This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
We had, says Chambers Journal, such an article placed in our hands not long since. It was an ordinary glass bottle, such as those into which expert packers force a quart of porter; but which never, by any known process, can be compelled to disgorge more than a pint and a half. It contained a thin liquid of a bluish-gray color; and we were instructed to pour a certain proportion into such brine-pans as contained hams or other comestibles, for the purpose of imparting thereto the flavor peculiarly appertaining to smoked meats.
So we did: and very excellent we found the receipt to be.
Now, this liquid was not the cunningly devised product of chemistry, possessing the taste of smoke, without any approximation to the reality. It was real bona-fide smoke, procured from wood, and bottled up in its unadulterated purity, and was obtained in this wise: In South Wales, there exists an establishment for the manufactory of pyroligneous acid, an article much in favor with the great pick ling-houses. What is generally supposed to be white-wine vinegar, is often, in reality, the product of these works; and it is well for the consumer if more deleterious ingredients are not used. As its name indicates, this acid is obtained from burning wood, of which large quantities are annually consumed. For some time, the smoke arising therefrom was allowed to escape; but these are not the times to waste anything. So, without the constraining influence of an act of parliament, the proprietors of the pyroligneous acid works resolved on economizing and utilizing their smoke. For this purpose they built over the pyre, a condensing chamber, and the smoke entering therein, and having no outlet, became converted into a fluid, such as we have described.
In this state it was, and, we presume, still is, bottled off for public consumption; and its use effecting a great saving of expense in the curing of such meats as require to be smoked for the gratification of epicurean palates, a considerable demand for it has arisen. So that "a bottle of smoke " is no longer the impossible fiction which it was supposed to be in the good old times of our youth, but has been resolved into a substantial reality, and claims its place amongst those ingenious appetizers, which " no good housekeeper should be without." Is not this pyroligneous acid?