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your thoughts on liquid smoke?

Lady_Tenar Oct 16, 2011 04:19 PM

I love, love, love smoky flavors in food. Obviously, the best way to get them in there is to char-grill or smoke things in a smoker. However, this is not feasible for me right now--I share an apartment with roommates in a densely populated city and so I lack the space and the money for the equipment. When I went to impart a smoky flavor to food, I usually include some kind of smoked ingredient that I can buy--Spanish paprika, chipotle, smoked cheese etc. But then there's just straight up liquid smoke--I don't know how to feel about it. Some how, it seems like cheating, more than adding smokiness via another ingredient does but then, maybe that's just a silly prejudice. I generally like to stay away from fake additives and do things "the long way." But the long way just isn't possible right now! What do you guys think? Should I feel fine about adding this to my pantry? Do you use it? Would you not touch it with a 10-foot pole? Your thoughts, please.

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  1. TeRReT RE: Lady_Tenar Oct 16, 2011 04:47 PM

    Its good. Use it. Its not a fake additive, its real smoke put through water.

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      acgold7 RE: Lady_Tenar Oct 16, 2011 04:56 PM

      It's absolutely fine. No reason not to use it when you need to. There's nothing fake about it.

      1. Zeldog RE: Lady_Tenar Oct 16, 2011 05:20 PM

        I would not touch it with a 10-ft pole, but I have the luxuries of a back yard and a cold smoker. But if I were in your situation I certainly would give it a try. If it tastes good, eat it. Is garlic infused oil fake garlic flavor?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Zeldog
          hill food RE: Zeldog Oct 16, 2011 05:55 PM

          agree with Zeldog, I have the luxury of an outdoor grill and a forest of hardwoods at the moment, so I turn my nose up at the idea, but if I were in your shoes, I'd indulge. my only caution is to those that think they are avoiding potential (and minimal) carcinogens by using the liquid - yer not.

        2. m
          MellieMag RE: Lady_Tenar Oct 16, 2011 05:20 PM

          I think you should just go by what tastes good to you. I know many people like liquid smoke, I don't but you might.

          1. Hank Hanover RE: Lady_Tenar Oct 16, 2011 05:26 PM

            I use liquid smoke fairly often. When I am cooking pork ribs, I put liquid smoke in the brine and then I add it to mustard that I brush on to hold the dry rub. I have seen this technique with pulled pork too. I

            I have done it with pork tenderloin, too.

            The way I figure it is that it is better than no smoke at all. I usually don't have time to smoke for several hours.

            1. The Professor RE: Lady_Tenar Oct 16, 2011 06:17 PM

              I use it and it does the job. It's a natural extract, unlike something like truffle oil which is totally fake.

              I do think however that liquid smoke is something that should be used judiciously...it's not the perfect replacement for _actually_ smoking food, and too much of it does get pretty cloying. But usd moderately, it does add a very nice touch to many foods.

              1. Antilope RE: Lady_Tenar Oct 16, 2011 06:24 PM

                I have a Weber smoker and I enjoy smoked food from it, but in the winter or in the summer when it's too hot I also use liquid smoke. A little goes a long way. Too much can overwhelm and make food bitter.

                But I also put beans in chili and sugar in cornbread, and I like it. ;-)

                1 Reply
                1. re: Antilope
                  Antilope RE: Antilope Oct 16, 2011 07:44 PM

                  There are also different flavors of liquid smoke. I've used hickory and mesquite. I prefer hickory.

                2. mattstolz RE: Lady_Tenar Oct 16, 2011 06:47 PM

                  have you ever tried smoker bags?


                  1. paulj RE: Lady_Tenar Oct 16, 2011 06:48 PM

                    I knew nothing about it until I heard a segment on The Splendid Table interviewing an author of Cheaters BBQ. I bought the book, and have tried a few recipes, as well as used it a few times on my own. I'm not yet a big fan of the stuff, but this is a place to start.


                    ATK also did an oven roasted pulled pork, where they first marinated the meat in a brine with liquid smoke, and then used smoked paprika in the dry rub. I roughly followed the idea using country style ribs and produced some good meat (though the smoke flavor was not strong).

                    1. kaleokahu RE: Lady_Tenar Oct 16, 2011 07:02 PM

                      Hi, Lady_Tenar:

                      Here's my take on liquid smoke. Like garlic powder, a *lot* more chefs and home cooks use it than will admit. Like garlic powder, they use it because it works well. Frankly, to draw a different analogy, it may be more like canned pumpkin--it's really hard to work a flavor improvement with real smoke. Texture, appearance and preservation are different matters.


                      1. eclecticsynergy RE: Lady_Tenar Oct 16, 2011 07:42 PM

                        I agree that it has its place, but is not a substitute for actual smoking. A few drops in a marinade, or a batch of greens, or a dip, or a soup, or a BBQ sauce works great.

                        It's one of those flavors where just enough can be wonderful, but a little too much is truly awful. I use & enjoy it occasionally, and one little bottle will last a long, long time. Myself, I use smoked paprika more often, but the liquid can go places the paprika can't.

                        Still, whatever you do, be careful not to spill any in your kitchen!!!

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                          gilintx RE: Lady_Tenar Oct 16, 2011 07:48 PM

                          I'm not sure where I read this, but liquid smoke is basically the equivalent of bong water (ahem). I only use it in rare instances, but I do keep it in my pantry for such occasions as making beef jerky. A little goes a long way, so don't go nuts with it. Otherwise, I'm on board with it.

                          1. bushwickgirl RE: Lady_Tenar Oct 17, 2011 06:40 AM

                            "bong water" mm, that was good for a laugh!

                            Not being in a position to smoke anything here (I tried it one time in Brooklyn, I was smoking chicken breasts in my little Weber Smoky Joe in the back yard and the fire department arrived, called by a neighbor who, yeah, smelled smoke.) I have used liquid smoke but right now I have hickory smoke powder which is great in bbq sauce, chili and on pork, on anything where I want a little smoky essense.

                            Ingredients: Spray dried smoke powder in a malt sugar base. Nothing fake about it. A little goes a very long way.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: bushwickgirl
                              sbp RE: bushwickgirl Oct 17, 2011 10:04 AM

                              Do you have a pattern for that pumpkin avatar?

                              1. re: sbp
                                bushwickgirl RE: sbp Oct 17, 2011 03:48 PM

                                Hehe, no, it just came to me...wait til you see the pumpkin avatar I have for the day after Halloween.

                            2. m
                              magiesmom RE: Lady_Tenar Oct 17, 2011 06:52 AM

                              I use smoky paprika for this purpose.

                              1. MandalayVA RE: Lady_Tenar Oct 17, 2011 07:12 AM

                                I always have some on hand, but as others have said a little goes a long way.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: MandalayVA
                                  scubadoo97 RE: MandalayVA Oct 17, 2011 08:49 AM

                                  Same here. I don't use it a lot. Have a smoker and use it often but there are times when it's just the ticket to get the flavor I want in a dish.

                                2. pdxgastro RE: Lady_Tenar Oct 17, 2011 04:02 PM

                                  To me, it is one of those pesky ingredients you buy for *ONE* recipe, after which it languishes in your cupboard getting old and crusty.

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