Not many can resist the scent and tempting allure of a smoke ring-crusted wedge of cheese. You probably saw our earlier post about the cold smoker attachment and all of the wonderful creations you can make with it. The door to endless possibilities has been opened. That was just the salivating start of your magnificent journey of cheese smoking.
We'd like to help you continue further by giving you some key tips and tricks that you can use to smoke some incredible cheese with or without a cold smoker. This will be much much easier if you have Traeger's Cold Smoker, but if you don't you can still do it.
TIPS & TRICKS to SMOKING CHEESE
- Smoke your cheese in the fall or the winter. Any outside temperature warmer than 60 degrees is probably too warm for cheese smoking (even with a cold smoker). If you don't have a cold smoker you want it as cold as possible outside. If there are icicles on your window, it's a great day to smoke some cheese! You want to maintain the lowest temperature possible to prevent the cheese from melting.
- Cut the cheese into 2-inch by 4-inch chunks to help the smoke penetrate through the cheese faster.
- Make sure the cheese is well-chilled or even frozen before beginning to smoke.
- In the absence of a cold smoker attachment, fill a metal colander with ice and set it over a rimmed pan or baking sheet to catch the drips. Place the cheese on a piece of foil or grate on top of the ice to protect the cheese from the water.
- Try using Pecan or Apple pellets for softer/more delicate-flavored cheeses and using Hickory or Oak for harder/stronger-flavored cheeses.
- Turn the cheese every 15 or 30 minutes (depending on total smoke time) to expose all surfaces to the smoke, replacing the ice as needed.
- When beads of sweat start to develop on the outside of the cheese it's getting too warm.
- Do not over-smoke! Cheese absorbs flavors easily and quickly. The softer the cheese, the shorter the smoking time.
- If desired, refrigerate the cheese, uncovered, for several hours or overnight so it can develop a smoke-receptive "skin". The smoke flavor will intensify after a day or two.
- Avoid wrapping cheese in plastic wrap. Wrap in parchment paper or waxed paper, then, if you're concerned about it drying out, slip it into an UNSEALED plastic bag. Plastic should never come in direct contact with the cheese. (Yes, we know: Most cheese shops or departments do it wrong.)
- When serving smoked cheese, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to warm up slightly before enjoying it.
TESTER CHEESE SMOKING
We tried out the cheese smoking tips ourselves, without using a cold smoker. We smoked three different kinds of cheese with three different densities: soft fresh mozzarella, gouda and hard sharp cheddar.
We cut the cheese into a few chunks (about 2-inch by 4-inch) and then froze them. (removing the rind from the gouda, as well)
We kept the cheeses cold while smoking by filling a tray with ice and placing the cheese chunks on top of a cooling rack to keep the cheese dry, rotating the cheese every 10 to 15 minutes.
Here are the final smoking times for each of the cheeses:
MOZZARELLA: 30 minutes
GOUDA: 45 to 60 minutes
CHEDDAR: 45 to 60 minutes (up to 90 minutes if you want more smokiness)
You'll notice the color darken on the cheeses as they develop that tell-tale smoke crust.
The verdict? Overall the cheeses smoked so quickly and were just irresistible with the addition of that sweet, smoky note.
There are so many cheeses out there just waiting to be smoked. Try it out for yourself and let us know what tips and tricks you've discovered!