I really liked smoke cheese but there are two problems with it. First, it is expensive to buy. Second, if you are going to make it yourself, it helps if it is cold outside.
I made several batches last winter but not enough. By the time it got cold here in the Canadian Rockies, I was totally out!
So, when the temperatures dropped last week, I bought some old cheddar, havarti and extra old marble cheddar. Home smoking works better with cheese that is at least somewhat firm.
You want to expose the cheese to smoke but the temperature has to be cool enough to not melt the cheese. Generally, you have to keep the temperature in the smoking chamber below 70 F. This means you want the temperature to be well below 70 F because most methods of generating smoke create some heat. I have smoked with warm outside temperatures but I have put blocks of ice in the smoking chamber to keep the temperature down.
The next thing you want to do is choose a smoking chamber. Some electric smokers like the Bradley Smoker allow you to burn wood pucks without turning the heating element on. Alternatively, you can use your gas barbecue or any closed container that allows a decent airflow. You want the smoke moving around the cheese.
If your smoking chamber does not have a method of generating smoke, you will need a smoke generator like the A-Maze-N Tube Smoker or Pellet Smoker. These allow hardwood pellets to slowly smolder and generate smoke with minimal heat production.
I used my Louisiana Grills smoker as my smoking chamber. I didn’t turn it on, I just used is as a chamber. I filled my A-Maze-N Tube Smoker with Oak Whiskey Barrel pellets. You can use any pellet you like but most people prefer milder smokes like apple or cherry.
I lit the tube smoker and put it in the chamber with the cheese. I let it smoke for 3 hours. I brought the cheese in and sealed it in vaccum bags.
You need to know that the cheese will taste like an ashtray immediately after smoking. All the smoke is on the surface and it takes time to spread through the cheese and that helps the smoke flavour mellow. You need to let it sit in the fridge for at least two weeks, eight is better.
After a couple of weeks I opened one of the packages and had a nice cracker and cheese snack.
This is one of my favourite snacks. Cheese has that nice sharp flavour that seems to blend with smoke. I will make sure to make more this year!
The Old Fat Guy