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1st A-Maze-N Smoke w/QView and Questions

pokey

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Well, I finally got a chance to do my first smoke, and rather than have a dry run, I figured why not put some stuff in the smoker at the same time. I had a small piece of salmon my dad had brine cured and I bought a bunch of cheese.





I loaded up the A-Maze-N with what I thought might be about 5 - 6 hours worth of apple dust, about three rows). As you can see, the rows were not over-filled, maybe a little under, and I only moderately tamped down the dust.



I lit it with a propane torch I had lying around from the last time I sweated pipe, which was quite a while ago. Ambient temp was about 68*. I monitored the temp in the box and saw it gradually climb into the upper 70s. After 3 hours, the smolder had only progressed about 2/3 of the way up the first row. It was definitely still smoking, but very slowly. At about the 4 1/2 hour mark, I saw it was getting into the upper 80s, so I put some ice cubes in the drip pan that was over the smoker and the temp dropped about 10*.





This is how much had burned after 5 hours. The A-Amze-N is sitting on a burner element that was not connected to power. It should have had plenty of air flow.

At 5 hours I pulled the cheese and fish and vacuum sealed them. The cheese is in the fridge fr a couple of weeks. The fish is in the freezer. The problem is, I don't know how successful the whole thing was, and won't until the cheese has aged. I expected more color, but I also expected more of the dust to be consumed. The smoker box was always filled with smoke, but based on consumption, I'm concerned that the results won't be as  smokey as I had hoped. I appreciate any wisdom from the forum on this.

 

Dutch

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Pokey, I don't have any experience with the A-MAZE-N Smoker but have cold smoke cheese in the past.  The stuff I did had a noticible smoke tint to the cheese.

Hopefully Todd will see this post and will be able to offer you some tips.
 

scarbelly

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Hi Pokey

I have been using the AMS for  a while and I always load it up completely and light both ends. I also take the dust all the way to the top and then lightly tamp it down. For some reason this makes it burn better. If I stop before the dust is all burned I just seperate the unused dust and scoop it our for use later. Cheese is kind of funny. Sometimes I have smoked it and not seen much color yet it had great flavor and other times it has really taken on a lot of color. I don't know what your humidity might have been but that can also have an effect.

I know that Bear and Paul both have done a lot of smokes with it as has Todd so they may have a different take.

Hope the cheese is good.
 

tjohnson

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Hey Pokey,

I used the very same Apple sawdust you just received with your order to smoke cheese, bacon, ham eyes ribs and cheese again, over the past week.  Your AMNS should burn at about 4" per hour, so looks like yours is burning a little slow.  Moisture in the sawdust can affect the burning process, so I would try nuking it.

1.  Sawdust can settle, so you should mix the bag well

2.  May need a little longer time starting with the torch.  Blow on the embers to get a good cherry going.

3.  Nuke 3 cups of sawdust for 60 seconds, give it a stir to release moisture, nuke it again for 60 seconds, give it a stir, fill up your smoker and light.

4. Light both ends for more smoke

Your cheese has a little color, and you may just like it the way it is.  If it were me, I would smoke the cheese again for a couple hours.  I smoke cheese for 3-4 hours max.

The salmon needs more like 6-8 hours of smoke.

Practice again today, with nuked sawdust and let me know how it does?

Todd
 
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meateater

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I would say post a pic of your smoker. Proper air flow will make a difference. I don't have a AMS yet, well not in my possession yet. You can cold smoke up to 150* with no problem in a large enough environment.
 

pokey

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Meat,

The 4th pic is my smoker (loaded) with the door removed. It's a primitive electric smoker that I'm using just as a cabinet for the A-Maze-N Smoker.

Thanks,

Pokey



 

meateater

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From what I see some of the cheese is getting heat, looks like squirells ghetto booty cheese.
  The rest I would say more intake and control the exhaust to 150*
 

pandemonium

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It looks to me like there isnt much oxygen getting in to fuel the fire maybe?
 

Bearcarver

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Hey Pokey,

I used the very same Apple sawdust you just received with your order to smoke cheese, bacon, ham eyes ribs and cheese again, over the past week.  Your AMNS should burn at about 4" per hour, so looks like yours is burning a little slow.  Moisture in the sawdust can affect the burning process, so I would try nuking it.

1.  Sawdust can settle, so you should mix the bag well

2.  May need a little longer time starting with the torch.  Blow on the embers to get a good cherry going.

3.  Nuke 3 cups of sawdust for 60 seconds, give it a stir to release moisture, nuke it again for 60 seconds, give it a stir, fill up your smoker and light.

4. Light both ends for more smoke

Your cheese has a little color, and you may just like it the way it is.  If it were me, I would smoke the cheese again for a couple hours.  I smoke cheese for 3-4 hours max.

The salmon needs more like 6-8 hours of smoke.

Practice again today, with nuked sawdust and let me know how it does?

Todd

Pokey,

Everything Todd said, plus:

Your dust in your AMNS definitely looks too coarse & stringy. It looks like it was sitting around, and the fine dust settled to the bottom. Then when you dumped it in your AMNS the fine stuff is still in the bag (or whatever you store it in).

Also, like Scarbelly said, it works better if packed a little tighter, kinda like a tightly packed cigar burning better than a loose one. 

If that happens again, light the other end too, like Scar said & get twice the smoke.

Bear

PS: Hold up your dust bag, and look at the difference between the amount of fine dust in the top compared to the amount of fine dust in the bottom of the bag.

Shake, rotate, & massage well.
 
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rbranstner

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I smoked some mozzarella cheese on Monday night and I was having issues with some damp dust as well so mine kept going out ever 10 minutes or so then I would have to relite it. Even so I pulled it after an hour because my mother in law had to leave and she wanted her half of the cheese and it had a nice light smokey flavor. I think I remember reading that with fresh mozzarella cheese you don't need to wait for it to age???? I don't know why it would be different than any other cheese but I think it was Squirrel that said you don't have to wait on fresh mozzarella. Hopefully she can chime in in that. But anway wait a week or so and try your cheese out I bet it will have a pretty decent amount of smoke flavor on it. A few times when I was first starting I used a soldering iron with dust in a tin can and I had the soldering iron too hot and it burned really hard and ther was a ton of smoke coming out of the smoker and my cheese tasted like burnt wood so more smoke usually isn't such a good thing. You want the thin blue smoke.. At the time I also didn't know you should age the cheese I dug into it right away and it was horrible. I was going to throw it but I kept it and ended up trying it a week or two later and then I could eat it. The cheese must rest. It stinks waiting for it but its worth it.
 

squirrel

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Hi Pokey! I think these guys answered your questions, but I would like to say it's not such a bad thing if you didn't get alot of color. I think you are going to be surprised at how much flavor you are going to have. I got so much color on mine because my box was alot smaller than your smoker so I had more of a "billowing" smoke to cover my stuff.

Fresh mozzarella is WAY softer than what you buy (unless you buy it from an artisan cheese maker who made it that day) therefore it will absorb smoke quickly and doesn't need very long in the smoker. It also has a much higher moisture content which mellows out the smoke flavor. As cheese ages it dries out. The harder the cheese the longer it will take to absorb the smoke resulting in a more concentrated flavor that can be bitter.

I am working on a little "mad scientist" experiment where I am brining a few different hard cheeses and will smoke them side by side with unbrined to test the flavors, length of smoke etc. I have no idea what possessed me to do this, but I am a curious soul.

Maybe I will shake, rotate and massage it well before smoking.
 

pokey

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Thanks, all. I'll be trying again this weekend.

Based on the way the cheese looked when it came out, I'm thinking I've also got significant temperature differences between the top of the box and the lower shelves. Interesting that the cheese that sagged the most was the gouda on the bottom shelf. It was closest to the drip pan under which sat the AMS. So as the dust smoldered, the drip pan right above it probably got pretty hot. Meanwhile, the fresh mozzarella on the top shelf, which I would have thought would sag at a lower temp than the harder cheeses came through rather intact. I may put a sensor on each shelf next time just to get a sense of what's happening. I put some ice on the drip pan near the end of the smoke. Maybe I should just do that from the beginning anyway.

I think I'll try the mozzarella tonight, as I believe Ms Squirrel confirmed that it doesn't need to age like the harder cheeses.

Thanks again. This stuff is fun. Like a number of you say, "It's all good."
 
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wuerstel

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Hi all,

I'm on my second run with the A-maze-n Smoker right now. Worked beautifully the first time, though it burned kind of slowly. I had lit only one end, and 10 hours later it wasn't yet through (I bought the big one). I then decided to light the other end as well. Results were amazing. Plenty of smoke, even when I had it on overnight with one side lit only. I hadn't tamped down the dust, maybe that's why it burned rather slowly - but it still was great!

A little while ago, I loaded some Landjaeger sausages, lit both sides from the get-go, and will know more tomorrow morning.

In any case, I can so far highly recommend this simple contraption. Glad I stumbled upon it on this website.  
 

wuerstel

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P.S.

I also read elsewhere that things to be cold smoked need to be dry - that's why for example sausages are supposed to hang for a while. If you took something out of a fridge, then put it into an environment 20+ degrees warmer, condensation might inhibit absorption of smoke.

I'd try to let the cheese or whatever else you're smoking get to room temperature first. Maybe that helps?
 

Bearcarver

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P.S.

I also read elsewhere that things to be cold smoked need to be dry - that's why for example sausages are supposed to hang for a while. If you took something out of a fridge, then put it into an environment 20+ degrees warmer, condensation might inhibit absorption of smoke.

I'd try to let the cheese or whatever else you're smoking get to room temperature first. Maybe that helps?
That's fine for cheese, or things that you have "cured", but you don't want to bring things to room temp before smoking, if you have to get that product through the danger zone in 4 hours.

Bear
 

distre

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Hi Pokey,

  As far as your Gouda sagging, you can put some kind of a foil tent to use as a heat shield under your cheese so when it rises the heat will go to the sides rather than straight up and heat your cheese. Just a thought. When I smoked mine I had my AMNS right beside my racks of cheese, so I wrapped a piece of cardboard with some foil as a heat shield and had no problems. Good Luck.
Thanks, all. I'll be trying again this weekend.

Based on the way the cheese looked when it came out, I'm thinking I've also got significant temperature differences between the top of the box and the lower shelves. Interesting that the cheese that sagged the most was the gouda on the bottom shelf. It was closest to the drip pan under which sat the AMS. So as the dust smoldered, the drip pan right above it probably got pretty hot. Meanwhile, the fresh mozzarella on the top shelf, which I would have thought would sag at a lower temp than the harder cheeses came through rather intact. I may put a sensor on each shelf next time just to get a sense of what's happening. I put some ice on the drip pan near the end of the smoke. Maybe I should just do that from the beginning anyway.

I think I'll try the mozzarella tonight, as I believe Ms Squirrel confirmed that it doesn't need to age like the harder cheeses.

Thanks again. This stuff is fun. Like a number of you say, "It's all good."
 

Bearcarver

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Hey Pokey,

I don't know why I missed this before, but the tray you have right above your AMNS looks to be nearly the same size as that smoker.

Could it be blocking a lot of air flow?

Bear
 

pokey

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The smoke seems to be making it around the pan OK. That's the original pan and the smoke always came from underneath. My real concern was about the rate of burn and whether I was getting the full amount of smoke I should be getting at any point in time.

I did another batch of cheese last night. This time I mixed up the dust first. I used the oak wine barrel. I filled it to the top, tapped the smoker on the table, tamped the dust down with my fingers and topped it off. After five hours, only a row and a quarter had burned. Every time I checked on it, it was still smoldering, although I felt I needed to blow on it to confirm that - the embers were kind of hidden underneath black dust. When I opened the smoker, smoke always came out, so I'm not concerned that I didn't get the smoke effect I want. After five hours, I took the cheese out and stirred up the dust right where the embers were, thinking by opening a gap, I'd stop it. The next morning, it had continued burning through all the dust I'd loaded. In the pic below you can see that I didn't get a complete burn. Now, I didn't nuke the dust, which I'll do next time. Other than that, I thinkl I'm doing everything correctly.



BTW Anybody try smoking parmesan cheese? I got a nice chunk of Australian parmesan and put it in with the mozz, colby, cheddar, pepper jack and queso papa last night. I can't wait until I get to sample it in a couple of weeks. This delayed gratification thing is frustrating (in a good way).
 

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