Smoked Cheese and Bacon - The Results

The Stilton and Edam cheeses were smoked for about 12 hours, the bacon nearer 30 hours. I've yet to taste the bacon but the cheeses are great. I didn't for one minute think that Stilton would take to smoking, but it has. They will, no doubt, improve further with a few days rest to allow the smokiness to equalise throughout the cheese.

Regrettably, the photo is not as good as the cheese. The photos that I feel are the best on the site are the ones I have taken with natural light and simple reflectors; I don't have an off-camera flash set-up... ...and it shows.

Smoked Cheese and Bacon



Smoking - Roe, Bacon and Cheese

I've done a couple of smoking projects in the last couple of weeks. It's funny, but since I've been using the cold smoke generator (CSG) it's that easy I don't think to write about it.

I was surprised how good the Edam cheese was that I smoked at Christmas, it may not be a local cheese, but it sure does make a nice smoked one.

One of my real favourites though is Smoked Cod's Roe. Before you start, I know it's from a fish with long term sustainability issues but I justify it in my tiny little brain by saying to myself that the roe is only a by-product. If I didn't buy it, the fish would still be killed for it's flesh. In any case, I'm loathe to alter my habits whilst the EU/GB authorities insist that fishermen throw perfectly good fish away - just because the wrong variety had the audacity to get caught in nets that they should have known weren't for them!

Either way, Cod's roe ain't cheap, it was about £4.50 lb - there should have been more in this picture but the fishmonger interpreted my 4½ lb order as £4½! For some reason the taramasalata in the picture looks very anaemic: surprising given that it's over 45% smoked roe; the supermarket stuff's around 12 - 15% and is generally salted rather than smoked roe.

Smoked Cod's Roe and Taramasalata

Tomorrow it's the turn of some back bacon. It's been curing for 8 days now and is in the fridge to dry before being smoked for 24 hours or so.

Bacon drying

The cure's a little saltier than the one in the tutorial:
For each 1kg of meat :

20gm Salt
8gm Sugar
2.5gm Cure #1
0.5gm Sodium ascorbate (optional)

The method is here.

If produce for smoking isn't dry it doesn't 'take the smoke' well. With fish, it's left until the curing salt forms a film call a pellicle on the surface.

A piece of Edam and a trial portion of local Stilton will accompany it for the first 8 - 10 hours or so. I'd like a side of salmon to smoke as well. There is some on offer at a supermarket nearby that I won't normally patronise; I'm not overly principled though so there may be some salmon in there yet! I have to say that I find it bizarre that cod's often cheaper than farmed salmon, particularly given the shortage of cod and the distance and danger that trawlers go through to get it.

I'll post the results in a few days.



Pork and Apple Sausage

I've been tied up with other projects recently so have had little time for cooking and curing. It never ceases to amaze me how dear the supermarket's meat is, when I compared what I had bought last week from the abattoir with supermarket prices I found that I had saved a minimum of 30%.

I'm making a new control box for my air-drying fridge so I was restricted to making fresh sausage, bacon and ham, although I've frozen a fair amount of pork shoulder for making cooked sausages, hot-dogs, polony and luncheon meats, later.

I don't write much about fresh sausage, mainly because we generally stick to the two recipes I've already put on-line, my Thurlaston sausage and fellow sausage-maker Oddley's Lincolnshire sausage. However, I thought I'd do something different for a change and chose to make Pork and Apple sausages. Now I've tried these before and wasn't happy with the results, so I trawled the web to see what I could plagiarise off other people! The results received rave reviews from the family, so here's my recipe with thanks to Welsh Wizard and Parson Snows from the sausagemaking.org forum on whose recipes' it's loosely based:

Sausage Seasoning Mix

16g Salt
3g White Pepper
1g Fresh Rosemary
0.5g Dried Sage

Chop Rosemary then mix together well. I mixed them in a coffee grinder.

For 1kg of meat

1kg Locally Produced Pork Shoulder (about 20% visible fat)
85g Rusk
40g Dried Apple
110g Apple juice plus extra (see below)
20.5g Seasoning mix (above)

Start with about 400ml of good quality apple juice. Boil it in a pan until it is reduced by half and leave to cool. Then soak the dried apples in it for about 1 hour before chopping them finely.

Having kept the pork in a very cold fridge, mince it. I minced it through a plate with 6mm holes and then through one with 4.5mm holes. Add the rusk and seasoning and then pour 110gm (110ml roughly) of the remaining apple juice over. Either mix by hand until you think you're going to get frostbite or use a Kenwood type food mixer (not food processor) to mix it for 3 or 4 minutes until the the mixture is sausage-meat. That is, it changes from just a burger type mix into a sticky mass, the smell seems to change too. It's hard to describe but you need to do this to develop the myosin in the meat that will stop the sausage becoming dry and crumbly when you cook it. You may need to add a little more apple juice to get a good mix. Don't add more than an extra 20ml - 25ml though, otherwise the sausage will spit like a camel when you fry it!

Stuff the sausage into pre-soaked casings (follow the suppliers advice for soaking the casings), then hang to 'bloom' (develop flavour) in the fridge for 6 - 8 hours. Some fridges are very dry so check the sausages regularly and if they appear to be drying out too quickly put them on a tray and cover them for the rest of the 'blooming' period.

Sausage 'blooming'

You could use cider instead of apple juice in this recipe. Preferably a local one from Rockingham Forest Cider. On that subject, why not check out Karen and Mark's cider blog at rockinghamforestcider.blogspot.com.

The only disappointing thing about these sausages is that I had to buy foreign dried apples; it looks like I'm going to have to dry some myself when they're next in season.


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Monster Parsnips

I've mentioned my mate before, he grows some superb vegetables, many of which are just that little bit bigger than the norm!

Bob's Parsnip

You don't get many of them to the pound!


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