It is easy to smoke cheese at home. I’ll show you how to cold smoke cheese with your existing smoker or electric smoker. Not only does smoked cheese taste great, it also makes a great homemade gift. Once you smoke cheese you will always want to have some on hand. Smoked cheese is great with crackers, in salads, or used in recipes that call for shredded cheese. The key to smoking cheese is to use the cold smoking method and keep the temperature inside your grill as low as possible while still creating a good amount of smoke. Let’s smoke some cheese!
Here’s what you’ll need to start cold smoking cheese:
Best Cheese for Smoking
I’ve cold smoked many different kinds of cheese from brie to cheddar to pepper jack. The best cheese for smoking is cheddar, Monterey jack, or pepper jack. I prefer to use the 32 oz blocks, I usually cut them into 3 pieces. This makes decent size chunks that are easy to consume, and will also help when you get to the latter stage of this process and need to vacuum seal the cheese.
Smoking string cheese is another good cheese to use when starting out. Buy yourself the 12 pack and unwrap the pieces. String cheese is highly recommended because they are they are porous enough to accept the smoke. Plus smoked mozzarella is great!
How to Smoke Cheese
The next steps will lay out how to smoke cheese using a large Big Green Egg. I start with an empty chamber (no charcoal). I place the plate setter legs down inside the egg. Take the A-Maze-N pellet device and fill with applewood pellets. Place the A-Maze-N smoker in the middle of the (upside down) plate setter. Grab your torch, light it, and place it at the end of the A-Maze-N smoker.
|Setting the smoker up with pellets:||Using the torch to light the pellets:|
|Starting the fire:|
Depending on your torch you will want to burn the pellets for a few minutes so that there is a decent fire going in the pellets. Let the pellets burn for about 10 minutes to ensure a good coal base has been started. Using thermal gloves (like a Pitt Mitt), grab the non-burning side of A-Maze-N, with the other hand remove the plate setter and then pace the A-Maze-N in the bottom of the Big Green Egg. Then put the plate setter in the Big Green Egg, legs up.
Now we’re cooking!
In terms of the ventilation on the egg, close the lower vent to about an inch or less open. Put the daisy wheel on top of the egg and turn the wheel so the vent holes are about 1/3rd open. The goal here is to prevent is too much air flow through the chamber and the pellets catching fire. If the heat inside the egg gets over 100 degrees the cheese will start to melt. I’ve had this happen to me, the air flow was too great and the pellets caught fire and I had no idea until I lifted the top of the egg to find really soft blobs of cheese. The next step in learning how to smoke cheese is figuring out how long to cold smoke cheese.
How Long to Cold Smoke Cheese
In terms of how long to cold smoke the cheese, there’s no single answer for everyone. I live in Arizona so my temperature outside my Egg is frequently at 100 degrees before I even get started smoking. Very often when I’m smoking cheese, regardless of the season, I will usually smoke the cheese for 90 minutes to 2 hours. I will check the grill every 20 minutes to verify the temperature and ensure there haven’t been any pellet flare-ups. While there is some science involved, I’ve found that smoking cheese is mostly an art form. You will end up with melted or soft cheese, it is just part of the learning process, don’t get discouraged. If you’re lucky you will end up with cheese that looks like this when you’re done:
You’ll notice that I use a tiered rack and frog mats on the grates. The tiered rack allows you to smoke more cheese in one batch. Frog mats have been lifesavers when smoking cheese, they are coated so they won’t get ruined by the cheese and if you happen to melt some cheese, they clean off really easily. I highly recommend you get some frog mats as they also help keep the cheese off your greasy grates. I have a frog mat on the second tier and just used scissors to cut out a hole for the tiered rack center spindle, very easy to do and doesn’t damage the frog mats.
Finishing the Smoked Cheese: Vacuum Seal
As I mentioned at the outset of this tutorial, the most important part of this process is patience — you must have the patience to wait for 2 weeks for your cheese to cure. As a learning lesson, for the first time you smoke cheese, please cut a small bit off one of the blocks and eat it. Oddly enough it will taste like an ashtray. Now you’ll understand why we need to let the cheese cure for two weeks.
Pro tip: Remove the cheese from the Egg and place on a plate or cutting board. Whatever you do, resist the urge to put the cheese in the refrigerator to cool down. The smoke from the cheese will get into your fridge air filtration system and it will smell smokey for at least the next two weeks.
The last step in this process is to vacuum seal the cheese and let it sit for two weeks. I recommend that you write the date you smoked the cheese on the vacuum sealed package, it is much easier to know when the two weeks is up that way.
Cheese waiting to be vacuum sealed:
The finished smoked cheese product:
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