May 2016


I’m always eager to learn how customers find us and what past experiences they have with other wood suppliers but I sure wasn’t prepared for the recent comment I received from a customer in the South.  Here’s what he had to say: “My big box store brand fruit wood smelled like a burning trash dumpster on my last smoke”!

Seriously, I don’t make these things up!

waste-wood

It got me thinking about the risks people take when shopping for wood products for a grill, smoker, smoker box, smoke tube, cold smoke generator, charcoal cooker, kamado,  or other equipment.  Now, I know we all have choices and some of us elect to educate ourselves to make the best choice for our family based on that information.  Just like fruits and vegetables listed as organic, there are other criteria to factor in to the decision to purchase non-organic over organic with the primary one being COST.  The same is true for hormone free meats and poultry, or free range products.  We try to educate ourselves on the difference, health risks, and cost parameter, than we proceed with our purchase choice.

But how do you make the same educated choice on wood for cooking when there isn’t comparative information?

So, let me try to at least provide some comparative information from our product standpoint, as well as give you a checklist to use when making your next purchase.

Ponder These Questions

  • Is the wood harvested in the USA?
  • Is the product 100% hardwood? (You should never cook with softwoods or press woods as they can produce increased potential for toxins to the food)
  • Where do the woods come from? Are the pieces simply waste from another manufacturing process? (Think cabinets, flooring, furniture)
  • Is the product 100% of the species listed on the bag or does it just say “hardwood”?
  • Who is the manufacturer of the product?
  • Is the name on the bag simply the distributor or do they actually make the product?
  • What part of the tree is used to produce the product? All parts, outer cores, center cut?
  • Is any process applied to the wood? Heat treatment, air drying, kiln dry, fumigation, pesticide?
  • Does the product register moisture above 10%? If not, isn’t that simply “firewood”?
  • It’s wood so what assurance do you have that it’s clean, bug free, chemical free, and safe for cooking?

So why did our customer have such a bad experience with the box store wood purchase? Likely, the wood contained all parts of the tree with no assurance which exact parts were in the bag of wood he purchased.  You could end up with all outer core and bark!  If a hardwood mixture was purchased, he may not have had woods that were considered ideal for cooking and that would have altered performance and taste outcome as well.  But the biggest variable is moisture.  If the wood was kiln dried or “seasoned” it would have depleted all water content making it an ideal choice for the fireplace, not necessarily the cooking equipment.  It’s so hard to control the temperature of a fire when the wood is excessively dry and contains bark as these variables lead to variation in combustion which means hotter temperatures, more sparks, and less flavor.

Next time you’re in the market for some wood product for cooking, take a bit of time to check the packaging or look at all the information on a website.  Then ask yourself: do I want to eat anything cooked over this or will I simply be putting it in the trash?

waste-wood

 

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TOP SECRETI’m sure you’ve had similar experiences.  You’re looking for a specific product, you come across a web page you’ve never visited before.  You quickly seek out testimonials and location/contact information and develop an interest in purchasing from that supplier.  Your only hesitation is, you don’t see a lot of information on who they sell to from a commercial prospect.  So, you may bookmark them but you seek out another avenue for purchasing what you need or stay with the current supplier.

SmokinLicious® could be that company search.

Here’s the thing.  Most Chefs, Food & Beverage Buyers, Purchasing Agents, and CEOs don’t want their competition to know about their operation.  They certainly don’t want them to know about a key food ingredient especially one like hardwood that can make or break a menu or food item.

Would we like to add a page to our website and sales package of all the logos of the various companies, resorts, restaurants, and smokehouses that use our products from around the world?  Absolutely!  Would that give credence to our cause?  Certainly!  Could that posting bring new business?  I would hope.

But here’s the thing.  Companies and particularly Chefs and SmokeMasters, don’t like to give up their secrets especially when it comes to cooking, recipes, and technique.  Every type of market is competitive but when it comes to food, the margins are really slim on turning a profit and making a restaurant, resort, or food company a success.  For that reason, we’ve learned to always start out with our Partners telling them that “we can keep a secret”.  We won’t look to post their logo on our website, or include it in our media kit.  We won’t ask them to give a detailed testimonial on what product their using and with what equipment.  Instead, we stand behind them.  We offer the technical support they can’t get anywhere else.  We offer them consulting services they can’t get from any other wood supplier. And we offer customization of product that make them stand out from all the other companies attempting to do a similar thing.

And what do we get?  Pride.  That we are the best product out there because our Partners get the results they want and need.  That we have the knowledge of wood-fired technique and hardwoods that can’t be found anywhere else.  That we can work with them to develop customization they won’t get anywhere else.

In the long run, it’s like having a BFF.  We’ll always be there to listen to your needs, to guide you, to work through your tribulation, to celebrate your success, and to keep your secrets!

 

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THAT EMBER GLOW!

HOT EMBERS

Hot ember coals ready for wood chips and food

 

So what exactly is an ember and why is it suddenly gaining attention as a method of cooking?  Well, first, it’s most certainly not a new cooking concept.  Cooking over fire and hot coals has been around for thousands of years.  Recently, some Chefs and well known restaurants have taken to returning to this method of cooking because they know where great flavour can come from and they know how to manage the heat from hot coals.

An ember is a glowing, hot coal made of greatly heated wood, coal or other carbon-based material that remain after a fire.  The heat radiated from hot embers can be as hot as the fire which created them.  You can see this first hand, by placing new wood pieces on hot embers and watching a full fire develop.  An ember is usually formed when a fire has only partially burnt a piece of fuel and there is still usable chemical energy in that piece of fuel.  It continues to stay hot and does not lose its thermal energy quickly because combustion is still happening at a low level. The small yellow, orange and red lights often seen among the embers are actually combustion. There just is not enough combustion happening at one time to create a flame.   Once the embers are completely ‘burned through’, they are not carbon as is commonly believed (carbon burns, and is not normally left behind), but rather various other oxidized minerals like calcium and phosphorus. At that point they are commonly called ashes.  But why cook on the embers versus over a live fire?  Because embers radiate a more constant form of heat, as opposed to an open fire which is constantly changing along with the heat it radiates (think water trapped within the wood and you’ll understand why there is heat fluctuation).

Ember cooking techniques include placing thick skinned food items directly into the embers (i.e. garlic, onion, peppers, eggplant, steaks, etc.), placing a cast iron skillet into the embers that can hold any food items from vegetables, meats, poultry, fish – really anything.  The results produced from this method are super moist, super flavorful, and the aromas are exceptional.

Peppers being cooked over embers

Peppers being cooked over embers

Be sure to follow us on Instagram (Smokinhow-to-download-instagram-video_thumb800licious) and Twitter (@DrSmokeSmokin) as we highlight some of our ember cooking techniques, especially as we enter Farmers Market season!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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