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My last post about cold smoking cheese left off when the cheese was coming out of the smoker. All the guides I read recommended leaving it to rest for the flavours to develop – at an absolute minimum overnight but ideally a least a week. So I wrapped up the smokey sticks in parchment paper, labelled them and into the fridge they went.

cheese-packages

Occasionally, we’d take the packages out & sniff them but it was only today that we got to open them & dig in.

Let’s first remember what the cheeses looked like to start with. There was a Double Gloucester (the orange one), and two cheddars (a mature and extra mature).

cold smoking cheese

And after the smoking, they looked like this. The left most batch was in for 3hours, the middle for 6hours and the right batch for 9.5hours. Check out the colour difference!

cold smoking cheese

And so to the taste test…

cold smoking cheese - 3hrs

We started with the 3hours stuff as you’d expect. When we cut into it, the outside layer was clearly discoloured for 1mm or so and a little drier than normal. This held most of the flavour – the inner part was only subtly smokey. Even so, it was enough to overwhelm the Double Gloucester’s delicate flavour – the cheddars still tasted distinctly cheddary in addition to the smokey rind.

cold smoking cheese - 6hrs

After a palate cleansing cream cracker, we moved onto the 6hour batch. The surface discolouration is obviously more pronounced on these and it permeated 2-3mm into the cheese. As you’d expect, it was a stronger smoked flavour and the outer layer was tougher – it needed some actual tooth pressure to get through the rind. By now, the cheddars were indistinguishable from each other – you could still taste the cheddariness but not the difference between the mature and extra mature.

cold smoking cheese - 9hrs

Our excitement building while we ate another sorbet-substitute cracker, we rushed onto the 9hour batch. Awesome surface colour! It wasn’t until we cut them open that we could tell which was started life as a red cheese. The discolouration seeped into the cheese by a good 4mm (which is a considerable distance on these blocks which were only 20mm tall/wide) and the outside layer was rind-like & chewy. John thought the smokiness of these lessened the harshness you often get with cheap mature cheddar (which this was).

All in all, it was definitely a successful effort and we’ll try it again. The Cold Smoke Generator didn’t need any tending – it just kept smouldering away until all that was left was a little bit of blackened dust. A great bit of kit.

I couldn’t eat a lot of the 9hours stuff – even the 6hours stuff would be almost too strong for a sandwich – but they were nice as little pieces, as part of a cheese board. I imagine they’d also be good for adding flavour to cooking, where you don’t want to use a lot of cheese (if such a time exists).

Things to try experimenting with next time:

  • John thought it would be interesting to have bigger blocks of cheese in for longer – to see what that did to the outer layer/inside – so we’ll try that. I suspect it’s a longer smoking that gets Martin from Old Sleningford Farm his parmesan-like cheddar – our 9hr cheddar was getting there in terms of dry texture but wasn’t quite there.
  • Different wood. Oak was nice but others – hickory, apple, cherry – were recommended by the smoking guides, so it’ll be interesting to see the difference.
  • A bigger chimney hole. Apparently airflow is can impact it a lot and while there was a constant flow of smoke from my chimney hole (…not a euphemism), I think it could have been more efficient – just something else to experiment with.
  • Chillis. Changing the topic away from cheese, I didn’t mention chillis last time – I forgot that you could smoke them and they’re not mentioned in my books either. As we discovered on Sunday that five of the bell pepper plants my dad gave me in the spring are actually chillis – in addition to the dozen? chilli plants I grew myself – I’m sure we’ll have plenty to experiment with in a couple of months!

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11 Comments on Cold smoking cheese – taste testing the first batch

  1. dtbroccoli says:

    I used to work near the smoking ovens in a commercial butchery, they used beech chips sometimes, but normally it was hickory so that smoked bacon taste you get is normally from hickory if it is cheap bacon you are buying.

    Not sure if that helps though.

    Interesting post though, I like it.

  2. louisa says:

    That’s really interesting, thanks — I’ll get some hickory and try smoking both bacon & cheese with it. Mmm, bacon and cheese.

  3. Nigel says:

    Mmmm good blog, I have recently purchased a Pro Q smoke generator and tried smoking some cheap mild chedder in a kettle BBQ for 3 hours over beech. I chose the mild chedder just as an experiment in making a nondescript cheese much better and after a week in the refridgerator wrapped in cling film did a taste test on some friends at the local pub and they were asking me where I got such nice cheese from :0). THe smoke flavour is quite subtle and goes very well with the creamy taste of the cheese.

  4. louisa says:

    Hi Nigel,

    Thanks for the comment. After I got back from my cheesemaking course last week, we had some artisan cheese alongside my cheap smoked cheddar – and everyone preferred the smoked stuff. It’s amazing how it can improve the experience so much!

    Also thanks for mentioning that you did it in a kettle BBQ – I had thought about that when I first started looking into smoking but then completely forgot about using one and was planning to make a custom cold smoking smokehouse – think getting a kettle BBQ would be a lot easier!

  5. Nigel says:

    Cheers, Cheesemaking course , ill look at that link tomorrow, sounds wonderfull. You know you could always get one of the Pro Q smokers that stack up and use that as a fairly high capacity cold smoker, might be easier to manage than a custom smokehouse. Im really considering getting one to try out very soon. Also you can hot smoke and wet smoke in those too …Going to start a cheese smoke with some whiskey barrel oak dust tomorrow …will let u know if its any good :0)

  6. Nigel says:

    Oh forgot to say going to put some habenero chilli flakes on top of the Pro Q Smoke generator and see if there is any flavour imparted into the cheese…I Hope so !!!

  7. louisa says:

    Ooh, let me know how that works out – both the whiskey oak stuff and the chilli stuff. Someone said sprinkling herbs on top imparts that flavour but I wonder if it’ll transfer spiciness too…

    I tried smoking actually chillis the other week – I don’t think I’ve written it up yet but in short, big fat fail. I think they need to be done a whole lot longer than one CSG cycle, and probably with a strong wood (I was using hickory, think they’ll need oak).

  8. Nigel says:

    Well, the Cheese is out of the smoker, and tried a little taste, very very smokey, and I couldnt discern any chilli but that may be due to the strength of the smoke taste masking it but there was certainly a chilli tang in teh air when smoking. Will now put the cheese away in the fridge for a few days and have a further taste as the smoke should mellow a bit. I obtained some mexican smoked chillis (mulatto, ancho and pasilla and some chipotle) They had the texture of sundried tomatoes so can only imagine they had been smoked for a very long time for the moisture to have been so low. Maybe they smoke and then sundry them.

  9. louisa says:

    After my failed attempt, I found a guide which suggested drying them in a dehydrator or oven after smoking so maybe that’s where I went wrong — maybe, like resting cheese, that’s where the flavours really develop. We had some of the smoked chillis fresh in an omelette a few days later and they tasted like chillis, not smoke. I will perfect it, I will!

    Am very intrigued by how the chilli smoking works out…

  10. Nigel says:

    Hi Again,

    Sorry not to respond earlier but spent the weekend away visiting friends.
    Well the habenero flakes produced a very chili loaded smoke that made checking the smoker slightly painful, you could feel the chili in your eyes and throat a bit.
    But suprisingly upon tasting the smoked cheese there was very little if any chili taste or sensation at all. Maybe will try with some different herbs and spices next time.

  11. louisa says:

    Hi Nigel, that’s really interesting – so probably not worth the pain for the outcome. I’ll probably not rush to try that then!

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