"Why not just use the oven or a crock pot, then toss in some liquid smoke?"

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Liquid smoke is used in a lot of store bought smoked cheese, and although I like my smoked cheese better. I don't really mind the store bought stuff.

Chris
 
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I find that liquid smoke tastes artificial. It works and gives as much smoke as you want but just doesn't taste the same as natural smoke does. Liquid smoke loses the complexity of flavors that develop when the live smoke contacts, flavors, and dries the meat. Can you use it? Sure, it works. If it didn't it wouldn't have been on the market for so long. Another example, instant vanilla pudding versus egg custard in an éclair. Both work but the egg custard is a richer and fuller experience. My $0.02

JC :emoji_cat:
 
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To the OP: Why isn't "it tastes better smoked" a sufficient answer to your friend's question? You seem unsatisfied with that answer, and seem to want some sort of scientific or quantifiable answer. I'm not sure that exists.

In the grand scheme, isn't the reason we go to the trouble of honing our cooking skills all about the flavor of the food? Doesn't your friend eat things that please his taste buds? Many of the responses to your question have illustrated that we go the the trouble of slow-smoking food because we love the flavor. Not sure if I understand why that answer doesn't satisfy your question...

So I'll echo what everyone else has said. I use liquid smoke in the occasional sauce recipe - in moderation...but you simply cannot add liquid smoke to a Crock Pot roast and compare it to the taste of a hunk of meat slow-roasted in a wood-fired cooker. If you try it, and can't tell the difference, then you probably should sell your smoker.

And speaking of your smoker, I'll add that there are those who claim that a pellet grill doesn't produce enough smoke for their taste. Those folks would argue that if you compare meat smoked in a stick burner to meat smoked in a pellet grill, you'd be able to taste a big difference in the smoke flavor.

Just "food" for thought...

Red
 
"Why not just use the oven or a crock pot, and then toss in some liquid smoke instead of messing around with a smoker?"

This question is one that a friend asked me after hearing me talk about my experiences using my pellet smoker, and my sometimes-disappointing results (not enough smoke flavor.) I honestly did not know how to answer. On one hand, I have to believe there's no way we've all just been casually wasting our time - if there was an easier way, I can't imagine there'd be so many smoking enthusiasts around. Still, I never really considered what my friend asked until now, and it's bothering me a bit. I kinda gave him a eyeroll and dismissed it as a silly premise, but later I realized I was having trouble thinking through *why* it was a silly premise.

I know a lot of the members here have years and years into smoking, so I'm assuming you've encountered a skeptical friend posing this question before. How do you answer? I'm pretty sure that it *is* a silly question, but *why* is that the case? Have any of you taken it an extra step and done a side-by-side to prove the difference to yourself or others?

Sorry, I know this is probably silly, but it's bugging me.


EDIT: Ok, so people are saying there's a big difference, but that mostly seems to be based on liquid smoke tasting bad. Does anyone know why liquid smoke tastes bad, while regular smoking tastes good? Isn't liquid smoke basically just condensed smoke?
the texture, flavor, mouth feel, aroma and visual appeal of a smoked brisket or pork butt can not be replicated in a oven or crock pot with liquid smoke. Those sensory details matter and that is why we eat and enjoy cooking and prefer certain foods over others. to answer the question you do it yourself do a side by side comparison with your friend and give us the results
 
IMO it comes down to the individual asking the question. There are those that just do not appreciate good food or the effort it takes to make 'good eats'. Unfortunately this accurately describes the wife's side of the family. Any attempt to strike up a conversation with them on the topic is met with complete push back citing all sorts of non germane reasoning. It's useless to argue with folks that are head strong on false beliefs. Liquid smoke is a cheat for those who won't spend the time to do it right and the result speaks for itself (yuck). I'd answer the question by saying, the best results take time and effort which is why there are trained chefs working at many fine establishments. Some don't want to be bothered. They would rather search for a quick way and be satisfied, which is their prerogative. Others are willing to take the time to do it better.
 
To the OP: Why isn't "it tastes better smoked" a sufficient answer to your friend's question? You seem unsatisfied with that answer, and seem to want some sort of scientific or quantifiable answer. I'm not sure that exists.

In the grand scheme, isn't the reason we go to the trouble of honing our cooking skills all about the flavor of the food? Doesn't your friend eat things that please his taste buds? Many of the responses to your question have illustrated that we go the the trouble of slow-smoking food because we love the flavor. Not sure if I understand why that answer doesn't satisfy your question...

So I'll echo what everyone else has said. I use liquid smoke in the occasional sauce recipe - in moderation...but you simply cannot add liquid smoke to a Crock Pot roast and compare it to the taste of a hunk of meat slow-roasted in a wood-fired cooker. If you try it, and can't tell the difference, then you probably should sell your smoker.

And speaking of your smoker, I'll add that there are those who claim that a pellet grill doesn't produce enough smoke for their taste. Those folks would argue that if you compare meat smoked in a stick burner to meat smoked in a pellet grill, you'd be able to taste a big difference in the smoke flavor.

Just "food" for thought...

Red

I would disagree that a more scientific answer doesn't exist. Heck in this thread and someone already alluded to why condensed smoke is flawed and results in off flavors.

My supertaster wife can tell the difference between a meat smoked with a water pan and a meat dry smoked. I've blind-tested her just to make sure and she nailed it 100% of the time. She says meat smoked with a water pan tastes bitter and acrid, "like liquid smoke," her words, not mine.

A water pan makes more smoke adhere to the meat through condensation (cold meat, hotter chamber). If you've ever loaded meat too early during a wet smoke, while the smoke is white or gray, not blue, that's what liquid smoke reminds me of.

Beyond that, I got nothing to compare it to.

Frankly, this is likely the biggest issue - the type of [smoke] particulates captured in liquid smoke through the process of attempting to condense the smoke are most likely different that the ones that adhere and absorb into meat. I'd wager that this is due in part to the temperature, and with the other part of the equation being the particles that are hydrophobic, hydrophilic, lipophobic and lipophilic. I imagine there's more to it that even this honestly, but at least what noboundaries mentioned seems to make a lot of sense and gesture towards a part of what creates the perceived difference in taste.

Taste perception is of course material, but I also know where I am, and know that bias runs rampant in enthusiast forums of all sorts. That's why I'm really more interested in understanding *why* there's a taste difference, because the fact that so many perceive a taste difference (or think they perceive a difference) is pretty obvious. I'm not here for confirmation bias though, and that's what you're seeing. It's not that I'm unwilling to accept that smoking is FAR better than adding liquid smoke, because I do believe that. I'm just unwilling to support my thoughts with confirmation bias.

Unfortunately, that leaves me playing devil's advocate, and discarding answers that are largely based on logical fallacies ("well why would people spend money on it if it weren't better" etc) and ones that just essentially boil down to "because smoking is so much better" or "because it's about the enjoying the process." These don't really help inform *why* the flavor gained by smoking is so much better than adding liquid smoke.

Here's why I think it matters. I enjoy bourbon too, and for a long time in the bourbon community it seemed like borderline heresy to suggest that young distilleries / producers outside of Kentucky might be able to produce products that are as good or better than the ones coming from the giant players in Kentucky. Similarly, suggesting that a bottle aged only 4 years might trounce a bottle aged 8 years was for a long time laughed at. Since then there has been a major shift - people have started putting aside preconceived notions, have started asking more "why" and "how" questions, and have delved into the biology and chemistry of it all. Low and behold, those people who were making the suggestions that were once heresy weren't so wrong after all.

The point is this - objectivity often quite difficult to come by (especially in enthusiast communities,) and even more so when it comes to something that is by definition a subjective thing (taste.) Still, I believe that even subjective arguments can be supported by objective information, and that's what I am after. I think this forum is one of the better chances at finding info like that because of the depth of knowledge of many of the members here. As a bonus, I think that gaining a more fundamental understanding of what's going on with these types of things helps one refine their results by making adjustments based on the more in-depth understanding of what's occurring.

I know enough enough about wood burning science from places like Mad Scientist BBQ ( & for example) but I haven't found anyone really addressing Liquid Smoke directly. Hence the ask to a very knowledgeable group of ppl.
 
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I would disagree that a more scientific answer doesn't exist. Heck in this thread and someone already alluded to why condensed smoke is flawed and results in off flavors. Taste perception is of course material, but I know where I am. This is a smoking forum, and bias runs rampant here. That's not an attack on anyone here, it's the case with any enthusiast forum.

I enjoy bourbon too, and for a long time in the bourbon community it seemed like borderline heresy to suggest that young distilleries / producers outside of Kentucky might be able to produce products that are as good or better than the ones coming from the giant players in Kentucky. Similarly, suggesting that a bottle aged only 4 years might trounce a bottle aged 8 years was for a long time laughed at. Since then there has been a major shift - people have started putting aside preconceived notions, have started asking more "why" and "how" questions, and have delved into the biology and chemistry of it all. Low and behold, those people who were making the suggestions that were once heresy weren't so wrong after all.

The point is this - objectivity often quite difficult to come by in enthusiast communities, and even more so when it comes to something that is by definition a subjective thing (taste.) You can however add strength to an argument by backing it up with a more in-depth understanding of the difference between the thing that you perceive to be better, and the thing you perceive to be less favorable. Even better than that, a more fundamental understanding of the differences often helps you refine your results because you gain a deeper understanding of what's creating the results you want.

I know enough enough about wood burning science from places like Mad Scientist BBQ ( & for example) but I haven't found anyone really addressing Liquid Smoke directly. Hence the ask to a very knowledgeable group of ppl.

I'd tell your friend to shut up and eat the BBQ.........:emoji_laughing:
 
I would disagree that a more scientific answer doesn't exist. Heck in this thread and someone already alluded to why condensed smoke is flawed and results in off flavors.



Frankly, this is likely the biggest issue - the type of [smoke] particulates captured in liquid smoke through the process of attempting to condense the smoke are most likely different that the ones that adhere and absorb into meat. I'd wager that this is due in part to the temperature, and with the other part of the equation being the particles that are hydrophobic, hydrophilic, lipophobic and lipophilic. I imagine there's more to it that even this honestly, but at least what noboundaries mentioned seems to make a lot of sense and gesture towards a part of what creates the perceived difference in taste.

Taste perception is of course material, but I also know where I am, and know that bias runs rampant in enthusiast forums of all sorts. That's why I'm really more interested in understanding *why* there's a taste difference, because the fact that so many perceive a taste difference (or think they perceive a difference) is pretty obvious. Playing devil's advocate, statements with logical fallacies ("well why would people spend money on it if it weren't better" etc) and ones that just essentially boil down to "because smoking is so much better" are ones that I need to sorta look by, at least in pursuit of the type of info that I believe more completely informs *why* smoking is so much better than adding liquid smoke.

I enjoy bourbon too, and for a long time in the bourbon community it seemed like borderline heresy to suggest that young distilleries / producers outside of Kentucky might be able to produce products that are as good or better than the ones coming from the giant players in Kentucky. Similarly, suggesting that a bottle aged only 4 years might trounce a bottle aged 8 years was for a long time laughed at. Since then there has been a major shift - people have started putting aside preconceived notions, have started asking more "why" and "how" questions, and have delved into the biology and chemistry of it all. Low and behold, those people who were making the suggestions that were once heresy weren't so wrong after all.

The point is this - objectivity often quite difficult to come by in enthusiast communities, and even more so when it comes to something that is by definition a subjective thing (taste.) You can however add strength to an argument by backing it up with a more in-depth understanding of the difference between the thing that you perceive to be better, and the thing you perceive to be less favorable. Even better than that, a more fundamental understanding of the differences often helps you refine your results because you gain a deeper understanding of what's creating the results you want.

I know enough enough about wood burning science from places like Mad Scientist BBQ ( & for example) but I haven't found anyone really addressing Liquid Smoke directly. Hence the ask to a very knowledgeable group of ppl.

But on a serious not I see where your coming from and I don't have the scientific answer but Ive used a combination of both liquid smoke (a small percentage) then proceeded to cook the product in the pellet smoker and i feel it enhances the flavor. I've also use hickory smoke powder as well and could tell it was in the product. I've eaten a burger king or McDonald burger and when that had "smoky bacon added" it was very evident that liquid smoke was used on the bacon and i didn't like it.


i feel as though liquid smoke on a whole muscle meat vs a ground meat product like sausage gives a whole different flavor profile as well .

hope you find the answer from someone here.
 
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I know enough enough about wood burning science from places like Mad Scientist BBQ
You had my attention until you mentioned that guy. He once stated that 250°F was different in different smokers. He wasn't referring to shelf level, heat flow, altitude, chamber pressure, etc. He meant the actual temp. The MS guy his own physics.

Unwatching this thread.
 
I would disagree that a more scientific answer doesn't exist. Heck in this thread and someone already alluded to why condensed smoke is flawed and results in off flavors.



Frankly, this is likely the biggest issue - the type of [smoke] particulates captured in liquid smoke through the process of attempting to condense the smoke are most likely different that the ones that adhere and absorb into meat. I'd wager that this is due in part to the temperature, and with the other part of the equation being the particles that are hydrophobic, hydrophilic, lipophobic and lipophilic. I imagine there's more to it that even this honestly, but at least what noboundaries mentioned seems to make a lot of sense and gesture towards a part of what creates the perceived difference in taste.

Taste perception is of course material, but I also know where I am, and know that bias runs rampant in enthusiast forums of all sorts. That's why I'm really more interested in understanding *why* there's a taste difference, because the fact that so many perceive a taste difference (or think they perceive a difference) is pretty obvious. I'm not here for confirmation bias though, and that's what you're seeing. It's not that I'm unwilling to accept that smoking is FAR better than adding liquid smoke, because I do believe that. I'm just unwilling to support my thoughts with confirmation bias.

Unfortunately, that leaves me playing devil's advocate, and discarding answers that are largely based on logical fallacies ("well why would people spend money on it if it weren't better" etc) and ones that just essentially boil down to "because smoking is so much better" or "because it's about the enjoying the process." These don't really help inform *why* the flavor gained by smoking is so much better than adding liquid smoke.

Here's why I think it matters. I enjoy bourbon too, and for a long time in the bourbon community it seemed like borderline heresy to suggest that young distilleries / producers outside of Kentucky might be able to produce products that are as good or better than the ones coming from the giant players in Kentucky. Similarly, suggesting that a bottle aged only 4 years might trounce a bottle aged 8 years was for a long time laughed at. Since then there has been a major shift - people have started putting aside preconceived notions, have started asking more "why" and "how" questions, and have delved into the biology and chemistry of it all. Low and behold, those people who were making the suggestions that were once heresy weren't so wrong after all.

The point is this - objectivity often quite difficult to come by (especially in enthusiast communities,) and even more so when it comes to something that is by definition a subjective thing (taste.) Still, I believe that even subjective arguments can be supported by objective information, and that's what I am after. I think this forum is one of the better chances at finding info like that because of the depth of knowledge of many of the members here. As a bonus, I think that gaining a more fundamental understanding of what's going on with these types of things helps one refine their results by making adjustments based on the more in-depth understanding of what's occurring.

I know enough enough about wood burning science from places like Mad Scientist BBQ ( & for example) but I haven't found anyone really addressing Liquid Smoke directly. Hence the ask to a very knowledgeable group of ppl.


This is beginning to seem like grossly overthinking a fairly simple concept...that people eat what they like because they find the taste to their liking.

You had my attention until you mentioned that guy. He once stated that 250°F was different in different smokers. He wasn't referring to shelf level, heat flow, altitude, chamber pressure, etc. He meant the actual temp. The MS guy his own physics.

Unwatching this thread.

And I totally agree with Ray here...I find the Mad Scientist to be mostly full of BS...don't confuse what he does and says with real science - he's just playing a scientist on the internet!

Red
 
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