I'll usually grab some Horseradish, Jalapeno Cheddar, Habanero Cheddar, Farmers Cheese, Havarti Dill, Onion and anything else that strikes my fancy. This is how my lineup usually looks when I've selected the cheese and am about to get to smoking it.
At this point, with my Bradley Smoker, I have the smoke generator on and heating so that when the bisquettes hit the burner, the smoke will start rolling. There is no heat in the tower at that time with the exception of what is being generated by the smoke generator. When I smoked this cheese, the ambient temps at the time was in the single digits, so there was no need to set up the Bradley for a cold smoke. My next post will be centered around the Bradley, so this may make more sense after I post it.
Now that I've got the cheese and my smoke generator is running, I like to slice the cheese for a couple of reasons. First, I believe that you'll get a more thorough some adhesion with smaller pieces (thus a much better smoke flavor throughout) and it also makes slicing the cheese for consumption much easier and a much nicer presentation.
I've got it sliced up now (I left some pieces whole as I was going to shred these pieces and use for cooking) and ready for the smoke. Additionally, if you've got extra room in the smoker, I like to throw some garlic in and smoke it as well and use the smoked garlic for recipes calling for fresh garlic. I simply strip down most of the paper covering the garlic and brush lightly with olive oil to help with the smoke adhesion.
Because I wasn't using a cold smoke setup (I didn't separate the smoke generator from the smoke tower), I simply added ice to the water bowl. The spent bisquettes from the Bradley are extinguished in the water bowl. The ice helps keep the temps inside the tower down in the quest to keep the temperature from rising above 80F.
Now, the question for amount of smoke needed arises at this point. As the Bradley produces smoke differently than a traditional smokeburner, the time of smoke is much less than the traditional way of smoking. However, I've found that smoke taste is truly a personal preference. I like a lot of smoke flavor with just about anything I do, so I tend to go with longer smoke times. What I've found is that on average, I will do 3 hours of smoke on the cheese and usually use a lighter type of wood (primarily I use apple or cherry or a combination of the two flavors). I've also found that harder cheeses will have much more smoke adhesion quicker than soft cheeses. So, if I'm doing a combination of hard cheeses and soft cheeses, I'll pull the hard cheese out prior to pulling the soft cheese. Usually after 2 hours and 40 minutes of smoke, I'll pull the hard cheeses and after 3 hours and 40 minutes of smoke, I'll pull the soft cheeses.
Here are some more pics of the cheese while it's smoking:
The wire you see running down in the first picture is my Maverick ET-73 remote thermometer. It simply reads the temperature inside my smoker and transmits the temps to the receiver inside the house so that I can monitor the temperatures from the comforts of my home. It truly is a great way to make the smoking process more user friendly and keeps you a lot warmer while smoking in colder temperatures.
This is what it will look like when the smoking process has completed:
The first thing you'll notice when smoking with the Bradley is that the cheese doesn't necessarily develop that really dark smoke skin that you would normally see with smoked cheese. However, that is simply due to the way the Bradley produces smoke. The flavor is the same; you just don't get the same visual effects on the cheese that you would with traditional stickburner smoking.