Several years ago I started cold smoking cheese. I always loved cheese, but I didn't realize how much cold smoking can amplify most cheeses to become amazing.
Why am I writing this on a personal finance blog? Because when you can make homemade meals tastier, you are more likely to eat meals at home. This can save money in your budget, and also has the benefit in providing more leftovers.
The amount of flavor that is amplified when you cold smoke cheese is amazing. I haven't tried smoked cheeses bought from a store that tasted nearly as good as the method I describe below. And the great thing about it is it's fairly inexpensive and easy to do.
We use cheese in many different meals: burgers, enchiladas, lasagna, salads, sandwiches, quesadillas, etc. It isn't an exaggeration to say that cheese is one of our most favorite foods in the world. And cold smoking cheese takes it to a whole new level!
Cold Smoking Cheese Method
At first, it might seem like you need special equipment to cold smoke cheese. Of course, there are many ways to cold smoke cheese, but I found a method that is cheap and produces great results.
This is what you need:
- Any kind of enclosed grill. This could be a gas, coal, pellet, etc. As long as it can close it will work. You will not be turning on or lighting the grill.
- The A-MAZE-N-Tuber. This holds the pellets that burn to produce the smoke. This costs between $15-$30 and is very durable.
- Wood pellets. Anything will work, but I prefer to use fruit woods like apple or cherry.
- To prevent the cheese from melting, you will want to cold smoke when the temperature is less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit. At least in Montana, the best times to do this are in the spring and fall seasons. Or the winter if you can stand the cold.
You light the pellets so they will burn slowly. The easiest method is using a small portable propane torch, but you could also use lighter fluid to get it started. Let it burn for 10-15 mins before putting it into the grill. You don't want the pellets to burn out and not produce smoke.
Make sure to bring any cheeses you smoke up to room temperature by placing on the counter for a few hours before you start the process. I like to cut the cheese so that each chunk is 1-2″ wide in multiple blocks. Did I just say cut the cheese?
Here is an image of some cheese I cold smoked recently:
You then place the cheese and the A-MAZE-N-Tuber in the grill and close the lid. In most cases, you probably don't want to cold smoke for more than 2-3 hours. I like to rotate the cheese every hour or so.
Once you take the cheese off of the grill, let it cool. I usually wipe off any moisture buildup on the outside.
Here is a video that goes through the process:
Which Cheeses to Cold Smoke
You can pretty much smoke any kind of hard or semi-hard cheeses. I've smoked many kinds of cheddar, swiss, gouda, parmesan, and asiago cheese.
There are many sites that talk about which cheeses to smoke, but I found that in all cases it made the cheese taste better.
As long as the cheese isn't super soft, it probably can be cold smoked. Get creative! After you do this a few times you will learn which cheeses you like to smoke the most.
We usually end up getting blocks of cheese from our local Costco. These cheeses can get expensive, so we usually end up buying the cheese we want to use over two-months to spread out the cost. This also has the benefit of always having smoked cheeses available to use when we are prepping meals.
You will probably want to get higher quality cheese since it takes so much time to wait for the cheese before it is ready to consume.
If you go through a lot of cheese, you'll want to try to get ahead of it before you run out.
Waiting is the Hardest Part
You don't want to eat the cheese right after you cold smoke. It will taste like ash. You need to have it sit in the fridge for at least 1 month for the smoke flavor to even out in the cheese, but I prefer to wait at least 2-3 months before taking my first bite. The longer you can wait, the better it gets. Some people recommend waiting seven days before you eat the cheese, so you might experiment to see what you like.
I like to put the cheese in a vacuum sealed bag to make sure it doesn't get moldy and stick it in the back of the fridge. I'll label it with the kind of cheese and the date that it was cold smoked. That way you can easily know when it was smoked.
This article was a little different than what I usually post, but I've enjoyed doing this and thought others might find this interesting. I would love to hear if you do end up smoking cheese and how it turns out!