Author Topic: Effect of ambient temperature on smoking mozzarella  (Read 2454 times)

Offline pwabrahams

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Effect of ambient temperature on smoking mozzarella
« on: February 19, 2017, 06:45:19 PM »
When using the cold-smoking attachment, the chamber heater is disconnected and not used.  That means that the temperature inside the smoker box (the big one) is pretty much the ambient (outside) temperature.

When I first got my smoker, the outside temperature was slightly below freezing.  I tried smoking some mozzarella cheese and the results were dismal.  The pucks were charred and didn't burn all the way through, and the cheese tasted (very) burnt rather than smoked.

Today the outside temperature was in the high fifties, and I tried again.  This time the results were pretty good, although I also think they can be refined.  The pucks seemed to heat very well and there was much less charring.  The next time I try this, I plan to close the vents on the smoker box so that the smoke is more intense and also to smoke the cheese for much longer -- five hours instead of two and a half.  I'm trying to duplicate the heavenly smoked mozzarella that I used to be able to buy at Joe's Dairy on Sullivan Street in Manhattan.  Unfortunately Joe's Dairy has closed (Joe retired, I believe) and the next best, Russo's on East 11th Street, is not quite as good.  My results are perhaps half as good as Joe's.

I do have a couple of questions, though.  How sensitive is the smoker to the outside temperature?  And is it possible to do good cold smoking in cold weather?  Sub-freezing, perhaps?  I'd like to be able to do this in the winter, and I live in Western Massachusetts.

Offline Habanero Smoker

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Re: Effect of ambient temperature on smoking mozzarella
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2017, 02:39:45 AM »
I'm in New York, and close to the border of MA. It is better to cold smoke during the colder temperatures, but you don't want the inside cabinet to be too cold. Ideally I like to cold smoke with the cabinet temperture around 70°F. There are times during the winter months I have cold smoke, and needed some heat from my heating element to obtained that. If the generator is still attached, the bisquette burner provide 125w of power that brings the bisquette burner up to around 550°F. So that will bring your cabinet above the ambient temperature. I've had the cabinet reach up to 140°F, with only the bisquette burner on.

As for the bisquettes; without the heating element on, and the colder the inside of the cabinet is, the bisquettes will not burn as well. It is something that you may need to keep in mind. As for the smoke flavor, if you read the many posts on this forum about smoked cheese, they have one thing in common, the burnt (ash/bitter) taste it has when immediately removed from the smoker. It needs to be vacuumed packed (or tightly wrapped), and aged in the refrigerator for a few weeks to allow the smoke flavor to loose it's harshness. Before adding additional smoke, allow the cheese you have already smoke to age, the do another tasted test. Lightly spritzing your cheese with water, a couple of times during the smoke, may increase the amount of smoke that will adhere to the surface, but on the other hand, it could make in a little more bitter.

The cabinet can be very sensitive to the ambient temperature and/or other outdoor conditions. When it is in direct sunlight, you can reach higher temperature, than you can on a cloudy day or when it is in the shade. When it is cold, it will take longer to reach your desired temperature, but once there, it will do a fairly good job of maintaining that temperature. Windy conditions will keep the cabinet temperature down, so it is best to protect the cabinet from the wind; or delay your smoking for another day.

As for your vent. Keep your vent open far enough so that the smoke does not backup into the generator.


Offline Roget

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Re: Effect of ambient temperature on smoking mozzarella
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2017, 01:29:03 PM »
Everything Habs said is absolutely spot on.

You might be the exception, but I think 5 hours of smoke might be a bit much.
I like a strong smoke on my cheese & I only smoke mine for 2-3 hours.
Like Habs stated, Cheese needs to age for at least 2-3 weeks to be good.
The longer the better. Since I usually only smoke cheese twice a year, Sometimes mine ages for close to 6 months.
To me that is when it is at it's best.
To keep it that long, you will probably want to vacuum seal it.

I leave my vent wide open. I don't think you get any more smoke from closing it any & you run the risk of the condensation from the smoke dripping onto your food.

Cheese will only absorb smoke so far in, so if you like a strong smoke throughout, you might want to cut your cheese into smaller pieces. That way you will get more surface area. I cut mine into about 4 once portions & that is about enough for 1 snack.  ;)

Hope that will help a little.

Good luck with your next smoke.


Offline Grouperman941

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Re: Effect of ambient temperature on smoking mozzarella
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2017, 07:28:53 PM »
The above posts are right on. Something not mentioned is the type of wood used. Smoke flavor is more discernable on cheese than meat IMO. Mozz might like a light smoke like alder for a long time. Or it might take a short smoke of hickory and a long rest to get what you are going for. Experiment.
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