Liquid smoke is exactly what it sounds like; smoke that has been transformed into liquid. The science behind it may seem impossible, but the process is easier than you might think. Smoke is filtered through water and condensed into a liquid that captures the essence, or flavour, of the smoke. To make liquid smoke you need a lot of machinery, but only three main ingredients: wood, smoke and water.
Before liquefying the smoke, it must be created first. The smoke for liquid smoke is created by burning wood and the type of wood used while making liquid smoke is important. Different types of wood produce different flavours and aromas when burnt. Hickory smoke is different than oak smoke, which is different than cherry wood and so on. Wood is inspected before burning to make sure it is free of mould, pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
Once the wood is burnt, smoke is created. The smoke is captured in a large container and, as the smoke builds up, it is slowly cooled in the container to form condensation. Condensation is the condensed, liquid form of the smoke. The condensation drips down into a separate tank where it is filtered.
The smoke is filtered through distilled water. The filtering process eliminates any impurities from the product. The process results in water that is infused with the flavour and aroma of the smoke, liquid smoke. From there, the liquid smoke is bottled and ready for shipment. Some manufacturers add secondary ingredients to the liquid smoke before bottling.
If the liquid smoke does not have the ideal colour, some manufacturers add artificial colouring before bottling. The artificial colouring does not affect the flavour; only the colour. However, other ingredients are sometimes added to enhance the flavour of liquid smoke. Vinegar is sometimes added to balance out the flavour of the liquid smoke if it is too woody. Sugar-based products, such as molasses and honey, are added to rid liquid smoke of any tartness acquired during the filtering process.
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