Jumping into cheese w/both feet!

Discussion in 'Cheese' started by fpmich, Apr 24, 2014.

  1. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Why both feet?   Because I'm too trusting of this forum.  LOL

    One foot is in cheese, (never done it before), and the other foot, is in Todd's AMNPS, (never tried that before either).

    So being a trusting guy, I bought over 60 bucks worth of cheeses to try.  That's a heck of a first test of two new things!

    My smoker survived the winter in good shape, and the other day I finally got it all cleaned up and spiffy again.

    Did my 1st smoke of the year yesterday. CHEESE!

    We bought over 60 bucks worth of cheese! WOW! Never done that before!

    But it should last us all summer, so it isn't all that bad.

    Tillamook Medium Cheddar, some mild cheddar, some herb flavored Havarti, a light American Cheese, Baby Swiss, and some Pepper Jack. Bought in hunks and cut about 1" thick, or so, for smoking. Got it from 2 different markets. NOT WALMART!  Just good small markets I trust.

    Tried out my new toy which I had ordered over the winter. It just set in the unopened box teasing me for months, until I finally got to use it.

    The A-Maze-n-Smoker for dust or pellets. It generates smoke with hardly any heat. Used in my smoker it didn't raise the temp much more than one degree, if that.  I didn't use any charcoal at all. True cold smoking.  I'm very pleased with how it performed for cold smoking.

    Today was just what I wanted. Mid 50's, slight breeze...but.... it was sunny!

    Because of the direct sun, and my smoker being black, it raised the temp inside the chamber to 80*. So I had to wait until late evening to start smoking the cheese. 

    If it would've been cloudy, with the same outside temp, I could have enjoyed smoking in the day time. LOL

    Here it is ... Cheese ready to go.


    The smoke generator is doing it's thing just dandy!

    I put the stack extension on to increase air draw for smoke as I didn't have a fire going. 

    This shot is just after I added it to the smoker.  Smoke settled down in a few minutes to perfect TBS.

    Both vents wide open and smoker box in sfb near air intake.


    I wanted a 3 hour smoke, so I filled two rows. Then about the 1 1/2 - 1 3/4  hour mark, I lit the other end. At the end of three hours, cheese was done and pellets were almost all done as well. Exactly as I had planned it, using "the claimed time of smoke" per row.

    Todd's instructions do not exaggerate.


    I left cheese uncovered 2 or 3 hours, then put into ziplocks , not quite sealed as some mentioned to do.  Contains smoke but lets any moisture evaporate, I guess.  Later today I will vac seal them all.  

    I don't see any moisture at all, in bags, so I could've probably vac sealed last night.

    Finished product waiting for packing.


    I"m very happy with Todd's smoker and the q-matz..  Left a review for smoker.

    Now the hard part....waiting 3 - weeks before tasting.  Sure hope it taste as good as it looks and smells!

    Any tips/hints are welcome too!
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2014
  2. Congrats! You have officially crossed the cheese smoker addiction bridge! Great thread and some good looking cheese. I too have been very happy with the TJohnson product line.
     
  3. handymanstan

    handymanstan Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Nice job on the cheese Frank. I like your tags on such a large smoke and I should have done that a few times myself.  What flavor pellets did you use?

    Stan
     
  4. poopypuss

    poopypuss Smoke Blower

    Looks great!

    It's always nice when you don't end up with cheese sauce in you smoker.
     
  5. Nice looking cheese man!  [​IMG]   You're gonna love that stuff once you get to try it  [​IMG]   I see you smoking a lot more cheese in the future  [​IMG]
     
  6. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Looks great!  Nice job on that cheese!  You learned what many of us have...Todd's gadgets are the bomb!

    [​IMG]

    Red
     
  7. Looks Great!!! The waiting is the worst part now.

    [​IMG]  
     
  8. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks for the encouragement guys.  I need that, when trying something out for first time.

    I did notice that the cheese developed more color overnight while resting on table.  They were in ziplock only partially sealed.

    They look beautifully light golden now.  (Sry, no pics, already packed them away.)  I hope they taste as good as they look when I can't refrain from waiting any longer.

    I "KNOW" I left a review last night, on the AMNPS, but for the life of me I can't find it.  Waiting for moderation maybe?  I don't know.

    HANDYMANSTAN, I used Mostly Cherry.  When I read directions and saw that cherry is hard to keep lit, I was worried.  It said to put a single layer of oak or maple pellets under it to help keep it lit.  Yikes!  I didn't order either of those.

    So I used a layer of Alder underneath, thinking it is also light flavored.  That seemed to work.  I also baked both pellets in oven for 15-20 minutes @ 300* before loading.  I think that helped too.

    The tags I saw in another thread and said "That's for me"!  With my memory these days I know I forget everything and where I put it.

    I get up from my chair walk a couple of steps, and forget what I was going for.  Sad, but true! 

    Lists and notes are my new friends now. LOL

    Note:  The untagged one in finished product is Havarti.  I waited an hour before adding to smoker, so it only got 2 hours.

    Now my wife is upset.  I told here I wasn't going to smoke it as I thought maybe it was too soft, then changed my mind.

    She came home with some cracker all primed to have some Havarti & cracker only to find out she had to wait a couple of weeks!  LOL

    poopypuss,... "cheese sauce in the smoker".  LOL  That is why I never tried it before getting Todd's gadget.

    Smoking B, Yep, I see more cheese in my future too, if this turns out as good as it looks.

    I made an offer to smoke some for other family members, but no takers.  I'm betting when I take some to them, they will bring me some cheese to smoke next fall.

    kingfishcam, yes I think I may have crossed the cheese bridge.

    SeenRed, thanks for the compliment.  Yes, even though I've only used the amnps once, I think I will be very happy with it.

    DUFFMAN, Yes the waiting will be hard, but the hardest part is over now.  I actually vac packaged ALL the cheeses without tasting a single one!  LOL  (Patting myself on the back.)
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2014
  9. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Now I have some questions.

     .

     .

     .

    1.  Is it necessary to wrap cheese in plastic wrap before vacuum packing, (I did), or is that just to keep bags clean for next use?

    2.  If I got some cheese paper from a shop, and wrapped it in that before vac packing, would it steal smoke flavor from cheese as much a paper towels will, that someone mentioned in another thread?

    3.  Should I put cheese in smoker cold, or room temp before smoking? 

    4.  Any need to let it air dry a bit before smoking?

    5.  Is it normal for cheese to darken more overnight resting after smoke, or did I add too much smoke at end, by lighting other end of pellets for last hour or so for heavier smoke?  (I smoked 3 hours total)

    Thank you for your comments and for any help provided.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2014
  10. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

     
  11. I couldn't have said it better myself. [​IMG]
     
  12. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks jarjarchef.

    I guess other than wrapping, I got everything right the first time.  That don't happen often with me.
     
  13. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Not saying wrapping is wrong. Just that I don't.

    Did not say earlier, but the cheese came out looking great! Yes the wait is rough, especially when the wife and kids are bugging you to try some.

    Not sure if you like pimento cheese spread. It is a southern thing mostly. But making it with the smoked cheese is amazing! It is also very easy to do. Great topping for a burger or even in a grilled cheese sandwich......
     
  14. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    I understand jarjar.  I did it mostly to keep the bags cleaner.

    Pimento cheese spread.  Wife loves it and I like it a bit too.  But we've only had it from jars.

    Wasn't aware it was in block form as well.

    Please post your recipe to make the spread here, or PM me with it.  (Or link, if you've already posted elsewhere).

    Always looking for things to keep wife happy so she lets me cook the really good stuff.  lol
     
  15. humdinger

    humdinger Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hey Frank,
    Glad your on board with the wonderful world of smoked cheese! Looks like jar jar has got you covered on all points. One thing I would like to add is there is some flexibility with resting the cheese before vac sealing, so don't fret. When I first started smoking cheese, I would novicely vac seal almost immediately after pulling it from the smoke.

    That would give me some slight moisture in the bag once vac sealed, but I found it didn't impact overall taste. However I now rest for about 6-12 hours overnight in the fridge with the cheese spaced out on a tray and plastic wrap covering the whole tray, and the results are great everytime.( Once I forgot to vac seal a batch for 3 days and had no averse effects).

    Also, if you are going insane waiting to taste the cheese, I personally feel that since you used very light tasting, mild wood and only did three hours, you could probably crack into a bag after this first week. As you probably know, the waiting helps disperse any bitterness as well as allow the smoke flavor to penetrate throughout the block for a more complex aged flavor.

    IMHO, since you used cherry (and not Oak like I did once for a 4 hour smoke!!!) there shouldn't be much bitterness to begin with...the only thing you would be possibly losing is a more complex smoky flavor gained from aging. (However, since you smoked so much, you'll get that experience down the road as the rest of the batch ages.) So I say surprise the wife and crack out the Havarti this weekend. If it's good (which it should be), you're a hero.....if its too bitter, vac it again and don't tell her! lol ;) Hope it helps, and again this is just my 2 cents.
     
  16. knuckle47

    knuckle47 Meat Mopper

    Good to see that your cold smoke was a success. If I had to add anything... Don't worry about stealing a taste test. Once you taste it just out of the smoker, you'll be happy to wait a few weeks. Its like licking an ashtray.....yuk!

    I also let them sit in the refrigerator overnight but the second you open the fridge door in the morning, the smell of smoke is very strong like opening the doors on a cold wood stove. Luckily I use a second fridge in the garage if not, my wife would not enjoy the process ... ;)

    In Northern New England cob smoked is a well liked local favorite...cheeses, hams, bacon. Todd sells corn cob and it's terrific with a great flavor on cheese. You can also save your "corn on the cob" empties...dry them , chop them and they burn well.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2014
  17. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    I like that idea, you sneaky guy!  I'll do it!    LOL

    She was so upset, that she bought some more Havarti, and threaten my life!

    If I didn't let her use her crackers up without making her wait 3-4 weeks that Havarti, I was going to die!  .  I did get to taste it once though.  LOL
     
  18. humdinger

    humdinger Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    OH boy...so she had to go get more? She must be serious about her havarti then.....or maybe she just had a serious craving and was bummed when she learned you smoked it! Good luck and let me know how it goes.
     
  19. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Yeah, she was bummed when she came home with cracker and the Havarti was in smoker.

    I myself, caved in tonight after only 12 days.  I just open one pack of Tillamook medium cheddar, and it is awesome!

    Next time I will go for a 4 hour smoke.  Would like a little more flavor, but it pretty good right now though.  Especially after only 12 day wait.

    I left cheddar and Monterrey Jack at room temp.  Rest of it went into fridge in beginning.  Then I took it all out and left at room temp for 3 days and put back in fridge.

    Question:

    Any reason not to leave softer cheeses like Havarti and American on counter as well for a couple weeks, if vacuum sealed?
     
  20. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Botulism is the reason I wouldn't do that.....
     
    duffman likes this.

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