Any cheese that has been imbued with a smoky flavor can be considered smoked cheese. When prepared properly, it has a distinct flavor that, in addition to smoke, includes hints of meatiness, earthiness, and nuttiness.
The smoking process not only adds flavor, but also helps the cheese last for a long period in the fridge. Actually, before refrigeration was developed, this was the preferred technique of food preservation.
Smoking cheese has been favored by cheesemakers for centuries due to the positive impact it has on the cheese’s flavor and the fact that it slows down its ripening, making it last longer.
Smoked cheese is widely available at grocery stores, but its price is typically a little steep. Fortunately, with a little know-how, you can smoke cheese at home.
Ok, so how do you smoke cheese? To infuse cheese with smoky taste, simply expose it to smoke, either warm or cold, for a short period of time. A smoke flavour, sometimes known as liquid smoke, can be added to cheese during the aging process.
Learn how to smoke cheese in a variety of ways by reading on! We’ll talk about several ways to use smoked cheese and offer up some expert advice on smoking it. Alright, so let’s get going!
What Is Smoked Cheese?
Any cheese that has been smoked to give it a distinctive, rich, and nutty flavor is referred to as smoked cheese. Either the cheese is cold smoked or hot smoked. This causes a layer of yellowish-brown material to grow on top.
Best Types Of Cheese For Smoking
For smoking, hard or semi-hard cheeses are preferred. Soft cheeses absorb a lot of smoke and can melt at room temperature. Cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, brie, Swiss, and Monterey jack are some of the greatest cheeses to smoke.
If this is your first experience smoking cheese, we recommend starting with hard and mild-flavored cheeses like cheddar before progressing to the more expensive varieties.
Smoked cheese can be eaten as a snack or appetizer, added to pasta, sandwiches, burgers, pizza, and nachos, or used to make dips or cheese sauce.
Best Methods For Smoking Cheese
It is believed that smoked cheese was discovered by accident in a wood-burning fireplace, however its exact origins remain obscure. Although the procedure is essentially the same, smokers are used instead of open fires today. Using smokers or big commercial smokers, smoke is blown over wheels or blocks of cheese as they mature.
In addition, cheese can be softly or heavily smoked, depending on your desire, to impart a faint smoky flavor to the final product. The type of fuel you use for smoking cheese is also a crucial consideration, as it can impact the flavor of the cheese.
Apple, hickory, alder, oak, and chestnut are some of the most regularly utilized varieties of natural wood in pellet, chip, or powder form. You may even combine multiple varieties to create a unique blend. There are numerous methods for smoking cheese, including:
Method 1: Hot Smoking
Commonly used for smoking many different types of meals, hot smoking is a typical technique. However, it may not be the greatest option when cheese is included.
The temperatures employed, which range from 130°F to 175°F, are sufficient to partially cook and melt the cheese. However, the cheese can be smoked more quickly. If you’re going to be smoking your cheese in a hot smoker, it’s a good idea to put it on a huge pan of ice.
Method 2: Cold Smoking
Cold smoking is the alternative method and the one most frequently used for smoking cheese. This refers to exposing the cheese to smoke that is held at a temperature between 85°F and 90°F at all times to allow the cheese to slightly soften without being cooked.
Depending on the outcome you want and the degree of smokiness you desire, smoking cheese at this temperature may take a few hours. A cold smoke generator attachment, which may be used with a variety of smokers, grills, and other cooking apparatus, is used for cold smoking.
The cheese is smoked through the generator without getting too hot by using a cold smoke generator that is packed with wood-based fuel that is gradually smoldered.
Method 3: Liquid Smoking
It is also feasible to smoke cheese without using actual smoke by utilizing a product known as liquid smoke. Liquid smoke is made by soaking genuine smoke in cheese during the fermenting process.
The flavor it produces is nearly identical to that of actual smoke. Because it is integrated into the cheese when it is fermenting, the flavor is totally permeated. That is not generally possible with either hot or cold smoking.
How To Cold Smoke Cheese, Step By Step
Cold smoking is the most popular method for smoking cheese, and if done correctly, it typically produces excellent results. To cold-smoke cheese, you will need the following:
A grill or smoker
A chilly ambient temperature, ideally 60 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
A fine smoked cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, brie, gruyere, Swiss, or Monterey jack)
A tube smoker or a cold smoke generator
biomass as a fuel (pellets, chips, or wood powder)
A grilled plate or tray with holes for effortless cheese placement and removal.
Material for wrapping, such as plastic wrap or a Ziploc bag
The following are detailed instructions for cold smoking cheese:
Bring the cheese to room temperature before to preparation. At least two hours before smoking, remove the tobacco from the refrigerator and wipe away any extra moisture.
Place the smoking tube or cold smoke generator in the smoker or grill and ignite it.
Ensure that the cold smoke generator emits a constant stream of smoke without any fires.
Arrange the cheese on the grill pan or grate so that the pieces are not touching and there is ample airflow between them so that the smoke can penetrate the cheese from all sides.
Using a thermometer or an automatic cold smoke generator, monitor the grill/smoker temperature and smoke the cheese for several hours.
After the cheese has been smoked, remove it from the smoker, wrap it in plastic or in bags, and let the flavors develop for at least a week.
What Temperature Is Cheese Smoked At?
Smoking cheese is best done at a low temperature, therefore hot smoking is not the preferred method. However, since cheese begins to melt at 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you should never smoke it at that temperature or higher. A lower temperature can help maintain the minimum heat levels, so keeping an eye on the forecast is a smart idea while smoking cheese.
What Is The Best Fuel For Smoking Cheese?
You may make smoke for your cheese in a variety of ways. Natural lump charcoal, woodchips, sawdust, hay, and stray are a few frequent fuel options. Out of these, wood pellets are one of the most commonly suggested fuels for smoking cheese.
The wood pellets can smolder and produce a continuous amount of smoke for several hours with the aid of a smoking tube or a cold smoke generator. Despite the fact that all types of wood can ignite and emit smoke, cold smoking requires wood that can emit a lot of smoke while emitting little heat.
Hardwoods including cherry, apple, hickory, beech, oak, and alder are a few prominent kinds. Even better, you may mix several kinds of wood pellets to give your cheese a distinctive flavor. No matter what kind of wood you use, make sure to smolder it rather than ignite it.
Useful Tips For Cold Smoking Cheese
Cold smoking cheese is a straightforward and simple process. However, there are a few fast recommendations you can follow to attain the greatest results:
1. Pick A Cold Day To Smoke Cheese
Maintaining the proper temperature is crucial to the success of cold smoking. It is best performed when the temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher temperatures may cause the cheese to melt and possibly become somewhat cooked. If this is not the desired outcome, consider the ambient temperature before smoking cheese.
2. Cut The Cheese Into Smaller Pieces.
Cheese is typically marketed and sold in blocks or wheels. To prepare it for smoking, however, the rind should be removed and the fruit should be chopped into smaller wedges. A length of no more than four inches is recommended so that the smoke can freely go through it. Increasing the area that is directly exposed to the smoke hastens the aging process. Cut the cheese into smaller pieces if you like a stronger smoke flavor and a firmer center.
3. Bring Cheese To Room Temperature First
Although there is no law prohibiting the smoking of cheese that is frozen or refrigerated, the best results come from allowing the cheese to get to room temperature first.
The cheese may lose its texture, color, and flavor when smoked from frozen. For this reason, you must always remove any moisture and let it rest for an hour or two at room temperature before smoking.
4. Choose The Right Fuel
You should never underestimate the value of good smoking wood and how it influences the final result whether smoking cheese or anything else.
You must select the appropriate type of wood to complement and improve the flavor of your cheese. When smoking soft and mild cheese, use apple, cherry, or pecan wood that will not overshadow the cheese’s flavor and scent.
Hard cheeses with a strong flavor should be paired with something equally robust, such as oak or hickory. For a fun twist, combine it with dried tea leaves and nutshells.
5. Maintain A Low Temperature
When cold smoking cheese, you should always attempt to maintain a temperature below 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Above that temperature, the cheese will melt.
You may utilize an automatically regulated temperature chilly smoke generator. Or, if you’re using a simple tube smoker, you can use an ice pan to control the temperature. These ice pans assist maintain a cold temperature and mitigate any external temperature fluctuations.
6. Turn The Cheese Every 15 To 30 Minutes
Exposing as much of the cheese as possible to the smoke will ensure that the smoke travels throughout the entire piece. To achieve this goal, turn it over at regular intervals (every 15 to 30 minutes).
7. Pay Close Attention To The Time
The sort of cheese you use and the degree of smokiness you like will determine how long it will take to smoke your cheese in total.
While certain cheeses can be prepared in as little as 30 minutes, others may require many hours of smoking, with a greater smoking duration corresponding to a richer flavor.
But bear in mind that cheese absorbs flavors more quickly than meat, so over-smoking it could give it an overpowering flavor.
It’s also crucial to remember that cheese will collect more smoke particles if it has any moisture on it. In the end, this will make the smokeiness stronger.
Harder cheeses burn significantly more slowly than soft cheeses. The perfect flavor may need some trial and error, though. Experienced smokers can determine the cheese’s doneness based on the rind’s color.
As a general rule, two hours of smoking should be sufficient to provide a flavorful and well-balanced smoky flavor to hard and semi-hard cheeses like cheddar or gouda.
How To Store Smoked Cheese
The overall time required to smoke your cheese is determined by various factors, including the type of cheese used and the level of smokiness desired. It is important to let home-smoked cheese rest before considering long-term storage options.
This extra time allows the smokey flavor to infiltrate every nook of the cheese, creating a delightful and robust flavor in every mouthful.
The ideal method is to wrap the cheese in cheesecloth, cheese paper, or untreated butcher paper and place it in the fridge for 2 days to 2 weeks. Once that is done, you can keep your smoked cheese in one of the following ways:
Vacuum sealers are an excellent alternative for long-term storage since they remove all of the air from a bag to create an airtight seal.
By decreasing the quantity of air within the bag, you reduce the likelihood that bacteria and other impurities may cause the cheese to decay and spoil. Additionally, the vacuum seal helps preserve the flavor and moisture of the smoked cheese.
You can vacuum seal your smoked cheese with vacuum pack devices. Simply place the cheese in the bag, insert the bag into the machine, remove the air, and seal the bag.
Smoked cheese that has been vacuum-sealed can last up to one year in the refrigerator. Before storage, be sure to label the bag with the date.
Storing smoked cheese requires a vacuum sealer, although a high-quality plastic freezer bag will do in a pinch. Before securing the bag, ensure sure as much air has been removed as possible.
Submerging the bag with the cheese inside while keeping the opening above water is a straightforward method. Avoid letting any moisture enter the bag at any costs.
The air in the bag will be compressed by the pressure of the water outside. The bag can then be sealed and removed from the water.
However, if you find that process too cumbersome, you may always just lay the bag flat and squeeze the air out with your hands. It’s best to do this numerous times to force out every last bit of air. Parchment paper may be useful when preserving hard and semi-hard cheeses in airtight containers.
Another excellent method for preserving smoked cheese for long-term preservation is waxing. For hard cheeses with no moisture, it’s a good choice. How to wax cheese is as follows:
Make sure the smoked cheese is clean and free of impurities before waxing. Use vinegar to clean it, then pat it dry with a paper towel. For a while, let it sit at room temperature to completely dry.
Dry it once more because any surface moisture will make it difficult for the wax to adhere to the cheese’s surface.
Next, dip the cheese in the wax, coating only one side. Put it aside to dry, then repeat on the opposite side.
To make sure the cheese is thoroughly wrapped and covered from all sides, repeat the procedure a few times.
Waxed cheese can last for a very long period if it is kept at a cool temperature.
A smoker or grill
A chilly ambient temperature, ideally 60°F or below
A tasty smoked cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, Gouda, brie, Gruyere, Swiss, or Monterey jack)
A cold smoke generator or a tube smoker
Fuel derived from wood (pellets, chips, or wood powder)
A grilling pan or tray having holes to make it easier to place and remove the cheese from the grill.
Plastic wrap or a Ziploc bag can be used as wrapping material.
You should get the cheese out of the fridge and at room temperature. Remove it from the fridge at least 2 hours before you plan to smoke it and dry it thoroughly.
Start the smoker or grill up with the smoking tube or cold smoke generator lit.
Make that the cold smoke generator is producing a constant stream of smoke but no fire.
Arrange the cheese on the grill pan or grate in a way that allows smoke to penetrate it from all sides, but in which the pieces aren’t touching.
Allow the cheese to smoke for a few hours, keeping an eye on the grill’s temperature using a thermometer or using an automatic cold smoke generator.
To let the cheese’s flavors fully develop, you should take it out of the smoker, wrap it in plastic or bags, and let it sit for at least a week.
Here are some further queries we thought you might have now that you are fully aware about cheese smoking and the various methods you can use to do it:
Can You Freeze Smoked Cheese?
Yes, you can freeze all types of smoked cheese for 6 to 9 months without losing flavor or texture if properly covered and stored. You must ensure that the cheese is tightly sealed. This will keep freezer burn and excess air out of the bag, preserving the smokey flavor and quality of the cheese.
How Do You Defrost Smoked Cheese?
To prevent the cheese from drying out as it thaws, it is preferable to let frozen smoked cheese thaw in the plastic wrap it was originally packaged in. The best approach to do this is to place the frozen cheese in the fridge for at least 24 hours, preferably 48. Then, cool it down slowly until it’s at room temperature.
Though time-consuming, this technique guarantees a consistent smoky flavor and mouthwatering texture for weeks or even months.
What Is Liquid Smoke?
Condensing the real smoke from burning wood yields liquid smoke, a natural product. Smoke and steam are produced when wood is burned. Through a cooled tube that collects the smoke and filters out pollutants like soot and ash, the water in the form of vapor is condensed.
The outcome is a yellowish-brown substance that can be added as a flavoring agent to a number of meals, including marinades, cheeses, and meats that are “smoked,” marinades, and barbecue sauces.
Can You Cold Smoke Cheese In The Refrigerator?
Because of the distinct smokey aroma and flavor that will develop in the cheese, smoking it in a refrigerator is possible, though it requires a special, empty fridge.
Put a hot plate inside the fridge and set a wood chip pan on top of it to make a smoker. Put the cheese on the top shelf of the fridge and the ice pan in the middle.
For 1 to 6 hours, with the hot plate on, the cheese can absorb the smoke’s flavor. Inspect the ice and cheese for signs of problems every 10 to 15 minutes.