Always have an adult helping you with food projects, & remember to keep washing those hands!
Whilst on a long day trip to Wicksteed park this summer we dropped by "Ashwood" foodsmoking sawdust suppliers on our way home, for a little bit of sawdust.
Dads " little bit" turned out to be 30kg of beech & oak ..but he promised we would be making something very simple & wonderful, I was curious.
Dad explained that we were going to make some cold smoked cheese & that we'd have to "borrow" cooling racks from the kitchen.
We'd grabbed a large cardboard box from a supermarket (which was for recycling so it was free) & bought the cheapest mild cheddar we could find to experiment with, a big block which we cut into small blocks.
We placed the cut blocks on the wire cooling racks so they could harden up for a few hours & tackled our multi-pack crisp box.
Dad say's that smoke has got to be allowed out as fast as it is made, ( fresh moving smoke, otherwise food just tastes bitter) so we cut a 10 centimetre chimney flap on top of the box.
We grabbed some wooden skewers & poked them through the corners to suspend (hold up) our wire racks, (starting halfway up the box).
Then we placed our cheese blocks gently on the wire racks in the box including a gooey slab of brie dad spied in the fridge.
After filling our smoke generator with oak dust we lightly "tamped" it down so it was slightly more packed out, placed it on a saucer & lit it with a candle from underneath.
When a minute or two had passed we removed the candle & could see the sawdust was burning gently we popped some flexible chimney material onto the box & pointed it out of dads office window.
We wrote on the box in pen when it was lit, so we could keep an eye on things.
After several hours the cheese was beginning to sweat (getting a bit oily) which was good, so we went to bed & left it to trickle gentle smoke up past the cheese.
After about 5 hours dad got up checked the smoke (still going) & turned the cheese over then went back to bed.
In the morning we had lovely smoke darkened cheese! ...It smelt SO good, but dad re-loaded & re-lit the smoke generator & gave the brie another 10 hours (different cheeses need more or less time, & then it's down to what your tastebuds tell you (more or less smoke).
BUT, we couldn't eat it yet :(
After breakfast (& the cheddar had rested a bit) we popped the cheese into vacuum bags (you could tightly wrap it with clingfilm) ..& pop it in the fridge for 2 weeks, this lets the cheese absorb more of the smoked flavour deeper into the cheese.
Even in vacuum food bags everytime I open the fridge I can just about smell the smokiness, which makes me really want to try it!
You can cold smoke garlic bulbs, salts, olive oil, chili's, peppers, boiled eggs, nut's pepper, ..loads of things in fact!
We have a big salmon in the freezer which we have removed the bones from (called pin bones) with pliers, & it's waiting for a 3 day smoke in a mix of beech & oak dust, as well as some trout.
Smoking food was a common way to preserve (keep longer) food before there was electricity, fridges & freezers.
It's really simple & fun to do with an adult to help you!
The smoke generator we used was this one from mac's bbq (about the cheapest way to get into it)
& our wood dust worked out at about 12p!
Edam (rubber cheese) is amazing smoked! but you can just experiment & see what makes your eyes pop with pleasure.
Dad & I will be putting together a proper smoke house in which we can also do hot smoking, that way we can smoke hams, turkey, chicken, & my favourite home-made SAUSAGES & RIBS!
Next time you are dragged to the supermarket, check out the price of plain cheap mild cheddar & smoked cheddar! ..we made the same stuff for almost the same price of the cheap cheese!
Next time I make home-made beefburgers i'm adding some home-smoked cheddar cheese on top to melt into my burger & add some extra special taste!
Dad say's his bacon butties will be superb with some, if we can bear to wait long enough!
Because cub's CAN cook! (& frequently do).
I think dad & I will be rummaging about in the cupboards to see what we can do next!
(we used a box, but if you have a "kettle bbq" (ask an adult) then this is a project you could do & will make a bbq far tastier & get it used more. & you don't light the bbq).
ziplock bags, clipseal food-bags, or at worst clingfilm, will help age & improve your cold smoked cheese! ..great to go camping with (outside with a big appetite), or even make it at a camp!
After the cheese had "rested" in the fridge, we opened it up & to bring the flavour out more we let the cheese warm to room temperature (I tried it straight out of he fridge another time & it had less than half the flavour) , by letting it warm through it was incredibly tastey.
Nibbling thin slices I could taste it's full flavour long after it was in my tum!
Any questions? ask my dad next time we're at a pack meeting.
Cold smoke is just that, no heat (or else the cheese would melt right)!?
If you have a BBQ sitting outside, you could use that & make some cheap cheese really special next time it's on offer at the shops.
IF your BBQ is all yucky & dirty, nag someone to give it a good clean, & use a cooling rack that is usually used for baking instead of it getting all dirty from the bbq grille bars.
The Big rules are:
Cold smoke in COOL weather OR cool nights.
Smoke must go out as fast as it's being produced, (so it must have a chimney vent to let it out), IF you let the smoke out too slowly your food will be bitter, we want the smoke moving around the food then leaving!
There are plenty of food websites who have food-smoking sections if you try this as a project! ..we used a proper simple woodsmoke generator, but some people use a clean tin can & a soldering iron to make the sawdust smoulder! ..the way we do it is probably the simplest way for 1st timers & children to get a simple & successful food smoke going though!