Using an EZ-Smoker To Cold Smoke Cheese
Everyone has heard about hot smoking a delicious pulled pork, a pull apart brisket or a scrumptous ribs, but smoking cheese? Who would have thought that smoking dairy would taste so good!
The first thing to note is the difference betwen hot smoking and cold smoking. Hot smoking is the traditional smoking method that is more common and is used to cook all those delicious meats that melt in our mouths. As the term suggests, hot smoking is a cooking smoker which not only smokes the meat but cooks it at the same time. The smoke imparts flavour on the food but the heat from the charcoal or wood is what actually cooks the food.
Contrary to hot smoking, when cold smoking cheese, you aren't cooking the cheese, you're just imparting the smokey flavour on the food. So how do you impart smoke without generating heat? The answer: an EZ Cold Smoker Tray. The EZ Cold Smoker Tray is an accessory that can turn any enclosed space into a cold smoker. Whether it be a drum, a metal box, or an old fridge, by inserting the EZ Cold Smoker Tray inside this enclosed container, you'll be able to cold smoke cheese, salmon or whatever tickles your fancy.
In this instance, I used an offset smoker that I usually use for hot smoking, but just didn't light any fire. I simply filled up the EZ Cold Smoker tray with wood pellets, lit it from one end, blew out the flame once the pellets started smouldring and then shut the lid. While around 300g of pellets will fill up the whole tray and will give around 12 hours of smoke, I only smoked the cheese for around 4 hours.
The key to getting great smoked cheese is to turn your cheese around once an hour so all surfaces of the cheese get smoked evenly. I found that because smoke rises, the top of the cheese was getting the brown smokey tinge to it moreso than the bottom. Rotating it ensured more even colouring, even if it was mainly for appearances.
The cheese I purchased was the cheapest hard cheese I could find. A 1kg block of homebrand tasty cheese set me back around $5. Before smoking it, I sliced it into 100g blocks to get a more concentrated smokey flavour. All in all, it effectively cost be around $0.50 per 100g block of smoked cheese. Not only was it a bargin, but it tasted much better also.
The only disadvantage of smoking your own cheese is that you can't eat it straight away. Many websites I read said you should allow your cheese to rest (wrapped and in the fridge) for 2-4 weeks before consuming it. I left mine for 1 week and it was fine. I couldn't help but have a small taste straight out of the smoker, but it was inedible. It definitely needs time to rest and for the smoke to absorb further into the cheese rather than just the surface.
- Cut your cheese into small 100g blocks to maximise smoke absorbion
- You must smoke cheese at under 32 degrees celcius or 90 degrees fahrenheit or the cheese will start to sweat. Use ice or ice packs to keep your smoker cook if necessary
- Rotate your cheese to get a more even smoke
- Pat your cheese with paper towel once you're finished smoking
- Wrap your cheese in cling wrap or an airtight container/bag while waiting 1 week for the smoke to fully absorb
So there you have it. No need to buy a smoker if you only want to cold smoke. See what containers you have lying around that you could turn into a cold smoker to get you started. If you don't have anything, check out hard rubbish for an old drum, fridge or weber kettle, or put it in your normal hooded gas BBQ (might actually get some flavour this time)...just don't turn the burners on!
We also have an article describing how Smoked Chilies were made using a Cold Smoke Generator, click here to check it out.
Want to take your barbecuing to the next level? Why not consider attending one of our BBQ Masterclasses It's an action packed day including all you can eat BBQ.