If you love cheese like I do, some of your favorite cheeses are probably smoked gouda or smoked cheddar. But did you know you can smoke of cheese easily yourself? Yep, it’s not that hard, and it’s a lot of fun – so let’s get into it…
Fall and Winter are a great time to cold-smoke cheese due to the cooler/colder temperatures outside and the need to keep the temp down when smoking cheese. Most cheeses have a melting point around 90°F, this is when solid milk fat begins to liquefy. So, the key is you need smoke without the heat – hence, cold-smoking.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A grill, smoker or small confined space outdoors to do the smoking. This could easily be your gas, charcoal or pellet grill or your existing smoker. You’re not going to start or turn on you grill or smoker for this exercise – all you need is a compartment or chamber to hold the cheese and confine the smoke.
- A smoking tube. These are stainless steel tubes with holes in them to hold and burn wood pellets to create the smoke. We have Amaze-N Smokin’ Products smoke tubes and pellets at the store. A 6” tube will smoke for 2 hours and a 12’ tube will smoke for 4 hours. We also have expandable 7-12” tubes.
- Pellets. If you already have a pellet grill, then you’re familiar with pellets and you can use the pellets you already have. If you’re new to pellets, they are compressed sawdust from different types of wood. They burn easily to create the smoke without the high temperatures you would usually get from your grill or smoker. You can get pellets in a number of different wood “flavors” – alder, apple, cherry, hickory, mesquite, pecan, oak… We have them available in 2 lb. boxes, so you’re not having to invest in and store a 20 or 40 lb. bag just for smoking cheese!
- And then, obviously, you need cheese! You can go as fancy or as basic as you want. Cheddars and goudas work well, or you can go with a soft goat cheese, or even cream cheese. The harder cheeses will need to smoke longer, around 2-4 hours. The softer cheeses can go for a shorter timeframe, like an hour or less.
Here’s how you do it:
- If you have a hard cheese, put it on a cookie cooling rack over a cookie sheet. This will allow the smoke to circulate all around the cheese without you having to flip it periodically. If you have a soft cheese, you can put it in a small foil dish, or form one out of kitchen foil. For even more flavor, you can sprinkle your favorite BBQ rub on your soft cheese.
- Place your foil dish with cheese or your cookie rack with cheese on your grill or smoker.
- Fill your smoking tube with your pellet of choice. Typically, the milder smoking woods like fruitwoods or pecan are ideal for cheeses. But feel free to experiment and see what you like. Light the pellets in your smoking tube with a lighter or kitchen torch and place the smoking tube in your grill or smoker. If possible, keep the tube as far away from the cheese so that any heat that the burning pellets gives off does not melt your cheese. If you’re able to adjust any air vents on your grill or smoker, adjust them so the burning pellets smolder, but don’t actually flame up. Obviously, the idea here is we want the smoke without the heat.
- Again, let your hard cheeses go 2-4 hours and your soft cheeses for an hour or less.
Once the cheese is done smoking, resist the urge to eat it all immediately. Go ahead and get a taste, but it’s recommended to wrap the cheese in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to let the smokey flavors settle into the cheese. The flavor of the cheese will improve over time as it chills in the refrigerator.
Enjoy!! And Happy Smokin’!!