What is cold smoke?
What hot smoking and cold smoking have in common is the ability to enrich your food with a delicious smoky flavor. The difference with cold smoke is that you are trying not to cook the food. These are typically done between 65-85 degrees but no more than 100. You can use cold smoke for fish, vegetables, sausage, cured meats but we are going to focus on how to cold smoke cheese.
What cheese should I use?
We recommend using hard cheese. Including gouda, mozzarella, parmesan, provolone, and any hard cheese will work. This is because they are less likely to melt. You will want to get these in blocks or wheels.
What wood chunks should I use?
This is user preference, but we recommend any fruit, alder, pecan, maple, oak, or mesquite.
How to cold smoke cheese
- Cheese of choice
- Wood chips
- Aluminum foil
- Cooling rack
- Prep the Cheese: Cut the cheese into smaller blocks or chunks. This is so the smoke can absorb into the cheese more effectively.
- Soak the Wood Chips: Place the wood chips in a bowl of water and soak them for about 30 minutes. This helps the wood chips produce a steady stream of smoke during the smoking process. Use a small number of woodchips to avoid overpowering the cheese.
- Set Up the Smoker or Grill: If using a smoker, follow the manufacturer's instructions to set it up for cold smoking. You want the temperature inside the smoker to stay below 85°F.
- If using a charcoal offset grill, set it up for indirect grilling. This means lighting the charcoal on one side of the grill and placing the cheese on the opposite side, so the cheese is not directly over the heat source.
- If using a vertical smoker: Fill the pan with charcoal/pellet/wood/ whatever your smoker takes. You can also add wood chunks or wood chips for smoke flavor. Place the water pan in its designated spot within the smoker. Fill it with water. The water helps regulate the temperature and adds moisture to the smoking environment, keeping your meat tender and preventing it from drying out. If your smoker has multiple racks, arrange them based on the size and type of meat you are smoking. Look in the instruction manual for accurate instructions.
- If using a Gravity Series: Remove the heat intake and air intake slides. Open and fill the hopper with charcoal. Up to 10 pounds of lump, and 16 pounds of briquettes. Place the fire starter in charcoal grate and light. Turn on the controller and set it to the desired temperature. Close the lid and wait for the grill to reach temperature.
- Any other smoker: Investigate your grill's instruction manual for smoking instructions.
- Create a Smoke Pouch: Drain the soaked wood chips and place them on a sheet of aluminum foil. Fold the foil over the wood chips and seal the edges to create a pouch. Use a fork to poke a few holes in the top of the pouch to allow smoke to escape.
- Start Smoking: Place the smoke pouch directly on the heat source in your smoker or grill. Place the cheese blocks or chunks on a cooling rack or wire mesh on the opposite side of the smoker or grill, away from the heat source. Close the smoker or grill lid.
- Monitor the Temperature: Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature inside the smoker or grill. Keep the temperature below 85°F to avoid melting the cheese. You may need to add more wood chips to the pouch every hour or so to maintain a consistent flow of smoke.
- Smoke the Cheese: Smoke the cheese for about 2 to 4 hours, depending on how smoky you want the flavor to be. Keep in mind that smoking for a longer period will result in a stronger smoky flavor.
- Cool and Rest: Once the desired smokiness is achieved, carefully remove the cheese from the smoker or grill and place it on a plate. Let the smoked cheese rest at room temperature for about an hour to allow the flavors to mellow and the surface to dry slightly.
- Wrap and Refrigerate: Wrap the smoked cheese in wax paper or parchment paper, followed by plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Refrigerate the cheese for at least 24 hours before consuming. This allows the smoky flavors to fully infuse into the cheese.
- Enjoy: After the resting period, your smoked cheese is ready to be enjoyed! Serve it on a cheese board, use it in recipes, or simply savor it on its own.
Remember, experimentation is key when it comes to smoking cheese! You can adjust the smoking time and combine assorted flavors of woodchips to achieve your desired flavor intensity. Bon appetit!