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One of my favorite Tillamook Cheese varieties is the Vintage White Smoked Extra Sharp Cheddar. It is the perfect combination of smokey flavor and creamy, sharp cheddar. So, I thought why not try to smoke my own cheese using appliances I already have? Tillamook uses a cold smoker and unfortunately I don’t have one, so I was forced to use my Traeger smoker. When smoking meat, these are the best smokers available, but we learned they are not quite as good smoking a product that can melt. I went into this experiment hoping that I could get it to work and I’d be able to smoke my own cheese. However, after trying a few combinations of things, it looks like I’ll just have to keep buying my smoked cheese from the experts. Here’s what I did though – try it out and let us know if you come up with any other methods that will work better than mine.

I tried to smoke 4 different flavors – Medium, Special Reserve Extra Sharp, Pepper Jack, and Vintage White Medium. I was wanting to see if the age of the cheese would actually effect the ability of the cheese to be smoked. This was not a scientific experiment, but it appeared that the sharper the cheese, the more it picked up the smokey flavor. Why do you think that is?

I also tried a few sizes – 8oz, 1lb and 2lb. This was to determine if it was possible to infuse flavor into a baby loaf of cheese, or if the cheese needs to be thinner to pick-up the smoke. I punctured the baby loaf in order to allow the smoke to penetrate, but it didn’t flavor as well as the thinner 8oz and 1lb loafs. The benefit of the 2lb loaf though is that it had the fortitude to not melt down as much as a thinner loaf on the hot smoker. To combat the hot smoker, I tried to create a semi-cold smoker by turning the Traeger on and off – trying to keep it as cool and smoke filled as possible. Unfortunately the smoke just didn’t billow until it was hot enough to melt the cheese.

There was definitely some smoke…unfortunately there was also some melt.

Overall, I was able to create a smokey flavor in the cheeses. However, the trade-off was that the texture and shape of the cheese was completely lost. Reheating cheese and then cooling it back down is a bad idea. If you have a cold smoker, this could be done, but I don’t recommend using a hot smoker. At the end of the day, the flavor was obtained, but the texture and consistency of Tillamook smoked cheeses was not. I’ll be buying my smoked cheese from now on!

12 comments

Matt S

Try this...it works really well for cold smoking. I just tried it in my Traeger and it worked great!

http://www.amazenproducts.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=AMNTS

November 24th, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Amalya

Tillamook Team

Hi Matt,
Thanks for sharing that great tool! What's your favorite flavor of cheese to smoke?

All the best,
Amalya, of the Tillamook Team

November 26th, 2012 at 1:43 pm

David

This looks good, but smoked sausage is hard to keep lit. Also, if the glove don't fit, your must acquit.

January 1st, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Gail @ 2Create in Color

My husband smokes cheeses in our electric smoker all the time! Since Tillamooks are our favorite cheeses, you can imagine we've smoked a lot. Sure, you have some tradeoffs with texture (especially if you freeze them, too) but it is still worth the adventure! Use them in your favorite panini -- all you'll notice then is their amazing flavors!

January 1st, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Callie

Tillamook Team

Hi David,

Thanks for your comment! We figure everything is worth a try once, but from now on, we'll be sticking to our Smoked Medium Cheddar ;).

Best,

Callie, of the Tillamook team

January 3rd, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Callie

Tillamook Team

That's a great idea, Gail! I love your adventurous attitude! I'll give it a try in my favorite melted sammie.

All the best,

Callie, of the Tillamook team

January 3rd, 2014 at 4:40 pm

lunad sttub

Why does the 1lb medium cheddar taste diffrent than the 2lb medium cheddar?

September 7th, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Lauren

Tillamook Team

Hi Lunad,

Thank you for your comment! That is a good question. Both the 1lb and the 2lb Medium Cheddar cheeses are produced the same way, the only different is the size into which they are cut. They shouldn't taste different at all. Would you mind sending our Consumer Relations team a quick note to explain the situation to them. I'm sure they will be able to help you out!

All the best,

Lauren of the Tillamook team

September 17th, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Paul Kuykendall

I installed a Smokedaddy on my traeger for cold smoking. Smoke is generated outside of grill and is gently blown into the grill by way of an aquarium pump, resulting in no heat smoke.
You can also make your own "redneck smoker" using a large soup can, a pencil soldering iron and wood chips. Open the can half way. Clean it out and drill a hole in the unopened part of the lid. Insert soldering iron in drilled hole, fill with wood chips, place in grill and plug it in. Result, cold smoke.

November 2nd, 2014 at 6:19 am

Amalya

Tillamook Team

Hi Paul,
Thanks for the tips on smoking cheese! That "redneck smoker" sounds so easy! Perhaps I'll give it a try at home this weekend!

All the best,
Amalya of the Tillamook team

November 7th, 2014 at 9:27 am

Mike

I just finished doing some 50 odd pounds of smoked cheese (mostly Tillamook)in my Cook Shack smoker. I fit this in between doing 20+ pounds of pulled pork and 45 pounds of brisket. Pepper Jack, Medium Cheddar, Aged white sharp and extra sharp cheddar, Swiss, and Gouda. I have done Mozzarella, Parmesan, Havarti, and Gruyère in the past. They are all good used in different things. This batch of cheese will be vacuum packed and go out as Christmas gifts. The Cook shack smokers are expensive, but the work like an oven for meat. I have smoked when it was below freezing and above 100 degrees, and they maintain what ever temp I set in what ever weather. You do have to get a cold smoke shelf to smoke cheese.

December 10th, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Amalya

Tillamook Team

Hi Mike,
That sounds like a delicious holiday gift! You're about to make some family and friends very happy :) Thanks for dropping by to keep us posted on your DIY smoked cheese! Now, you've made me hungry, so it's time for a snack!

Happy Holidays!
All the best,
Amalya of the Tillamook team

December 11th, 2014 at 2:28 pm
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