beech-trees growing in the forest setting

Beech tree

Beech- WOOD SPECIES

 

Not the most popular of hardwoods in the North American region and certainly it doesn’t have the following like in the European market.  However, this is still an interesting hardwood to use for wood fired cooking techniques.

Going Beech!  That means your entering the wood family that includes white oak as a relative.  Part of the Fagaceae family, the variety we manufacture is Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.  Unlike its cousin, Beech doesn’t produce a heavy, pungent flavouring but rather a more balanced, medium toned profile.  The common names for the varieties found in the Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania regions are American Beech and Red Beech.

Less temperament than Oak, Beech is considered a rather bland wood to look at.  When it is exposed to steam/heat, it takes on a golden hue and that is commonly what the coloring to various meats, poultry, and fish will also show.  Keep in mind, like all our cooking woods, the descriptors used are truly in the palate of the taster.  There are no rules that say one wood must be used with a specific food.  Experimentation is what the art of fire cooking is all about.  And, the region that the wood is harvested from also factors in to the flavoring it will provide when foods are exposed to it.  The same wood in a western state will not produce the same flavoring as the wood from an eastern state.  Everything interacts with the tree: soil pH, growth location, sun exposure, precipitation exposure, etc.

Heat Level: High – 21.8 MBTU

Fuel Efficiency: Excellent

Ease of Lighting: Poor

Ideal Uses: Baking/Grilling/Roasting/Braising/Pit Roasting/Hot Smoking/Cold Smoking

So, take a go at Beech, even if it takes a bit to get it lite.  The aroma is pleasant, the burn time is extensive, and the infusion appealing.

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CRUSHED OR DICED WOOD CHIPS?

The Difference Between Crushed and Diced Wood Chips

You see the options all the time.  Crushed or diced tomatoes?  Every chef knows when and why you choose one over the other. Did you know the same concept is true for wood chips?

At SmokinLicious®, the only true cooking wood Company, we produce our wood chips in the same manner as tomato processors! We crush the wood for our Grande Sapore® chips – these pieces produce a unique flavor because of their shape just like crushed tomatoes give a deeper flavor to recipes!  These chips are meant to last and work with other ingredients for full flavor balance. We also offer our “diced” option of predetermined wood slices to produce our Minuto® and Piccolo® chips for smoldering on heat plates, cast iron, and flavor bars.  Just as diced tomatoes give a fresh-from-the-garden taste, diced wood chips likewise produce a different, often more intense fresh wood flavoring.

SmokinLicious® only manufacturers cooking woods.  That is our primary and only business.  We know hardwoods for cooking, all types of wood-fired methods.  And we know wood flavoring – how to get the best clean flavors from the select hardwoods ideal for cooking!

See for yourself why we are a superior product with a superior outcome.  Enjoy the benefits of the knowledge of our flavorists and get the options you are looking for.  Made the SmokinLicious® way!

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SMOKING (FOOD THAT IS!) DOESN’T MAKE IT ALL BAD!

smoke

Recently, I received a very interesting question regarding the safety of ingesting foods and beverages that have been exposed to smoke vapor using hand held food smokers.  Specifically, the question consisted of whether you need to be 18 years of age for items that have been infused with smoke using these gadgets.

This got me thinking:

  • does the word “smoke” automatically give off the bad vibe response?
  • why do people only inquire about the smoke without needing to know more about the plant source that produces that smoke?

There is a lot of data out there on carcinogenic affect to high heat grilled foods like burgers, chicken, and steaks, even data on hot smoking foods at lower temperatures.  Really, what it all boils down to is, if you grill meats to the point where you blacken them, that increases the risk for the carcinogens.  Even if you cook to the blacken state, eating these foods in moderation will halt any real risk over an average person’s lifetime.

So why the question on legality to consume smoked foods and beverages?

 If you understand that the tobacco industry had to start putting warning labels on tobacco packaging back in 1966, and smokeless tobacco products in 2010, then you comprehend that smoke vapor does contain toxins (http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/Labeling/Labeling/default.htm ).  Everything regarding level of toxicity with cooking is related to type of food, method of cooking, cooking temperature, and length of cooking time ( https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cooked-meats-fact-sheet ).

Let’s examine those parameters from the hand held food smoking perspective.

You are not cooking the food by this method, merely infusing it with the smoke flavonoids, so there is no temperature (cold smoking technique).  You are not exposing the food to smoke vapor for hours – it really comes down to minutes.  Most importantly, you are not directly attempting to inhale the smoke vapor into your lungs.  Yes, if your standing near the container that is holding the cold smoke when you open it, you will have some exposure but not like the person that takes a drag directly from a tobacco product or is chewing on a tobacco product!

Like anything else in our world, there are risks to everything we do, experience, sense, taste, explore, desire.  Hot smoking is another name for roasting just at a lower temperature and usually with cheaper cuts of meat.

What should never be compromised is the plant material – the wood – that is used to extract these flavors.

Really, I believe it is time to start asking more questions about the hardwood products (don’t even start me on softwoods and waste wood http://www.smokinlicious.com/blog/?p=244 !) being used for the smoking process rather than focusing on the process itself.  Perhaps the risks associated with dirty, moldy, contaminated wood are too high to ignore anymore.

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Smokinlicious Wood Blocks

Smokinlicious Wood Blocks- DrSmoke

 DON’T PUT US LAST!

Case Notes: A restaurant is preparing to open in a new location and made the decision to invest in an Italian made pizza oven that has an option for wood-fired cooking.  This equipment would take 6 months to manufacture and deliver to the USA, which gave the owners time to complete renovations on their new building in preparation for the free-standing oven’s installation.  During that time, menu development and plating options were reviewed and decided upon.

The one planning need that was left to the last minute – locating the supplier for the cooking hardwood and determining appropriate sizing for the new equipment!  WHY???

It always surprises me that restaurateurs are willing to spend $50,000 and up for commercial equipment that does a specific function or technique, yet they don’t spend the time before that purchase ensuring they can obtain the quality accessory needs to get every benefit from that investment.

Here’s the best part: often these equipment lines tote that they can do all sorts of functions including wood-fired cooking techniques.  The truth – they aren’t really promoting that function of their equipment line!  They simply want to sell you the equipment and have you use standard fuel options like electric and gas.  How did I come to this conclusion?  By the content of the user’s manual.

Many do not reference:

  • size of wood product needed for the equipment
  • how to light the product
  • how much of the product to use
  • where to locate a supplier of the cooking wood
  • pictorials of the steps to do the technique
  • provide a troubleshooting guide.

Do you really want to spend $50,000, $60,000, $100,000 and be left to fend for yourself with that investment?

Take the appropriate steps when considering additions to or replacements in your equipment line.  Research not only the equipment but what is needed to do the smoke infusion technique with that equipment.  Yes, wood chips are readily available even though there is a high level of variation between products.  But other products are not so easy to find like wood pieces larger than wood chips but smaller than split firewood logs.

In addition, wood-fired techniques can also require additional “tools” to be available in the kitchen that may not have been standard inventory before.

Such things as:

  • fire retardant gloves
  • fire grade tools like long handled tongs and a wood poker
  • a MAP canister/torch for lighting the fire
  • an infrared thermometer for reading temperatures within the cooking chamber
  • an ash receptacle.

Prioritize the needs of a wood-fired equipment addition by first reviewing the best option in equipment for your business’ need and second, assessing all the requirements of the wood to be successful in bringing this technique to your kitchen!

 

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SmokinLicious® for the Combitherm® Combi Oven by Alto-Shaam®

Alto Shaam Combitherm oven

Alto Shaam Combitherm oven

We love having the opportunity to work with chefs throughout the world in determining what they desire in a wood-fired flavor for various menu items.

As you can imagine, we get the opportunity to work with a variety of equipment lines that use wood for flavor and coloring.  One of our favorite commercial equipment lines is produced by Alto-Shaam® who specialize in food service and retail markets by offering cooking, holding, display, and chill equipment lines.

Part of the Alto-Shaam® cooking offerings is the Combitherm® Combi Oven which not only offers convection cooking but smoke infusion as well.  This highly efficient oven works with hardwood chips to bring the aroma and taste of wood infusion to all types of meat, poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices.  In fact, when SmokinLicious® began development of our micro chip line, we targeted the Combitherm® oven for ideal sizing production to meet the needs of the commercial kitchen.  In the end, we found that our smaller Minuto® Wood Chip line offered even greater flavor than traditionally sized wood chips with little ash residue when used with the Combitherm®.

Here’s the best part: because we manufacture every product, we can offer chefs single species of our filtered specialty wood chip line or we can custom blend to give their menu items greater diversity from others.  That includes blending different wood species as well as sizes.  Smaller chip particles may be used for more pungent woods while larger sizes of sweet or savory chips are included for a fully balanced wood recipe flavoring based on the overall food ingredients.

Chefs who use the Combitherm® simply love the ease of adding our dust free product to the equipment, dialing in the smoke infusion level they desire, and letting the oven do its magic.  The best part is they don’t have to worry about an unclean wood source going into their expensive equipment and causing equipment failure or producing off color and taste to the foods being cooked.

We know we can offer the best flavor in wood combustion by starting with the ideal hardwoods for cooking.  The rest can be left to the cook’s imagination.  We know the effort it takes for those in the food and beverage industry to commit to a specific piece of equipment.  We know the expense involved.  What we don’t understand is why the same time and research isn’t spent assessing the wood supply to be used in the oven?  Why risk this investment to an unvetted supplier?

If you own an Alto-Shaam® Combitherm® Combi Oven or you are in the market for a new piece of equipment, join those who have already experienced the benefits of our exceptional Minuto® wood chip line and get ready to be blown away with the possibilities our products can bring to your kitchen!

Bon Bar B Que!

Dr. Smoke

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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stop watchWe’ve all heard it!  The infamous 5 second rule.  When something falls on the floor, you have 5 seconds to pick it up and still consume it. At SmokinLicious®, that will NEVER be the case.  If it falls on the floor, it is NEVER used in our manufacturing process!

You might ask, “Why apply this rule when we’re only talking about wood, right?”  If you understand the basis of wood-fired cooking then you understand that smoke is a vapor.  And like any vapor, it attaches itself to anything in its surrounding area.  When you cook with wood, you are adding its smoke or vapor as an ingredient to the foods being cooked.

So, do you really want something that has been on the floor for a short period or a longer period to be considered an ingredient in food you will consume?

SmokinLicious® is unique in this thinking and as a result of this approach allowed our wood processes to be Kosher certified! We handle everything with care and with your food consumption in mind.  To us, wood is a flavor ingredient and needs to be exceptionally clean.

Whether it’s our larger cuts of hardwood like our friction logs, barrel logs and assorted chunk sizes or our smallest product, Smokin’ Dust®, we ensure that the wood never touches the ground or floor.  SmokinLicious® developed custom storage containers and air collected systems that preserve the cleanliness of the wood and assure no product is EVER swept from the floor!

Why wouldn’t you want to deal with the leading cooking wood manufacturer in North America?  Especially when others are simply recycling their waste wood products.

Don’t you think your customers care about the 5 second rule and deserve to know if you allow it?

Get peace of mind AND a guarantee with a REAL cooking wood company…  SmokinLicious®!

Stop watch

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We received the following inquiry from a product user and follower:

“I want to smoke ribs on my STOK™ drum charcoal grill but am worried about getting consistent temp and my ratio of wood chips to lump charcoal”?

Listen And Watch PART ONE:

Listen And Watch PART TWO:

 

Thank you, Mr. Brown, for your question submitted @smokinlicious on Instagram.  Follow us on our blog, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Flipboard as we explore the culinary delights of wood-fired cooking and all the superb flavours!  Wood – it’s not just for traditional barbecue – it has SO many  great uses: ember cooking, baking, roasting, searing, cold smoking, etc.

Keep your questions coming!

Bon Bar B Q

Dr. Smoke and the Culinary Smoke Team

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     What can I tell people about smoking food with wild cherry wood when
 they have been told there is arsenic in wild cherry wood?  They want to know
 if it is safe.  Also, what about the issue of cyanogenic compounds?  Is this a concern,
 and if so, I assume it is a non-issue if the wood is aged a period of time?


 Thank you for educating me about the SAFETY of using wild cherry wood
 for smoking food. 

Elizabeth AndressElizabeth L. Andress, Ph.D.
Professor and Extension Food Safety Specialist
Department of Foods and Nutrition
The University of Georgia

Our response:

Good Afternoon, Dr. Andress!

      Thank you for the question regarding Wild Cherry wood! and for seeking
 our opinion regarding use of the wood for smoking foods.  Let’s see what new
 information I can present to you that may be of value.


     First, it is important to note that Smokinlicious Gourmet Wood Products
only manufacturers gourmet “cooking” wood from forest trees.  We do not,
and will not, produce our products from orchard-based woods.  Our reason
is simple – we do not believe in smoking foods over woods that have been
or have the potential to be sprayed or growth enhanced with chemicals.
As you’ve already indicated, trees produce prussic acid, better known as
hydrogen cyanide.  We feel that humans can use woods produced in nature
when they have been left alone, unburden by the human hand in trying to
manage what sometimes is the normal cyclical pattern of nature.  In the areas in which we purchase the heartwood for our gourmet wood production facility, the varieties of cherry (prunus pensylvanica L.f.) we commonly deal with are: Northern Pin Cherry, Fire Cherry, Wild Red Cherry, and Pigeon Cherry.  Of course, predominately, we bring in Wild Red Cherry. Your portion of the country generally in known for production of
Southern Crab Apple, Narrow-Leaf Crab, Wild Crab, and Eastern Chokecherry.           The main difference in these woods is that our forest trees tend to be on
the sweeter side versus the sour.
  For the most part, hydrogen cyanide is found mainly in the leaves and seeds of the cherry tree.  Black Cherry bark is also commonly used in
herbal cough remedies. 
   

     The predominate opinion is that when used in small quantities, the hydrogen cyanide is a mute issue. Now let’s talk about the smoking application of wood.  Cyanogenic compounds WOULD remain a factor for our production of cooking wood.  This is due to the fact that we do not allow our gourmet woods to deplete their moisture content to a level that other wood product manufacturers may do
(what is commonly referred to as “seasoning of the wood”).  For ideal
smoking of foods, wood needs to have a moisture level preferably at 20%
or higher.  This results in the wood smoldering rather than burning at a
rapid rate.  The resulting smoke from the plant material provides for
that wonderful flavor.  Because smoking is done at low temperatures for
longer periods of time, the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s) found in
wood moelcules are not stimulated as they normally would be when
cooking, say, a steak over a hot flame.  Thus, the health risk associated with
PAH’s and smoked foods is not considered an issue.


      Our main concerns regarding woods used for cooking and smoking foods is
to always ensure a bark-free product.  Bark does not hold moisture but
rather is designed to rid the tree of wastes by absorbing them and locking them
into this area.  In fact, this is the reason why bark-on woods burn so
much faster than bark-free wood pieces.  This portion of the tree is
actually responsible for temperature flare-ups, tainted smells, “spotty”
appearance of the food’s skin, and increase in the production of ash.
Addtionally, once the temperature is increased during wood-fired
cooking, heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, are created due to the reaction of the
amino acides and creatine with the higher cooking temperature. 


     In a nutshell, a person is at greater risk of cyanide exposure in
treated wood products for home construction than they are when consuming BBQ.
Knowing the source of the wood being used in the cooking application is
vital to ensure that the necessary steps have been taken to prevent tree
disease and pest infestation spread, as well as to ensure that the wood
has not been exposed to any chemical/toxin treatments.


     It is our hope, that one day soon, inspection of the wood products used
by restaurants, caterers, bbq competitors, and grocery stores who promote
smoked and natural-wood fired foods, will occur as normally as food
inspections.  After all, I think we all can agree that what you cook the
food over is as an important as what food you are cooking!


Thanks again for your interest!
 
 
 
 
  
   

 

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Thanks for the question regarding Mango wood.  Although limited in the
areas they can grow (India, Florida, Caribbean, Hawaii, etc.), Mango wood
is very popular for upper end wood products like bowls, vases, and even
some furniture.  However, you are correct.  Mango wood contains a sap
that is located at the base of the stem, branches, and trunk. As a result,
a recommendation is made never to burn mango wood as it emits a smoke
that is full of potent irritants.  Plus, Mango trees are highly
suseptible to a number of diseases and pest infestations,
including the fruit fly, black twig borer, sooty mold, and
southern green stink bug to name a few. Pesticide application
is generally necessary to maintain the health of these trees.
Because of the chemical application, Mango wood does not make
for good BBQ!
Stick to forest producing products for the safest woods for BBQ!
Use Smokinlicious® Gourmet Mango Smokin' Dust®  instead!


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