Found rarely in grocery stores, smoked cheese is an expensive and somewhat rare delicacy. Not everyone can afford it. The good way is to be creative with your cheese-smoking skills. So, how to smoke cheese at home without investing a lot of money? Well, here’s how you can do it like a pro.
Scroll down to know what the prerequisites are and how the plain mozzarella or cheddar cheese can be turned out into a smoked cheese with little effort.
- A smoking grill
- Smoke tube
- Parchment paper
- Wood chips
- Vacuum sealer
Ingredients – Choose Your Cheese!
Cheese is all that you need for smoking. However, as there are different types of cheese including mozzarella, gouda, cheddar, etc., deciding which one will be best for smoking is important. Since soft cheese can get troublesome to handle and absorbs too much of the smoke, try not to experiment with smoking them.
We recommend using hard mozzarella, gouda or mild cheddar as your key (and only) ingredient. They are hard enough to withstand the smoking temperatures and do not let the smoke dominate the flavor. Plus, you are saved from clearing away the mess created with soft cheese.
Frequently Asked Questions About How To Smoke Cheese
Why is Cheese Cold-Smoked?
Since cheese has a very low melting point (around 90°F), hot smoking i.e., cooking on the direct flame of the grill will lead to nothing but melting it. In lieu of this, cold smoking is adopted that flavors the cheese without cooking it. A smoke tube does this job by liberating smoke through the perforated walls that add a smoky flavor to cheese without raising the overall temperature.
However, in this cold smoking process, the smoke grill is used to hold the cheese while it is smoked.
How Long Will Smoking Take?
Well, there are two answers to the question. The time required for smoking is around 2 hours. But you cannot get to taste the subtle amalgamation of toasty, earthy and meaty flavors right after smoking. It requires at least 14 days for the taste to evenly distribute and mellow out.
What is the Ideal Temperature for Smoking Cheese?
Do not let the grill temperature exceed from 80°F to 90°F. Anything more than this can cause the cheese to morph or sweat. If you are not sure about how to control temperature, try keeping an ice pan in the smoking chamber like the water pans you utilize while hot smoking.
Where to Store the Smoked Cheese?
Try storing the smoked cheese in refrigerators. Freezing it is not really a good idea as the cheese may turn crumbly.
Which Type of Wood is Best for Smoking Cheese?
Just as choosing the right wood for grilling a turkey or pork is important, finding something that accents the taste of your cheese is equally critical. If you are smoking a mild cheese, choose a similar type of wood like cherry, apple or pecan.
Similarly, if the cheese has a strong flavor, grill it with woods like oak or hickory that leaves a punchy taste note. Some people also try burning dried tea leaves or nutshells with wood to add a unique flavor.
Guide on How to Smoke Cheese
1. Wait for a Cold Day
Cheese smoking in summer will probably turn out to be your worst experience. The reason is clear – your cheese is always ready to melt out. Wait until fall or winter arrives. If you are too excited to start up, plan smoking on the day when the temperature is forecasted to be around 60°F.
2. Cut the Cheese
Cutting the cheese in small blocks (3-4 inches) has two benefits: the smoking time will reduce and the smoke will find its way to penetrate the cheese completely. But if you want to retain the softness of the cheese and smoke the exterior only, go with cutting larger pieces.
3. Leave the Cheese Out of Refrigerator
Although you can smoke a frozen cheese, lock the best results by bringing it back to room temperature. Because some types of cheese morphs when subjected to heat right out of the refrigerator. This means it may lose its natural color, flavors or texture.
So, let it sit for 1-2 hours or until the temperature falls. Wipe the moisture and start prepping the grill.
4. Place the Cheese in Smoker
Delicate woods like apple, cherry or pecan are best for smoking cheese. Add and light them into the smoking tube. Once the flame extinguishes and the smoke starts to roll out, place the tube in the grill along with the cheese wedges. Close the hood and let the smoke flavor up the cheese for 2 hours.
You can lower the smoking time for light flavor, but do not keep it more than two hours or the smoke will taste overwhelming. Also, flip the cheese after every 15 minutes so that no side is undercooked or overcooked.
5. Time to Refrigerate
Want to taste your freshly smoked cheese? We suggest not to, as all you will munch in is harsh, acrid cheese. Therefore, be patient, wrap the cheese in parchment paper and refrigerate it for 24-48 hours.
Next, vacuum seal the cheese and put it back in the refrigerator. Write the date on it to remember when you smoked it. Let it sit there for 2 weeks at least. Finally, your cheese is ready with the mellow smoky flavor to melt onto the cheeseburger or to boost the flavors of pasta, soups, sandwiches and whatnot.
The Bottom Line
Smoking cheese is surely going to test your patience. Learning how to smoke cheese brings out equal parts of culinary science and art. But the heavenly flavors you are going to add to your dishes is worth the wait. Try it out and explore this new way of utilizing your BBQ grill.