Pecan Cold Smoked Cheddar
Cold smoking is very easy to do with a good quality cheese, a few simple tools and time. Cold smoking is the process of infusing a wood smoke flavor into the cheese without the use of heat. It is far more delicious than the “smoked cheeses” that are available in grocery stores. Cold smoke some cheese once and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it years ago.
For 15 Persons
- 3 blocks Cabot® 3-year aged white cheddar (or any high quality cheese)
Accessories used: Smoker Tray, Pecan Sawdust, Butane torch, stainless steel wire mesh tray, 18 sealable sandwich bags, and 2 (1 gallon) sealable freezer bags.
- Clean out any unused charcoal and ash from the grill to ensure unrestricted air flow.
- Fill 1 1/2 rows of the tray with Pecan sawdust. Taper the first 2 inches of the sawdust where it will be ignited to promote the migration of the embers.
- Place the tray on the charcoal grate and ignite the sawdust. Leave the dome open for 5 minutes to ensure that the embers have enough oxygen.
- Set the draft door and top vent to allow for air circulation. You should be able to see a light amount of smoke exiting the top vent.
- Cut the blocks of cheese in 2 inch sections. Wetting the knife before each cut helps keep it from sticking to the cheese and breaking off a piece.
- Evenly space the cheese sections on the tray and insert in the grill. Smoke 4 hours.
- Insert each cheese section into individual sealable sandwich bags and remove as much air as possible. Insert 9 sections into each of the two sealable gallon freezer bags and remove as much air as possible.
- Place the two bags in the refrigerator for 30 days or more. Enjoy!
Tips For Getting Started
- Choose a time (day or night) when the ambient temperature is 70°F (20°C) or lower. This will prevent the cheese from softening and sweating the oil in the cheese. At higher temperatures a tray with ice can be inserted in the grill to cool the interior, but we have not tested it.
- Use a quality grade block of cheese for better absorption of the smoke.
- White Cheddar is used for this recipe (our favorite), but Colby, Gouda, Gruyère, mozzarella, and provolone are other popular cheeses for cold smoking.
- Pecan sawdust is used, but any fruit or light wood can be used. Alder, apple, peach and orange wood are great options. Hickory and oak can be used, but they are so strong that you will want to reduce the amount of cold smoking time.
- You can eat the cheese right after cold smoking, but it may taste a little harsh. The best option is to refrigerate it for at least 30 days. This gives the smoke a chance to work its way into the cheese for a mellow smoky flavor. We enjoy the mellow flavor the most after six months.
- Smoking acts as a preservative, so you can keep it in the refrigerator for many months without the risk of the cheese developing mold. If a small amount of mold does occurs, just scrape it off.
- When serving, allow the cheese to be at or near room temperature for the best flavor.