A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling,
passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
Everyone loves the creamy, light taste of smoked ricotta or the flavor of a charred gouda, but these high-end cheeses are expensive.
Fortunately, there’s a simple way for you to replicate that distinctive woody taste without shelling out loads of cash on a pre-smoked cheese in a specialty store. You can set up your outdoor grill to cold smoke your food.
This process is surprisingly simple, and the result is worthwhile. You’ll create cheese with a soulful, strong, and smoky flavor that can elevate any dish and complement your wine.
1. What is Cold Smoking and Why Should You Try It?
When you cold smoke cheese, you expose this cheese to a light smoke for several hours, infusing the food with a woody flavor. You don’t cook the cheese using this method. Instead, you keep your smoker or grill at a low temperature and pass the smoke over the food’s surface.
There are some excellent reasons why you should learn how to cold smoke cheese.
It’s simple and fast
Once you’ve set your grill or smoker to the right temperature, you can place the cheese on the rack and let the smoke do the rest. The entire smoking process only takes a couple of hours, and the exposure to the smoke will enhance the flavor of your cheese.
Cold smoking at home is a cost-effective way of producing premium-quality cheese. Rather than paying lots of money in a store for an expensive smoked Gouda or Provolone, you can buy a cheap, unflavored cheddar or any other cheese like bleu cheese and create that wonderful smoked flavor yourself.
2. How Do You Cold Smoke Cheese at Home?
Before you learn how to cold smoke cheese at home, you must have a smoker. This could be a simple gas-fueled vertical unit, a charcoal model, or a wood-burning offset option. You could also use an electric or pellet grill. The unit doesn’t have to be fancy; it just has to hold smoke for a few hours.
Set up your grill or smoker
Before you put your cheese on the grill rack, decide which fuel to use for smoke production. If you have a pellet smoker, use high-quality pellets that burn slowly and steadily so you can keep the smoke going for hours. Keep the cheese on the far side of the rack from the fuel source, so it doesn’t cook or melt during the process.
If you have a wood-burning or charcoal smoker, lump together some charcoal and put them in the pan at the base of your unit. Let a handful of wood chips soak in a bowl of water, then drain them thoroughly.
Once the clump of charcoal burns lightly, spread the damp wood chips on top of it. This method helps to keep the smoke at a cool temperature as it spreads over the cheese.
See also: Reliable smoking wood chips.
Get your smoke chamber or grill surface to the right temperature
Once you’ve lit your fuel source, you must keep the container’s internal temperature below 90°F for several hours. If your smoker becomes too hot, you’ll melt the cheese instead of flavoring it.
There are several ways to regulate the temperature, including opening the damper at the base or on the underside of your grill. This allows cold air to flow into the chamber and maintain the slow rate of burning. Simultaneously, open the grill’s chimney for optimal air circulation.
It’s best to cold smoke cheese during the colder times of the year. A chilly external atmosphere helps to regulate the chamber’s internal temperature. If you’re set on smoking cheese during the summer, put an ice-filled pan just above the fuel source.
See also: Excellent smoker thermometers.
Smoke your cheese
After you’re satisfied with the chamber’s internal temperature, cut your cheese into smaller pieces and place them on the mesh grid or grill rack. Keep the cheese in the smoker for just over 2 hours, only opening the lid to turn the pieces over every 30 minutes.
After 2 hours, you should be able to taste a delightful, smoky flavor when you bite into the cheese. If you’re not satisfied with the smokiness level, put the food back in the chamber for another 1-2 hours.
Wrap your cheese properly
When the cheese is ready, take it out of the smoker and wrap it in a natural kraft butcher’s paper. If you don’t have this type of paper, use plastic cling wrap. Store this cheese in a cool and well-ventilated environment for 1-2 weeks, allowing the cheese to age and develop a distinctive flavor. If you don’t have access to a cold pantry, place the cheese in your fridge as far away from the freezer compartment as possible.
After a couple of weeks, you can use this delicious smoked cheese in any recipe you want or serve it with crackers and fresh fruit or compote.
Author: Jim Bob
The cold smoking method is an easy and cost-effective way to produce a distinctive and tasty cheese in the comfort of your own home. Whether you own a premium-quality offset smoker or a basic charcoal grill, you can take a few hours to produce cheese infused with an exquisite woody flavor and smoky aftertaste.
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