Smokers (BBQ - not grilling)

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BigOgre

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Maybe two, two and half hours? I delayed a bit after seeing them split thinking they'd cook faster but it was still at least two.
 

Knifemaker

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Pork loins are perhaps the quickest meat you can smoke. If you’re going low at 225-235F, they usually only take 2 to 2-1/2 hours. No good reason to cook at a higher temperature as you won’t get much smoke flavor. I usually put them on the food grate before the smoker hits 225, just to make sure they get as much smoke as possible.
A whole loin, that’s say 4 inches thick, may take a bit longer, but still pull them when the internal temp hits 140.
It is a good idea to check the temperature with a hand held digital probe even if your wired probe says they are done, no matter what you are cooking. I’ve noticed discrepancies a few times, and not totally sure why.. 😳
 

Fred W

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In my continuing quest for smoke flavor, I have ordered up a pellet maze type of cold smoking tray (knock off of the A-Maze-N brand). Should be here tomorrow. I liked the “Finderomend” knock off brand design (Amazon) better than the original as there is better separation of the channels, and also the price was 1/3 less.

I figured one of these would be a good first step into cold smoking, and I can use it with my pellet grille for added smoke flavor when hot smoking. For cold smoking, you don’t really need much more than a cardboard box with the pellet tray inside and a couple of ventilation holes, but I may drag out the ugly drum and use that for the smoke chamber. The temps outside are perfect for cold smoking right about now.

Probably smoke up a few blocks of cheese, and if all goes well with that will probably try doing some “Back Bacon“ (aka Canadian Bacon). Tried that a while ago with hot smoking, but was rather underwhelmed with the results; not enough smoke by the time the meat was cooked.

Report to follow, with photos of course…
 

Knifemaker

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^Cool 👍 (pun intended) I’ve thought about trying to cold smoke some cheese right after I had a friend make me a Ruben with smoked Swiss. Would guess a smoking “tube” is all I’d need as I wouldn’t need to smoke the cheese for as long as those smoking trays go.
My UDS would likely be my choice as it has two adjustable racks I can use, one for the cheese and a lower one for the smoking tube.
Wonder if I should use my blower to keep the smoke moving? Have heard of using trays of ice to help maintain a cold temperature.

I’ve been leery about trying to cold smoke a meat (like salmon) but I think cheese would be safer. From what I understand you need to wrap the smoked cheese for a few weeks before eating...
 
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Fred W

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Yeah, the tubes don’t cost much less and are known to throw off more smoke and… more heat. That’s why I went with the tray. Some folks take pellets and grind them up into shavings and claim even less heat and longer smoking times. You don’t have to fill the tray fully, but the tubes may need to be refilled and restarted.

Too much heat when cold smoking could put it into the bacterial danger zone. So doing this in dead of winter is the way to go.

I wouldn’t cold smoke any meat that wasn’t fully cured first. And even then I’d refrigerate or freeze it after processing and cook it fully before eating. Smoked salmon is supposed to be wonderful, but I don’t need any new digestive problems right about now. I’m still on antibiotics for my hip infection fiasco and don’t want to add any new inputs to that equation.
 

Blind Squirrel

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I have the A-Maze-N that I use to smoke cheese with. You have to be careful. You can get too much smoke with it. If that happens the food tastes like an ash tray. 🤮
 

Fred W

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Scott, do you have the tray type or the tube? I’ve heard the tubes do put out a ton of smoke but also too much heat. Also, I’ve heard that you can pulverize the wood pellets for the tray and get it to smoke cooler and less quickly to extend the smoke time and reduce the pungency, though the trays are less smokey than the tubes even using whole pellets. I guess time in the smoke and air flow through the chamber will also affect the final product too. Many variables to be calibrated.

Received my new clone today. It looks fine, but came with a sticker saying “Made in China”, which, since I bought it on Amazon, I should have surmised, but did not see it stated before I bought it. I’d have paid $15 more for the A-Maze-N model had I realized that.

It does seem to be an improved design over the AMN. The clone has wide rectangular spacers between the 3 channels rather than the triangular ones on the original. I think that will be beneficial to prevent the whole tray going up at once, which I’ve heard is a hazard.

Might get to try it tomorrow. Supposed to reach a balmy 40 degrees high (maybe) and am planning on smoke roasting a boneless leg of lamb. Might as well set up the cheeses at the same time. I’m thinking around three hours of smoke and then let them age a few weeks afterwards. More to come.
 

Fred W

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No, I don’t think that would be a good idea. For one thing the pellets need an air supply to keep burning. And I think your oven would get all smoked up inside.

But I have heard of people using them in an unlit gas grill and it working OK.
 

Knifemaker

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Squirrel, you are wrapping the cheese tightly with plastic and letting it sit in the fridge a few weeks after smoking right?
I don’t think you need to smoke the cheese more than two hours from what I’ve read.
 

Fred W

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I’ve heard three hours is a good starting point. I’ll see how they look at 2.

So, here’s the Amazon pellet maze tray I’m using

12638591-4DAF-4FA0-88AF-47C034EE7B30.jpeg

I’ll be using Lumberjack Competition mix, which is a blend of Cherry, Apple and Hickory woods. I’ve found it to be a fairly mild smoke on the pellet grille, not as strong as the straight hickory wood.

Filled the maze half way right from the pellet grille bin so no wasted dropped pellets.

EBB458ED-8DA9-44A5-89F2-930EAFB4D76C.jpeg

Lit the corner with a propane torch for about a minute.

A466B707-9B5D-4E7A-8C71-54F607C1EB75.jpeg


and then let it burn on its own for about another minute
7BFC390E-E4CA-4593-B9DE-B16ECF806748.jpeg

set the maze on one side of the charcoal grate of my Weber Kettle clone, and put the cheeses on a grate on the opposite side

DF4C3FF4-6A2E-4DA8-8636-72C170BD0C4A.jpeg

Have a nice slow smoke wafting out of the vent on the lid over the cheeses.

8F98CA10-373D-4FA8-9FC0-399510BAC95E.jpeg

It actually started to snow a little bit as I was setting it up, so you know it’s pretty cool out still. Seems to be maintaining the pellet burning ok. I’ll check back in after they are done.
 

Fred W

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Here’s the wrap up:

Went out and turned the cheeses a few times. Interestingly, the bottom sides remained uncolored by the smoke while the top and sides turned slightly darker. So when I turned them at 75 minutes in I flipped them over and end for end. An hour later they seemed to be doing fine so I moved them on their sides and swapped the inner two with the outer two in case their was a difference in smoke intensity that wasn’t obvious.

Took them off right at 3 hours. They look and smell pretty good, though I don’t think I would like their flavor right now.

18562859-9C22-48A7-97F8-D302CADC3A4A.jpeg

Not real dark, I think because they stayed so cool.

Only burned a small amount of the pellets in 3 hours. I think I’d be able to get 8-10 hours of smoke if I filled the tray all the way.

3EC89AF0-A14E-4C2A-A5AD-06FDD19579F9.jpeg
So far, so good. I’ll be aging these in the fridge for at least three weeks, maybe longer. I had heard that one important step to post-smoke aging is to handle the cheese as little as possible to prevent mold growth. If it does mold, it’s not the end of the world. Just cut it off the outside and carry on.

Using the pellet maze was really easy. I’ll definitely be trying it with the larger bodied offset smoker some time when I’m doing larger items. Gives me some more things to do during our long dark winters up here. Hopefully this was helpful to people considering doing the same.
 

Knifemaker

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Vacuum-bagger would work great. Wearing sterile gloves/washing your hands helps too.(and handling the cheese as little as possible)
It’s not so much as air, but bacteria on your fingers.
 

Fred W

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Yeah, I don’t have a vacuum sealer (yet) so I just tried to maintain asepsis as much as possible.

Wash hands with anti-bacterial soap and then use some of the ubiquitous hand sanitizer stuff. Don’t handle the cheese or the wrap where it will contact the cheese. Pick up the cheese with sanitized tongs. I wrapped the blocks with cling film then put them all into a zip lock bag with the air pushed out of it.

Hopefully that will be adequate? And the smoking should help kill stuff on the surface of the cheese as well. Only time will tell.
 

Blind Squirrel

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Scott, do you have the tray type or the tube? I’ve heard the tubes do put out a ton of smoke but also too much heat. Also, I’ve heard that you can pulverize the wood pellets for the tray and get it to smoke cooler and less quickly to extend the smoke time and reduce the pungency, though the trays are less smokey than the tubes even using whole pellets. I guess time in the smoke and air flow through the chamber will also affect the final product too. Many variables to be calibrated.

Received my new clone today. It looks fine, but came with a sticker saying “Made in China”, which, since I bought it on Amazon, I should have surmised, but did not see it stated before I bought it. I’d have paid $15 more for the A-Maze-N model had I realized that.

It does seem to be an improved design over the AMN. The clone has wide rectangular spacers between the 3 channels rather than the triangular ones on the original. I think that will be beneficial to prevent the whole tray going up at once, which I’ve heard is a hazard.

Might get to try it tomorrow. Supposed to reach a balmy 40 degrees high (maybe) and am planning on smoke roasting a boneless leg of lamb. Might as well set up the cheeses at the same time. I’m thinking around three hours of smoke and then let them age a few weeks afterwards. More to come.

I have the tray. Mine has more than three channels. I also bought several of the different saw dusts when I got it. I have not tried using pellets in it.
 

Blind Squirrel

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Squirrel, you are wrapping the cheese tightly with plastic and letting it sit in the fridge a few weeks after smoking right?
I don’t think you need to smoke the cheese more than two hours from what I’ve read.
No. I refrigerate it, but start eating it right away. I agree that you don't need more than two hours of smoke. When I smoke cheese (it has been a few years) I smoke mozarella. I am not a chedar fan.
 

Knifemaker

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Well that’s the problem. Every “how to” on cold smoking cheese I’ve read or watched says you need to wrap it tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 weeks before eating or it will “taste like an ashtray” (their quote, not yours)
As for what cheese to use, any hard cheese should work, Gouda being my favorite, or pepper jack, and I bet smoked Romano would be awesome. 👍
 

Fred W

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I’m a cheddar guy. Jack cheese is considerably softer. I’d imagine it takes up more of the smoke flavor. I’ll let you know in a few weeks when it’s time to sample. I do agree that the cheese was far too smoky and pungent to eat it right after smoking. I could be aging mine for a long time after 3 hours in the smoke.
 

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