese at the start:
A map of the different sorts of cheeses.
Getting it lit
Ready to go
One hour in - remove ice from carton
three hours in -- needed one row to be lit again
all done -- almost 9 hours wall clock time
A view of the other side
all sealed up to go in frig for two week aging