Thursday, January 8, 2009

Smoking Cheese

"Real" smoked cheese is a real treat and is best done in the cooler weather but it can be done on a warmer day with some extra steps. It makes a wonderful treat for the holidays and is easy to do on about any cooker.

Most all smoked cheese that you purchase has never even been close to a smoker. It is done with all chemicals and food coloring.

The cheese is best smoked at a temp of no more than about 80 degrees for the best results. It needs no heat but only smoke and it is very easy to oversmoke cheese.
The best results are obtained with a smoke of less than 2 hours so it is a fairly quick and easy process.

About any cheese can be used but I like the harder cheese better as it is less likely to distort when smoked.

The cheese we selected this year are the following as all of them really take smoke nice.

Extra sharp cheddar
Sharp cheddar
Mild Cheddar
Double Gloucester
Asiago pesto wheel
Asiago roasted pepper wheel
Pepper Jack

Smoked cheese should be eaten with crackers so I cut the cheese to kinda fit the crackers. The smoke doesn't penetrate the cheese but only builds up on the outside of each piece so to have an even flavor all thru each piece that is cut off the block, you need to cut it kinda square and not much larger than 1-1/2" by 1-1/2" for best results.

This smoke is being setup for my Backwoods Party cooker and is ready to go on the cooker.

This is my fire for smoking the cheese. I used 6 brickettes just slightly ashed over with two pieces of apple for the smoke. Again, it is best to keep the cooker under 80degrees for the best results.

I also placed some ice in the water pan to help keep the cooker cool but really didn't need it today as the ambient was about 35 degrees.

This is the cheese in the cooker. This smoke only took one hour to suit me as I like just that light smoke flavor in both my cheese and also my baking. It is very easy to oversmoke cheese.

To test your block of cheese for the smoke flavor, pull a block off the smoker, and cut off the first piece and set is aside and then cut off another piece and taste it for smoke flavor. At this point, you just want a light smoke flavor.

It now needs to be vacuume packed and placed in the fridge for about a week to age a little and then the flavor will be a little stronger coming out of the sealed packages and usually perfect for your use.

It sure makes for some nice gifts for the holidays.

I also smoke cheese in my FE100 pellet cooker.

With the FE, I used some duct tape to tape up some of the exhaust as I wanted to keep more of the smoke inside the cooker. I did leave about 1/4th of the exhaust open for flow.

I fired up about 10 hardwood brickettes in a chimney and ashed them over slightly for my fire.

I placed a pie pan on the auger housing and placed 5 brickettes in the pan and then laid a piece of fruitwood on top for the coals for my smoke. I then put the drip shield back into the cooker.

This smoke was done on a hot Summer day at about 90 degrees so I did use a full tray of ice on a lower grid with the cheese above it to help keep the temp down low enought for my smoke.

I also used a probe on the cooking grid to be sure I could keep the smoking temp low enough for a good product on this very hot day.

Was a great smoke.

Another cooker I use for this treat is a ceramic cooker. Even though it has a smaller cooking area, it will still do a great job with smoked cheese.

With the fire so close to the cooking grid I always use a raised grid indirect setup for my cheese and then usually use ice in a drip pan below my cheese to help keep the temps down in the range needed for a good product. This picture shows me setting up my smoke in the kitchen in my "Contraption" setup for the large Egg.

This is my fire for the smoke. I used 5 brickettes which I ashed over in a charcoal chimney and then laid 3 pieces of smoke wood on top.

This is the cheese on the smoker and I smoked this batch for about 90 minutes to my taste. I did start checking for smoke at about 40 minutes as I didn't want to get it oversmoked which is easy to do.

I have also used my WSM's for smoking cheese with great results.

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