Cheese makes everything taste better! Do you agree? I’m sure you do! Anything with cheese is heavenly – cheese sauce, mac and cheese, nachos with cheese, and baked potatoes with cheese! Pasta is never complete without topping it with grated Parmesan or cheddar cheese. Did you also know that cheese was made by accident? Same with the process of smoking cheese. Smoked cheese is one of the best things you can do to cheese, aside from melting it.
How Cheese and Smoked Cheese Came To Be
Cheese was discovered by accident around 8000 BC when refrigeration was not yet available. People back then used the organs of sheep, goats, cows, and buffalo to transport milk. The natural enzyme found in their stomachs, called rennet, preserved the milk and caused it to curdle. This curdled milk was strained and extra salt was added to preserve it. Thus, cheese was born.
In addition, smoked cheese was also discovered by accident. People used to store food in a cupboard above the fireplace. The smoke from the fireplace wafted through the cheese and gave it a unique smoky flavor. Smoking cheese also helps preserve it. Back in the olden days when refrigeration was not yet possible, smoking is one of the methods to preserve food and that includes cheese, meat and fish.
Easy Steps for a Delicious Smoked Cheese
Now that you know how cheese came to be I’d like to share with you these easy steps to smoke cheese. The best way to do this is using an outdoor grill or smoker and under cool weather. The trick is to keep the temperature below 90°F (32°C). Smoked wood also gives that additional flavor to smoked cheese. Recommended wood for smoking are apple, chestnut, hickory, oak, and alder wood. You can also use the lighter wood such as pecan or maple.
- Choose your cheese. Make sure to choose the best cheese for smoking to avoid melting. Use hard or semi-hard cheeses such as hard mozzarella, cheddar, Gouda, and pepper jack. Brick-sized cheese is more cost-effective. You can just slice or melt what you need later.
- Freeze the cheese. Freezing the cheese 2 hours before smoking it prevents it from melting too quickly. Plus, the smoke disperses better throughout the cheese.
- Prep the grill. Your cooling rack is the best tool to use for smoking the cheese. You can safely use the stainless steel cooling rack in an outdoor grill or smoker. Set your smoker or grill to a temperature below 90°F (32°C).
- Smoking the Cheese. The secret to smoking the grill is not the heat but to create smoke. So, it is important that your grill has a cover. You can use a variety of fuel if you don’t have wood available. Your options are charcoal and wood chips, smoking pellets, sawdust, straw or hay, or a handheld smoker. You can also use a tube smoker so it doesn’t take up space in the grill and it lasts longer. Arrange your cheese on the roasting rack and place it inside the smoker. Light the tube smoker or fuel and extinguish the flame. Make sure it creates smoke, then close the lid. Check back to make sure it is still smoking.
- The Waiting Game. Smoke your cheese for 2 hours. If you want a lighter smoky flavor, leave it for just an hour.
- Storing the Smoked Cheese. Once you have smoked your cheese, wrap it in parchment paper so it can breathe and keep it in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours. After that, unwrap and vacuum seal the cheese. You can do this by placing it in a Ziplock bag and submerging it in water just below the seal, to let the air out, then seal tightly. Avoid getting water or moisture inside the bag.
- Label the Cheese. Don’t forget to label the cheese and when you smoked it. For better taste, wait for 2 weeks before you consume the smoked cheese. Earlier than that will give you an acrid or bitter flavor.
- Storage. Properly stored smoked cheese can last in the fridge up to 6 months.
Cheers to Cheese!
Smoking cheeses is a traditional method to enhance the flavor and prolong the life of cheese. You can smoke varieties of hard cheese then store them for mac and cheese, sandwiches, or even something to nibble on! Enjoy!
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