Adapted from SmokinOkie’s Cheese 101 Draft
Just about any cheese can be cold smoked.
In order to effectively smoke cheese it must be done at low temperatures.
Most cheeses will start to change texture between 120 and 140 degrees.
It does not hurt the cheese to smoke at higher temperatures, however you just need to be aware that it may melt and will not have the same texture once it cools.
The following guidelines will work for cold smoking cheese in a Cookshack AmeriQue Smoker Oven:
1. Cut cheese into chucks that are not bigger than 3" thick. The larger the pieces the longer and harder it is to get the smoke flavor through the cheese.
2. You can wrap the cheese in cheese cloth. Some people like the looks of the small grid the cheese cloth leaves on the cheese, other than that there isn’t any real advantage to this.
3. Put the racks in the AmeriQue using the bottom holes so the Cookshack Cold Smoke Baffle can be put in place of the lowest grill. Slide the cold smoke baffle in just far enough to close the door leaving a gap at the rear of the smoke chamber.
4. Place pan of ice on top of baffle, the more ice the less problems you will have with the temperature rising above 120 degrees.
5. Place cheese on grills in smoker leaving room between each piece to allow the smoke to circulate.
6. Pellets, sawdust, or wood chips work better for cold smoking than wood chunks because they will burn quicker and give more smoke faster while keeping the oven from getting hot. Any of the hard fruit or nut wood will work for smoking cheese. Start out by using about a cup of pellets or chips. If you are using chunks of wood use about 4 oz., but they should be split into smaller pieces
7. Put the wood in the wood box and close the door.
8. The cooking chamber should be monitored by using a remote meat thermometer dropped through the smoke vent hole to insure the temperature does not get above 120 degrees.
9. Turn on your smoker and set the temperature to 225 degrees. It doesn't really matter what temperature you set the smoker at as you will not be heating up the cooking chamber.
10. You should see a steady stream of smoke coming out of the smoker around 12 to 15 minutes into the cycle. As soon as this happens turn the unit off. Do not leave the smoker on for more than 15 to 20 minutes because you have isolated the smoker’s thermostat from the heating element. Leaving the smoker on for more than 25 minutes may damage your smoker and create a safety hazard.
11. Another option is to start the smoker with or without the door ajar, let the smoke start coming out, put the cheese in and turn the smoker off. This method can be a little tricky because you'll lose some smoke and the wood ay ignite when the door is opened; however you let the initial “yellow” smoke out which may cause bitterness
12. After turning the smoker off, let it set unopened for 1 hour.
13. At the end of one hour check the cheese to see if it has enough smoke flavor, but remember the cheese will age with time and the cheese should be allowed to age for a week to allow the flavor to develop.
14. If the smoke flavor is too light repeat steps 9 and 10 adding wood chips as needed.
15. If you repeat steps 9 and 10 more than twice keep a very close eye on the temperature of the cooking chamber. If the smoker gets too hot, open the door and remove the cheese, allow it to cool 5 or 10 minutes before starting the smoking process again...