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First ever smoke


JamesF
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It's not an ideal day, being 14°C and a bit breezy, but I was determined to try my new ProQ eco smoker out today and if I wait until it's cold enough, not windy and not raining I'll probably still be hanging around next New Year's Day.  I bought some cheddar yesterday -- just whatever I could find cheap in Tesco in case it doesn't go well first time out -- and have put about half of it in the smoker, cut into blocks of about 100g.  I'm using beech dust that came with the smoker, but only filled the outside of the smoke generator because I'm not going to need the full burn time.

The smoke generator was a bit tricksy to get lit, quite probably because of the breeze, but it seemed to be going when I put it in the smoker.  I'll check after an hour to see if it's still going.  I think we have a cook's blowtorch somewhere if all else fails.  Perhaps I need to think about making up a small shield just to get the generator going.

James

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Turns out I needn't have worried.  After an hour and a half there's smoke coming out of every possible gap in the smoker (I do wonder if it should just be from the "chimney" hole, but I don't think I can do much to stop it getting out around the edges of the top of the box short of draping something over them).

The dust has burnt along one leg of the spiral so far, which is a bit slower than the suggestions I've read for the speed of the burn, but perhaps it just took a while to get going properly.  I'll have a quick peek in another hour and see how it's doing then.

James

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All done now.  Before and after a smidge over three hours in the smoker...

smoker-06.jpg

smoker-11.jpg

The pieces on the right are Tesco own-brand extra mature cheddar and on the left is Pilgrim's Choice mature cheddar.  I can't say I really know what they're like even before smoking as we normally buy our cheese from the local butcher (where else?).

The smoke generator didn't burn as far as I expected.  This was after a little over three hours with ProQ's beech dust.

smoker-10.jpg

The blocks of cheese are now in the fridge and tomorrow evening I'll vacuum pack them.

If it doesn't rain I might also have a go with a different flavour of wood dust and the remainder of the cheese (above is only half of what I bought).  My preference is to try apple, but if the rest of the family clearly vote for something different then I'll go with that instead.

James

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Just kicked off the second attempt using apple dust.  Only I don't have all the cheese in that I'd planned.  Some of it has "disappeared" from the fridge and no-one seems to know where...

James

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The local butcher sells an apple-smoked cheddar, so we're definitely going to compare the two in a few weeks time.  I'm quite excited by the prospect.

I think I'd say that if you aren't able to make a small smoker yourself and/or you need something that can be packed away when it's not being used then the eco smoker is probably not a bad choice.  If you have the skills to build your own then I'm not so sure as compromises have obviously had to be made to achieve the goals of creating a low-price smoker cabinet that would encourage people  to try it out.  For instance, having to open up the top and lift out the trays every time you want to load/unload it will clearly lead to wear and tear over time.  The flap at the bottom sometimes pops open on mine, too so control of the air flow is a bit irregular and smoke does leak out from gaps around the folds and tabs.  Ideally it also needs to be kept indoors to prevent the cardboard getting damp or being damaged, but the smoky smell is a bit too much to want in the house for a while after the smoking is done.  I've left mine in the greenhouse for a few days to "air" before bringing it back indoors.  I'd be quite apprehensive about trying an overnight smoke, too.  Those issues could be eliminated in a DIY version.  The other "compromise" of course is that you can't use it for hot smoking, but we know it's not intended for that in the first place.

None of which is intended as any particular criticism of the product.  I think it achieves what's intended and I'm happy to have been given it.  It's plenty big enough to try out smoking bacon and fish as long as you don't get too ambitious size-wise and I reckon it could quite easily keep up with cheese consumption for the average family as well as being able to try a few other things too.  I'm already looking forward to my next attempt.  Some sort of fish is definitely quite tempting.  Haddock certainly appeals.  I do enjoy a nice kedgeree.

James

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On 1/4/2022 at 1:22 PM, AdamG said:

I have been trying to decide wether to get one of these myself or not.

Cheese looks good regardless 🍻👍

Let us know how it tastes compared to ready smoked cheese😎

I made a cold smoke generator out of a sieve (burning pellets) and have smoked cheese, nuts, salt and bourbon in my 47cm Weber. Works great and much cheaper. 

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23 minutes ago, pittmab said:

I made a cold smoke generator out of a sieve (burning pellets) and have smoked cheese, nuts, salt and bourbon in my 47cm Weber. Works great and much cheaper. 

That's a great idea for me to try it out!

Now I just need to complain about how rubbish our sieve is and we should get a new one😉

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