“To savour that little bit of heritage locked into every bite is an experience not to be passed by.”
The smokehouse is situated in the tiny Scottish West Highland village of Glenuig. It nestles close to the shores of the Sound of Arisaig just north of Ardnamurchan Point, the most westerly point of the British mainland. It is here that the hills bow down to the sea, red deer roam freely grazing around the scattered settlements, and otters gambol amongst the rocks and boulders along a romantic shoreline overlooking the Inner Hebridean islands. Visitors to the area invariably leave with an indelible memory of serenity and a feeling of well being at having witnessed nature setting her own pace and scale of time.
It was from these very shores that Prince Charles Edward Stewart, “Bonnie Prince Charlie”, marched with his army to the raising of the standard and rallied the clans at Glenfinnan in the 1745 rebellion. Later, after defeat at the Battle of Culloden, he sailed from here to make good his escape from the government troops “Over the sea to Skye”, as still remembered in the Skye Boat Song, sung the world over.
The Origins of Smoking
Food Smoking is probably the earliest known form of food processing. Its origins go back to when caveman found that his meat would keep longer and taste different, due to the actions of smoke from the fires he lived by in his cave dwelling. The fires would have been kept lit to ward off animals, as well as to provide warmth. By hanging meat from the cave ceiling, he would have soon found that by the action of natural air drying, the meat would keep longer. This, coupled with the interaction of the smoke from his fires, would enhance the keeping properties and add extra flavour to the meat.
As time went on, foods were deliberately smoked to preserve, and variations in flavour and colour would be dependent on the local wood or peat supplies available.
Today’s Traditional Values.
Eating habits today have demanded that flavours become much more subtle, and it is doubtful that anyone could palate the overbearing strength of the traditional smoked offerings of a century ago. Smoking is now used to enhance flavour in a delicate manner rather than to extend shelf life. These factors make the “traditional style” food smoker’s art far more exacting than ever before. Many modern-day smokehouses use computerised kilns where the operator only has to press a button to churn out very standard flavours and shapes. Food should never be subjected to this form of mass production for fear of losing the true values of our heritage.
At Macdonald’s Smoked Produce we use only an age-old traditional process where each item is prepared by skilled hands. The kiln fires are set with a combination of oak chips and sawdust cut from old whisky barrels, and the fires are then lit and allowed to smoulder gently until the kiln master, through his experienced eye and feel for the product, declares the batch is ready. To realise this standard takes a little longer than the modern process, but we know, as well as our loyal customers do, that the extra time and care is well worth the effort.