I am planning to do some cold smoking tomorrow, so I thought I would precede that with a post about the equipment I use, which I purchased from the lovely people at Mac’s BBQ.
Cold smoking involves no heat, it is simply using smoke to flavour the food item. It is often used in combination with curing to preserve fish and meat; but in this case I am simply going to be flavouring some cheese and butter.
The main bit of equipment is the Cold Smoke Generator. This is a maze-like spiral of mesh, that is filled with wood dust. A match or tea-light is used briefly to start the dust smoking. Once it catches, the flame is removed, and the smoke generator is placed in your smoker box, with the food to be smoked. It really is as simple as that. The dust smoulders around the spiral, and will generate smoke for up to 10 hours.
This is actually the only bit of kit you need for simple cold smoking, as any ventilated box will do as the smoker box. Many people simply place the smoke generator and the food in a cold BBQ grill, with the lid closed and the vents partially opened.
However, as I am often using my grill at the same time as I am cold smoking, I went one step further, and bought Mac’s complete kit – their ProQ Eco Smoker. Looking at it, it doesn’t look like much, does it, just a cardboard box – indeed, you could use any old cardboard box to smoke in, as the generator doesn’t generate any heat. However, the Eco Smoker wasn’t very expensive, is nicely designed, and came with all the metal bits – wire racks etc. – needed to do the job. Furthermore, despite being a cardboard box, it is sturdy – this is the third year I have been using it, and it is still perfectly sound.
The picture below shows how it is constructed. The Eco Smoker is actually an outer box with an inner sleeve, providing rests for the racks. The base tray gives a metal base to stand the smoke generator on. The drip tray is perforated around the rim, allowing smoke up into the food chamber, where there are 3 racks.
For smoking fish (which I haven’t tried yet), you leave out the lower two racks, and hang the fish from the top rack. I guess you could do the same for some smoked meats and sausages. For smoking cheese and butter, I will use all 3 racks. Cheddar cheese will be cut into 1 inch sticks and placed directly on the rack. Mozzarella will be placed in plastic bowls, and butter will be placed on baking parchment. I’m planning to use apple-wood dust, and smoke for approximately 6 hours.
After smoking, the cheese and butter is re-wrapped, and refrigerated. Ideally, it shouldn’t be eaten for at least a week, preferably longer, while the flavours develop.
Pictures courtesy of Mac’s BBQ