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Pellicle (cooking)

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A pellicle is a skin or coating of proteins or cellulose on the surface of meat (e.g. smoked salmon) or fermented beverages (e.g. Kombucha).

Pellicles of protein that form prior to smoking meat (including fish and poultry) allow smoke to better adhere to the surface of the meat during the smoking process. Useful in all smoking applications and with any kind of animal protein, it is best used with fish where the flesh of a fish such as salmon forms a pellicle that will attract more smoke to adhere to it than would be the case if it had not been used.

Pellicles of cellulose that form in fermenting beverages, such as SCOBYs, are biofilms that are produced as fermentation takes place.[1]

Pellicle formation on meat[edit]

Before cured foods are cold smoked, they can be allowed to air-dry to form a tacky outer layer, known as a pellicle. The pellicle plays a role in producing better smoked products as it acts as a protective barrier for the food and also plays a role in enhancing the flavor and color produced by the smoke.

Most animal proteins can be dried by placing them on racks or by hanging them on hooks or sticks. It is important that air be able to flow around all sides. They should be air-dried uncovered, in the refrigerator or a cool room. To encourage pellicle formation, foods can be placed so that a fan blows air over them.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ May, Alexander; Narayanan, Shrinath; Alcock, Joe; Varsani, Arvind; Maley, Carlo; Aktipis, Athena (2019-09-03). "Kombucha: a novel model system for cooperation and conflict in a complex multi-species microbial ecosystem". PeerJ. 7: e7565. doi:10.7717/peerj.7565. ISSN 2167-8359. PMC 6730531. PMID 31534844.