Liquid Smoke: What Is It?

We've been using liquid smoke quite a bit lately, mainly to add depth of flavor to vegetarian dishes. But what exactly is this stuff?

Honestly, we hadn't given it much thought before we heard the topic come up on a recent episode of The Splendid Table. Host Lynne Rossetto Kasper was talking to R. B. Quinn, author of Cheater Barbecue, and he recommended liquid smoke for creating barbecue flavor in a slow-cooker.

Lynne initially recoiled, saying that she found liquid smoke to be a "turn off" and made her think of chemicals. R. B. explained that although he too believed for years that it was a gimmicky chemical creation, in fact, it's an all-natural product that's made by smoldering real hardwood, capturing and filtering the water from the tanks and bottling it. He said it's been used in products like hot dogs, bacon, cold cuts and baked beans since the 1960s. "It's simply an easier to control, easier to use and measure form of smoke that I think tastes fantastic," he said.

We have to agree. We like to use it in chili and bean dishes. Just be sure to use it sparingly – a little goes a long way!

If you'd like to hear the full discussion on The Splendid Table, it's on the Oct. 31 podcast.

Related: NorthWoods Smoke of Minnesota

(Image: Amazon)