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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 10-08-2012, 09:17 AM   #1
thirdeye
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Talking It Ain't Easy Bein' Cheesy - List Your Smoked Cheese Tips Here

With fall in the air, and the holidays right around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about smoking cheese. It's possible cheese could be the easiest thing to smoke - heck, it's ready to eat right of the package and a little smoky flavor can add just the right bump to something we often take for granted ("uhhh, do you want cheese with that?"). So, I thought a thread where we can all chip in some ideas, things to do & not to do, tips, tricks and even some ideas for using your smoked cheese. If you have a favorite smoked cheese story (like opening the smoker only to find all your cheese melted into the drip pan) let's hear it!!

Here are the 4 basic things I think are important.... Start with quality cheese, keep your smoker (or smoke chamber) as cool as you can, take it easy on the smoke, and understand what mellowing is all about. I can break these down a bit further.

1. Tillamook brand cheese is my favorite for smoking, and I buy the 2 pound bricks as the are easy to slice into manageable blocks.

2. I prefer cool days and will move my smoker into the shade, or use an ice tray below the cheese to keep the smoke cool. If my cheese gets too warm, I will move it into the fridge to cool it down then return it to the smoker. To much heat will sweat the milk fat to the surface, so after you turn your cheese, look at and smell your fingers... If they are oily and smell strong, your smoker and your cheese is too warm. If you see a noticeable color change, or if the cheese starts to deform.... your smoker and cheese is too warm.

3. My current favorite smoke generator is a A-Maze-N tray which uses sawdust, however I used a Big Chief electric for 25 years. My secret with the Big Chief was using the small chips in amounts of a couple of tablespoons at a time..... unplugging the smoker every 15 or 20 minutes..... and either rigging a box smoke chamber on top.... or using blocks to keep the the top lid open about 1/2". I have not tried the tin can and soldering iron method.

4. Cheese is dense and needs time to take on smoke. If the smoke is too heavy you will get a bitter layer on the outer surface. You want a light smoke for several hours.

5. Mellowing allows the smoky flavor to even out and become smoother. However, you should be able to sample your cheese throughout the smoking time, and it should be edible without any mellowing. and remember the outer layer will have a stronger flavor. Most importantly, different cheeses have different absorption rates, and the size of the blocks will make a difference. Mellowing can be from 2 days to 2 weeks or longer, so about 12 hours after smoking I will sample it and make a mental note of the flavor. This allows me to guesstimate a reasonable mellowing time. Sometimes after the sample it's not smoky enough... no bid deal, give it another smoke session. Shelf life is in your favor, smoked cheese lasts a long while.... well, sometimes it does.

6. I keep good notes including, outside temps, smoking wood, smoke time, and flavor observations at 1 day, 3 days and 5 days. I also jot down comments from folks I give some to.
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Unread 10-08-2012, 10:07 AM   #2
columbia1
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I found that by allowing cheese to come up to room temp before putting on the smoker it tends to sweat a lot less.
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Unread 10-08-2012, 12:20 PM   #3
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I try not to eat all of it myself....
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Unread 10-08-2012, 01:50 PM   #4
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I really want to master this sometime. I saw the fella on here a while back with the soldering iron that looked interesting.
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Unread 10-08-2012, 03:34 PM   #5
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Any suggestions on wood types to smoke with? I'm assuming strong flavored woods are out (e.g. hickory, mesquite,etc) -- should we stick to fruit woods or something along that route..?
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Unread 10-09-2012, 07:08 AM   #6
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Little Chief Electric Smokehouse with the cool smoke mod.

A lot of people toss the cardboard box they come in, mine is getting pretty ratty after 30 years, but it is insulation after all.

I have a grate that is larger than the LC that put on top of the smoker, set the grate rack on top of it and the box fits over it all. A couple pans of Apple/Alder sawdust and we're in cheese Nirvana.
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Unread 10-09-2012, 08:19 AM   #7
Smoking Westy
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Any folks smoking cheese on their WSM that care to share their setups? This is a timely thread as just last week I was talking to some buddies about wanting to try my hand at smoking some cheese.
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Unread 10-10-2012, 10:06 AM   #8
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It does not matter what kind of container you use whether it is a WSM or a cardboard box. All it does is 'contain' the smoke. I have never used a store bought smoke generator but they sound good. IMHO the most important thing is temperature. Remember you are (COLD smoking). That means if the outside temp is 60 degrees or less your OK. But, the inside temp should be about the same. That's why some folks use ice. The easiest way to keep the smoke temp down is to not create much heat in the first place. That's where the smoke generators come in. For me the soldering pencil is the easiest way to keep the temp down and the cost is nominal. Trial and error. KISS
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Unread 10-10-2012, 10:11 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by osx-addict View Post
Any suggestions on wood types to smoke with? I'm assuming strong flavored woods are out (e.g. hickory, mesquite,etc) -- should we stick to fruit woods or something along that route..?
I've used hickory quite a bit with great results.
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Unread 10-10-2012, 01:40 PM   #10
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I filled the water pan with Ice and also another tray of ice in the smoker. then just used the top rack. I think it was just 3 charcoal briquettes and a chunk of fruit wood. I only smoked for a couple of hours and it was a very mellow smoked cheese.
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Unread 10-10-2012, 01:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smoking Westy View Post
Any folks smoking cheese on their WSM that care to share their setups? This is a timely thread as just last week I was talking to some buddies about wanting to try my hand at smoking some cheese.
I use the soldering iron and can smoke generator in my WSM. I just set the can on the charcoal grate, load the can about half full of wood chips, and run the cord out the side door to plug in.

I put my cheese on the top grate. I only smoke cheese in the winter, so the cheese stays cool while it smokes.

It only takes about an hour to get a good smoke on the cheese.

Here is the can and soldering iron setup...



CD
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Unread 10-10-2012, 02:17 PM   #12
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A lot of good suggestions...I use a lil chief for cheese. Only suggestion I would add is a little smoke on cheese is better than too much. I usually use pecan, cherry or maple on cheese.
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Unread 10-10-2012, 04:16 PM   #13
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Actually I'm not opposed to using hickory for cheese, just be careful.

I use the soldering iron/can set up in my Egg. Great list of tips so far.
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Unread 10-10-2012, 07:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caseydog View Post
I use the soldering iron and can smoke generator in my WSM. I just set the can on the charcoal grate, load the can about half full of wood chips, and run the cord out the side door to plug in.

I put my cheese on the top grate. I only smoke cheese in the winter, so the cheese stays cool while it smokes.

It only takes about an hour to get a good smoke on the cheese.

Here is the can and soldering iron setup...



CD
Is that a regular sized can, or a larger than normal can
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Unread 10-10-2012, 07:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caseydog View Post
I use the soldering iron and can smoke generator in my WSM. I just set the can on the charcoal grate, load the can about half full of wood chips, and run the cord out the side door to plug in.

I put my cheese on the top grate. I only smoke cheese in the winter, so the cheese stays cool while it smokes.

It only takes about an hour to get a good smoke on the cheese.

Here is the can and soldering iron setup...



CD
i was considering the can and solder method with smoking pellets but folks online were saying that they needed to unplug the solder pen every once in a while because the smoke got too thick. caseydog, i know you are using wood chips, do you find you have to unplug the solder pen ever so often? or do you just plug it in and let it go? i ask because i'm using expanded metal kind of like the A-maze-n pellet smoker(which works quite well) but i dont really wanna buy smoking pellets when i have wood chips already.

chris
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