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Smoking Cheese


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#1 Juthro

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 01:35 PM

At the request of a friend, and fellow member, I am going to do a walk though of how to cold smoke your own cheese.

Smoked cheese is one of my favorite treats, and once your set up to do it, is about as easy to do as making a piece of toast. I admit I was unsure where to start, so I'm just going to lay out some pics and descriptions of the batch I did this last weekend.


OK, so we start with cheese. You want to start with a good quality cheese. My staples are cheddar, pepper jack, monetary jack, Swiss, and Colby. And if I feel I can afford it, I generally buy Tillamook, but as long as it is a cheese worthy of eating right out of the package, it will smoke fine. For this batch I smoked a 5lb block. That was then cut in half, and then each half was quartered. The bowl has the wood pellets that will provide the smoke. I like to microwave them for about a minute and a half to make sure they are dry and will burn well.

5lb block.jpg ready to smoke.jpg

Now for your cold smoker set up. I use a pellet burner, as it doesn't make much heat, and can create a consistent smoke for long periods of time. The company that makes them, also makes a tube that when filled with pellets that will sit on a grill in your bbq grill for about 20 or 25 bucks. Anyway, I want 2 hours of smoke and I put in a little extra. As I would just as soon waste a little then under smoke my cheese.

My setup uses the body and grill racks of an electric smoker, with my pellet burner in a mailbox and ducted to the main unit. For cold smoking, I just don't turn the electric smoker on.

lighting pellets.jpg mailbox.jpg

You need to make sure your temp in the smoker is going to stay under 70*F, or your cheese will melt. For those of you in warmer climates then Alaska, water or soda bottles filled, and frozen, added to the racks with the cheese can help control temps. Also smoking at night, or in the winter, might be required, depending on your climate.

So after 2 hours of smoke time, I pull the racks of cheese, and bring them in the house. If any oil has come to the surface of the cheese, wipe it dry with paper towels. Then let it air for another 2 hours, this step will let some of the harsher smoke flavors evaporate away. After airing, vacuum pack and label.

letting it breath.jpg bag it and date it.jpg

Now comes the hard part, waiting.... The cheese needs to age and mellow now, for at least 2 weeks, and preferably a month. It will get better as it ages, I am really fond of at about 6 months old.

So that's pretty much it. Please feel free to ask any questions, or make any comments.

Stay cheesy :)
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#2 Heirloom Spores

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 01:56 PM

Love it, simple and to the point instructions.  Juthro you make it look easy.

outta likes right now


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#3 Juthro

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 02:45 PM

Thanks brother :)

One thing I did forget to mention is what kind of wood I use. I use "Perfect Mix" brand pellets, they are a blend of hickory, cherry, hard maple, and apple. I am very fond of this blend, and use it on almost everything I smoke. I get mine from Amazon, but they have their own website as well.

There are no magic tricks to it, it is that easy. Even the 2 hours of smoke is not set in stone. If you like a milder smoke flavor, shave a half an hour to an hour off the time. You want some really strong smoked flavored snacks to share with your buddies while drinking and playing cards, add another hour or 2 of smoke. I find the 2 hour mark to be what most of the people like most of the time, and between friends and family I probably smoke around 100lbs a year.

But to me, the hardest part is still waiting while the cheese ages.
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#4 Heirloom Spores

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 03:26 PM

a 100lbs a year is a huge amount. I had a friend who wanted to make home made cheese then smoke it.

maybe you can tell us how to smoke fish another time, I love smoked salmon



#5 Juthro

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 04:50 PM

I can get 20 lbs in the smoker at once if I have to, but I like to keep it under 15, as it gets better, more even, smoke distribution with a little space around the cheese to circulate.

As far as salmon goes, my standard way of smoking it is an overnight brine (10 to 12 hrs), followed by an air drying on racks until it develops a pellicle, then 5hrs of cold smoke. Then I skin it, and cut it to fit in half pint jars for pressure cooking. It stores very well like this, and doesn't need refrigeration until the jar is opened.

The recipe for my brine changes with my tastes, but it doesn't very too much from this recipe https://mycotopia.ne...ecipe-for-fish/
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#6 wharfrat

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 09:12 PM

excellent write up my friend. love me some smoked cheese.. you should also post you smoked pepper recipe! and rub.. that shit was good!


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#7 Juthro

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 10:08 PM

Thank you my friend, I am always happy to share my recipes and knowledge. As long as you can control the temp of your cheese, it is the easiest thing I know how to smoke. The only trick is to let it age properly. Patience is the hardest part, but as a mushroom grower, I know you have some experience in learning that skill, lol.

I know I'm a bit of fanatic as to the amount, and range of the things I smoke, I have even smoked chocolate chip once. True story, I saw they sold them on amazon for an obscene amount of coin, so I figured it was worth a try. For the record, I might do some again someday, but probably not anytime soon, lol.

Now, if I could just get my beer brewing up to the same level as my smoking.... :)
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#8 wharfrat

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Posted 17 March 2016 - 12:23 AM

i did try and smoke some tillamook (best cheese eva!) one time but it melted.. i love the mailbox cool smoker, that is awesome!.  i will try this again, my big smokers burner rotted out, so i either need to replace or maybe convert it into something else and get a new smoker.. it's propane, not sure i can find another burner


Edited by wharfrat, 17 March 2016 - 12:24 AM.

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#9 Juthro

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Posted 17 March 2016 - 06:29 PM

It could make a nice frame for a dedicated cold smoker, if your thinking of replacing it anyway. I went with the mailbox cuz I couldn't make a metal box for what I got that delivered to my door from amazon for, IIRC it was like $12 with free shipping. It has worked great IMHO. I cut the whole in the back with some aviation snips, and drilled 4, 3/8" wholes in the front door for fresh air intake. It was primitive Pete mechanics at its best :)

Most of the heat generated by pellet burner is dissipated by the metal mail box. I generally get a temperature rise of just under 10*F from ambient air temp in the main smoker when running it. And that main smoker box is well insulated too, like a mini fridge. With about an inch of insulation foam sandwiched inside of sheet metal. An all metal smoker setup should dissipate the heat even better, though it probably would not smoke chicken as well when it's 15*F outside, lol.

#10 Juthro

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Posted 17 March 2016 - 10:11 PM

Here is my rub, which is a hybridized blend of other people work, that I messed with until I found a combination that I liked.

1/2 tsp each of:

course ground black pepper
cyan pepper
cumin

1 Tbl each of:

brown sugar
kosher salt
smoked paprika (regular non-smoked will work fine)
granulated garlic
granulated onion

It is a nice blend of salty, sweet, and spicy. I find it good on just about any kind of meat I'm willing to cook, and that's not just limited to the grill. I find it will lend a nice flavoring, without overpowering your meat.



This is a 6:1 ratio, if you want to mix up a bigger batch at once. It stores very well in an air tight container.

Edited by Juthro, 17 March 2016 - 11:25 PM.


#11 Juthro

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Posted 18 March 2016 - 04:12 PM

As for making the smoked peppers, it's mostly about what kind of peppers your starting with. My favorite for smoking are, Felicity's, they are a very prolific heatless jalapeno.

I wait until they are completely ripe, and then cut them lengthwise and remove the seeds and membrane. They are then placed on a grilling mat, so they don't fall through the wire grill, and cold smoked heavily for a least 8hrs. They are then completely dried in an old presto food dehydrator, and ran though a coffee grinder. I like to store the ground pepper in old prescription bottles, as they are air tight.

I will be happy to do a write up with some pics the next time I do a batch. But the whole process is fairly simple.

Here is an old pic of a rack of Felicity's after smoking, before drying.
indoor peppers2.jpg

#12 pharmer

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Posted 18 March 2016 - 04:19 PM

if brine-ing and smoking are both methods to preserve foods why PC the salmon?

 

just a preference?

 

and would somebody please make a joke about him smoking his cheese? 100 pounds of it.



#13 Juthro

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Posted 18 March 2016 - 06:03 PM

if brine-ing and smoking are both methods to preserve foods why PC the salmon?

just a preference?

and would somebody please make a joke about him smoking his cheese? 100 pounds of it.


A lot of it is preference. I like my fish cooked, not just brined (I don't care for lox). My brine recipe does not contain enough salt to preserve the fish, it's only for flavor. Cooking also makes sure any parasites in the fish are killed. Look up pin worms on google. The other way to kill them, is to bring them down to -4F* for 7 days. This is how commercial processors kill parasites in fish, but most household freezers run between 0 and 10*F, not cold enough to kill them all.

I actually prefer hot smoked salmon, over canned. That is where you are cooking in the smoker with heat and smoke at the same time. While this is a delicious way to eat fish, it doesn't store well long term. When smoked, and canned, it no longer needs to be refrigerated until you open it up. And if kept in a dark, moderately cool pantry, it will stay good for well over the 12 month period I try to eat it by. This lets me smoke all my fish during season, and enjoy it all year. Another advantage is, it makes it easier and cheaper to share with friends and family all around the world, not needing a refrigerated container to ship it.

And for the record, its not easy, being cheesy... ;P

Edited by Juthro, 18 March 2016 - 06:05 PM.


#14 pharmer

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Posted 18 March 2016 - 06:10 PM

and there you go, another day where we learn something new.....






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