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How To Cold Smoke Cheese: A Beginner’s Guide

Scamorza, typical italian smoked cheese

If you’re wondering how to cold smoke cheese then you’ve come to the right place. 

If you’re curious about cold smoking and looking to try your hand at it, then this post is for you.

We’ll explain what cold smoking is, what you need, how to cold smoke cheese using a grill, and tips to help ensure you craft a final product that’s to die for. 

Shall we?

What Is Cold Smoking?

Cold smoking is used to preserve foods and to enhance the natural flavors. It’s achieved by continually smoking foods at temperatures between 68°F – 86°F for an extended period of time. It doesn’t actually cook the food, it simply adds the smokey flavor to it. 

This process is said to be dated back to the cavemen, where caves or huts didn’t have ventilation to let the smoke escape. The result was longer preservation of meats and the smoking flavor we know it provides foods. Others give the process credit to Caribbean natives who used it to preserve fish.

Either way, we’re thankful for the unique smoky flavor this process gives to foods today!

What Do You Need To Cold Smoke Cheese?

There are several ways to cold smoke cheese, however, the basics of what you need are similar. You’ll need the unit you will use to house the smoke, the cheese, and the fuel used to create the smoke.

1. A Grill Or Smoker

It isn’t necessary to use a smoker to cold smoke cheese. The purpose of the unit isn’t to maintain temperature but to house the smoke. In fact, you can even use a pellet grill to successfully cold smoke your cheeses.

2. Cheese

best cheese to cold smoke

There are many types of cheese you can choose from. Supermarket cheese, like cheddar cheese or pepper jack cheese, work just fine but you can spring for a more artisan cheese if you wish. 

There are plenty of choices out there. Popular artisan cheese choices include:

  1. Mozzarella
  2. Gouda
  3. Brie
  4. Manchego
  5. Camembert
  6. Chevre
  7. Gorgonzola

The choice of cheese is up to personal preference. If you’ve never cold smoked cheese before, it’s best to use cheddar cheese. It’s more cost-effective while you’re perfecting your technique.

3. Fuel

There are a handful of fuel sources you can use to create an ample amount of continual smoke.

  1. Smoke pellets
  2. Charcoal
  3. Wood Chips

We recommend wood chips. Applewood is a great choice for first-time cold smokers. 

How To Cold Smoke Cheese: Charcoal Grill

One of the easiest ways to cold smoke cheese is by using a basic charcoal grill. But, before you can start cold smoking your cheese, you’ll need to make sure everything is prepped and ready to go. 

What You Need

  1. Charcoal grill
  2. Charcoal
  3. Wood chips (applewood)
  4. Ignition source (lighter)
  5. Cheese (your choice)
  6. Cake cooling rack
  7. Aluminum tin
  8. Ice
  9. Thermometer

Prep Work 

  1. Be sure your charcoal grill and grates are completely clean. 
  2. Gather your items.
the easiest method for cold smoking is by using a charcoal grill

The Cold Smoking Process

Once you are certain your grill and grates are completely clean and you’ve gathered your items, you can get started!

  1. Place the charcoal at the bottom of your grill as you would normally. Focus the charcoal away from where you plan to set the cheese. You don’t need to use a lot of charcoal for this, 3-6 coals will work. The purpose is to burn the wood chips. 
  2. Ignite the charcoal.
  3. Once the charcoal is going, set a handful of wood chips on top of the charcoal. 
  4. Put the grill lid on and let the smoke build. 
  5. Fill the aluminum tin with ice and place the cake cooling rack on top. This will help buffer the cheese from reaching a melting temperature. You can add an additional rack on top to give your cheese grill marks if you want. 
  6. Place the aluminum tin as far from the charcoal as you can.
  7. Check the temperature. Make sure the grill doesn’t get above 90°F.
  8. Place the cheese on top of the tin. Make sure you leave space between the cheese so that the smoke can travel.
  9. Close the grill lid. 
  10. Check every 30 minutes to make sure the smoke is still going, that the temperature is below 90°F, and check to see if it needs more charcoal or wood chips. 
  11. For a lighter smoke flavor, smoke for 1-2 hours. For a more smoky flavor, smoke for 2-3 hours.
  12. Turn the cheese(s) halfway through the cold smoking process. 

4 Tips For Cold Smoking Cheese

Now that you know how to smoke cheese, let’s cover a few tips to make sure your creations turn out perfect. 

  1. Most cheeses will begin to melt around 90°F, therefore cold smoking cheese in cooler weather is best. 
  2. If you live in a warmer climate, find a shady spot to cold smoke your cheese and monitor temperature closely.
  3. Softer cheeses absorb smoke easier than harder cheeses.
  4. If you like a harder smoked shell to your cheese, cut the blocks into medium-sized pieces (for example, if you have a regular Tillamook Cheddar block of cheese, you can cut it in half). If you like a softer center, then use larger blocks of cheese.
knowing what temp to cold smoke cheese will ensure a successful process

Go Forth And Cold Smoke Your Cheeses

Now that you know how to cold smoke cheese, you can go forth and create some cheesy masterpieces! If you’re needing the right supplies, then check out our annex. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff will help you with all your outdoor cooking needs.

Happy outdooring!

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