If you are a cheese lover then you would also love smoked cheese. There are two ways to get your hands on smoked cheese. One, you can buy it from a store or cold smoke cheese at home.
Smoked cheese is typically available only at high-end grocers or speciality stores. These are not cheap buys, but the good thing is cheese can be smoked at home.
You can recreate these expensive smoked cheese flavors at home. Once you understand how cheese can be smoked at home you can repeat the process again and again. At home, you can experiment with different types of cheese and different wood pellets for different smoke flavors.
Which Cheese is Best for Smoking?
It is important to note that not all cheese can be smoked. It is recommended to choose semi-hard for smoking. If we smoke soft cheese it would ingest too much smoke flavor. Also, the soft cheese may melt through grill grates.
The cheese best suited for cold smoking is gouda, cheddar, pepper jack, and hard mozzarella. One should buy large portions of cheese and then slice them into 2-3inch portions. Once the technique is mastered with regular cheese more expensive cheese can be added to the list.
How to Cold Smoke Cheese in on a Traeger?
To smoke cheese at home one should start with milk cheddar or gouda. These two types are sturdy to tolerate smoking temperatures. They will also not take on too much smoke flavor.
Now the question arises, how long will it take to smoke cheese? The cheese can be smoked in 2 – 4 hours. The smoking process is not long but the cheese has to go through a resting process to absorb the smoke flavor. The resting process takes 7-14 days.
The cheese is vacuum-sealed and kept in the refrigerator to rest for two weeks. During this time, the cheese will absorb the smoke flavor till its innermost layer. Making it mellow and will remove any harshness or acidic tinge because of smoke flavor.
Step by Step Smoking Process
The first thing you need to smoke cheese at home is to have blocks of cheese. These cheese blocks have to cut into 2-3inch cheese slices. You will also need the following ingredients to complete the process.
- Outdoor grill or smoker.
- Pellet tube smoker.
- Wood Pellets.
- Heat Gun.
- Butcher Paper.
The first thing to keep in mind is that cheese should be smoked in the fall or winter season. The temperature outside would not be higher than 60°F. If the cheese is smoked in higher temperatures, there is a chance that the cheese would melt.
To get the best results bring the cheese to room temperature. Allow it to rest at room temperature for an hour and wipe off moisture from the cheese for better skin development.
1. Choose the Smoke Flavor
This is also an important matter that needs consideration when smoking cheese. The smoke flavor has to be matched with the cheese type. The rule of thumb is for soft or mild cheese choose delicate wood like apple, cherry, or pecan.
If the cheese is hard and strong in flavor choose a matching strong smoke flavor like hickory or oak. Further mix and match experiments can be done with dried tea leaves or nutshells.
2. Smoking in Cold Grill or Smoker
You do not need to heat the smoker to smoke cheese. It would be used as a container to hold the smoke tube and the cheese for smoking. You also need good ventilation so that the wood pellets keep giving off smoke and the heat does not build up.
- For starters choose mild wood for smoking. Place the wood pellets in the tube smoker, light the tube smoker with a heat gun. Make sure that there is no flame in the tube smoker.
- Place the tube smoker at the bottom of the grill. If you have a deflector shield place it over the tube smoker. This will stop the heat from reaching the cheese but will allow smoke to penetrate it.
- Place the cheese slabs on the smoker grates. Place them at a distance from each other so that there is space for good airflow. Now place the smoker grates in the smoker. Let the smoke penetrate the cheese for about an hour.
- After an hour turn the cheese so that all sides can be equally smoked. Let the cheese be smoked for another hour. Once a two-hour period of smoking has elapsed remove the cheese from the smoker.
3. Keep a Check on the Temperature
When smoking cheese, it is very important to keep the temperatures under check. Make sure that the temperature does not touch 90°F. Cheese starts to sweat at this temperature or will start to melt at a higher temperature.
One sure-shot way of keeping the temperatures low is to use an ice tray. Just like using water during hot smoking, we use ice during cold smoking.
Keeping an ice tray in the chamber would make sure that the temperature does not rise. One simple way to monitor the temperature of the grill is to use a grill surface thermometer.
4. Maintain Constant Light Smoke
The smoking process requires that the smoke supply should be constant, and it should be light. A continuous flow of smoke can be maintained by adding wood pellets at regular intervals.
5. Use Butcher Paper
Once the two-hour smoking process has been completed take the cheese out of the grill. The cheese will now undergo a breathing process. To initiate the breathing process, place the cheese in the butcher paper and loosely wrap it.
Make sure that the cheese bars are not tightly wrapped in the butcher paper. Once the cheese is wrapped in the butcher paper place the cheese in the refrigerator. Remove the cheese after 48 hours and wrap it in plastic cling wrap.
Refrigerate the cheese for two weeks. After two weeks your smoked cheese is ready. Enjoy!