Preparation / Directions:
Cheese is a delicate food that must be handled with care when smoking. Usually hard cheeses, such as cheddar, Edam, provolone, or Swiss are smoked. Of course, there are a host of other hard cheeses, including many imports, that are excellent choices for smoking. Softer varieties may be smoked, although their flavor is not always as compatible with smoking.
The first step is to remove all wax, rind, or protective wrapping. Cheese pieces should not exceed two inches in thickness. Slices are handy when smoking small amounts for individual meals or snacks. For larger quantities, cut the cheese into slabs or bars. Most commercially packaged cheeses available in the supermarket come in convenient-size cuts and are just right for smoking.
Smoke cheese at as low a temperature as possible; 70 to 80F is good. A light volume of smoke is VERY important. If smoke clouds too heavily in the smoker, it will result in the cheese having a sooty or bitter taste.
One to three hours of smoking offers a good flavor range in cheese. Watch for the characteristic amber color to appear and sample your cheese as it smokes to determine the level of flavor it has acquired. The smoking process will cause a small loss of moisture, resulting in a corresponding shrinkage and loss of weight, but all the nutrients will still remain in the cheese.
Whether refrigerated or stored at room temperature, cheese that has been smoked will not mold or spoil as quickly as unsmoked cheese.