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Cold Smoking Cheese


Sargan
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Time of year when I cold smoke cheese.

Typically Cheddar, Red Leicester, Gouda & Edam.

1-3 Hrs in cold smoker, usually one batch with Hickory, and another with Beech or Maple.

I cut into aprox 3" x2" blocks rather than whole blocks to get more smoke around the cheese, the Edam & Gouda left in full wedge sizes.

My question is .... once smoked, and Vac Packed ..... stored in a Fridge, how long will this last ?

Previoulsy any left afte a year I discard.

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4 hours ago, Sargan said:

Time of year when I cold smoke cheese.

Typically Cheddar, Red Leicester, Gouda & Edam.

1-3 Hrs in cold smoker, usually one batch with Hickory, and another with Beech or Maple.

I cut into aprox 3" x2" blocks rather than whole blocks to get more smoke around the cheese, the Edam & Gouda left in full wedge sizes.

My question is .... once smoked, and Vac Packed ..... stored in a Fridge, how long will this last ?

Previoulsy any left afte a year I discard.

@Wade might be able to answer this one?

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The straight answer is to use the "best before" date as your guide. The real world answer is that the harder the cheese the longer it will keep- and vacuum packing will certainly help. With cheese the main risk is listeria. Whilst commercially packed cheese will be produced in a listeria free environment, deli cut cheese can be subsequently cross contaminated from the soft cheeses made with unpasteurised milk.

Factory packed cheddar and red leicester should be fine for up to a year in the fridge but make sure that after smoking it you have allowed the surface to fully dry before you pack it - smoking can make the cheese surfaces quite moist and this moisture could assist the growth of bacteria cross contamination at home.

The softer edam/gouda has a higher water content however it is also made from pasteurised milk so when packed in the factory (or still fully wax covered) you can treat it the same as the cheddar. Be careful about possible contamination at home though when cutting.

The action of smoking will help to inhibit bacterial growth, however the amounts of smoke deposited on the cheese will not inhibit it completely. 

Be very wary of smoking soft cheeses or cheeses made with unpasteurised milk. These will usually have a "use by" date and you should adhere to this. There are exceptions (e.g. soft mozzarella) but you need to ensure that your smoking process also sufficiently reduces its water content.

When unpacking the smoked cheese before eating, you should do a couple of simple tests. If any mould has developed, or it has developed any unexpected sharp smells, then I would discard it. These are rare and are usually a result of the cheese not being dry before being vacuum packed.

Botulinum spores also like moist, oxygen-free environments. Its presence is rare in factory procesed hard cheeses but they can be present in processed or sliced cheeses. This makes it technically possible as a cross contaminant when slicing the cheese at home before smoking. The more acidic the cheese the less likely botulinum toxin will be produced.

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