Keen on learning how to make a cold smoker for cheese? Do you want to give smoked cheese a try? Building a cold smoker is a pretty straight forward process. It won’t take up much time. And I’m more than certain that you already have the basic equipment needed for the task lying around your home!
You’ll need a container that can either be in the form of a plastic box, wok, or old refrigerator, Just make sure it has a lid. A small pan, wood chips, wood chip burner, and rack are also some of the items you need.
But what I can’t overemphasize is the importance of setting up your smoker properly to ensure a safe cold smoking process. Why? Cold smoking is known to enhance your food’s flavor, in this case, cheese. You only need to taste the delicious rich taste of smoked cheese to understand what the hype is all about! The process also helps preserve your foods for much longer. Cold smoked food can last months when refrigerated!
However, if the process isn’t done the right way, health risks are imminent. Unlike hot smoking, smoked food isn’t cooked during the cold smoking process. As such, the low temperatures present the perfect environment for bacterial growth. When contaminated smoked food is ingested, a serious health condition called botulism may result.
It ‘s important to note that certain foods like fish and sausages present a higher risk for bacteria formation than others when cold smoked. And thankfully, foods like cheese fall under the low-risk category.
But either way, proper set-up of your cold smoker is key. And that’s the goal of this article; to give you a simple step-by-step guide on how to go about building your smoker the proper way. I’ll also teach you how to smoke your cheese the right way for the best results.
Table of Contents
How Do You Make a Homemade Cold Smoker?
I’ll give you two methods of building your very own homemade smoker for smoked foods. Sure, you could buy a new smoker, but of course, building your own is a much cheaper option. And it’ll work just as well. Besides, you’ll find the process quick and easy. It won’t take much time, no matter which method you decide to go with.
What I can promise you is that this smoker will be both compact and portable. This is something you’ll especially appreciate if you’re working with limited space in your backyard. And building this smoker takes very little time. To construct this smoker, you’ll need to get the following items together.
Items You Need
- Wok or Plastic box. Make sure that whichever container you pick has a tight-fitting lid that’ll help create thick smoke.
- Soldering iron. Make sure you buy a new one for the task to eliminate the presence of toxic materials. The same can’t be promised if you use an old one.
- Wood chips that’ll be responsible for creating the smoke.
- Small to medium-sized pot (preferably one made of ceramic).
- Rack (preferably one made up of metal) that you can use to place your cheese on.
- Electric cord.
Steps to Follow
- The first step is to cut a hole on one side of the container towards the bottom. Make sure that the hole can fit your electric cord.
- Cut your electrical cord and stick it through the hole you’ve created.
- Add wood chips inside your ceramic pot.
- Place the pot inside the plastic box towards one corner.
- Place your metal rack above the pot.
- Place your food on top of the rack.
- Place the soldering iron inside the ceramic pot to create your wood chip burner.
- Place the lid over the plastic box and make sure that it’s tightly secured.
Leave your food to smoke. How long the cold smoking process takes will on the type of food that you’re smoking.
I like to call this second method, the tin-can method. Why? Because you’re basically building your smoker using a tin! While building this smoker is more or less similar to the method I outlined earlier with regards to items you’ll need and the building technique, there are slight variations.
Items You’ll Need
- New soldering iron. Luckily for you, this item won’t cost you much. You can get it for less than $10 on Amazon.
- Smoking chips of your choice. Just know that certain types of chips like mesquite work well with stronger cheese while other types like nut wood are best suited for mild cheese. You do have the option of substituting wood chips with other types of chips like bamboo chips or dry leaves if you’re keen to try out new flavors.
- Aluminum foil in the event that your smoking chips start to flare up.
- Container of your choice with a tight lid as per examples listed at the beginning of the article.
Steps to Follow
- Start off by drilling a hole near the bottom of your can. Again, make sure that it’s big enough to fit your soldering iron through.
- Stick the soldering iron through the hole.
- Wrap aluminum foil around the soldering iron’s handle to ensure it doesn’t melt.
- Place chips inside the can up to the half-way mark. I’d advise you to use dry chips. Using wet chips can result in bitter smoke.
- Cover the top part of your can with the remaining aluminum foil.
- Poke holes onto the foil where smoke can escape from.
- Place this can inside the container you’ve chosen.
- Place your cheese on top of the rack and leave it to smoke.
If you have an old fridge, here are some other ways to build a homemade cold smoker.
How Do Cold Smokers Work?
Now that you have your smoker up and ready, it’s important to know how this unit works. This way you get a better understanding of the cold smoking process and how to attain the perfect smoked food. As I previously highlighted, cold smoking doesn’t involve cooking the food. Rather, it’s a technique aimed at preserving your food. You’ll need to follow these steps to get smoked food right:
- Start off by curing your food. This process is aimed at drawing out moisture from the food which is known to prevent bacterial growth. Curing also makes smoke better able to penetrate the food.
- Go ahead and place your food inside the smoker’s chamber.
- Smoke is then let into the chamber for the duration of the smoking period.
- Ideally, the cold smoking temperature should be kept between 20 and 25 degrees. That’s why close monitoring of the entire process is crucial.
- During the process, your food is exposed to the smoke. The secret of the entire cold smoking process lies in exposing your food to smoke and not heat. Once heat penetrates your food, it ceases to be cold smoking.
- Get ready to enjoy your smoked food!
How Long Does it Take to Cold Smoke Cheese?
Different foods take different time to smoke. Cheese, in particular, takes anywhere between 2 and 4 hours to smoke depending on the type of cheese. I’d advise you to use premium cheese like Farmhouse cheddar and Gouda if you want the best results.
Cold smoking cheese that isn’t of high quality won’t grant you the same results as the final flavor is compromised. To smoke your cheese the right way, follow these quick and easy steps:
- Start off by prepping your cheese for smoking. Leave it to air dry in your refrigerator for some hours, preferably overnight.
- Before smoking cheese, be sure to bring it to room temperature.
- Remove the wax rind on your cheese if present. This rind is known to prevent smoke from penetrating the cheese properly.
- I’d advise you to cut up your cheese into smaller cubes or boxes. This will ensure that smoke penetrates the cheese evenly since more surfaces are exposed. I can assure you that the final result will be much better than chucking a 1kg chunk of cheese inside your smoker!
- Line your container, be it a wok or refrigerator with foil for temperature regulation.
- Place your smoking chips at the bottom of the container.
- Place a tray of cold water directly above the smoking chips to prevent the temperature inside the grill from heating up.
- Place your metal rack on top of the ice rack.
- Place the cheese on the rack.
- Apply the smoke source.
- Once smoke is generated, close the container with the lid securely.
- Be sure to turn your cheese frequently so that there’s even smoke penetration. A 30-minute duration is a good time frame
- Keep your eye on the temperature.
- When cold cheese smoking, it’s important to maintain light smoke throughout the smoking process. You can use a smoking device to keep track of the smoke. Add more wood chips when you notice that the smoke is dying down.
- Once the cold smoking cheese process is complete, don’t consume it right away.
- Rather wrap it in a ziplock bag and refrigerate for approximately 24 hours so that the flavors can be infused properly and settle.
- After this, you can go ahead and enjoy your smoked cheese! Ready to give it a try?
What Temp Do You Smoke Cheese?
The key to cold smoking cheese lies in accurate grill temperature control. The idea is to keep your cheese intact throughout the smoking process. A leave-in probe thermometer will help you with this.
As a general rule of thumb, you should smoke cheese at temperatures that are below 32 degrees. Any higher and your cheese will start melting.
Aside from keeping a close eye on your smoking temperature, there are few tips you can keep in mind to ensure your cheese smokes beautifully. I’ll list them below:
- When smoking cheese, pay attention to the texture. As you can imagine, soft cheese will melt much quicker than firm cheese because it has a higher melting point.
- Rather smoke on a cool day than a hot one. This is because the high outside temperatures are likely to heat up and melt your cheese much faster than smoking on a cold day. Either smoke your cheese in winter, in the early hours of the morning, or in the late hours of the day for best results.
- A good idea is to place foil pans around your cheese inside the smoker to regulate the smoker temperature during the smoking hours. Place the pans either above or below the cheese.
- When cold smoking cheese, avoid using tools that’ll heat up the temperatures inside the grill, Remember the idea is to cold smoke, not hot smoke your cheese. The latter will melt your cheese.
- Avoid smoking cheese that’s frozen or cold. I know it might make the texture firmer, but condensation is likely to form on the cheese affecting the smoking process. That’s why it’s important to bring the cheese to room temperature before you start with the cold smoke process.
Can You Now Cold Smoke Your Cheese?
I’ve given you steps you need to make your very own smoker for cheese. And I’ve also outlined the cold smoking cheese process. Now it’s up to you to give it a try!
Building a smoke for cheese is pretty simple. Using it is even simpler! And what’s even better is that you can use this DIY smoker to smoke foods other than cheese.
Why did I single out cheese? It’s easy for you to control how much smoke your cheese absorbs, you can determine the cheese flavor you want depending on the chips you use and it’s downright fun! Plus, smoking cheese doesn’t take much time. 2 to 4 hours is all you need to get the job done.
Just make sure that you use chilled cheese at room temperature, ensure a steady flow of smoke, and don’t let the temperature get to above 32 degrees. Around 25 degrees is fine.
With that said, why not make your very own smoker using the steps outlined here and start smoking cheese today? You can use your smoked cheese in burgers or salads, it’s up to you! Ready to give it a try? Drop me a comment.