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Vacuum packing smoked cheese for storage , will it age ?  RSS feed

 
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Hi All;  Raining and cool today in the pacific northwet , so I hickory smoked 4 blocks of sharp white cheddar to use as Holiday presents. I have them cooling in the fridge now. My plan was to vacuum pack them and store them in the cheese cave.  I'm wondering if the  "aging" of the smoke flavor will happen under a vacuum ? Or should I age this 2 weeks in the cave first and then vacuum pack it I have been wrapping them in wax paper and a plastic bag to age 8-10 days before eating (sort of vac packed) and that has worked great ... SO, my guess is that I can vacuum this today and store it at 55 F for the next 2 months and it will have smoke aged wonderfully.  Anybody experienced at this ?
 
thomas rubino
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Hi All; Nobody here seemed to know so I went to a food smoking  website.  Yes, putting in in a vacuum seal is the same as sealing it up with wax. It will continue to age just fine. That is a good thing as I didn't wait  and cheese has been  put underground for the next 2 months.
 
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thanks for posting this. i just bought a vacuum sealer last week and will be using it for meats and cheese. i suppose the same applies to meat?
 
thomas rubino
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Hi Fredy;  I didn't specifically look up meat for storage, any meats that I smoke we eat for dinner !  Are you smoking your meats & cheeses ?  Cheese can be stored in vacuum packs at 55 F for many months and it will smoke age while stored . Frozen cheese does not age and can become crumbly, but can be in the freezer a long time. As far as storing smoked meats ? I don't think that meat needs to smoke age like cheese does, so anything I wasn't planning to eat soon I would  freeze. Vacuum packing is the best way to store anything long term.  I think that to be safe , even after smoking any vacuum packed meat should only be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. 
 
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Thanks for posting about the cheeses Thomas, great information. I will be making use of that new knowledge.

Meats will not age when vacuum packed since aging of meats involves moisture loss. Vacuum packing stops this process. It will however infuse flavors of any marinade you might add.
I did a really nice rump roast by injecting it with a marinade then applying a rub prior to vacuum packing it and setting it in the fridge for 3 days.

When I put it on the side box BBQ, cooked it low and slow on a hickory fire it came out very tasty and tender. 

vacuum packing meats is perfect for long term freezer storage (when we butcher hogs that is how we put up the meat) they will be good for a year plus a few months.

Redhawk

 
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One thing I'm curious about.  Wax 'breaths' over time whereas plastic doesn't. 

Would plastic allow build up of moisture which would affect how the cheese ages? 

Would you be willing to experiment for us?  Try some with wax and some with vacuum packing and tell us if there is any noticeable difference? 
 
thomas rubino
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Good point  R . I don't think you would  want to put a newly made cheese in a vacuum packer.  I'm sure that you are correct about the wax breathing being a necessary part of the aging process . I was referring to "finished" cheese that is being smoked for flavor.        
    EDIT] I went to david ashers book and I found this, "industrially produced cheddar's are sealed in plastic to age... 5 year 10 year even 15 year cheddar's spend there long lives confined in vacuum sealed plastic that prevents the cheeses from breathing.  Only plastic bound cheddar's can age for such preposterously long times. Traditional cheddar's bound in cheese cloth lose  moisture as they ripen and can not be aged much beyond 2 years because they become to dry. Plastic keeps mass produced cheddar's moist for years and allows ripening to continue unimpeded for decades !"   So yes, you can vacuum pack to age newly made cheese , although i'm sure its a slower aging than breathable aging.  As David says "But what becomes of a cheese that spends a miserable decade entombed in plastic ? " 
 
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Hi everyone, I'm new here and found you searching for more info on smoked cheese. Here in the midwest it's just been an awfully hot summer so I took an unused mini fridge and converted it into a cold smoker. I works, has a test run of 2 pounds of white cheddar. Only trouble is the compressor gets hot and shuts down so I'm adding a cooling fan. It keeps the cheese cool and below 80 where it takes on a great flavor. I vac pack it right away and then into the back of the  fridge to age, usually 2 months but we usually break after 1 and open a block.
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Finished Maple Smoked Cheddar
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My Mini Fridge Smiker Exterior
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Mini Fridge Smoker Interior
 
thomas rubino
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Hi Thomas;  Welcome to permies!  
Very nice job on your smoker!  Those maple smoked cheddar blocks look scrumptious !
I sure that  the compressor gets hot trying to cool... while you have a smoldering fire in the refrigerator! But it works !
I have not built one yet but you can take one of the small round portable charcoal grilles,  remove the air vent from the lid. build an attachment there for a  metal flex pipe.  The flex pipe goes up to your smoking area , the fire is in the small round grill and by the time the smoke reaches the cheese it has cooled enough to keep your cheese from losing all its oil . That is what I have found the most challenging, keeping the cheese from "bleeding" it doesn't affect flavor but if I control the oil loss my cheeses come out even better ! smoother not so crumbly. 
 
thomas rubino
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Thomas;  When your working with finished cheese (not making new cheese)  the smoke process only takes a week to infuse the cheese with that wonderful smokey flavor. No need to wait longer unless you want to.
I too started out using sharp cheddar,  I have since switched to medium sharp .,  I noticed no difference in flavor after smoking between them and I did notice the "sharp" cheese is always more $.   
 
Thomas Henning
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Thanks Thomas, I think I'm going to try an outside smoke generator piped into the fridge, still need to keep it cold on these hot days. Also thanks for the tip about finished cheese!
 
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This is my home made cold smoker here in the UK.
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My home made cold smoker.
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One of 4 trays the smoker holds
 
Gerry Arthur Roxby
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Small top box for additional tray
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Additional top box with small tray
 
thomas rubino
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Gerry;  Welcome to Permies! 
That is a beautiful cheese smoker ! I'm Jealous !  What temperature is the cheese box running ? Do you have any issues with too much oil "bleeding" from your cheese ?
Are you making your own cheese to use in that smoker ?
 
Gerry Arthur Roxby
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Hello Thomas,many thanks for your reply and your comments.The smoking box at the bottom of the  smoker contains a stainless steel mesh tray with 6 maze channels,size is 12 in x 8 in x 1 and three quarters inches made by myself.The temperature the box runs at is usually about 72f or lower due to our climate and I will smoke all the year round.The cheese I use doesn’t exude much oil,I have rarely experienced this problem.The cheeses I use are mainly Cheddars,mild and extra strong mature,English and Welsh plus Brie and Stilton which I do not make I purchase from Costco or my son gets me 5lbs blocks from a local dairy.The finished smoked cheese is vacuumed packed and put in refrigerater and lasts up to 6 months or longer,regards Gerry
 
Gerry Arthur Roxby
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Two more photos
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Cheddar and Stilton
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Brie
 
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