Smoked Cheese - No Fancy Smoker Required
Smoking cheese adds an extra depth of flavor that can kick any recipe up to the next level. You can make your own smoked cheese with some very simple equipment, some good cheese and a little time. It is best to do this on a cool day to keep your cheese from melting. I prefer to do this when the outside temperature is below 60F so the cheese doesn't melt. Follow along and I'll show you how to make smoked cheese.
Since we want this to be cold smoked cheese, we don't need the heat of a smoker, just the smoke itself. We will be using our pellet grill as a container to hold everything but we won't be turning it on. Our smoke is created from a pellet smoker tube filled with wood pellets. You can use any grill for this or even a makeshift container to put it in to contain the smoke.
Making The Smoke
We will be using a pellet smoker tube to hold our wood pellets for this smoke. You simply fill it up with the wood pellets, light it and let it burn for a few minutes. After it's well lit, blow out the flame and let it go. It will smoke for three to five hours usually depending on the pellets you are using. This will be plenty of time for smoking cheese.
I like to use milder woods like apple, cherry or even maple to impart a mild smoky flavor to my smoked cheese. If you don't already have these wood pellets you might want to start with a multi pack of several different pellets and pick your favorite from there.
Types Of Cheese To Smoke
When I make smoked cheese I like to smoke several different types of cheese at the same time. My favorites cheeses to smoke are Gouda, Gruyere, Swiss, Cheddar and Havarti, but you could branch out and get creative with many other types of cheeses. You want to go for firmer cheese so that it can stand up to the smoking and not end up as a puddle at the bottom of your grill.
How To Smoke Cheese
You have your smoker tube, wood pellets, a grill or other place to smoke it and your cheese. Let's get started.
I typically slice the cheese into smaller chunks to maximize the surface for the smoke, typically four inch squares or so works well. Now i place it on a wire cooling rack, this is for ease of transport and to get it on and off the smoker easily.
Fill the smoker tube with wood pellets of your choice and stand it vertically on a solid fireproof surface. With a lighter or torch light the wood pellets at the top of the tube. Keep the flame on them till they are burning fairly well. Now let it burn like this for 3 or 4 minutes to ensure it is adequately lit. Once lit, carefully lay it down horizontally on your smoker or grill grate.
Put the rack with the cheese on the side of the grill opposite the smoker tube and close the lid. If your are using a smoker for this it should have enough ventilation already, if you are using a grill you should keep the lid cracked just a little to allow the smoke to get out of the cooking chamber.
I typically smoke it for about 2 hours but you can go 3 if you want it extra smoky.
Aging Your Smoked Cheese - This is not an option!
You didn't think you would get to eat this right away did you? If you try it now it will taste very bitter, overly smoky and honestly not very good at all. The cheese needs to age and let the smoke penetrate into the cheese.
First you want it to dry out a bit. You may notice that your cheese looks wet, this is the oils from the cheese coming to the surface. If they are excessive you can blot them off lightly with a paper towel but it's not required. Now put your smoked cheese on a cookie sheet and lightly cover with some parchment paper or even a paper towel and put it in the refrigerator for 24 hours or so.
If you have a vacuum sealer the next step is super easy, if not it's still fairly easy. Vacuum seal each block of cheese individually in it's own individual vacuum bag. If you don't have a vacuum sealer then put them in zip top bags and squeeze as much air as possible out of it. Now put them in the refrigerator and let them sit for a minimum of 1 week but preferably 2 for the smoke to absorb and mellow out. Now it's time to enjoy your smoked cheese!
How to Use Smoked Cheese
Smoked cheese is amazing just sliced on crackers or an addition to a charcuterie board. A spicy jam or just a single pickled jalapeno slice will make your cheese appetizer board stand out. Also, try to add smoked cheddar and smoked gruyere to your next homemade batch of macaroni and cheese. It'll take your dish to the next level!