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Cold Smoked Cheese on 26” Kettle w/ SNS

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    Cold Smoked Cheese on 26” Kettle w/ SNS

    I hadn’t done this before, and found a bunch of posts here where people use A-Maze-N tubes with pellets in their smokers. Makes a lot of sense, but I’m fairly stubborn, don’t have one, and don’t want to buy one OR pellets just for this use. After a cheeseless "dry run" last weekend with outdoor temps ~50F I was fairly certain I could pull it off in my kettle with SNS. Here’s how it went today...

    Temps were sub freezing in Bull City overnight. My kettle lid was frozen on and I had to take a lighter to the vent cover before I could adjust it. Perfect! I started by lighting 2 Weber briquettes in a chimney. I used 2 fire starters, one after the other, to get these two lit well. In the meantime I added ice water to the SNS trough. Once lit I put them in the SNS, added two more briquettes on either side, and set a pecan chunk snuggly up against the lit briquettes.

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    I just gave that a minute or two with the lid off, got the cheeses on and the probe in place. I went with blocks of mozzarella, medium cheddar, and pepper jack for my first try. Bottom vent was about 1/3 open, top was about 1/2 open to start.

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    I got the lid down at 7:15am and it was 30F outside. After 40 min the ambient temp climbed to 80F so I took the lid off for ~5 seconds and replaced it. This really only gained me a few degrees, so I closed both vents slightly. I also felt the lid, and the side over the fire was warm, so I poured water over it to remove some additional heat.

    I was checking the smoke periodically because in my dry run I actually choked out my fire after adjusting the vents too much. And after an hour, I noticed no smoke from the vents so I opened it up to check on things. My initial two briquettes had about 30% left and weren’t touching the pecan chunk. So I just tightened up my little pile, closed the lid, and immediately smoke resumed. From this point on I never had to tend to anything. Temps stabilized around 80F and smoke continued to roll for the next hour.

    After 2 hours, this was the state of the fuel:

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    And the cheese didn’t melt! Outdoor temp was 35F at the finish.

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    I brought them and let them breathe for just a few, I could definitely detect the smokey aroma. Then I wrapped them in Saran Wrap and put them in a ziplock and into the garage fridge. Guess I’ll let you know in a month how they turned out! Definitely appears to be a fairly easy repeatable process, as long as the outdoor temps are cold enough.

    Thanks for this great post with the details and pics.. Dead of winter here in Wisconsin, I have a kettle with SnS and I love smoked cheese. And of course I do have a glorious selection of cheeses to choose from here ! Definitely going to give this a try. The hardest part has got to be the waiting to taste !


    • FishTalesNC
      FishTalesNC commented
      Editing a comment
      Definitely have better cheese up there, and definitely going to be hard to resist for a month! I set a reminder on my iPhone...

    • Richard Chrz
      Richard Chrz commented
      Editing a comment
      Agreed, La Crosse wi here. I am thinking it may be time to try.

    • holehogg
      holehogg commented
      Editing a comment
      I manage 2 weeks at most before I have tuck in but it is better the longer it lies.

    That's some brilliant improvising. I'm going to give it a try.


      Great write up. I may try doing this next Saturday. I will probably add a couple of bowls of ice water on the grate to try and further keep temps down. So, smoked cheese needs to rest for about a month before it's ready to be consumed? Why is that?


      • FishTalesNC
        FishTalesNC commented
        Editing a comment
        Not sure about the chemistry involved but it’s apparently all about the flavor. I read it tastes pretty acrid immediately after smoking, 2 weeks is sort of a "minimum", and after a month the smokiness mellows out well and is pleasant and present thru out the block of cheese. Maybe someone more knowledgeable & experienced help, but good luck on your cold smoke! 👍🏻

      Here's another way to keep things cool. Just add some ice.

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        So that first batch of cheese turned out amazing. It was ready Super Bowl weekend, and we have maybe 1/4 of it left (!!!). So I decided to try again using the same process, but with more blocks this time. Took advantage of cold temps yesterday in Bull City - it was 36F when I started at 10am and 39F when I finished at noon.

        One thing I learned during this cook I wanted to pass along to anyone trying it this way - I once again seemed to start losing heat/smoke 45 min to an hour into it. And once again it was because the briquettes had burned down sufficiently to where the wood chunk, initially placed alongside them, was no longer close enough to produce smoke. So I decided to put gravity to work, and set it on top of the briquettes - problem solved.

        The variety this go 'round:

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        After 2 hours:

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        I'm hooked! Pretty sure I can fit three more blocks in next time.


        • HawkerXP
          HawkerXP commented
          Editing a comment
          Looks kind of cheesy to me. ..., ..., ...!


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