Friday, November 1, 2013

Smoked Cheese, Part 2

Here's a little pre-history on the smoking subject:

In prehistoric times cavemen would cook meats and fish over open fires in their caves and then hang the stuff in those caves to dry and feed the clan for awhile.  The motivation for hanging that meat/fish was for preservation first and foremost and in time, salt became a beneficial first step in that process either by rubbing it on or by dipping the meat/fish in brine.  Since we're talking about cave dwellers with no chimneys, the smoke in the room was, shall we say, heavy.

Salt also plays a possible role in the creation of cheese, itself.  Primitives may have accidentally created cheese by salting curdled milk, hoping to preserve it, but yielding a cheese of sorts.  Another hypothesis recontructs a scenario where milk is kept in a container made from animal stomachs which contain the enzyme, rennin, which separates whey from the forming curds which would become cheese.  Egyptian tombs document cheesemaking going back 8 to 10,000 years.

Now here's what smoking does:

Wood is made of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin.  Cellulose and himicellulose are the basic structural materials of wood cells.  Lignin is the glue that holds the cells in place.  Cellulose and hemicellulose are sugars that carmelize when burnt yielding sweet, flowery, and fruity aromas.  Burning Lignin yields spicy and pungent aromas resembling vanillin and clove.

On July 15th of this year we wrote about phenolics, the chemical properties that give wine its flavors and health benefits.  Smoke from burning wood contains 400 chemical compounds with 75 or so being phenolic compounds.  Those compounds are triggered by the chemical reaction of the heat with latent wood polymers and just like in the wine phenolics blogpost, the smoking phenolic compound properties act as a preservative to the food being smoked.  So smoking meat/fish/cheese, like drinking red wine or eating dark chocolate, has healthful benefits in anti-oxidants which slow the rancidification of fats and anti-microbial benefits which inhibit bacteria growth.

...and all you ever heard was that smoking was bad for you.

Here's the wine tasting schedule for next week:

     Tuesday November 5th:  David Hobbs of Prime Wine & Spirits with Italians
     Thursday November 7th:  Gail Avera of Atlanta Beverage Company with French fare
     Friday November 8th:  Coleen Rotunno of Quality Wine & Spirits with California wines

Tommy Basham is here tonight with Spanish and Italian wines.

Please supports us in these tastings and, by all means, become a follower of this blog.

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