Smoking cheese is a popular technique done by many for a number of reasons. The first, and perhaps most obvious, is that smoking gives the cheese a unique flavor and consistency. Smoking cheese gives it a woody, earthy flavor that you can’t find in any unsmoked cheeses.
The second reason why smoking cheese is so popular is that it preserves the cheese and prolongs its lifespan. Smoking cheese was a particularly common occurrence before any refrigeration methods were invented.
However, as refrigerators are found within the majority of modern households, smoking cheese is generally used more for flavor benefits.
Once cheese has been smoked, you can keep it in the refrigerator for anywhere from two to six months. True, it needs to be packaged appropriately with vacuum-sealing to last this long. Once out of this packaging, the smoked cheese won’t last as long as if it was exposed to the elements.
This is an impressive jump from the time that a block of unsmoked cheese can last in the fridge. When unopened, unsmoked cheese can last for between six weeks and two months in the refrigerator.
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How long should cheese sit after smoking?
In a perfect world, you should let your cheese rest for two weeks after smoking. Aging your cheese will give it time to absorb the smoky flavors and mellow, avoiding any bitterness.
However, waiting for your smoked cheese to settle can be an excruciating experience, especially when the smell won’t let you forget that it’s in your house. But, waiting for your smoked cheese to mellow is an essential step in the process.
Once you’ve removed the cheese from the smoker grill, you should wrap it in parchment paper or untreated butcher paper, ensuring that there is a little amount of room for the cheese to breathe.
Put the wrapped cheese in your refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours. You can take it out after one day, but if you can try and wait for the full two. You won’t regret the results. Once you’ve waited for as long as you can, remove the paper packaging and vacuum seal your cheese.
Some people don’t have a vacuum sealer, so you can makeshift your own packaging with a zip lock freezer bag. Place the cheese in this bag and seal it after removing as much of the air as possible.
A good way to remove as much of the air as possible is to place the bag in water so that it is all submerged apart from the top seal. The water will force all of the excess air out of the bag so that you can seal it without any of the water getting into the bag.
If you’ve done this correctly, you will have your smoked cheese tightly packaged in a vacuum-packed sealed bag. Date these bags of cheese and place them back in the refrigerator.
It might not be what you want to hear, but you should now leave the cheese alone here for another two weeks. This allows the smoked flavor to distribute through the block of cheese and enhance the taste even more. After two weeks, you can eat your cheese - it will be worth the wait!
Can you eat smoked cheese right after smoking?
Yes, you can eat smoked cheese right after you’ve taken it out of your smoker, but it will be bitter and have slight moisture on the surface. At a minimum, you should consider resting your cheese for two days, but two weeks would give you the best results.
Your cheese will be surrounded by this smoke constantly for at least two hours, so you can imagine how much of that flavor will be sitting on the surface of the cheese block. If you chose to eat the cheese right after you took it from the smoker, the taste would not be how you’re expecting it to.
Instead of that mellow, earthy taste that is common with smoked cheese, a freshly smoked cheese block will have an acidic taste on the outside of the cheese while the inside won’t taste any different from how it did before the smoking process.
Allowing your cheese to wait for a couple of weeks before you eat it will let the smoky flavor mellow and spread throughout the cheese. This will leave your block with a consistent flavor throughout the entire thing to get the most from the smoking process.
Having said this, some people like the flavor of freshly smoked cheese! If you’re one of these people, then yes you can eat cheese that has just come out of the smoker.
What cheese can you cold smoke?
Cold smoking sounds like a counterproductive process, although it is actually a quite common and popular way to smoke foods. Cold smoking consists of smoking the cheese at a temperature between 68 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
This allows the cheese to be infused with smoke but not cooked, which is ideal for cheese that you don’t want to melt during the smoking process. Cold smoking is generally best used for cheeses that have high melting points.
Harder cheeses are also recommended to use with a cold-smoking process as they are less likely to melt during the cold smoking process. Good examples of these cheeses are as follows:
- Red Leicester
- Double Gloucester
Crumbly cheeses are also good contenders for cold smoking, such as Wensleydale, Lancashire, and Cheshire cheeses.
Softer cheeses do not smoke as well as hard cheeses, with blue cheeses being highly recommended to avoid cold smoking. Parmesan is also not recommended due to the smell and texture becoming very unpleasant after some time in the smoker.
Cheeses such as Brie and Camembert have many people on the fence, with some saying that they are not good for cold smoking while others think that they are the best. You’d need to use your discretion for these types of cheeses and whether you want to put them in your cold smoker or not.
Gourmet Flavored cheddar cheeses work great and can be affordable in a sampler pack, check out one on Amazon.com.
Can you freeze cheese after smoking?
You can freeze your cheese after smoking it, and you should if you plan on waiting more than two months to eat your cheese. First, you need to let your cheese age or rest one to two weeks, then package it up well to prevent it from becoming freezer burnt, and it can last for a while in the freezer.
However, many experienced cheese smokers have warned that freezing smoked cheese might degenerate it too much and take away from the flavor.
Freezing cheese that has just been smoked might prevent the flavor from penetrating further into the block and leaving you with an inconsistent flavor throughout.
Once you defrost the cheese this process won’t begin again, so you’ll be left with a strong acidic taste on the outside and a plain taste on the inside.
Freezing the cheese after you’ve refrigerated it for two weeks is a better idea, although some would say unnecessary. Smoking cheese is a good way to preserve it rather than freezing it.
Cheese is full of fat and water, meaning that when the water freezes it causes the components of the cheese to separate. The water creates ice crystals within the cheese, which when melted leave the cheese crumbly with oily patches.
Unless you’re looking to disrupt the structure of your smoked cheese, we wouldn’t recommend freezing it. Besides, how long is a block of home-smoked cheese really going to last in your household?
What is a good smoker for cold smoking cheese?
A great smoker for cold smoking cheese is the Masterbuilt 40-inch electric smoker with the added cold smoke attachment. Because you need to keep your temperature between 68 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit, it is the perfect smoker with insulated walls, digital controls, and Bluetooth options.
If you have a smoker or prefer a different model, never fear because modifications or accessories can help you out. Your main goal is to get cold smoke into your smoker, and we have a few different suggestions to accomplish that goal.
Our first device is a Smoke Chief Cold Smoke Generator. This device uses common wood pellets and can be mounted to the side of most smokers. The package includes everything you need to get started; however, if you add a 2-foot piece of 1-inch aluminum pipe, you will improve your results. Tip: never overfill the smoke generator because it will jam and stop smoking.
The top product that we use is A-MAZE-N Maze Pellet Smoker tray. With no moving parts or electricity required, it is the simplest tool we have. The pellet tray works great for cold smoke, but it is also an excellent way to smoky flavor to pellet smokers.
You will need a good lighter or a kitchen torch to start the pellet tray. Tip: for cold smoking, use this on a cool day because it produces a small amount of heat, and the tray needs a good air supply, or it will not burn consistently.
Modifying a smoker can be as simple a drilling a hole to insert a pipe or as drawn out as adding a vent system. Check out this video on modifying a Masterbuilt 40-inch charcoal smoker to use a pellet tray.
Is smoked cheese good for health?
Yes, smoked cheese is good for health as long as you eat it within reason and use a cheese low in salt and fat. No matter what type of cheese you use, you’ll be consuming a concentrated source of nutrients found within milk, such as calcium.
Smoked cheese also offers a number of other essential nutrients such as:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B12
Smoked cheese is also an excellent source of protein. However, smoked cheese is only as healthy as the cheese you use. For example, Camembert is high in fat and salt, with a fat content of around 24%.
Of course, this is not going to offer you the best health benefits. Or, if you do use this cheese to smoke, the adverse effects might outweigh the health benefits of smoked cheese. The healthiest cheeses include:
- Blue Cheese
- Goat cheese
Of course, these are not all suitable for smoking. The best would probably be cheddar, so smoked cheddar might be considered the healthiest smoked cheese out there.
Remember that eating cheese in moderation can be beneficial to your health, although overconsumption quickly turns it from good food to a bad one.