I’ve been toying with the idea of doing some cold smoking for quite awhile now. At first I thought I’d just buy the commercially-manufactured cold smoker attachment for my Traeger. But it isn’t cheap. And call me weird, but Traeger doesn’t make a grill cover anymore that works for the Elite 34 with the cold smoker attachment. And I didn’t want to have to constantly be installing and removing that attachment. So I decided to go a different direction entirely. Instead, I went with a Do-It-Yourself approach that cost me a whole lot less. I am sure there are those who will frown on my choice. But I believe this will end up working very nicely.
DIY Cold Smoker
It cost me all of ~$38:
I traced an outline of the PVC coupler on the outside of the cooler, and then used my cordless recip saw to cut out the hole. I used duct tape to seal up the now-exposed insulation, and just inserted the PVC coupler – no glue or adhesive needed as I had cut the hole just snug enough to fit the sleeve in.
Hooking up the cold smoker to the Traeger was super simple. I unscrewed the dome on the smoke stack, and then fed one end of the dryer vent hose onto it. The other end got connected to the external/exposed portion of the coupler/sleeve.
Then i just fired up the Traeger and put the setting on “Smoke”. Super simple, super easy, super low-cost. All things I am a fan of.
To test out my new contraption, I wanted to smoke some cheese. Partly I wanted to see how it would go generally, but I also wanted to try out different kinds of cheese to see which took smoke better than others, which withstand Houston summer temperatures better, etc. So I went with four different cheeses:
- Medium cheddar
- Monterrey Jack
The max internal temperature that the cold smoker got to was approx 115F. I realize that is too hot for cold smoking. So next time (if it is still warm outside), I will stretch the dryer vent a longer distance to allow for more cooling before the smoky air reaches the cold smoking chamber. Also, I’ll get a whole lot of ice and cover the bottom of the cooler a few inches deep, thus lowering the overall ambient temperature inside the chamber. The best thing will be to do this when it is cold outside. I think/hope that will work much better overall.
Following are my results and observations on these different cheeses. The cheddar was the most oily, and definitely began to melt. The Gouda appeared to be the softest and had the most propensity to melt. I did lose a little bit off the end due to melting. The Monterrey Jack did pretty well. And the mozzarella did the best of all at retaining its shape. These cheeses went approximately 2 hours in a hickory smoke bath. They are now all wrapped in parchment paper and are resting in the fridge for the next 5-7 days to let the flavor disperse and mellow throughout each block. I am really looking forward to experiencing how much smokiness was absorbed into each of the different kinds of cheeses.