Smoking Cheese A Little More Sustainably

One half of the smoker

One half of the smoker

Since 2008, we have been smoking our own cheese. Our little AFOS smoker has been one of our best buys, with a payback of less than a year.

We have been working with Whywaste who put us in touch with Masham based brewery, Theakstons, on a scheme that allows us to use their waste as our inputs: we use Theakston’s oak shavings to smoke our cheese.

Even though we are a very tiny 3 person cheese maker, we smoke all of our own cheese and occasionally, cheese for other people too.

Lydia waxing smoked cheese

Lydia waxing smoked cheese

The oak shavings we receive from Theakstons are used as a bed for fine oak chippings that we use in our little smoker.

The smoker comprises two stainless steel compartments which has wire racks. Each compartment holds around 18 of our cheeses. There are three stainless steel drawers to the left of the compartments which holds oak shavings and are then topped with very fine oak chippings. We buy our oak chippings from our friends, Wensleydale Dairy Products up the road.

We use one litre scoop of shavings as a bed and three scoops of fine chips on top in two of the three drawers. Leaving a little half eye open in the front of each drawer, to allow air to be drawn in, we use a blow torch to set fire to the oak shavings and chippings which then gently smoulder over night. A fan pulls air from the end with the drawers over and across the cheese and then blows it out of a chimney. Apart from the smouldering, no heat is involved at all.

Smoked cheese getting a clear 'undercoat' of wax

Smoked cheese getting a clear 'undercoat' of wax

The smoking aroma is wonderful with warm, caramelly tones and gives our cheese a lovely yellow appearance and a distinctive taste, not too pronounced but subtle enough.

We put the smoker on around twice a week and smoke 36 cheeses – about 70kgs each time.

A big thank you to Theakstons! And to Whywaste too for their brokerage.

If anyone would like some smoking doing, please get in touch as we have spare capacity.

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