You have various options for cold smokers when it comes to cheese. I’ve used all of them, and I wanted to help you on your cold smoking quest.
Cold Smoking is something I love to do, it can bring out a whole new dimension of flavor. It doesn’t require anything really apart from a little cold smoke (and a chamber – more on this below).
Sometimes you only need 15 or 30 minutes of smoking cheese to get a desirable flavor. But remember that you won’t actually find out straight away what the smoke-level flavor is.
Quick Cold Smoking Cheese Tip
You need to rest the cheese and in a reusable container or something and let it permeate inside, trust me it will get smokier after 2-3 hours in the fridge.
Best Cold Smokers for Cheese
After many years here is the equipment for the cold smokers, all very simple to set up.
- Charcoal and Wood Method
- Pellet Tube or Maze Smoker
- Cold Smoking Accessory for a BBQ Smoker
- Cold Smoker Generator
Cold Smokers – Quick Guide for Equipment
Now let’s do an overview of each cold smoker for your delicious cheese.
Charcoal and Wood Method
Above I just mentioned a cardboard box, chamber, and wood.
To explain, when I have been away from my various cold smokers, at a friend’s place, or travelling. I have the urge to do some cold-smoked cheese or other cold-smoked projects.
I came up with this simple process.
I used a camping gas burner to get a single piece of charcoal lit.
You need some form of blue heat hot butane lighter torch.
I like a crème brûlée torch. If your grill gets hot enough, you can also use a gas burner on high to get a piece or two of charcoal going.
You just want a quarter or less of it white and burning. This means it can smolder for about half an hour.
A decent chunk of low & slow charcoal will burn for 30 minutes to an hour, which is plenty of time to cold smoke your cheese.
You can even use a ‘snake’ method and have 1 piece of lit charcoal burn through, and have another piece on the other side.
Remember, it does depend on how large the chamber where you are smoking is. Whether is a grill with a hood or in a metal container, smokehouse, low and slow hot smoker or inside an old fridge for instance.
With cold smoked cheese, and this may seem a little bit obvious but it needs to be a little cold to do it!
The general guide to cold smoking is it needs to be under 86°F/30°C.
Above this meat, like fish actually starts to cook, it’s also just safer to create a cold smoker for the cheese in a colder environment, as it is a dairy product.
I like to smoke cheese at under 60°F/15°C, often just in the evening as things start to cool down.
You want a little bit of airflow when cold smoking, but the old saying that less is more when it comes to the cold-smoked flavor I think is very true.
I’ll be surprised what 15 or 20 minutes of cold smoking will do to the cheese flavor. Up to 2 hours, with decent amounts of airflow through the cold smoking area, is key.
Even in my super-secret cold-smoked dry-cured bacon recipe, I’m only smoking the pork belly for eight hours, which isn’t really that long
It’s more about hanging it and intensifying flavor by drying it out. (I use grapevine wood with spices of juniper berries and garlic.
With a cardboard box, you can just adjust the flap easily on the top, you can either cut yourself a shelf or use some sort of hook and have the cheese hanging from the top.
Careful of course, with a cardboard box, since it is combustible and you have to be very cautious about how you set up the charcoal, in a metal non-combustible tray is important.
Any type of smoking wood like wood pellets, wood sawdust, or wood shavings can be used. It goes without saying, that you’re using a low resin hardwood either you bought the wood at a store or got your own.
Fruit trees and grapevines are very useful for having your own easy supply from pruning and trimming. (dry and chip it)
So as mentioned get some charcoal burning, put half a handful of smoking wood on it and then provide a little bit of airflow.
And that’s it your cold smoking cheese!
Pellet Tube or Maze Smoker
Probably one of my favorite ways to do cold smoked cheese, even though I have a huge range of options at home.
I prefer to keep it simple, I did explore the idea of refining a motorcycle exhaust baffle as a cheap pellet smoker DIY style.
But going around mechanics. I could only find big chunky car exhaust baffles, the metal was very heavy and I would’ve had to probably spend a lot of time drilling more holes.
So for $30 a board pellet tube, you stand upright, fill it with pellets, get the top lit with a decent lighter torch, let it burn for six or seven minutes, and blow it out (here is a post on using a pellet tube).
If you’re not smoking meat or don’t plan to you could probably get away with the 6″ pellet tube, you still get two or three hours of smoking out of one load.
With the 12″ pellet tube you can get 4 to 6 hours depending on what type of wood you use.
Maze smokers are all similar designs, but you can sometimes use a tea candle set up to start the maze.
Some of the designs are only for sawdust, and some of the designs are for sawdust and pellet wood.
Check out some pellet tube and maze smoker I recommend here.
Also here are some tips on using a pellet tube smoker I highlighted:
Cold Smoking Accessory
If you have an electric smoker you can get an offset separate cold smoking attachment sometimes.
It’s a little investment but it means you can switch it on and use electricity easily to pump some cold smoke.
You do the cold smoking in the main chamber just with the power off and no heat going into it.
It depends on your setup but yeah there are a couple of accessories to existing barbecue and low & slow smokers.
Certain brands like the electric Masterbuilt Smoker, have attachments that can attach to the side for cold smoking. Here is an article I wrote about it.
There aren’t a lot of smoke generators on the market but they do a good job of producing cold smoke, and you can actually control how much air pushes through them and hence the amount of smoke.
They work on the venturi effect so air is pushed through the middle and it pulls the burning smoke which is in a vertical tube through it. Pretty ‘Cool’.
You can attach these to any space or cooking area so the one that I have of used in a very old kettle grill sometimes.
I can place things on the grill inside and pump in the smoke like this.
Basically, it’s a variable pump with a dial, considering I’ve had it for about 8 years and only done a little bit of maintenance on it that’s lasted a while.
It can be the biggest investment for cold-smoking some cheese though! But wanted to give you towns, so more if you want to expand your cold smoking repertoire in the future!
Check out more I wrote on one of the decent smoke generators here.
Cold Smoking Cheese – Length of Time
I definitely wouldn’t go more than 1 to 2 hours for most cheeses, but it all depends on your taste preferences and how much airflow you’ve got going through.
The goal for me, is to not overpower the flavor of the cheese.
If your looking for the 'ducks nuts' (that means a very good bit of equipment). A smoke generator can be used as a cold smoker, or adding smoke to indirect cooking which equates to a form of 'low & slow' bbq or making smoked ham and some much more.
The inventor of smoke generators was Smokai, it's a simple device that uses the venturi effect and a variable air pump to control the amount of smoke you are pumping.
I have a range of cold smoking options, and the Smokai is my favorite.
By far the smokai is the most efficient cold smoker I've come across because you have control.
It also burns very clean, which flavors the food exceptionally well. I've been using smoke generators for over 10 years, and this one is the ducks nuts.
Check out this review I did of the Smokai Smoke Generator here.
If you are new to cold smoking, cheese can often be a great start project, here is a video I recorded all about cold smoking which may help.