How to Create Gourmet Cold Smoked Cheese

Smoked cheese is a savory delicacy that adds a unique and delicious flavor profile to any recipe or can be used as a snack or appetizer when served alongside crackers or bread. With Louisiana Grills Cold Smoke Cabinet it is a fairly simple process to make gourmet smoked cheese in your own backyard. However, regardless of the equipment you decide to use, follow this advice on how to cold smoke cheese and start creating dishes that will leave a lasting memory.

What is Cold Smoking?

Cold smoking is the process of smoking food at temperatures between 68 - 86°F. It does not cook the food, it just infuses the smoke flavor into it. For example, if you are smoking meat, you will have to cure it it is a fairly simple process to make gourmet smoked cheese in your own backyard. However, regardless of the equipment you decide to use, follow this advice on how to cold smoke cheese and start creating dishes that will leave a lasting memory.

What Happens to Cheese When it is Smoked?

When cheese is smoked, two things happen:

  1. Smoky flavor gets infused into the cheese.
  2. The milk-fat in the cheese rises to the surface and creates a preservative skin around the outer layer of the cheese. The longer the smoke, the thicker and harder this layer is and the stronger the flavor.

The rind that is created on the outer layer is edible (albeit chewy) and it’s earthy, nutty flavor can be used to enhance the umami presence in a dish such as soups and sauces.

Cold Smoking Cheese – The Fundamentals

The “smoked” cheese bought at the store is full of liquid smoke and isn’t actually smoked at all. The resulting flavor is strong and the rind on the outer edges of the cheese is very dark and hard.

Cheese that is smoked the old-fashioned way (that is, with wood fired smoke) is a delicate and delightful flavor that is both subtle yet complex (think layers of earthy, sweet, salty, and savory notes).

Be sure to follow these items and you’ll see for yourself what authentic, decadently cold smoked cheese tastes like.

1. Dry Your Cheese

Be sure to dry out your cheese by first keeping it overnight, unwrapped, in the refrigerator. Then, before smoking, let it sit and reach room temperature. Drying the cheese helps preserve it in a similar manner to curing meat. The dryness helps keep bacteria from growing on the cheese during the cold smoking process.

2. Choose Your Hardwood

Your choice of hardwood depends on how you want your cheese to taste. Some prefer fruitier hardwoods such as apple or cherry, while others like a nuttier taste and opt for pecan. Whichever wood you choose, be sure it is 100% natural food grade hardwood with no additives or fillers. Other types of wood or wood pellets can either be toxic to humans or just not very pleasant to taste.

3. Smoke Outside in Cooler Temperatures

It’s just easier to keep temperatures in the cold smoking zone (between 68 - 86°F ) if you’re not performing it in a hot environment like the Summer heat.

4. Smoke Your Cheese for 2 to 4 Hours

The length of time you cold smoke your cheese will depend on the amount of cheese you are smoking and how strong of a smoke flavor you prefer. The longer you smoke, the smokier the taste will be. Also be sure to rotate your cheese every 15-30 minutes to ensure each side is evenly smoked.

5. Don’t Turn on the Grill or Light the Smoker

If your pellet grill or smoker doesn’t have cold smoke cabinet extension that will keep the heat source away from you cheese, it is best to use a smoking device like a smoke tube which will generate smoke, but not heat.

6. Put a Tray of Ice Water Below the Cheese

Place a baking pan full of ice water on the rack below the one holding your cheese. If you don’t have a lower rack, you can place a grill grate on top of the baking pan and put the cheese above the ice water. This will help the cheese stay cool at all times during the cold smoking process.

7. Let the Cheese Rest for at Least Three Days

After all that work, you might be tempted to use it on your hamburger, but we recommend letting it sit, wrapped in cheese paper for at least three days. This will let the flavor permeate the cheese even more as it rests and the fat and proteins in the cheese have a chance to settle.

The Best Types of Cheese to Use for Cold Smoking

There are many types of cheese you can cold smoke, but we recommend using harder cheeses since they will be least likely to melt slightly during the cold smoking process. Blue Cheese, Gouda, Cheddar, Brie, and Swiss are all examples for cheeses that taste great when smoked and have high melting points. Parmesan is not recommended as the flavor of smoked parmesan can be quite pungent and unappealing.

Cold Smoking Made Easy

Cold smoking is relatively uncomplicated when you have a Louisiana Wood Pellet Grill with a Cold Smoking Cabinet extension for the LG 700, 900, and 1100 grills (or the LG Champion) Simply load your favorite cheese in the cabinet, turn your LG to smoke, and your cheese will come out beautifully done in 2-4 hours. No need to rotate your cheese on its sides either as the cool smoke circulates all throughout the cold smoke cabinet, hitting every side. The result is savory, flavorfully smoked cheese, perfect for snacks, hamburgers, salads or with your favorite wine.

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