COLD SMOKED CHEESE—So easy to do, so tasty to enjoy!
Listener Jon Gosch—contacted me the other day, asking about cold smoking cheese. Could it be done? What should the smoke temperature be? How long do you smoke it? Here’s how to do it!
I love cold smoking cheese. It’s quick, easy to do and the flavor is wonderful.
Cold smoking is done at temperatures between 60-100F. The lower the temperature, the better. Outside air temperature should be 70 or below. For cheese, the colder it is outside, the better.
The idea behind cold smoking is to add smoke to food items without cooking them. The smoke acts like a flavoring ingredient. Best type of cheese to cold smoke–hard and semi-hard cheeses are best. Less likely to melt, though they can. Cheddar, Pepperjack, Swiss, Muensture, Red Windsor—there’s a very good list of the different varieties of cheeses on Cheese Dot Com.
For block cheese, cut planks about 1-2 inches thick. The idea is to expose as much of the cheese surface to the smoke for uniform smoke flavor. You can use cheese right out of the package. No special preparation needed, other than cutting it into planks or uniform pieces.
Put on a perforated pan (you can take aluminum pie pans and cut holes in them if you don’t have a smoke pan or plate. Stand the cheese up on one of it’s sides–like a vertical file. Leave at least one inch space between the cheese planks, to allow the smoke to circulate around the cheese. A baking rack is also a great “emergency” cold smoking accessory.
You want the cheese as far away from the fire as possible. Some cold smokers place their cooling racks over a foil pan filled with ice. Pellet grills are great, because they automatically smoke, and are consistent with the temperature. If using charcoal for fuel, you want a small fire—no more than 8 briquettes maximum. Let them ash over and burn down a bit before adding wood chunks or chips. You want to produce LIGHT SMOKE, not heavy smoke.
Close your smoker and begin to smoke. Best woods to use? I like using fruit or mild hard woods—alder is good, so is maple and even pecan or hickory. The idea here is to compliment the flavor of the cheese–not over power it. The cheese may get oily. That’s okay
Smoke for 30-45 minutes tops. Otherwise you will over smoke the cheese and affect its flavor. So start a timer so you don’t over smoke it. Remove from cold smoker and then put into the refrigerator to help set the smoke in the cheese. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Then cut the cheese up into cubes or small pieces, which can be placed on crackers or speared with a toothpick.