22 January 2013

Smoking Cheddar cheese

One day I was in the back yard smoking chipotle peppers, (I grow jalapeno peppers and let them ripen until they turn red, just for this purpose). As I was taking the last tray of peppers out of the smoker, I was lamenting to myself that there was still so much good smoke left and I hated to waste it... I was casting about for something to put in the smoker to take advantage of the remaining smoke, when it dawned on me that I had a huge block of cheese in the house that I was going to cut up into pieces and freeze. I am vegan and don't eat cheese, but my husband loves it. He is especially fond of smoked cheese, but it is so expensive that I usually only get it for special occasions. So I decided to smoke some of the cheddar just as an experiment.

 I was afraid that the cheese would melt, and I didn't want to waste it, so I started out by just putting one small chunk of cheese in the smoker. I looked in the side door of the smoker and checked for heat. The coals were mostly gone and all that was left was the fruit wood prunings smoldering in the tray, so I put the block of cheese on the rack and put the lid on. I left it 5 minutes and then lifted the lid to make sure it the cheese wasn't melting through the cracks. It was warm to the touch on the surface, but was still firm. So I turned the cheese and smoked it for another 5 minutes, then it took it out and smelled it. It smelled wonderful! When my husband got home, I had him try a piece. He said it tasted better than the store bought smoked cheese.

So I set aside some time the next day to smoke the rest of the block of cheddar that I had. The smoker that I have is a Brinkman Smoke 'n' Grill.  I got it on sale at the end of the season at Ace Hardware for $29, but they normally run about $45. It has two racks and two pans, one pan for coals the other pan for water, (if you a smoking a turkey or something that takes a long time, it is necessary to have the water to keep things from drying out). I took one pan out and set it aside. I put the other pan on the hanger at the very bottom of the smoker. Then I soaked small twigs and branches of fruit wood, no larger around than my finger, in a bucket of water. *Note I have a supply of fruit wood prunings from my fruit trees, but if you don't have fruit trees, you can purchase Hickory smoking chips and the natural briquettes at the grocery or hardware store.*

While the branches were soaking, I took several layers of newspaper, twisted them tightly and dripped candle wax on them until they were coated, (I use candle wax instead of lighter fluid, because I don't like lighter fluid). I put the newspaper in the pan I had set aside, add a healthy handful of tinder sized twigs, and then placed a small mound of  natural hardwood briquettes on the twigs and newspaper twists and lit the paper. I let the briquettes burn until they were covered in a light coating of ash and were mostly white on the outside, then I took a pair of tongs and placed three briquettes in the pan that was in the smoker. I placed a small pile of the soaked fruit wood twigs on the briquettes, making sure they were in contact with the coals and closed the side door and placed the lid on the smoker. Before long thick smoke started to leak out around the edges of the lid indicating it was time for me to put the cheese on the rack.

I took the lid off the smoker and checked to make sure it wasn't hot inside the smoker, then I placed the blocks of cheese on the rack making sure to leave room for the smoke to circulate around each block.
 I smoked the cheese for 5 minutes on each side. I did several batches of cheese, so as the briquettes burned down and the twigs were consumed, I added more to the pan in the bottom of the smoker, using the side door.When I was finished smoking the cheese, I took them inside on a tray and put them in the fridge to cool. Once cool, I wrapped them individually in plastic wrap and then stacked them in a gallon freezer bag, and labeled them with contents and date. They will keep for many month without freezer burn since they are double wrapped.

                  Here is a recipe for one of my husband's favorite smoked cheese sandwiches:

Two sliced of homemade whole wheat bread (or a good quality store bought equivalent)
Mayo
2 -3 Slices turkey breast (or leftover Thanksgiving turkey if it is that time of year)
One thin slice of red onion
2 Tbsp. whole berry cranberry sauce (for the Fall and winter version) or 4 slices of Granny Smith apple (for the Spring and Summer version)
Clover sprouts
2 thin slices of smoked cheddar

Spread mayo thinly on both pieces of bread. Place 1/2 turkey on bottom piece of bread, place cranberry sauce or apples and the sliced onion on the turkey then add the remaining turkey, smoked cheese and the sprouts. Top with the second piece of bread. Press down lightly to settle ingredients, cut into halves and serve. * If you're not a mayo fan then replace the mayo with honey dijon mustard.   Provecho!

Blog Hops that this post is linked to: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/
 http://frugallysustainable.com/
http://deborahjeansdandelionhouse.blogspot.com/
www.growingpatch.com 
 http://thismindbeinyou.blogspot.com/ 
 http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com,  
http://fiberarts.ca/blog/homestead-abundance-9/
Country Homemaker Hop#57
 

 

6 comments:

  1. Oh that sounds so good. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week; I hope you’ll join us again!


    Cheers,
    Kathy Shea Mormino

    The Chicken Chick

    http://www.The-Chicken-Chick.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I will be happy to come and visit your blog hop again! I really appreciate you making it available to me! I am really enjoying the opportunity to be part of a community of like minded people.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for sharing this on The HomeAcre Hop!
    http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/02/the-homeacre-hop.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for hosting! Have a greta day!

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  4. thanks for sharing your ideas and experience. I bookmarked this page. thank you again..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is my pleasure! Thank you for coming to visit and bookmarking this post! I hope that you will visit again soon. There is always something going on at the Cottage! Take care and have a blessed day!

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