Last week we blew through a Spanish smoked San Simon da Costa and half a wheel of Dutch Smoked Gouda so I thought this blogpost would be appropriate. Since most of what I sell is artisan cheese, my suppliers always tell me that the smoked cheeses are really naturally smoked and not chemically treated with liquid smoke. Since I am at their mercy on such things, all things being proprietary nowadays, I have just accepted what I have been told.
What I have learned on the issue here is that by American law any cheese that is sold commercially as smoked cheese must, in fact, be smoked. The smoking may include a liquid smoke component but if the labelling is "smoked cheese", the thing must actually be smoked, as in over a hardwood fire. If the cheese has only seen the liquid smoke part, the label must use the words, "smoke flavor" in some combination with other colorful marketing verbiage. The less expensive "smoke flavor" cheeses invariably also include a food coloring enhancement to the exterior of the cheese to make it look naturally smoked.
On September 9th of this year we blogged about Woodsmoke Provisions, the seafood smoker in Atlanta that provides our smoked trout and salmon. In that post we distinguished between cold-smoking and hot-smoking with hot-smoking being a shorter process using a higher temperatures as opposed to the longer, lower temperature process. While some cheeses may be hot-smoked, the vast majority are cold-smoked because, if you think about it, butter fat would melt at temperatures even as cool as 98.6 degrees (body temperature) as is the case when the product is still inside of the cow before it is extracted. Cheeses to be smoked, by necessity, have to be of the harder varieties for the same reason and the cold-smoking process is usually done after the cheese is fully ripened and essentially finished.
With the preceding information in mind, should you want to smoke your own cheese, go to www.cheesemakinghelp.blogspot.com or wikihow.com/smoke-cheese. It looks pretty easy and, by the way, smoking cheese is actually mainly smoking the exterior of the cheese with smoke penetration not always saturating the center.
The 20th anniversary of our store's beginning in 1993 starts on Wednesday October 30th at 5pm when David Rimmer of Lynda Allison Selections joins us with a dazzling display of French and Italian reds and whites. David is an old pro in this business and what he has to sell now is nothing less than the best available in their respective categories. Please join us Wednesday between 5 and 7pm and then come back on Friday when Tommy Basham returns with a display of new Spanish and French wines. Then come back the following week as the series of tastings continues as we do it up right for the occasion. Attend all tastings and become a "follower" of the blog and maybe a T-shirt will be in the offing for you!