Smoked Cheddar

Smoked Cheddar

If you have a way of cold smoking, a real treat is smoked cheese. You can use any relatively firm cheese and it isn’t complicated.

What is cold smoking? It is when you put a food in smoke but keep the temperature below 90 F. This is particularly important with cheese. If the temperature goes above 90 F, you will have a puddle of cheese.

I use my Bradley Smoker to cold smoke. It does have a setting to use its proprietary wood discs without additional heat but I find the smoke from them a little strong. So I also use a device called an A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker. It is a metal mesh box with 3 connected channels you fill with wood pellets or sawdust. You light one end and the pellets slowly smolder around the channels. Each channel smokes for about 3 hours. It doesn’t create a lot of heat.

AMNPS

Although the pellet smoker doesn’t create a lot of heat, you can freeze ice in a plastic bottle, put it in a tray and add it to your smoker to lower the temperature.

So, you can use any container that allows airflow (a clay pot on bricks, a cardboard or wooden box) to cold smoke with an A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker. I just use my Bradley Smoker as a box to smoke in with the pellet smoker.

To smoke the cheese, cut it into sizes you would use in a few days. Choose your variety of wood to smoke. Apple, cherry or oak give a mild smokey flavour. Pecan is stronger and hickory or mesquite are even stronger. Put the pellets or sawdust in the smoker, light it up and put it and the cheese in your smoker. As it is winter here, I did not need to add ice.

Let the cheese sit in the smoke for three hours. Take it out and wrap each piece in cellophane and then put them all in a large plastic bag. I find this double wrapping reduces the chance of mold forming. If you are going to store your cheese for months, you can wax it but that is
another post. Regardless, store your cheese in the fridge.

Here is the hard part. Don’t eat your cheese when it comes out of the smoker. Don’t even taste it. It will taste like a strong smoke and won’t be particularly tasty. You have to let it sit for at least two weeks for the flavours to work their way into the cheese. Four weeks or more is better.

I made this batch while I was smoking some back bacon. The first few hours is a cold smoke and I just happened to have a block of old cheddar I had bought on sale.

The Verdict

I love a strong old cheddar when it is smoked. I used a blend of Apple, Oak and Cherry smoke. It gave it nice smoke undertones over the sharp cheddar taste. This is a real treat.

The Old Fat Guy

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