Our reference guide for what wood to use for smoking with pictures of our double filet for each species

Our reference guide for what wood to use for smoking

WHAT WOOD TO USE FOR SMOKING

I see the question asked so many times and in so many ways.  What is the best wood to use for smoking? What is the best wood to use for smoking (fill in the blank with your favorite food)?

I’m going to shake things up a bit by stating there is no rule book saying a specific wood must be used with a specific food.  There are, however, some basic things you should know to reduce the risks of toxicity, damage to your equipment, and overall ruining your barbecue.  Use the wrong hardwood and you can bitter any food you expose to that wood’s smoke.

Absolutely No Softwoods

Right up front, let me tell you, only smoke with hardwood.  Softwoods or coniferous woods should never be used for cooking because they have elevated sap levels and more air in their cell structure.  This causes the wood to burn fast, hot, produce lots of sparks, and produce unpleasant flavors not ideal for flavoring foods.  Let’s be clear on what a softwood is: pine, redwood, cedar, fir, spruce, hemlock, larch, cypress.

I realize that cedar has been a popular softwood used for plank cooking or wrapping foods.  If you want to learn more about the risks associated specifically with cedar, see my earlier article  and learn why you should discontinue this practice.

Chef Bert helps the differences between hardwoods and softwoods.

#chefbertandtom

Tom contemplating the difference between hardwood and softwood

#chefbertandtom

Meet the North American Hardwoods for what wood to use for smoking

Now, meet the North American Hardwoods!  Known as deciduous trees that produce broad leaves, produce a fruit or a nut, and generally go dormant in the winter, hardwoods are the woods to use for cooking and makeup roughly 40 percent of all trees in the United States.  However, not all hardwoods are created equal when it comes to flavoring foods.  Let’s examine some of the specific hardwoods of North America.  I am referencing our key to the boldness of the wood’s flavor (= Mild = Medium = Strong)

 Alder:

Part of the Birch family of hardwoods, Alder is a relatively soft hardwood of medium density.  It is most commonly used to smoke fish but can be used with mild poultry cuts, pork, vegetables, fruits and spices for natural wood flavoring/smoking.  The flavor profile is mild on our scale of boldness.  Alder provides a neutral coloring to the outer skin of foods and is the preference for those who like to cold smoke.

Ash:

Ash hardwood is part of the Oleaceae family or olive family of hardwoods and can be used with any food for natural wood flavoring/smoking.  The flavor profile is on the light side making it ideal for most any food but in particular, it works great with wood-fired pizza as it can lose moisture quickly providing for a great bed of coals.  Ash provides a neutral coloring to the outer skin of foods.

Aspen:

Considered a lightweight hardwood, Aspen is known to have “wet pockets” which can lead to some difficulty with using this as a cooking wood due to its tendency for bacteria development.  Variations in moisture can result in temperature variation during cooking which is directly opposite the goal when fire cooking.

   Basswood:

This hardwood is known as the preferred wood for carving.  It grows commonly with red oak, white ash, and sugar maple trees.  This wood is soft and light which makes it a quick burner.  It does not have any notable odor or taste which makes it a poor choice as a cooking wood.

American Beech:

This hardwood grows in large stands and mixes in with many of the other dominate hardwoods.  It is a popular filler wood for making charcoal so you know it burns long and evenly.  It is classified as moderate in flavor boldness.

 

Birchwood:

This can be an ideal firewood choice due to the prevalence of the varieties of birch and the strength of the wood itself.  However, it is not a highly flavorful hardwood for cooking and burns too hot.  If used for fire cooking, you will have a challenge controlling the cooking temperature.

Buckeye:

This hardwood produces a poisonous nut as well as twigs.  For that reason alone, it is not recommended as a smoking/cooking wood.

  

Butternut:

This hardwood belongs to the genus that includes walnut though it is not as weight-heavy a wood as walnut.  Don’t let the name confuse you.  There is no buttery taste to this wood.  In fact, it does not offer any balanced qualities when used for cooking and for that reason, is not recommended.

 

Cherry:

Like Oak, there are many species within the genus of cherry.  It has an obvious fruity aroma and tends to light easily producing a steady burn and flavor.  Wild or forest grown cherry is very different from orchard cherry which can have bitter undertones which may in part, be due to the chemical application commonly applied to nursery trees.  Feel free to use it with poultry, beef, pork, lamb, even vegetables, as it is a workhorse when it comes to flavoring foods.  Be sure to use a meat probe when cooking with cherry wood as this wood provides a reddish-pink hue to the meat that can easily be mistaken for under-cooking.

  Chestnut:

This is a very hearty hardwood that is resistive to decay so it is not necessarily an easy lighting wood.  It can be used for smoking though I certainly feel there are better choices out there.

  Cottonwood:

This hardwood is part of the genus that contains the aspens and poplars.  As such, like its siblings, it does not make for a good smoking wood.  In fact, when it becomes wet, it produces a sour odor which can transfer to food.

 

  Elm:

Although this is a dominant hardwood in the USA it is a hardwood that has no characteristic odor or taste.  For that reason, it does not make for an ideal cooking wood.

  Gum (Sweetgum):

A very heavy hardwood that holds moisture for indefinite periods of time which causes it to be a poor choice for pleasant smoke flavors.  This can produce musty aromas that can transmit to foods.

  Hackberry:

This is a moderately hard wood that has a yellow to grayish heartwood that does not make it the best choice for smoking.  The benefits of exposing food to this wood are not well documented and for that reason, is not an ideal choice.

  Hickory/Pecan:

Since these hardwoods are part of the same genus they share similar qualities: dense wood that is strong, can be difficult to lite, but produce a lot of color and flavor to foods.  What should be noted here is that not all the species are the same.  Some hickory varieties are very bold and can have bitter undertones.  It is important to learn the differences between varieties before selecting one for cooking.

   Maple:

There are over 120 species of maple so let’s clarify some of the terms.  Sugar maple and black maple are also called hard maple.  Silver maple, red maple, and boxelder are called soft maple.  These maples make for excellent smoking and cooking woods producing beautiful even coloring and a moderate flavor level.

   Persimmon:

This is not a heavily populated hardwood in the USA and it is a slow grower.  It can be confused with Hickory due to similar coloring.  However, it does not produce the same flavors as hickory.

  Poplar:

An extremely light hardwood that does not hold any ideal moisture for smoldering to produce a clean smoke.  Poplar burns too quickly to be an ideal choice for cooking.

  Sycamore:

Although this hardwood has a medium weight and can burn evenly and for good length, it does not do anything for coloring foods or adding any pleasant flavor.  For this reason, it is not recommended for cooking.

  Red Oak:

The oaks are the one hardwood that worldwide dominates with the greatest number of species.  This is a heavy wood that can be difficult to light but once it ignites, it produces intense smoke and flavoring that is easy to distinguish when consuming foods cooked over it.  Red oak has a strong aroma and flavor, requiring a trained hand to use it.

  Walnut:

One of the heaviest hardwoods available, it belongs to the same genus as hickory and pecan.  If classified as smoking, it is on the bold side and should be used in small quantities.  The wood produces a very dark outer “bark” coloring.

  White Oak:

Similar in structure to Red Oak, the white variety tends to be less strong aromatically though it still produces an obvious bold flavor to foods.  Because it is a heavy, dense wood, it holds moisture for a long time making it more ideal for hot smoking and grilling rather than for cold smoke application.

There you have a quick guide on the hardwoods of North America and those considered ideals for fire cooking.  Experiment and keep a written log of what works with the other ingredients you use in your wood cooking.  Hope you enjoyed our discussion of what wood to use for smoking!

What is the best wood to smoke meat with?

Although we would all love to give credit to just one item, it’s a combination of the hardwood type, the cut of meat, what you do to the meat (marinade, rub, etc.), and how it is cooked (charcoal grill, gas grill, electric grill, etc.).

Generally, bolder meats like beef respond to bolder hardwoods like oak and hickory for pronounced flavor while more subtle meats like chicken tend to be flavored nicely with the more moderate hardwoods like maple, ash and cherry.  Pork is pretty-middle-of-the-road when it comes to the meat’s boldness, so it can take either a bold or moderate hardwood species.

In case you didn’t notice, we have purposely omitted orchard woods because at SmokinLicious® we are concerned about the spraying and chemical pesticides that may make these woods not suitable for smoking.

owhat wod to use for smoking

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chunks- Single & Double Filet

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-BEYOND PRICING: THE TOP THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN PURCHASING COOKING WOOD

-IS WOOD-TAR CREOSOTE THE ‘MONSTER’ TO WOOD-FIRED COOKING

-TO BARK OR NOT

what wood to use for smoking

Dr Smoke Our reccommendation on what wood to use for smoking

Dr. Smoke- Our recommendation on what wood to use for smoking

Try our technique on Smokey Sweet Potatoes for a great addition to your BBQ!

Try our technique on Smokey Sweet Potatoes for a great addition to your BBQ!

Try Smokey Sweet Potatoes for your BBQ Click To Tweet

Listen to the audio of this blog

 

We introduced you to smoked potatoes some time ago giving you an easy method of smoking cubed potatoes .  Now, we look at sweet potato, a very popular root vegetable that does particularly well on the grill.  This time, we’ll smoke the potatoes whole to allow for versatility for recipes.

Get 5 or 6 sweet potatoes selected, preferably of equal size, and let’s get to the grill!

Choose Your Equipment

I’m going to use two pieces of equipment today to demonstrate how easily it is to work with what you own to add a smoke component

For my gas grill, I’ll be using a smoker box equipped with 3-4 wood chunks in double filet size.  For the charcoal grill, I’m incorporating both lump charcoal and briquet for the fuel and adding double filet wood chunks for flavor.  My charcoal grill is a traditional kettle grill.  Both these units are set up for two-zone cooking which means the fuel is on one side – in the case of the gas grill, burners are lit on one side only, for the charcoal grill, charcoal is banked to one side of the grill, using both lit and unlit coals to sustain the heat level.  All cooking will be done on the side that does not have any direct heat.

Our Smokinlicious wood chunks on the coals providing great smokey flavor for these smokey Sweet Potatoes

#woodchunks

With a target cooking temperature of 325-350°F, these sweet potatoes will cook up and get smoky in no time!

Tasting Notes: Preparation of the sweet potatoes prior to smoking is simple.  Wash the potatoes well, pat dry, and then trim off the two ends.  Using a knife, pierce the ends one time and the sides several times to provide injection areas for the smoke vapor.  This will ensure an even smoke flavor.

No Work Grilling & Smoking Smokey Sweet Potatoes

Once the grill of your choice is set up, it’s just a matter of placing the whole potatoes on the grill grate, indirect side, and allowing them to tenderize.  This will take about 75 minutes total.  There is no need to do any rotation of the potatoes; just allow to infuse with flavor. 

Our double filet wood chunks in the smoker box on the gas grill providing the flavor for our smokey sweet potatoes

#twozonecooking

If you’ve followed our recommendation for the charcoal grill – placing unlit charcoal/briquets on the direct side of the grill, lighting a chimney starter of charcoal, and pouring over the unlit coals when glowing hot, then adding the wood chunks – you’ll have plenty of fuel for the entire cook time.

Once tender, remove from the grill and set aside to use in your favorite sweet potato recipe.  I’ll be making a smoked sweet potato and chipotle soup with mine, which we will post the recipe soon.

One important point is to know that the boldness of the smoke will be much greater from a charcoal grill than a gas/LP unit.  You can see the difference on the skin of the potatoes that I’ve grilled today.  Nevertheless, grilled and smoked sweet potatoes are full of sweet, smoky flavor you’ll want to enjoy all year long.

What’s your favorite sweet potato recipe?  Leave us a comment to opine and subscribe to get all our postings on tips, techniques and recipes.  Bringing innovation to wood fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.

SmokinLicious® Products Used in this recipe:

Foto de nuestros trozos de madera especial usó en filete flanco enrollado

#woodchunks

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

More related reading on smokey sweet potatoes- see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More related reading on smokey sweet potatoes- see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Other blog topics like this one:

-INFUSING WOOD SMOKE INTO BRUSSELS SPROUTS

-HOW TO TURN YOUR CHARCOAL GRILL INTO A SMOKER.

-SMOKED CHEESY POTATOES- WHAT A WONDERFUL TWIST

Dr. Smoke- Smokey Sweet Potatoes are just Yummy!

Dr. Smoke- Smokey Sweet Potatoes are just Yummy!

In the Bark or Not debate this Diagram shows the two key elements of the tree that can affect your Barbecue results. Smokinlicious® only harvest wood from the heartwood of the tree.

In the Wood Bark or Not debate this Diagram shows the two key elements of the tree that can effect your Barbecue results. Smokinlicious® only harvest wood from the heartwood of the tree.

This Diagram shows the two key elements of the tree that can affect your Barbecue results. Smokinlicious® only harvests wood from the heartwood of the tree.

Listen to the audio of this blog about Bark or Not

Listen to the audio of this blog about Bark or Not

TO BARK OR NOT

Should I cook with wood bark or go bark-free?

I’ve heard all kinds of reasoning for leaving the bark on: it burns up right away so you don’t need to worry.  It’s what gives the flavor to foods.  It’s what gives the color to smoked and grilled foods.  It is the essence of BBQ!

Well, my intention is to simply provide you with more detail about what is in the bark and then you can decide for yourself if you want to include it in your wood-fired cooking method.

What Is Bark?

There are two types of bark in every tree: living bark which is called phloem and dead bark called rhytidome.  For today’s discussion, I am only focusing on the rhytidome or dead bark which is the outer bark layer.

Outer bark’s main purpose is to protect the wood tissues against mechanical damage and preserve the wood tissues from temperature and humidity variations.  Bark chemistry is much more complicated than wood tissue chemistry but let’s cover the basics.

Chemistry of Bark

Outer bark has high concentrations of pectin, phenolic compounds, and minerals.  Although the exact chemical levels vary by species, the location of the tree, the age of the tree, and growth conditions of the tree let me list some of the common extractives:

ethyl ether – a common laboratory solvent as well as a starter fluid component

dichloromethane – common compound used in paint strippers and degreasers as well as to decaffeinate coffees and teas

calcium oxalate crystals – a calcium salt found in plant materials with a link to kidney stones in humans

Air Pollutant Meter

For many years, university and research facilities around the world have used tree bark as a bioindicator of air pollutant levels as the bark is highly porous, rough, and high in lipids making its surface ideal for absorption.  It’s been proven that tree bark soaks up airborne gases and particles.  In fact, in my own home state of New York, the Niagara Falls area trees have been noted to have significantly higher levels of Dechlorane. Plus, a flame retardant chemical that is produced by a factory in that city.  How much higher?  Several thousand times higher!

After many decades of non-regulated chemical use in various products – think pesticides, flame retardants, building material preservatives, etc. – and with the subsequent halting of production of many of these highly toxic chemicals in the 1980s and 90s, research now shows that as those chemicals evaporated, they became airborne particles.  Those particles landed and were absorbed by the outer tree bark.

Temperature Fluctuation

My experience with bark-on woods used for the intended purpose of cooking has been that bark results in temperature control issues.  Often, when the bark combusts it does so in variable levels, producing a short burst of elevated temperature.  This is likely due in part, to the chemical air pollutant particles that have settled into the outer bark layer.  Knowing that bark harbors impurities that the tree is exposed to, I hypothesize that there likely are other particles, likely transferred via air as well as direct contact from the carrier (think animals, humans, etc.), that are absorbed by the tree’s bark.

Change of Taste

Just as lighter fluid can add unpleasant or at the very least a distinct taste difference in foods cooked over product lit with lighter fluid, I caution that some of you will also find an off taste to foods cooked over bark-on woods.

If you are lucky enough to have a source of wood within your own property, that has no neighborly contact with chemical industry, and you feel confident that the bark-on wood is safe, then the choice to cook with it may be easy.

If you rely on an outside source say a firewood supplier, you may want to rethink cooking over that bark-on product. Click To Tweet

Can you use bark in a smoker?

Bark on wood used for cooking isn’t at all a good thing!  A tree’s bark is its outer skin which protects it from exposure to external elements like mold and harmful chemical air pollutants. This should not be confused with the dark outer layer found on smoked foods- this is not harmful. Tree bark cooking wood is not a healthy choice and could be tainted by even trace amounts of pollutants that have been absorbed over a tree’s life.

Chef Bert explaining that bark protects the tree

#chefbertandtom

Chef Bert warns Tom that bark absorbs toxins

#chefbertandtom

We hope you found the article interesting and helpful.  Leave a comment or suggestion as we’d love to hear from you so we can bring the information you’re looking for.   And don’t forget, follow us and subscribe so you don’t miss anything!­­

 

 

 

More related reading on Applewood and other orchard woods see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More related reading on bark free cooking wood see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Additional Reading You May Like:

10 Thinks To Consider Before Purchasing Wood For Cooking, Grilling & Smoking

-THE BALANCE OF WOOD LIGNIN IN BARBECUE

-APPLEWOOD – WHY WE DON’T USE IT! – HERE’S WHY

SmokinLicious® products referenced in this blog:

Smoking Wood Chips- Grande® Sapore

Dr Smoke- "Dr Smoke is very biased over this topic. After years of cooking, the inclusion of bark in a smoker adds impurities trapped in the bark to your food. We are a no bark proponent!"

Dr. Smoke- “Dr. Smoke is very biased over this topic. After years of cooking, the inclusion of bark in a smoker adds impurities trapped in the bark to your food. We are a NO bark propendents in the Bark or not debate”

We are cooking on a chimney starter with a grill pan to nicely char our head of Cauliflower for this recipe!

We are cooking on a chimney starter with a grill pan to nicely char our head of Cauliflower for this recipe!

COAL FIRE CAULIFLOWER BY COOKING ON A CHIMNEY STARTER

Listen to the audio of this blog

A cousin to broccoli, #cauliflower is one of those vegetables that can be eaten raw or cooked and converted to so many different textures.  Best yet, cauliflower is one of those super cancer-fighting foods as it contains sulforaphane known to kill cancer stem cells.

I’ll be taking my head of cauliflower and introducing it to hot coals, first, direct heat using a #chimneystarter for the actual cooking and then directly on the hot coals to give it the perfect “meat” char.  No matter what color you enjoy – white, yellow, purple – grab a head and get your chimney starter ready, as I show you how to use a chimney starter as an actual grill.

Why a Chimney Starter

All our hot embers accumulated in the Chimney starter provides an excellent heat source for cooking

There are times when you really don’t need to fire up a full charcoal area of coals on the charcoal grill.  I have the perfect solution when you’re doing just a small quantity of a food, like our head of cauliflower.  Use your chimney starter

To start, I place a mesh screen on the charcoal grill grate to help retain the small, hot coals for cooking.  I have a collection of micro charcoal pieces that work perfectly for this type of cooking.

After lighting a Firestarter, I place the charcoal filled chimney starter on top of the Firestarter and allow the coals to burn down to hot embers.  Hot embers are what I will be using to cook my fresh cauliflower, first, directly on the chimney starter, then on the mesh screen once I dump the hot embers from the chimney starter.

Chef Bert stresses the importance of not using lighter fluid

#chefbertandtom

Prep and Cook

Pouring the butter over the cauliflower resting on our grill plan

Cauliflower is so simple to prepare for chimney starter coal cooking.  Just remove the thick stem and the green leaves, then cut in half.  I’ll be placing a griddle pan directly over the chimney starter for the start of the cooking.  I first drizzle a couple of tablespoons of a high heat tolerant oil over the cauliflower (I’m using avocado oil).  Allow that to cook while you melt butter which will be poured over the cauliflower.   I melt the butter directly on the grill while the cauliflower is cooking.  Allow this to char the cauliflower on the griddle for about 12 minutes.  We just want enough tenderness to allow the direct coal cooking to provide the flavor.

Embers Give Char Flavor

nicely charred Cauliflower ready for our recipe!

After the cauliflower has produced some tenderness while direct cooking over the chimney starter, it’s time to remove the griddle pan and dump the hot coals onto the mesh.  You’ll see I’ve placed a large wood chunk just off the hot coals to produce some additional wood-fired flavor.  Now in goes the cauliflower steaks.  I position them right on the hot coals.  Don’t turn or disturb these pieces for a least 8 minutes at which time, flip the cauliflower to char the other side.  This is what produces the fabulous “meaty” char taste and why cauliflower is done on the grill is often referred to as a cauliflower steak.

If you will use the cauliflower in a recipe, then cooking about 12 minutes on the coals will be enough.  If enjoying as is, then cook slightly longer and enjoy.  This truly is the easiest method of cooking a single head of cauliflower for a true char flavor.  Which I will be taking to a cauliflower rice recipe that’s coming up!

Have you ever cooked directly on a chimney starter?  Leave us a comment to share.  Bringing innovation to wood-fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.

What does a chimney starter do?

A chimney starter, also called a charcoal chimney, is an environmentally friendly way to ignite either lump charcoal, briquettes or cooking wood without the use of petro-chemicals.  Concentrated, intense heat from flames rises in the chamber and ignites charcoal or wood.  Chimney starters can be used to conveniently ember cook smaller quantities of food.  It is an ideal means to coal fire or ember cook cauliflower.

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Our hand split double filet smoker wood chunks

#woodchunks

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on Grilling ideas beyond cooking on a #chimneystarter !

Related reading:

-Cauliflower roasted on LP/Gas Grill over wood chunks

-EMBER COOKED SWEET PEPPERS

-Grilling/Roasting Broccoli on the Grill

-EMBER COOKING/ROASTING GARLIC IN AN IRON SKILLET

Dr. Smoke- Only need to char up a head of Cauliflower, do your cooking on a chimney starter instead of lighting the grill!

Dr. Smoke- Only need to char up a head of Cauliflower, do your cooking on a chimney starter instead of lighting the grill!

Our Char-wood is produced by Direct firing our North American hardwood blocks until the right amount of Carbonization is achieved!

Our Char-wood is produced by Direct firing our North American hardwood blocks until the right amount of Carbonization is achieved!

WHY CHAR-WOOD IS THE BETTER OPTION OVER CHARCOAL

SUMMARY:

Binchotan charcoal is made from the Japanese direct fire method of making charcoal with Kiln! Japanese charcoal making has been around for centuries and burns longer than lump hardwood charcoal! We have replicated their process and make our Char-wood from our North American hardwood blocks! Carbonization is key to Char!

Listen to the audio of this blog

Frankly, the term “charwood” may be a new one for you.  Although its function is like charcoal, the benefits clearly outweigh those of charcoal.  Let’s examine the key reasons why charwood may be the better option for outdoor cooking over standard charcoal.

Carbonization

Hopefully, if you’ve been engaging in outdoor grilling and/or smoking for some time. You’ve understood the need for a fuel material that burns evenly and hot.  You’ve likely also heard the controversy that’s brewed for years about what is the best product to use for the fuel.  Products range from briquets, lump hardwood charcoal, specialty wood charcoal, and compressed woods like pellets and compressed wood blocks.  The key is to understand that some of these products could contain binding agents as well as accelerants to make for easy lighting.

Carbonization is the conversion of an organic matter into carbon.  Carbon is an element that forms when the organic matter is heated to a high level without oxygen, burning off the volatile gases, leaving the pure carbon behind.   Although commercial material production, whether briquet, hardwood charcoal, or standard charcoal have different percentages of carbonization in the outcome, most are above 90%.  That high level of carbonization is what allows for heat to be produced for outdoor cooking.

Flavor

When you use straight charcoal briquets, you are getting heat only with no flavor as that is a fully carbonized or charred product.  Many prefer to use briquets because they are uniform in size and give the same outcome every time they are used.  Fill a chimney starter with briquets, and you’ll have the same number of briquets fit in the chimney every time.

When you use lump hardwood charcoal, you will get variation in sizing from small, chip-like pieces to half-log size pieces.  Here’s information you need to know.  Although the label may read “hardwood”, there is no information on where that hardwood derived from.  Often, manufacturers of lump hardwood charcoal produce their product from recycled materials such as old pallets, lumber scraps from flooring, cabinet, and furniture makers.  They may take in scraps from lumber mills.  When this material is carbonized, it will do so at various levels due to the variation in material sizing.

That means when you cook with it or for that matter when you lite it, expect great variation from use to use due to all the inconsistency in sizing.  The inconsistency will produce a lower percentage of carbonized material than briquets.  So know you may get some minimal flavor from lump hardwood due to poorly carbonized larger pieces of product.  This is the reason there is more ash production with lump hardwood charcoals.

Specialty charcoals, generally made in other countries, are a particularly hard substance, light in weight product, that can be a challenge to lite.  Once they are ignited, however, they produce a lot of heat – often more than the standard briquet.  Very little ash is produced and there is no flavor from this product.

Benefits of SmokinLicious® Charwood

When SmokinLicious® made the decision to manufacture a charwood product, we researched extensively why the Japanese binchotan charcoal, also called white charcoal, was so popular and expensive.  We found that though it could be a challenge to lite, it burned extremely hot, clean, leaving little to no ash, produced no smoke and no flavor.  We produced a similar set up to the Japanese direct-fire method with our charwood production.  Instead of using miniature branches, we use consistently sized wood blocks.  Unlike the binchotan, we do not do a complete carbonization.  The result is you get the ease of lighting like a lump hardwood charcoal, the flavor of premium hardwood.  Plus, the reduced ash production of a briquet, and reduced smoke output than burning wood alone.  We see this as the best of all the options out there.

Now, instead of viewing your charcoal as just a heat generator, when you use SmokinLicious® charwood you have one product that can be used as fuel for temperature while the reduced carbonized center portion produces the flavor.  A premium product that gives premium results!

What is Japanese charcoal?

Binchotan charcoal is made from the Japanese direct fire method of making charcoal with a kiln that has been around for centuries. Japanese charcoal is very expensive and burns longer than lump hardwood charcoal!

Is charcoal made from wood?

Charcoal briquets and lump charcoal are made from recycled materials such as old pallets, lumber scraps from flooring, cabinet, and furniture makers. Some charcoal products may contain binding agents as well as accelerants to make for easy lighting.

Is wood better than charcoal?

Cooking wood can offer an ease of lighting and flavor to your foods while its fuel performance is more consistent than that of many carbonized charcoal products. Plus, wood produces less ash than lump charcoal or briquettes.

SmokinLicious® products:

SmokinLicious® Charwood is produced in a similar set up to the Japanese direct-fire method.Char-wood

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-WHY CHARCOAL IS NOT AN INGREDIENT

-WOOD-FIRED APPLES MAKE THE BEST CAKE

-6 TIPS FOR A HEALTHY OUTDOOR COOKING SEASON

 

Dr. Smoke- Your will love using our Charwood!

Dr. Smoke- Your will love using our Char-wood!

Marinating our Riblets

Marinating our Riblets in Zip Lock bag

Marinating- the Truths to guide you Click To Tweet

Listen to the audio of this blog

Marinating-At one time or another, I’m sure you’ve either purchased a prepared marinade or constructed your own to use with some type of animal protein.  Likely, your goal was to either add flavor or to tenderize or both.  But, let me ask you: do you really know what marinades do for specific foods and do you know how to use them?

My intention is to debunk the myths, get at the truth of what marinades can do and provide a guide on marinade amounts and ideal marinating times for specific foods.

Let’s get started!

PART I: Myth to Truth

How Deep Do Marinades Go?

One of my favorite myths is that of the depth that marinades penetrate in meat.  The tale is that once a meat is exposed to a marinade, it will get completely thru but this is far from the truth.

Marinades are a surface to few millimeters below surface benefit no matter what the content of the soaking liquid.  The oil, herbs, seasonings and spices only add flavor to the exterior of the food with no ingredient ever penetrating to the center of the meat.

Are Bottled Dressings a Marinade?

We all look for ways to cut corners and one of the myths out there is that bottled dressings work just fine as a substitute marinade.  The truth, however, is bottled dressings have high levels of acidity which when exposed to meat protein tend to break down the meat molecules too far resulting in a mushy texture.  Additionally, bottled dressings are loaded with unwanted ingredients like sweeteners (sugar), gums, and stabilizers and lack ingredients that give any real flavor.

How Long Should You Marinate Meat?

As mentioned above, since marinades don’t penetrate deeply into meat, a longer marinating time doesn’t mean more tender or flavorful meat.  In fact, the opposite becomes true.  Marinating too long will allow the protein bonds in the meat to weaken resulting in a mushy exterior which can prevent the meat from holding on to moisture.  That means you end up with a dry piece of meat.

Doesn’t the Acid in a Marinade Tenderize Meat?

When you’re looking to tenderize meat what you are really doing is breaking down connective tissue in the meat which is what produces tough cuts. Connective tissue is made up of collagen and fiber which can be weakened by an acidic ingredient like vinegar, wine, citrus juice, etc.  The problem again is this affect is surface only and cannot penetrate to the core of the meat.  Best advise is to use these ingredients sparingly and for shorter marinating times.

Can You Use a Marinade on Any Meat?

Since you’ve learned that marinades benefit the surface of the meat only, it is best for them to be used with thinner cuts of meat, like chicken breasts, cutlets, chunked meats, steak, and chops.  Larger cuts of meat do best with a wet rub or spice paste.

PART II: Marinating Tips for High Flavor and Juiciness

Tip #1 Flavorings and Seasonings: Use a lot of these ingredients in marinades and be sure to watch the salt or it will inhibit the absorption of other herbs, spices, and seasonings.

Tip #2 Score the Meat: To achieve as much penetration as possible, score the meat’s surface with a knife or prick the surface with a fork.

Tip #3 Reactivating the Marinade: I personally like to marinate in a storage bag but you can use chaffing dishes or other similar large baking dishes covered with plastic wrap.  When using a storage bag, ensure that all the air is out of the bag before sealing.  Halfway through the marinating time, flip the storage bag or stir the meat in a dish to ensure everything is getting even soaking time.

Tip #4 Refrigeration: One risk with marinating is the development of microorganisms since you are dealing with raw meat.  You can reduce this risk but getting your marinated meat in the refrigerator as quickly as possible to avoid the temperature danger zone of 40-140°F when bacteria can spread rapidly.

Tip #5 Wipe Off Excess and Discard Leftover: Remember, you’ve just marinated raw meat so never keep used marinade.  It needs to be discarded immediately.  If you feel you want to offer some of the marinade to go on the cooked food, simply keep a small amount separate from the marinating meat.  Also, so you don’t get excessive flare-up on the grill, wipe off excess marinade from the meat before grilling.

PART III: Can you Marinate too long?

Guide to Marinating Foods

This guide is intended to provide a starting point for specific foods on the quantity of marinade needed and the timing of the marinating process.

Smokinlicious marinating table, providing marinating time by food tryupe
Smokinlicious marinating table

By following these tips and guidelines, you’ll be sure to keep your foods moist, flavorful and promote a great mouth-food experience texture-wise.

Do you have favorite marinade ingredients?  Leave us a comment to opine.  Making you an informed consumer through valuable articles like this one.   Leave us a comment and follow us or subscribe for more great recipes, techniques, tips, and the science behind the flavor and fire.  That’s SmokinLicious®.

SmokinLicious® Products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®, Minuto® & Piccolo®

More related reading on Applewood and other orchard woods see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!
More related reading on Marinating- our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Other topics you may enjoy:

HOW TO MAKE THE NEW PLANT-BASED BURGER TASTE EVEN MEATIER!

GRILLING & SMOKING QUESTIONS/ANSWERS THAT MAY SURPRISE YOU!

-THE 3 PRIMARY HEAT SOURCES FOR GRILLING MEAT

Dr. Smoke-
Dr. Smoke- Marinating adds great flavor to your food

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Showing how to infuse cherry wood smoke into brussels sprouts using an iron skillet on the gas grill is simple and easy and adds a smoky touch

Infusing cherry wood smoke into Brussels sprouts using the gas grill is simple and easy and adds a very flavorful touch to this hearty vegetable.

INFUSING WOOD SMOKE INTO BRUSSELS SPROUTS

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A favorite of the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts came to the United States via French immigration in the 18th century.    They are dominantly grown in California and available June thru January making them a Fall and holiday menu favorite.  SmokinLicious® will take the flavors up a notch and add wood smoke into Brussels sprouts for two upcoming recipes.  We’ll do this on the gas grill fit with wild cherry wood chunks to bring subtle smokiness to the finish sprouts.  First purchase 3 lbs. of Brussels sprouts and get two cherry single filet chunks, and you’re ready to fire up the grill and get smoking.

The Easy Grill Method for Infusing Wood Smoke into Brussels Sprouts

Bringing the flavor of wood smoke into Brussels sprouts is so easy.  To start, gather about 3 lbs. of Brussels sprouts, some cooking oil, butter, and a heavy-duty skillet. I prefer a nut oil like walnut or almond. For a skillet I’ll be using cast iron.  I’ve trimmed the ends on about half the sprouts and for the other half, I’ve trimmed the ends and cut them in half.  That’s it!  Fire up the grill and get ready for a quick method of adding great wood-fired flavor.

It only takes a couple of pieces of wood chunk to bring fabulous flavor to the grill.  I set up a cast iron pan on one side and place two cherry wood chunks on the heat shields of the far burner.  Let the pan heat up for about 5 minutes then pour in a couple of tablespoons of oil and heat.  Right before I add the Brussels sprouts, I add a couple of tablespoons of butter.  In go the whole Brussels sprouts and the lid comes down.  Leave untouched for about 5 minutes before turning.

Flavor Finish

As I have two recipes in mind I’m cooking two batches of Brussels sprouts: one batch whole and one batch halved.  After leaving for 5 minutes, I stir them to ensure that all surfaces are infused with wood flavor.  I maintain a temperature of 350-375° F which will make this a quick cooking method.  The first 5 minutes, the lid is down but once stirred, you can finish the cooking with lid up.  Remember, cast iron will retain heat, so you can turn the heat off and let sit for about 5 minutes.

The cooking time for this recipe is approximately 20 minutesAfter stirring a couple of times, both the whole and halved Brussels sprouts are ready in about 20 minutes time.  I simply remove them from the heat and bring them in to be added to my favorite recipes.

I have two recipes I’ll be working on: Smoky Brussels Sprout Gratin and Tortellini with Lemon and Smoked Brussels Sprouts.  These truly are the most flavorful Brussels sprouts! For those of you thinking about a holiday meal with them, well, the grill will give you that extra oven room you need.  Take advantage of the long harvest season and try these mini cabbages on your grill.  Check in for our recipes soon so we can get you started on how to use your prized sprouts.

Bringing you new methods of infusing wood fired flavor into seasonal items.  Be sure to subscribe and follow us to gain great tips, techniques, recipes and the science behind the fire.

The Culinary Crew wants you to know…

 Chef Bert and Tom discuss how to infuse wood smoke into brussels sprouts.

#chefbertandtom

… that the direct infusion of hardwood-fired smoke to foods, like Brussels Sprouts, is considered a flavor ingredient, much in the same way that spices, minerals and sauces enhance taste.  When fired, the components of smoke vapor carry the hardwood’s distinctive flavor profile directly into meats, seafood, fruits or vegetables with pleasing results to the palate.

SmokinLicious Products used in this recipe- wood smoke into brussels sprouts:

Our Single Filet is hand split to the proper size for larger equipment infusing wonderful wood smoke into brussels sprouts.

#singlefilet #woodchunks

Wood Chunks- Single Filet

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-WOOD GRILLING AVOCADO

-HOW TO TURN YOUR LP/GAS GRILL INTO A SMOKER

-WHAT’S IN THE SMOKINLICIOUS® WOOD CHUNK BOX?

 

 

Dr Smoke- "Soften the taste of your Brussels sprouts by adding smoke flavoring from your gas grill using Smokinlicious® cherry wood chunks."

Dr Smoke- “Soften the taste of your Brussels sprouts by adding smoke flavoring from your gas grill using Smokinlicious® cherry wood chunks.”

The foil pan is the handiest and, we believe, the indispensable part in all the stages necessary for cooking, functionality and sanitary purposes.

The foil pan is the handiest and, we believe, the indispensable part in all the stages necessary for cooking, functionality and sanitary purposes.

THE INDISPENSABLE FOIL PAN

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Many people have their favorite tool when it comes to outdoor cooking.  It might be a wireless thermometer, specific grill grate, awesome fire safe gloves, or the go-to chimney starter.   For me, it’s likely the least expensive item you can think of – the disposable foil pan.  I’m going to list for you my top 6 uses for a simple and inexpensive foil pan.

#1 Best Drip/Water Pan

This is likely the primary way I use a standard rectangular, ¼ sheet size disposable pan.  I let this pan act as both a drip pan to collect juices from say pork shoulder, brisket, or lamb as well as to act as a water pan to produce a convection environment.  First, I love to load my pan with vegetables like rough cut onion, whole garlic, celery, carrot, fresh herbs, etc.  I also like to use different liquids based on what I’m cooking.  For fish and seafood, I like juices and wines.  For meats beer, ciders or full-bodied wines.  I rarely ever do simple water in my water pan.

We used a foil pan to smoke beef shanks

We used a foil pan to smoke beef shanks

#2 Charcoal Keeper

There are times when you need to ensure that your charcoal is positioned ideally for specific foods to keep the heat distribution ideal and the cooker’s walls from radiating too much heat in a certain direction.  One of the easiest ways to ensure that the heat radiates in the correct direction is to use a disposal foil pan.  Once your charcoal is ready to be dumped from a chimney starter, dump it directly into a foil pan.  This allows you to set an indirect method of cooking on a charcoal unit with greater ease.  It also will keep the walls of the kettle grill from radiating too much heat to the center of the grill for the grilling of more fragile items like pizza, breads, and cakes.  No more burnt centers, just even cooking.

#3 Warmer

Anything made with aluminum will be a great radiator and retainer of heat.  That’s why I love to use disposable foil pans as warming units.  When paired with a foil insulated blanket, you can maintain all types of proteins for up to 2 hours perfectly.  Plus, if any liquids should leak, they will be capture in that pan.

#4 Gift Giving Essential

Using a foil pan allows you to easily smoke chopped vegetables

Using a foil pan allows you to easily smoke chopped vegetables

Whenever I make a substantial amount of something say pulled pork or smoked potato, I love to be able to pass along some of my efforts to family and friends.  I love how these disposable pans can go from my hands, to someone’s refrigerator then to their oven or grill without needing to do a thing.  These pans will not change the flavor of the food and can easily have liquid added to them without concern.

#5 Eliminate Cleaning Creosote

If you’ve ever used any glass, silicone, or enamel items on your smoker, you’ve probably had to deal with 2 issues: baked on creosote which is usually a brown-black tar like substance and embedded smoke flavor in your silicone, something you cannot remove.  Aluminum does not absorb flavors and any visible discolorations are simply thrown away with the pan.  You don’t have to worry about clean up in any way.

#6 A Beach Grill

By purchasing a good quality stainless steel grill grate, just a small one, you can turn a foil pan into a beach grill.  I call this a beach grill as the easiest set up is with sand already present on a beach but you can certainly purchase and bring to another location, a small bag of sand.  Bring along or collect some rocks to act as a containment or barrier for the hot coals and fire.  Mark an area around the pan using the rocks.  Add charcoal to the pan and lite or pour hot coals directly into the pan from a chimney starter.  Once the embers are hot, place a grill grate over the pan and you’re ready to grill with this disposable unit.  The best part – all the ash will collect in the foil pan for easy disposal.  Oh, and don’t forget to use the hot coals after for something great for the next day.  Lay some peppers, hot or sweet, onions, even baked potatoes and your setting up for another meal.

These are just some of the great ways disposable aluminum foil pans can be used for outdoor wood fired cooking to keep things organized, simple, and still flavorful.

Providing you with great tips like this one, as well recipes, techniques, and the science behind the fire for all things wood fired.  Be sure to subscribe and follow us so you don’t miss a thing.

The Culinary Crew wants you to know …

… that you don’t have to “mortgage the farm” to enjoy all the great benefits of grilling and smoking food.  As our blog demonstrates, quite a lot of the fun. satisfaction and enjoyment from grilling and smoking food can be derived from being your very own ‘culinary inventor.’ Just as Thomas Edison, one of America’s greatest dabblers, showed us- a great deal can be achieved from tinkering, testing and experimenting.  Go ahead, develop your very own signature items and approaches to outdoor cooking methods but always be careful and safe!

SmokinLicious products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-OPEN PIT COOKING FIRE BUILDING: PART I

-GRILL-BUILDING THE PERFECT COOKING FIRE- PART II

-SMOKING FOODS IN FOIL: PROS & CONS

 

 

Dr Smoke- "I wouldn't cook without having foil pans available in the prep, cooking, and serving stages."

Dr Smoke- “I wouldn’t cook without having foil pans available in the prep, cooking, and serving stages.”

Guest Blog- Kylee Harris on Coffee Smoked Foods!
Guest Blog- Kylee Harris on Coffee Smoked Foods!

Kylee Harris on Coffee Smoked Foods– At one point, all foods had an element of smoke; everything was cooked over an open fire before gas and electric stoves came about. It’s thought that the smell and imparted taste of smoke is programmed into mankind as a result, which is why smoked foods are popular all over the globe. Meat, seafood, and even smoky desserts like fruit pies, are still flavored with a variety of wood smoke. Recently, professional and home cooks alike have begun to wonder about the hidden potential of another thing close to their hearts: coffee. Smoking food with a combination of wood and coffee beans could be the next big taste revolution.

Coffee Varieties for Smoking Foods

Just as there is a variety of options when it comes to smoking food with wood, there are a few choices in coffee as well. For flavor profile, darker and richer bean varieties pair best with red meat, while more mild varieties are better sampled with poultry and seafood. There’s also the question of regular or decaffeinated types of coffee. No, smoking with coffee won’t caffeinate your food (though wouldn’t that be interesting), but there can be a difference in flavor here as well. Regular has a higher level of acidity and thus bitterness, while decaf is less so. Rule of thumb: if you like the bitter tang of a certain coffee, then you will probably like the flavors it lends to smoked food.

Beans, Grounds, and Pellets

Of course, flavor is one thing- this is open to individual tastes- but what about what works best for the actual smoking process? Ground coffee is great as a marinade or rub for meat, but it burns up too quickly to be very useful for smoking. Coffee beans are better for the process, as they can burn more slowly. A combination of wood chips with coffee beans (a 3:1 ratio) is a good balance, allowing the coffee beans to add their subtle flavors without becoming too smoky and overpowering. There’s also the option of coffee pellets, which are coffee grounds and saw dust pressed into compact pellets used as a fuel for both cooking and heating. These are said to have a much more subtle flavor when used for cooking and work particularly well, according to fans, for flavoring smoked corned beef.

Pre-Roasted Versus Green Coffee Beans

While both grounds and pellets have their place, most people prefer smoking food with whole coffee beans, which then poses the question: raw and green, or already roasted? The answer really depends on personal preference, once again. Green coffee beans will give off much more smoke, which can be a good thing if that’s the flavor you’d like to try. Pre roasted, on the other hand, will smoke less, but may need to be soaked in water first in order to be able to smolder for a longer time to produce a sustained smoking processes. 

As you can see, there are quite a few choices you can make to customize your coffee-smoked food experience. Experimenting with flavors and methods is what really makes cooking the art form that it so clearly is. The options are plentiful, and the vision (or taste, as it is) is all up to you.

More related reading on Applewood and other orchard woods see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!
More related reading on our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Other blogs you might enjoy:

Great Sustainable Wines To Pair With Your Smoked Meat

How To Maintain A Safe Kitchen Environment

Himalayan Salt Blocks: Benefits, Uses, and Tips

Dr. Smoke-
Dr. Smoke- Kylee Harrris discusses Coffee Smoked Foods

Our preparation of smoked herbs, from picking, smoking and grinding to make smoked herb dust. Adding great flavor to dishes.

Our preparation of smoked herbs, from picking, smoking and grinding to make smoked herb dust. Adding great flavor to dishes.

SMOKED HERBS FLAVORS WITH SMOKED HERB DUST

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Don’t make the mistake of thinking fresh herbs are to be used in dishes as, well, fresh only.  Although you may have dried your fresh herb harvest before, we are bringing another alternative to you, smoked herbs.

We hot smoke the fresh herbs on the grill then turn them into a dust for use in all types of dishes.  The smoking process will bring a depth of flavor that you’ve likely never experienced before.  Go to the herb garden and pick your favorite varieties and let’s get making smoked herb dust!

 Smoke Vapor Infusion

Fresh herbs on the grill using a grilling cage

One thing about this smoked herb technique is you can do the smoke infusion by a variety of equipment methods.

For those with a gas grill, add wood chunks either directly to the heat shields on one side of the grill or add wood chunks to a metal smoker box that can be placed on the heat shields or the grill grate.  For charcoal grill owners, light your charcoal and allow to reduce to hot coals only.  Add a piece or two of hardwood chunks or a handful of hardwood chips to the hot coals.  If possible, push the hot coals to one side of the grill.  For both grill types, you want to use a two-zone cooking method so the herbs don’t catch fire.

For those that don’t own grilling equipment or who simply don’t want to bother lighting up the grill, you can use a handheld food smoker.  Simply place micro wood chips in the bowl of the unit, place the herbs in a storage bag with the tubing of the smoker unit, cinch the end of the bag around the tubing, and light the chips.  I like to leave the smoke in the bag for maximum smoke vapor infusion.

I used both my gas grill and charcoal grill for the smoke process by placing my herbs in a vegetable basket and grilling with the herbs on the unlit side of the grill.    Within the first 5 minutes, you’ll see how the herbs lose moisture and begin the drying stage.

Tasting Notes: I find the handheld food smoker will produce the boldest smoke flavor to the herbs.  The intensity of flavor rated from lightest to boldest based on equipment would be a gas grill, electric smoker, pellet smoker, charcoal grill, handheld food smoker. 

Grinding Process

smoked herbs in the food processor for reduction into smoked herbs dust

Once the herbs have charred and dried, it’s time to remove them from the grill and bring them to the food processor.  I have a mini processor that only has two settings: chop and grind.  I prefer to use this appliance to bring the smoked herbs to dust level but a spice grinder works just as well.

First, remove all the herb leaves from the stems and place a small quantity in the food processor bowl. You can remove the leaves by placing the entire herb sprig in a colander and pressing the leaves through to parchment paper.  Secure the lid and grind until you get as fine a dust as the appliance will allow.  Both the appliance and the herb will determine how fine the herb dust will get.  As you will see, basil dust becomes finer than oregano.  This technique will work for just about any herb you can grow or locate at the market.  Store the herb dust in glass or metal jars for up to a year.

Tasting Notes: Smoked herbs are much stronger in flavor than the standard dried herb.  Adjust the amount used in recipes as needed.  It is often best to start with less, taste, and then add more as needed.

So Many Uses

finished herb bottles of smoked Basil and Smoked oregano

Experimentation is key when it comes to #herbdust.  Most often, herbs will be applied to meats and poultry, perhaps rice and pasta dishes, but there are so many more foods that are good pairings for herb dust.  Let’s take parsley as an example.  Commonly used with fish and beef, parsley is a great pairing for sweet items as well.  This includes banana and cream.  It’s important that you look beyond the traditional side dishes and entrees and explore the sweet side of what herbs can offer.  By doing so, you’re sure to find endless combinations that will tickle your palate and give you more pleasing menu experiences.

The Culinary Crew wants you to know …

… that the two-zone method is certainly a practice that you will want to master and prioritize in your wood cooking toolkit, especially when grilling and smoking delicate fresh consumables like herbs.  Not only will two-zone cooking avoid those acrid tastes associated with flare ups, it will infuse your food items with a nice balance of wood smoke flavoring.

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Minuto & Piccolo

More Related reading on smoked herbs and other great grillable flavoring ideas

More Related reading on smoked #herbs and other great grillable flavoring idea

Additional reading:

-WHY TWO-ZONE COOKING METHOD LET’S YOU WALK AWAY FROM THE GRILL

-STOVE TOP SMOKED CHIVES

-PAN COOK ZUCCHINI ON THE GRILL WITH WOOD FLAVOR

Dr. Smoke- Our process to prepare the smoked herbs is easily done on our gas grill with our double or single filet wood chunks!

Dr. Smoke- Our process to prepare the smoked herbs is easily done on our gas grill with our double or single filet wood chunks!

The four season has an affect on wood storage and its cooking or smoking potential
The four season has an affect on wood storage and its cooking or smoking potential
Listen to the audio of this blog
Listen about proper wood storage

Wood Storage-I recently had a lovely telephone conversation with a new customer who had previously lived in the Carolinas and now was dealing with the great variability of climate in the state of Colorado.  This customer had the fortitude to think about the altitude, humidity and temperature differences in Colorado and how they might affect hardwood purchased from us and stored in his new home state.

This got me thinking about the information we currently offer regarding hardwoods.  We’ve provided you with information on differences of hardwoods and which are ideal for cooking, on why moisture is important for certain methods of cooking, and how to store hardwood.  I think what’s missing is maintaining the stability of hardwoods in different climates.  To do this, you need to know Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC) for each state and for each season.

Let me first state some facts about hardwood and wood storage. 

The Ideals for Wood Storage

Wood at or above the fiber saturation point – which I define as the point in the drying process when only bound water in the cell walls remain with all free water removed from cell cavities -will lose moisture when exposed to any relative humidity below 100 percent. The average fiber saturation point is 26%. 

Totally dry (oven dried) wood will absorb moisture when exposed to any relative humidity except when at zero. At a constantly maintained temperature and relative humidity, any wood will reach a point where it neither loses nor gains any moisture. When wood is in moisture balance with the relative humidity of the air surrounding it at a given temperature, the wood has reached its equilibrium moisture content (EMC). Put another way, in an environment maintained at a constant relative humidity and temperature, the wood will come to a moisture content that is in equilibrium with the moisture of the air.  I believe the ideals for relative humidity are 37 to 53% and temperature 66° to 74° F.  Keep in mind, relative humidity is much more important to EMC than temperature.

Why is knowing EMC important when it comes to hardwood or in this case, cooking hardwood?

Knowing this information can provide an indication of how fast the cooking wood might dry out or the likelihood that a wood might regain some moisture during specific seasons and in specific states in the USA.

EMC Averages in the USA for Wood Storage

There are five designations I am giving to the outdoor conditions for wood storage: arid (having little or no rain), dry (low relative humidity with little moisture), moist (air with high relative humidity), damp (air with moisture), and wet (air with high water vapor).  As you’ll see, some states have no variation in condition based on season and others see significant variation.  I’ll be listing the average EMC for season and the condition designation per season.  Keep in mind, each hardwood responds to these conditions slightly differently based on the density of the wood and the conditions it grows in.

  • Alaska:

Winter: average EMC = 13.9; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 12.9; Designation = Wet

Summer: average EMC = 14.6; Designation = Wet

Fall: average EMC = 15.6; Designation = Wet

  • Alabama:

Winter: average EMC = 13.6; Designation = Damp

Spring: average EMC = 13; Designation = Damp

Summer: average EMC = 13.8; Designation = Damp

Fall: average EMC = 13.6; Designation = Damp

  • Arkansas:

Winter: average EMC = 13.6; Designation = Damp

Spring: average EMC = 13; Designation = Damp

Summer: average EMC = 13.3; Designation = Damp

Fall: average EMC = 13.4; Designation = Damp

  • Arizona:

Winter: average EMC = 9.8; Designation = Dry

Spring: average EMC = 7.2; Designation = Arid

Summer: average EMC = 7.9; Designation = Arid

Fall: average EMC = 8.4; Designation = Arid

  • California:

Winter: average EMC = 12.7; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 11; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 10; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 11.4; Designation = Dry

  • Colorado:

Winter: average EMC = 11; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC =8.9; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 8.6; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 9.4; Designation = Dry

  • Connecticut:

Winter: average EMC = 12.6; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 11.6; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12.4; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13; Designation = Dry

  • Delaware:

Winter: average EMC = 12.3; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 11.8; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12.2; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.1; Designation = Dry

  • District of Columbia (DC):

Winter: average EMC = 11.9; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 11.8; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12.2; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 12.8; Designation = Dry

  • Florida:

Winter: average EMC = 13.9; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 13; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 14.4; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 14.3; Designation = Dry

  • Georgia:

Winter: average EMC = 13; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 12.3; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC =13.2; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.5; Designation = Dry

  • Hawaii:

Winter: average EMC = 13.5; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 13; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12.5; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13; Designation = Dry

  • Idaho:

Winter: average EMC = 14.5; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 10.3; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 7.9; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 10.7; Designation = Dry

  • Illinois:

Winter: average EMC = 14.7; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 12.9; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 13.2; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.5; Designation = Dry

  • Indiana:

Winter: average EMC = 15.1; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 12.8; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12.9; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.7; Designation = Dry

  • Iowa:

Winter: average EMC = 14.8; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 13.1; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 13.6; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.7; Designation = Dry

  • Kansas:

Winter: average EMC =13.2; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 12.3; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 12.2; Designation = Dry

  • Kentucky:

Winter: average EMC = 13.9; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 12.3; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 13.3; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.1; Designation = Dry

  • Louisiana:

Winter: average EMC = 14.5; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 13.9; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 14.4; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.9; Designation = Dry

  • Maine:

Winter: average EMC = 13.5; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 12.2; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 13.1; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 14.3; Designation = Dry

  • Maryland:

Winter: average EMC = 12.2; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 11.5; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12.1; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 12.8; Designation = Dry

  • Massachusetts:

Winter: average EMC = 12.4; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 11.6; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12.2; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 12.9; Designation = Dry

  • Michigan:

Winter: average EMC = 17.3; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 12.8; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 13.2; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 14.7; Designation = Dry

  • Minnesota:

Winter: average EMC = 14.7; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 12.8; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 13.6; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 14.4; Designation = Dry

  • Mississippi:

Winter: average EMC = 14.2; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 13.4; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 13.9; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.7; Designation = Dry

  • Missouri:

Winter: average EMC = 14; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 13; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 13.3; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.3; Designation = Dry

  • Montana:

Winter: average EMC = 13.8; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 10.9; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 9.4; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 11.4; Designation = Dry

  • Nebraska:

Winter: average EMC = 13.5; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 12.3; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12.3; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 12.3; Designation = Dry

  • Nevada:

Winter: average EMC = 11.4; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 8.5; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 6.5; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 8.4; Designation = Dry

  • New Hampshire:

Winter: average EMC = 13; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 11.6; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12.4; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.5; Designation = Dry

  • New Jersey:

Winter: average EMC = 12.5; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 11.5; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 12.8; Designation = Dry

  • New Mexico:

Winter: average EMC = 9.7; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 6.8; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 8.5; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 9.2; Designation = Dry

  • New York:

Winter: average EMC = 13.9; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 11.6; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12.6; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.7; Designation = Dry

  • North Carolina:

Winter: average EMC = 13; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 12.4; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 13.7; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.6; Designation = Dry

  • North Dakota:

Winter: average EMC = 15.1; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 13.2; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12.7; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.6; Designation = Dry

  • Ohio:

Winter: average EMC = 14.9; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 12.7; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12.8; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.7; Designation = Dry

  • Oklahoma:

Winter: average EMC = 13; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 12.5; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12.4; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 12.6; Designation = Dry

  • Oregon:

Winter: average EMC = 16.4; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 13; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 10.7; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.4; Designation = Dry

  • Pennsylvania:

Winter: average EMC = 13.4; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 11.4; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12.6; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.4; Designation = Dry

  • Rhode Island:

Winter: average EMC =12.2; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 11.5; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12.3; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 12.8; Designation = Dry

  • South Carolina:

Winter: average EMC = 12.8; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 13.3; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 13.2; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.2; Designation = Dry

  • South Dakota:

Winter: average EMC = 14.2; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 12.9; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12.5; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 12.8; Designation = Dry

  • Tennessee:

Winter: average EMC = 13.7; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 12.6; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 13.4; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.4; Designation = Dry

  • Texas:

Winter: average EMC = 12.9; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 12; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12.1; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 12.5; Designation = Dry

  • Utah:

Winter: average EMC = 14.2; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 9.7; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 7.2; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 10.2; Designation = Dry

  • Vermont:

Winter: average EMC = 13.4; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 11.9; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 12.2; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.7; Designation = Dry

  • Virginia:

Winter: average EMC = 10; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 11.9; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 13; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 13.1; Designation = Dry

  • Washington:

Winter: average EMC = 16.9; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 12.7; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 11.2; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 14.2; Designation = Dry

  • West Virginia:

Winter: average EMC = 13.8; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 12.4; Designation = Moist

5; Designation = Damp

Fall: average EMC = 14.2; Designation = Damp

  • Wyoming:

Winter: average EMC = 11.7; Designation = Wet

Spring: average EMC = 10.5; Designation = Moist

Summer: average EMC = 8.9; Designation = Dry

Fall: average EMC = 10.2; Designation = Dry

So, what do you take from these numbers?  Locations in what we call the dry climates of the US Southwest exhibit the lowest EMCs, with Nevada posting the lowest annual EMC.  Locations considered coastal or near coastal like Alaska, the Gulf coast, and Northwest have the highest EMCs, with an island in Alaska having the highest annual EMC of over 19%.  Of course, for the lower states, Washington state has the highest EMC of over 17%.

The largest variability in EMC occurs in the states of eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, and Idaho.  Those states with the smallest variability include the deep South with Texas leading the list.  For 48% of the country, the range of monthly EMC variability is between 2 and 4%.

When it comes to times of the year with the highest EMC, its no surprise that December leads for most of the Midwest, western and northern states.  The south tends to show the most variability in September, with April and May demonstrating the most stability for 58% of the country.

Without question, certain locations will find it more challenging to purchase hardwood for cooking and maintain its stability.  Hopefully, this guide will assist you selecting the best season to purchase or to maintain a sizable inventory of product.

What challenges have you found with wood storage for cooking and barbecue?  Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to follow us on all platforms.  Providing tips, techniques, recipes, and the science behind the flame and fire to improve your skills with wood-fired cooking! That’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Smoker Wood Chips- Minuto® & Piccolo®

More related reading on proper wood storage and climatic influences see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs
More related reading on proper wood storage and climatic influences see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs !

You might also enjoy:

TEMPERATURE, MATERIAL AND TIME DETERMINE WHEN ITS CALLED BARBECUE

APPLEWOOD – WHY WE DON’T USE IT! – HERE’S WHY

-TO BARK OR NOT

-THE BALANCE OF WOOD LIGNIN IN BARBECUE

Dr. Smoke-
Dr. Smoke- Our state by state guide for proper wood storage, to preserve your wood.
Smoked Ricotta Cheese- with wood chips on the Stove top
Making Smoked Ricotta Cheese on the stove top


How to Do Smoked Ricotta Cheese on the Stove Top Click To Tweet

Listen to the audio of this blog


Smoked Ricotta Cheese – I know not everyone has a dedicated stove top smoker but I do know that we all have a large stock pot handy.  I’m going to show you an easy way to convert that pot to a stove top smoker by using micro wood chips, aluminum foil, and a roasting rack.  I’ll explain to you a combination hot/cold smoking method to bring a smoke flavor to whole milk ricotta, that will allow you to use this product in any recipe calling for traditional ricotta.   Find your stock pot and roasting rack, and let’s get smoking!

Making the Stove Top Smoker

Once you’ve selected a stock pot to use for the smoking, the preparation of the pot is quite simple.  Start by placing 2 sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil in the bottom of the pot, allowing it to go up the sides slightly.  Then select the micro wood chips of your choice – I’m using a Sugar Maple Minuto® wood chip in size #6 – and spread into a thin layer on the foiled bottom.  Add a roasting rack.  Mine is round to fit easily in my pot.  I also like to line the lid of the pot in foil as all hardwood contains creosote which can cause some discoloration to the pot.  The foil will protect this from happening and makes clean up a breeze. 

Then place the prepared pot with the lid in place over a medium-high heat and allow the chips to heat until they are consistently producing smoke.  This will take less than 15 minutes.

Once the chips have started to combust and produce smoke vapor, it will be time to add the ricotta.  I am doing 3 pounds of whole milk ricotta as I plan to make a dessert pastry horn and then keep some spare smoked ricotta cheese for pasta recipes. 

After 12-15 minutes of heating, lift the lid and place a heat safe container of the ricotta on the rack inside your smoking pot.  Secure the lid in place and allow this to stay on the heat for about 5 minutes.  Then shut the heat off and leave the pot with the ricotta inside untouched for about an hour.  Let the smoke infusion occur with this cold smoke technique.

Tasting Notes: Any hardwood can be used for the smoke infusion but note that by retaining the pot lid in place, you are limiting the oxygen that can enter the pot.  This produces a much bolder smoke infusion than is common with the same wood used on a traditional smoker or grill.

Smoky, Creamy Goodness

Here’s something to keep in mind with this stove top DIY smoking technique.  I have a very tight seal on my pot which means it doesn’t take a lot of wood chip product to infuse a smoky flavor in the ricotta.  Plus, the fat level of this dairy product attracts smoke vapor well as this is high in water content which smoke vapor is naturally attracted to. 

If after about an hour, and after you’ve sampled the smoked ricotta, you still desire more smoke, simply turn the heat back on for about 10 minutes to stimulate the chips for additional combustion.  Then repeat turning off the heat and allowing the ricotta to sit absorbing the smoke for the set amount of additional time you want.  Once done, refrigerate the smoked ricotta until you are ready to use it, keeping this covered well.  If any liquid accumulates while refrigerated, simply pour off before using the smoked ricotta in a recipe. 

To get your recipe ideas stimulated, I’ll offer up my Smoked Ricotta Pastry Horn recipe which is super easy, fabulous looking, and can be made with an assortment of filling options.  Keep watching our website for the announcement on this recipe release.

What’s your favorite food to stove top smoke?  Leave us a comment to opine and subscribe to get all our postings on tips, techniques and recipes.  Bringing innovation to wood fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.

The Culinary Crew wants you to know

… that experimenting with “Do It Yourself” techniques can certainly apply to using your outside charcoal or LP gas grill as a quasi-smoker too!  We’ve heard from many of our followers about deep dished aluminum food serving trays and even pie tins being used to offer a quick and easy try to food smoking.  

Step-by-step instructions on our YouTube channel
Click here to visit our narrated video with more pictures and step-by-step instructions.

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chips- Minuto®

More related reading on Smoked Ricotta cheese in a horn, plus other smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!
More related reading on Smoked Ricotta cheese in a horn, plus other smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs

Additional reading:

-THE EASY METHOD TO COLD SMOKED CHEESE

-THE KITCHEN FIND!

-TO THE SMOKE THE CHESTNUT GOES!

Dr. Smoke- Try our Stove top approach for Smoked Ricotta Cheese very easy
Dr. Smoke- Try our Stove top approach for Smoked Ricotta Cheese very easy
Wood Smokers need Charcoal for fuel/heat/combustion and smoking wood for flavor!
Wood Smokers need Charcoal for fuel/heat/combustion and smoking wood for flavor!
Listen to the audio of this blog

WOOD SMOKERS & GRILLING- RETURN TO THE BASICS! – I recently received an email from a new customer who was questioning the moisture level of the wood she recently purchased.  Her claim was, she thought the moisture wasn’t ideal as she was finding that the wood chunks “weren’t catching fire.”  That got me thinking that despite what we publish for information on the various methods of wood-fired cooking, when it comes to smoking, the very basics of this method may not be understood, as well as the basics of grilling with wood.

My goal with this article is to remind you of what is needed to be successful with each type of wood-fired method.

Know the Combustion Need

One of the knowledge areas I feel is weak is understanding what is needed from the wood for different styles of wood-fired cooking.  Let me get you educated.

Smoking

Hopefully you know that hot smoking means you are cooking with wood material to affect the color, aroma, texture, and flavor of the food.  This method requires a lower temperature, a longer cook time, fuel for temperature and wood for flavor.  Certainly, you can use wood for both flavor and fuel but a more cost-effective method is to use charcoal or briquets for fuel and wood just for the flavor, aroma, color, and texture to food.

For cold smoking, you still need the same items listed above but the temperature needs to be under 80°F which means the fuel is often wood which will flavor, color, provide texture, as well as the minimal heat level.

What’s the difference for these methods?  Moisture of the wood product.

Hot smoking needs hardwood that is at least 20% moisture and preferably under 30%.  Cold smoking needs hardwood that is under 15% moisture.

Wood-Fired Grilling

This method of grilling generally requires the use of wood both for higher temperature and for flavor.  Here’s a big difference with this method: you can vary the type of food used on the grill but how you position the food to the active fire versus the hot coals is another need.  Often operators of a wood-fired grill will have a couple of stations to the fire.  One will be direct fire or flame cooking.  This is for mostly animal proteins that you want to get a great char on the outside while cooking relatively quickly.  Then there is wood grilling with the hot coals from the fire.  By raking hot coals to one side, you can direct fire items that need less char to them like fish, vegetables, fruits, etc.

Another option with wood-fired grills is you can do both direct heat cooking and indirect.  These two methods can also be done directly on cooking grates or by using grilling accessories like high heat tolerant cookware, grill baskets, and grilling pans.

Animal Protein Preparation

Everyone has their own preference when it comes to preparing meat or poultry for the grill or smoker.  But did you know that marinating meat or poultry should be done for shorter periods of time not over night or longer.  Why?  Marinades contain oil and meat contains water so… just like the old saying “oil and water don’t mix”.  Don’t take a risk of breaking the fibers down too far and stick to short marinating times.  Don’t forget – any marinade left in the bag or pan after removing the meat or poultry should be discarded as it CANNOT be reused due to bacteria growth potential from exposure to raw product.

Now if you’re thinking about a dry rub, feel free to marinate just as long as you want.  In fact, I’ve been known to marinate up to 3 days!

A wet rub, however, goes by the rule of a marinade.  If you’ve included oil in that rub, short marinating time is best.

Wood Quantity Doesn’t Make It Better for Wood Smokers

If you’ve made the commitment to introduce wood flavor to the grill or smoker, then know up front, it doesn’t take a lot of wood to add flavor.  As mentioned at the start of the article, you need to be sure you select the right wood with the right moisture level for the right application.

When smoking, about 6 ounces of hardwood is ideal to start.  Although you may need to add wood during the cooking process dependent on what your cooking (larger cuts of meat may require you to feed additional wood every hour), always start with a reserved amount.

When grilling, the same quantity of wood applies – about 6 ounces.  Wood is the ingredient that works with the other flavors to bring out a balanced wood-fired flavoring of the food.  Put too much wood on and you’ll have food that tastes like an ashtray.  Put wood on that contains too much moisture and it will produce an acrid smoke that will leave bitter flavors and black coloring to the skin or bark.

Let’s summarize.  Decide what method of wood-fire cooking you plan to do, if you plan to set up a direct cooking method or indirect, and the hardwood you plan to use.  If smoking, plan on that hardwood to smolder given a moisture level of at least 20%.  If wood grilling, plan on that hardwood to be drier, between 15-20% to allow it to release flavonoids quickly.  Start with about 6 ounces of wood regardless of the method you select and add only as the previous wood has combusted.  That’s the basics to having a fun, positive experience no matter what you elect to put on the grill or smoker.

Making you an informed consumer through valuable articles like this one.   Leave us a comment and follow us or subscribe for more great recipes, techniques, tips, and the science behind the flavor and fire.  That’s SmokinLicious®.

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®, Minuto®, & Piccolo®

More related reading on Wood Smokers & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!
More related reading on Wood Smokers & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More blogs like this one:

GRILLING & SMOKING QUESTIONS/ANSWERS THAT MAY SURPRISE YOU!

-WHAT WOOD TO USE FOR SMOKING: A PRIMER

-HOW MUCH WOOD TO ADD WHEN SMOKING

Dr. Smoke Tip- in Wood Smokers-you need more charcoal then you need smoking wood.  You have to remember cooking temperature!
Dr. Smoke Tip- in Wood Smokers-you need more charcoal then you need smoking wood. You have to remember cooking temperature!

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Cold Smoked Cheese is a very simple technique with very rewarding results. Follow our instruction and enjoy some all natural smoked cheese.

Cold Smoked Cheese is a very simple technique with very rewarding results. Follow our instruction and enjoy some all natural smoked cheese.

THE EASY METHOD TO COLD SMOKED CHEESE

Listen to the audio of this blog

The cooler season is here and that’s the perfect time to think about cold smoking techniques that bring special flavoring to heat sensitive items.  First up for us, cheese!  We’re lighting up the Technique Cast Iron Stove Top Smoking Pan and loading it up with our favorite varieties of cheese in preparation for a couple of The Cast Iron stove top smoker pan is a wonderful addition to any kitchen for indoor, condo smokingrecipes.  If you don’t own a stove top smoker pan, see our blog titled “The Kitchen Find” which will guide you on using items likely found in your own kitchen.

90°F or Less

Cold smoking requires that you keep the temperature below 90°F.  That may sound like a challenge but when you use a stove top smoker – equip it with an ice cube pan – you’re on your way to all things cold smoked.  The best chips to use for this method of smoking are SmokinLicious® Minuto® Wood Chips.  I’m electing to use Wild Cherry for the balance of flavors between my cheese choices.  These chips will combust evenly and slowly, releasing a steady smoke vapor that will work well with the cheese.

First, the stove top smoking pan needs to be set up.  The Technique pan comes with everything needed, including a drip pan.  We won’t be using the drip pan for its intended purpose but rather, to become an ice pan.  An ice pan will help to keep the temperature of the smoking pan below 85° F; and that means you can We fill the bottom of the stove top smoker with ice to reduce the heat and produce some nice steam.smoke all types of foods that normally couldn’t be exposed to heat! (chocolate, cheese, fragile fruits, candies, etc)

Be sure you have a handful of wood chips in the base pan before adding the drip pan full of ice cubes.   Place the wood chips in the center of the pan then fill the drip pan completely with ice.  Then add the grill pan and get the cheese out of the refrigerator.  Remember, you will be smoking the cheese for a few hours so you’ll need to refill the drip pan with ice cubes every hour.   There is no need to replenish the wood chips as a single handful will be plenty.

The Ice Tray

With the heat set to the lowest setting possible on your stove top, the drip pan filled with ice cubes to reduce the temperature even more, the cheese selections which include Swiss, horseradish cheddar, muenster, and fresh mozzarella, are added to the grill pan.  Place the cover on and this should be left untouched for at least an hour.  Once the hour passes, it will be time to replace the ice cubes in the drip pan.  Be sure to leave the cover on the grill pan when changing out the ice tray.  This should be done every hour up to the final hour you want to smoke.  I am doing a four-hour process on my cheese today so I will replace the ice pan three times.  That’s it!

Our finished smoked cheese, showing a darkened color change caused by the smoking processOnce infused, remove the cheese, wrap in wax or parchment paper and refrigerator for at least 2 days to allow the smoke vapor to release throughout the cold smoked cheese process.  Then get ready to enjoy your smoked cheese as is, or include in recipes.  We have 2 recipes coming up: A smoked cheese and bacon quiche and smoked grilled cheese with tomato and pepper jelly.

I hope I’ve inspired you to try cold smoked cheese on the stove top.  We need your comment and rating, so subscribe and follow us so you don’t miss a thing.  As always we welcome your suggestions as well on recipes and techniques you want to learn about.  We are your source for all things wood-fired, providing tips, techniques, recipes, and the science behind the fire.

The Culinary Crew wants you to know

… that this cold smoking process is also ideal for giving a smoky taste to many kinds of nuts – almonds, pecans and even just plain old peanuts do very well with accepting smoke vapors from cooking wood chips used in cold smoking techniques.  Enjoy and have fun with this!

SmokinLicious products:

Wood Chips- Minuto®

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Related reading:

-TO THE SMOKE THE CHESTNUT GOES!

-THE KITCHEN FIND!

-THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU COULD SMOKE

Dr Smoke- "Try this all natural way to smoke your cheese, most commercial cheeses are chemically smoked."

Dr Smoke- “Try this all natural way to smoke your cheese, most commercial cheeses are chemically smoked.”

Our Hickory double filet is great for most smoking or grilling equipment - So YES-HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE!

Our Hickory double filet is great for most smoking or grilling equipment – So YES-HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE!

listen to this pod cast

to IS HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE & Grill WITH

 

IS HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE & GRILL WITH? Click To Tweet

The question is one of the most common we hear.  What is the most popular wood you sell? 

Initially, our response was that there wasn’t one hardwood that was dominating the order system.  That certainly has changed over the course of the past few years.

Without question, Hickory has become the most requested hardwood.

Why Hickory The Wood To Smoke?

I truly believe the catalyst for the popularity of hickory particularly for smoking foods, is television and YouTube.  Yes, all those cooking and food shows and YouTube channels have catapulted grilling/smoking with wood and charcoal leaning toward Hickory.  As if Hickory is the only choice for “real” barbecue.

Some of the roots of the popularity of Hickory is the generational secrets of barbecue.  Hickory has been, for many decades, a commonly found hardwood in the traditional barbecue states who are credited with bringing barbecue to the limelight.  North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and then advancing west to such states as Tennessee, Missouri, and Alabama.  Gradually, those who wanted to duplicate the smoke flavors of the south continued to request hickory.  The result: hickory has become one of the highest demand hardwoods in North America.

Is There a Holy Grail for Smoking Wood?

Without question, those known in the world of barbecue as major players have stimulated the belief that their choice in smoking wood is the key to their success and notoriety.  Here’s is the conflict: many fail to admit that there are many other factors that account for their success.  Although they may have made their mark by sticking with that one wood for the entire time they cooked and gained popularity, they also committed to specific equipment, fuel product say a specific brand of charcoal, meat supplier, whether they keep the bark on the wood or remove it, and brands or recipes for rubs/sauces/marinades.  ALL these items factor into the overall success of a cooking event even in barbecue.

Life of the Tree is Key

I won’t get into the details about one brand of charcoal or briquette over another, or the influence of a wet or dry rub on the meat’s ability to absorb smoke vapor.  Those discussions will be for another day.  What I will stress is that the climate and soil of tree’s location is by far a key determinate in whether it will make a great smoking or grilling wood.  Specifically, the more balanced the pH level of the soil the tree’s roots are bound to and the amount of precipitation the tree is exposed to in a given year, directly affect how favorable the wood will be for smoking, grilling, and cooking in general.

I’m often told by new customers who had previous experience with hickory and found it to be too strong in flavor, producing too dark a coloring to the food’s exterior, and often producing a sooty appearance to both the food and equipment, that once they tried our wood, they had the exact opposite result.  Why?  The easiest answer is we simply have better-growing conditions in the Northeast than other areas that grow Hickory trees.  Plus, we have access to the better species of this hardwood family.

More Choices Don’t Always Mean Better Outcome

With over 20 species of Hickory in North America, they are not all equal when it comes to cooking with them.  Many of these 20 species are known to produce bitter undertones when foods are exposed to their smoke vapor.  That means poor results for the cook or Pitmaster who believes in hickory for their food production.

I like to compare hardwoods for cooking to extra virgin olive oil.  There are hundreds if not thousands of brands of olive oil available.  Yet, many producers marketing an extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) are using low-grade oils in the production rather than meet the requirements for EVOO labeling.  Wood is similar.  There is no obligation to label where the wood comes from, how old it is, how it was processed, what species it is from, and if it is from the raw material of the timbered tree or a by-product or waste product of another use.  Just like olive oil producers using pomace or the olive residue left over from the traditional production of olive oil, hardwood can be a leftover as well and re-purposed into something it wasn’t initially intended for.

Blaze Your Own Trail

My hope is that I’ve stimulated some thinking into what makes for a great smoking wood, grilling wood, or cooking wood in general.  Instead of duplicating a celebrity figure or following a current fad, blaze your own trail into what pleases you and the people you are serving your amazing grilled and smoked foods from the wood fire to.  With so many factors affecting a food’s taste, appearance, and aroma, it’s time to simply experiment, keep a log, and find what pleases you.  It may turn out to be one hardwood that you feel is the wood or it could simply be the food that guides you.  Hope you enjoyed our blog IS HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE & GRILL WITH?

The Culinary Crew wants you to know …

… that your wood cooking and food smoking experiences can offer a good variety of great tastes and awesome flavors by using the full range of acceptable hardwood species.  Without a doubt, hickory commands a lot of media market attention and is a very popular choice but don’t look past other hardwoods like oak, maple, cherry, alder, beech and ash to deliver great results!

We hope this latest posting was informative.  Leave a comment or suggestion as we love hearing from you, especially when it comes to what you want to learn about next.  As always, subscribe and follow us so you don’t miss out on the latest information.

Additional reading the topic of wood species and other cooking ideas!

Additional reading the topic of wood species and other cooking ideas!

Additional reading:

-WHAT A NUTTY CHOICE!

-THE TOP 8 MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN COOKING & GRILLING WITH WOOD

-WHAT’S IN THE SMOKINLICIOUS® WOOD CHUNK BOX?

-TO BARK OR NOT

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chips- Minuto® & Piccolo®

Dr. Smoke- "While hickory is the number one choice for Southern barbecue, it should not be your only choice. When asked YES-HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE!

Dr. Smoke- “While hickory is the number one choice for Southern barbecue, it should not be your only choice. When asked YES-HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE!

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