The SmokinLicious® culinary crew's two-zone cooking method set up to smoke Fava Beans on the Gas grill with Wood chunks!

The SmokinLicious® culinary crew’s two-zone cooking method set up to smoke Fava Beans on the Gas grill with Wood chunks!

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

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We all know that the key to easy and successful outdoor cooking is to control the temperature.  I also believe that outdoor cooking should not hold you hostage at the grill.  That’s why everyone should learn the two-zone cooking method for grilling.

Let’s cover what type of cooking you can do by this method, why it’s so successful, and how to set up the zones.

Why Two-Zone is Best

 smoker box and single filet wood chunks

 

Two-zone cooking can be done on any type of grill no matter the fuel source.  What is two-zone cooking?  Using the fuel source on only half the grill while the other half holds the food.  Although you may use the unlit side of the grill for most of the cooking, you have the benefit of finishing crispy skins of items or quick cooking thinner cuts of meats on the direct heat side.

Two-zone cooking is also called direct and indirect cooking.  The indirect side uses indirect convection heat to cook the food which means the heat generated by the lit side radiates into the material of the equipment and produces heat (convection heat) on the unlit side.  The direct side produces the heat within the unit and can be used when quick cooking is needed or when a food that has been cooked on the indirect side needs crisping, additional coloring, or some char.

Set Up a Two-Zone

setting up the smoker box on the grill

The primary reason you want to set up two-zone cooking is most of the grill cooking does not require direct heat.  When you consistently cook foods, especially meats, over direct heat, you easily can have dried, stiff, flavorless results.  This is due to the components of meat reacting at different temperatures that with direct cooking occur too fast to react.

I will tell you that you need a grilling area that is large enough to establish two zones.  I judge the space needed with a rectangular, disposable foil pan.  If the pan can fit on half the grill area without issue, then you have plenty of room for a two-zone setup.   When using a gas grill, this means lighting the burners on one half of the grill.  If you don’t have an even number of burners, then decide how many are to be turned on and how many left off.   With a charcoal grill, placing the hot coals on only half the charcoal area.  On an electric unit, if you can manipulate the heating element, isolate the element to one side of the unit.  The temperature that works ideally for two-zone cooking is 225°F.  Of course, I always add wood chunks to give a smoky flavor to the foods.  Remember, the hardwood goes on the direct side of the grill or lit burner or hot coals.

Note that you can also use a water pan using two zones.  This can be placed on either side of the grill depending on when you need the direct heat side.  Keep in mind, when doing meats, it’s great to place a pan under the meat with vegetables (onions, potatoes, celery, peppers, etc.) and a small amount of liquid that can collect the meat renderings.  You can also place pans of beans to catch those drippings.  Anything is fair game.

For those times when you don’t want to add any additional foods, you can simply lay a thin foil pan under the grill grate of the indirect side or a sheet of foil.  That will collect any fat drippings.

Cook Anything!

Smoking Tomatoes on the gas grill with the two-zone cooking method

 

Since radiant heat is what you are cooking with when foods are placed on the indirect side, you can cook anything.  I love doing tarts and cakes via this method, especially during the hot months when you don’t want to lite your indoor oven.  In fact, those are the times that I cook an entire meal using a two-zone setup.

You can also cook multiple items using both direct and indirect heat.  A long cooking meat goes on the indirect side, is cooked to temperature and held there, while a side dish is cooked on direct heat.  Don’t forget, if the cookware you use is high heat tolerant, you can use cookware as well.  This is how I can make cakes, tarts, and bread on the grill.  You need to view this equipment like an oven as that is essentially what it is!

Use Like an Oven & Walk Away

 I’m going, to be honest.  Although it’s true that you can produce more moist foods using a two-zone method the real reason I love this method of cooking is I can walk away from the grill.  This is particularly true when using a gas grill which holds the temperature steady, which for me, is 250°F for long cook meats and regular baking temperatures for all my cookies, cakes, tarts, bread.  Remember, charcoal grills will still require you to refuel so the temperature can fluctuate more if you’re not careful.  Keeping an extra chimney starter of charcoal going will solve that issue.

As a final note, even though two-zone cooking allows you more time away from the grill, you still need a good digital thermometer to monitor the temperature of the food.  Invest in an easy read one and you’ll really enjoy this new way of grilling and smoking.

SmokinLicious products used in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on #twozonecooking method and other food items to prepare

Additional reading:

-EASY GRILL ROASTED TOMATOES

-ODE TO THE GRILLED FAVA BEAN

-WOOD ROASTED ONIONS TO DIE FOR!

 

 

Dr. Smoke- The two-zone cooking method on the gas grill is a great time saver for the busy Chef trying to prepare other parts of the meal menu!

Dr. Smoke- The two-zone cooking method on the gas grill is a great time saver for the busy Chef trying to prepare other parts of the meal menu!

Caution- When selecting wood chips for smoking know the wood source!

Caution- When selecting wood chips for smoking know the wood source!

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN $3.99 WOOD CHIPS FOR SMOKING AND THE SMOKINLICIOUS® BRAND

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listen to our blog regarding wood chips for smoking

 

 

If you’ve ever looked at the wood chips for smoking products available at most discount retail stores, you’ll notice that they seem to have consistent pricing in the $3.99 or less bracket.  Yet, you look at the SmokinLicious® brand and come up with a price that’s close to twice the cost.  What’s the deal with the price difference?

There are many factors involved in determining the retail price of wood chips many of which I’m sure the average consumer hasn’t considered.  What exactly are you paying for when you select a specific wood chip brand?

Let me give you some insight.

Let’s Start with the Raw Material

The raw material is by far the largest cost factor with selling wood chips for grilling, smoking, and cooking in general.  I’ll make the comparison to cotton purchased by a t-shirt manufacturer.  There are grades of cotton.  Higher grades of cotton go into more expensive cotton clothing.  Purchase a $5 t-shirt and you’re guaranteed a lower grade cotton was used. This means you likely won’t get more than a year of consistent wearing and washing out of that $5 t-shirt!

The same is true for wood chips.  There are 8 different grades of wood or lumber for purposes such as cabinet making, flooring, construction, and pallets.    Only one culinary wood company specifically purchases raw lumber material for cooking wood manufacture only.  That would be SmokinLicious®.

Other companies will do one of three things; have a primary business in one of the areas listed above and use the waste product for producing the wood chips, or, purchase another company’s waste product to market as a wood chip grilling and smoking wood, or, have the company with waste product package a private label brand of grilling and smoking chips and deliver to a centralized distribution warehouse for the brand, something commonly done by equipment manufacturers who feel a need to offer a wood chip to go with the equipment.

Cleanliness of the Manufacturing Process

Another key factor in cost is the handling of the material during the manufacturing process.  Now I understand that we are talking about wood and not a food item.  However, if you are using a wood to add flavoring to food through smoke vapor from burning wood, then I see the wood as an ingredient.  As with any ingredient, I would prefer to use something that is clean and pure since I will be eating this.

Since I’ve already pointed out that many companies use materials that are labeled as waste wood, you have no idea how the waste material was collected, stored, moved, and processed.  You also don’t know what’s in that waste wood (treated lumber pieces, a mix of woods, some softwoods) or how old that material is which directly affects the moisture level.  Remember, moisture is needed to smolder the wood and produce smoke vapor.

SmokinLicious® is the only culinary wood manufacturer that is Kosher certified, attesting to the steps taken to ensure the culinary products are clean, clean stored, and preserved.

Varieties and Availability

One means of keeping cost down is to offer chips that have not been debarked, have not had any mold spores removed, or for that matter dirt and debris.  The entire log piece may be placed in a grinding unit which will generate an assortment of chip sizes as well as the dust that comes with this single equipment use.  Honestly, you can’t be sure you are getting 100% of the wood listed on the package when these locations are generating extreme volumes of rough grind chip product.  The company may simply call it a hardwood chip and not state what hardwood is in the mix.  Remember, only specific hardwoods should be used in grilling and smoking.

Of course, the variety of wood also can increase the cost.  Remember, there are many uses for a wood including the export demand to other countries outside of North America.  As with any commodity, higher demands translate to higher cost.  Hickory is one of those hardwoods that has become very expensive in the market as the wood is used for railroad ties, utility company pavers to get into mountain ranges, and heavily purchased by the Asian market for a purpose that is not clear.

Cost of Manufacturing

Both the labor involved making the chip product and the location that the chips are manufactured in play a role in determining the cost of the final product.  Again, if the chip product is the result of another manufacturing level of the wood like making cabinets, then by using the scrap wood for the “chip” product, the overall cost of the chip product will be lower as labor and manufacturing costs can be covered by the initial cabinet making.

If, however, there is no other manufacturing purpose for the wood other than a wood chip production, all manufacturing costs are directed to that chip product.  Then there is the question of where the chips are manufactured.  Here are some minimum wage costs by the state that will certainly play a role in the final product cost: New York State $10.40, New Jersey $8.60, Texas $7.25, Florida $8.25, Wisconsin $7.25, Michigan $9.25.

Other costs that factor in include: how the chips are packaged, the moisture level of the product which directly determines the weight, how the wood is treated for both drying and for pest control, and if there is a screening of the chips to remove wood dust and make the chips more uniform.

SmokinLicious® developed over a 3-year period a specialized screen process which allows us to offer 7 different grind levels of wood chips, all bark-free, all from the heartwood of the hardwood only, and all dust free.

Perhaps it’s time you take a closer look at that package of $3.99 wood chips and see where it is manufactured, who manufactures it, what the contents of the bag include, and what weight there is to the product.  Now that you’re educated on how to assess the value of your next wood chip purchase, the choice will be up to you.

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

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

More Related reading wood chips for smoking

More Related reading wood chips for smoking

Additional reading:

-SMOKING-GRILLING WOOD SELLING TERMS -DEMYSTIFIED

-WHY WON’T MY WOOD CHIPS SMOKE??

-Is It Fresh? Here’s Why You Need to Know

-ELECTRIC SMOKERS: WHEN IS A WOOD CHIP DEAD?

Dr. Smoke- Only buy your wood chips for smoking from a reputable sourcing company!

Dr. Smoke- Only buy your wood chips for smoking from a reputable sourcing company!

Our finished wood roasted onions!

Our finished wood roasted onions!

WOOD ROASTED ONIONS TO DIE FOR!

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One vegetable that is available throughout the year is the onion.  Although you’re likely accustomed to using this in recipes as an added natural flavor when you wood-fire the onion, something magical happens to its cell structure that turns these into the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth gems that you’ll want to use in even more recipes.

Onions are high in vitamin C, can aid in weight loss, and have reduced certain cancer risks, especially those associated with the digestive tract.

Our onion assortment, White, Sweet and Shallots

 

 

 

 

Whether you elect to do the standard yellow onion, the sweet red onion, or shallots, you will love how smoke vapor works to bring out the best in any variety.

Preparing for the Grill

Before preparing the onions for the grill, let’s get the grill started by lighting the burners on only half the grill.  This is referred to as two zone cooking.  On the lit burner side, I place 2 wood chunks – I’m using the Single Filet size from SmokinLicious® – directly on the heat shields of my hot burners.  This will provide the wood flavoring to the onions.  My burners are set to medium-low which usually produces a cooking temperature of about 300°F.  Simply adjust your burner setting to reach this temperature.

For the onions, I simply cut the tops of, slice in half and remove the skins.  I place the halves cut side down in a roasting pan and add about ¼ cup of oil to the pan.   With my pan ready, I place it on the unlit side of the grill and close the lid.  In about 75 minutes, these will slightly charred, tender, and juicy.

Tasting Notes:  Although I used avocado oil since you are not grilling over direct heat, you can use other oils such as olive, almond, walnut, grapeseed, coconut, sesame, canola, etc.  Remember, some varieties of onion are considered herbs so doing an assortment of types will give you an abundance of flavors.

The Longer the Wood Roast the More Flavor

Onions on the grill with wood chunk over the flavor bar

You’ll find as these onions cook and absorb both the smoke vapor and oil, the scales of the onions will separate and caramelize.  The results are tender, juicy and flavorful with a hint of woodsy from the charred edges.

I decided to make a simple sauce of butter, cheese, parsley, and pepper for my onion mix and served these alongside a pork steak, also cooked on the grill with a two-zone method.

The best part is onions are available year-round so I can do this method even in the dead of winter, as remember, the gas grill still functions even in the cold!  For those who like to freeze produce, this freezes very well so grill a lot keep them so they’re ready for the winter days you don’t feel like lighting the grill.   Just think what an onion soup will taste like when you wood-fire the onions first!

Finished wood roasted onions ready for serving

Tasting Notes:  If using a charcoal grill, still use a two-zone cooking set up meaning charcoal on only one side of the grill.  Be sure you only cook with hot coals, no flames.  This type of grilling can have more challenges to steady temperature so make sure you check the onion pan more frequently.

 

 

 

Smokinlicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Single Filet

 

 

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on wood smoking, grilling or ember cooking!

 

Additional reading:

-EASY GRILL ROASTED TOMATOES

-Roasted/Toasted Onions over Embers

-GRILLED PEACHES FOR THE PERFECT SALAD

 

Dr. Smoke- Wood roasted onions will add a superb flavor to these vegatebles

Dr. Smoke- Wood roasted onions will add a superb flavor to these vegetables

Our Roasted Tomatoes on the gas grill with smoker box containing two Double Filet wood chunks!

Our Roasted Tomatoes on the gas grill with smoker box containing two Double Filet wood chunks!

Listen to the audio of this blog

Listen to Easy Grill Roasted Tomatoes Blog

Many of us love to grow vegetable gardens but soon find we have an overabundance of certain items like tomatoes (though these are technically a fruit).  I’m here to give you a super easy method of bringing tenderness, juiciness, and great wood flavor to this summer favorite.

Collect your favorite tomato varieties from the garden and meet me at the grill for this great, easy technique.

Preparing for the Grill

setting up the smoker box on the grill

With a water content of about 95% and very low caloric value, tomatoes are rich in lycopene and antioxidant linked to heart health and cancer risk reduction.  With lots of colors and sizes to choose from, there’s a variety for everyone.

After picking my ripe cherry and grape tomatoes from the vines, I give them a thorough wash and allow to air dry.  Since I’m only using small sized tomatoes, I only need to slice the grape ones in half while the cherry size is a perfect fit to just grill-roasting whole.  In the meantime, start the grill by lighting the burners on only half the grill.  On that side, I place a smoker box that contains 3 small hardwood chunks.  This will provide the wood flavoring to the tomatoes.  I add about ¼ cup of oil to the tomatoes and mix to coat.  With my pan ready, I place it on the unlit side of the grill and close the lid.  My lit burners are set to medium-low heat which will maintain a cooking temperature of about 300-325°F.

Tasting Notes:  Although I used avocado oil since you are not grilling over direct heat, you can use other oils such as olive, almond, walnut, grapeseed, coconut, sesame, canola, etc.

Nutritional Boost from Cooking

Our deliciously finished roasted tomatoes

As this is a grill-roasting technique that doesn’t use direct heat but rather the radiant heat built up in the grill, there is no need to do anything during the actual cooking.  You’ll know when these tomatoes are ready by the amount of juice that is produced and the wrinkled skin that develops.   They will be super tender yet still hold their shape.  In fact, research has shown that cooking tomatoes raise the level of beneficial compounds called phytochemicals, making the tomato healthier when cooked.

Now you have an opportunity to do so many things with these super flavorful, healthy, and tender tomatoes.

Tasting Notes:  If using a charcoal grill, still use a two-zone cooking set up meaning charcoal on only one side of the grill.  Be sure you only cook with hot coals, no flames.  This type of grilling can have more challenges to steady temperature so make sure you check the tomato pan more frequently.

What to Make with These Roasted Tomatoes?

This finished sandwich with roasted tomatoes!

Here’s one use for your great wood roasted tomatoes.  I take a great baguette and added some wood smoked beef shank.  Next, I top the meat with a crunchy salad mix with a bit of siracha dressing, then add a generous helping of our wood roasted tomatoes.  Yum!

Don’t forget, these tomatoes freeze well so bundle some up in a freezer safe storage container and you’ll be ready for pop-in guests.  They can easily be defrosted in the microwave and reheated on low on the stovetop.  Serve with bread or on their own as part of charcuterie board and you will have a hit.

 

 

SmokinLicious prroducts used in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-GIVING AN EDGE TO SMOKY COCKTAIL SAUCE

-ODE TO THE GRILLED FAVA BEAN

-MUSHROOM TAPENADE ON THE WOOD GRILL

-SUCCULANT WOOD FIRED STUFFED TOMATO WITH HERB RICE

 

Dr. Smoke add special taste by our Roasted Tomatoes technique!

Dr. Smoke add special taste infusion with this Roasted Tomatoes technique!

GRILLED PEACHES

Our Grilled Peaches for the perfect salad addition with sweet onion, Tomatoes, and fresh herbs!

Our Grilled Peaches for the perfect salad addition with sweet onion, Tomatoes, and fresh herbs!

 FOR THE PERFECT SALAD ADDITION

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If you’ve been a follower of our recipes and techniques for a while, then you’re aware of our preference to grill, smoke, coal cook, and ember fire in-season produce.  Peaches are no exception!

I’ve got my two quarts of fresh peaches and a plan to grill these on the charcoal grill using charwood coals.  Then I’ll use my luscious smoked peaches in a salad that features two additional seasonal ingredients – tomato and shallots.

Get your chimney starter of charwood or charcoal and meet me at the grill for this quick technique and recipe featuring peaches.

Fire Up the Grill!

Fire up the charwood with a good quality chimney starter!

Firing up the STOK kettle grill!

Whenever you use the charcoal grill, it’s always best to get it lit about 30 minutes ahead of cooking.  I’m using a kettle-style grill made by Stôk that has a removable center grate for an assortment of inserts.  I won’t be using any inserts for this cook as my peaches will stay in a disposable foil pan for easy cooking and removal.

Start by placing charcoal or charwood in a chimney starter.  Place a Firestarter in the charcoal area of the grill and place the filled chimney starter over the starter.  Lite the Firestarter and allow to remain in place until all the charwood has ignited and started to reduce to hot coals.  While that’s burning, let’s prepare the peaches.  Be sure you have a couple of wood chunks available to add to the coals when we are ready to grill.  I like to use the single filet wood chunk size from SmokinLicious®.

Tasting Notes: there are differences in charcoal so be sure to use a natural charcoal or charwood product rather than briquets as briquets will produce more heat than you need.

Perfect Peach Bites

With our charcoal grill going, it’s time to start on the peaches.  There are a few ways to remove the skin from peaches including placing them in hot water for a few minutes then removing and placing in a bowl of ice water.  The skins will just peel off.  I’m an old school so I use a sharp paring knife and just remove the skin.

Once the skin is removed, it’s time to cut the peach into bite-size pieces.  You can easily cut around the pit and cut those slices into pieces.  Place all the pieces in a foil pan in an even layer.

Tasting Notes: Try to purchase peaches that have some firmness to them if you don’t plan to grill them right away.  The peaches should have no bruising and have a slight give when touched.  Too soft and those peaches won’t hold their shape when exposed to the grill’s heat.

 

Single Filet wood chunks under the grilling grate

Smoking Process

With the peaches prepared, time to take them to the grill.  Pour the chimney of hot coals into the grill’s charcoal area and add the wood chunks.  Add the pan of prepared peaches and placed the lid on the grill.  Be sure the outtake vent on the lid is ½ way open.  The intake vent at the charcoal area should be ¼ way open.  Now allow smoking for 15 minutes prior to checking.  Remember, we want to add smoke without reducing the peaches to a puree.

Tasting Notes:  Since peaches contain 89% water, they take in the smoke vapor extremely well.  Keep that in mind when you select both the charcoal and wood.  Remember, oak based charcoal tends to burn hot and has a stronger undertone to fruit.

Final Salad Prep- Grilled Peaches for the perfect salad addition!

While the peaches are absorbing all that great smoke flavor, return to the kitchen and prepare the remaining ingredients for our salad.  You’ll need:

  • 1 lb. tomatoes cut into 1/2’” pieces; or if using cherry or grape tomato, halved
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for final drizzle
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 shallot, sliced thin
  • fresh mint leaves torn
  • salt and pepper

the ingredients in the serving bowl and ready to add the dressing

I start by slicing my tomatoes in half, then add a teaspoon of salt to them while sitting in a colander so I can render some of the water.  While the tomatoes sit, I start slicing the shallot into thin strips.   At this point, you’ll want to check the peaches.  They should be close to or ready to remove from the grill.  I like to place them in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to cool them down for the salad.  While that’s happening, let’s prepare the vinaigrette.

I prefer to mix all the vinaigrette ingredients in a measuring cup so I can easily pour it to the salad right before serving, to keep the tomato and peach from getting too soggy.  Start with the extra virgin olive oil and add the rice vinegar.   Next, the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and fresh pepper.  Whisk it all together and set aside while you combine the salad ingredients.

Tasting Notes: you can substitute cider vinegar for the rice vinegar and any color of tomato will do though I lean toward the reds and purples to give a color contrast from the orange peach.

Smoked peaches go into the serving bowl first, following by the tomatoes, and shallots.  Pour the vinaigrette over the salad within an hour of serving and top with the torn mint leaves.  A perfect balance of sweet, tart, smoky, and refreshing.  An easy method and recipe you can have in 60 minutes.  I love peaches so try our grilled peaches for the perfect salad addition for your next dish to pass!  You will tantalize the guest taste buds!

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Single Filet

Charwood

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-PEACHES WOOD FIRED FOR A SMOKY FLAVORFUL GAZPACHO

-WOOD FIRED GRILLED WATERMELON BECOMES A STAR

-WOOD-FIRED APPLES MAKE THE BEST CAKE

Dr. Smoke add some mint, onions and tomatoes to Grilled Peaches for a perfect salad addition!

Dr. Smoke add some mint, onions, and tomatoes to Grilled Peaches for the perfect salad addition!

Fresh Fava Beans with Butter ready to become Grilled Fava Bean with a smoky flare!

Fresh Fava Beans with Butter ready to become Grilled Fava Bean with a smoky flare!

ODE TO THE GRILLED FAVA BEAN

Listen to the audio of this blog

I love when the ideal weather comes around when at the same time there are so many options for fresh produce either at the Farmer’s Market or local grocery store.  I tend to lean toward my grill and smoker for most of my cooking when the weather turns hot and steamy.

Beans are one of those vegetables that are spectacular on the grill but they get even better when you add a few wood chunks.  I’ll show you how to prepare Fava Beans for the grill and give you my easy, fool-proof technique for incorporating wood chunks for flavor.

Grill Set Up

Before preparing the Fava beans, get the gas grill heated by turning on only half the grills’ burners which will be the side that radiates out the heat and holds the smoker box.  For the smoker box, I’m using a stainless-steel model that has a hinged lid.  I place 3 double filet wood chunks from SmokinLicious® in the box in a combination of woods.   I’m using hickory, white oak and sugar maple to give me a great smoke balance to the beans.  This will ensure I don’t overpower with the smoke vapor.  By placing the smoker box with chunks on the grill grate as it preheats, it will be smoking by the time you have the beans ready.

 Simple Bean Prep

There is little to do with the Fava beans before they go on the grill.  Wash them to start to make sure all the dirt and debris is removed.  Pat dry with a paper towel and then move them to the cutting board.  Remove any leaves and cut just the stem end to remove the stem.  Place in a disposable foil pan, spread out evenly, and add roughly 6 tablespoons of butter to the beans, as well as salt and fresh ground pepper.  That’s it.  Leave the bean pods intact as they are going to act like a miniature steamer to cook the beans and ensure they don’t become over smoked.

The Grill Act

With the grill heated and the wood chunks smoking in the smoker box, place the pan of beans on the unlit side of the grill and close the cover.  Check that your grill temperature steadies out at about 375°F.  If lower, simply increase the heat setting on the active burners.  Too high, decrease the heat setting.  Leave the beans untouched for about 30 minutes.  Return to the grill, stir the beans and check the wood chunks.  If the chunks are still emitting smoke, close the grill lid and leave for an additional 10 minutes or so, or until fork tender.  Remove the pan from the grill and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

Buttery, Smoky Finish

finished Fava beans with the smoky appearance to the outside podsAfter the beans have cooled enough to be handled, take each pod and push the beans out one end into a bowl.  You may keep the empty pods to use for making broth or for puree in a sauce or smoothie.  These Fava beans are now ready for you to enjoy as is or use in your favorite recipe.   Now, I’m taking my Fava beans and making a dip with goat cheese, lemon and tarragon.

 

 

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-STEPPING UP RADISH SALAD WITH A WOOD-FIRED FLARE

-WOOD GRILLING AVOCADO

-INFUSING WOOD SMOKE INTO BRUSSELS SPROUTS

You Can take your fresh Fava Beans and put them on the Grill with wood chunks to do a "Grilled Fava Beans" for your favorite dip or condiment!

You Can take your fresh Fava Beans and put them on the Grill with wood chunks to do a “Grilled Fava Bean” for your favorite dip or condiment!

"You are what you eatII" saying is more true today than it was years ago!

“You are what you eatII” saying is truer today than it was years ago!

‘YOU ARE WHAT YOU EATII’ APPLIES TO WOOD COOKING

Summary of You Are What you EatII

Healthy eating recipes, eat smart with Bark free cooking wood, cooking wood as a food ingredient is a clean eating basic. Responsibly sourced wood and only using heartwood Hardwoods avoids what woods are toxic to humans. Please remember you are what you eatII when it comes to smoke flavor in food and your sourced wood.

We’ve all heard it, likely from our mothers.  You are what you eat.  If you truly understand the meaning of the statement, you know that we extract necessary nutrients from the foods we ingest to energize and stabilize our bodies.  The nutritional content of what we eat determines the composition of our cell membranes, bone marrow, blood, and hormones.  Every day we lose cells which is why the foods we consume are so vital to our body’s health.

Like Any Other Food Choice

If you’ve been a follower of my writings then you are aware of the stress I put on recognizing the wood used to cook foods is just as important an ingredient as the cut of meat, choice of spices, quality of oil, etc.  There has been a lot of focus on the origin of food and how important it is to source locally both as a means of supporting local business and to control what you’re putting in your body.  From our perspective, you want to know that the wood used for cooking is sourced close to the growing area.   This ensures that there is knowledge about how the wood is processed before it gets to you and it assures the freshest product.

Minimal Processing

Just as with the clean food concept which focuses on minimally processed foods and as direct from nature as possible, SmokinLicious® holds to the same approach.  Sourcing wood from forest regions (direct from nature) that are in close proximity to our manufacturing facility, provides us with the unique advantage to process into the various cooking products the hardwoods harvested that meet our strict criteria: 100% bark-free (we don’t allow any bark-on product to cross our threshold), 100% heartwood (no outer cores of the tree cross our threshold), harvested hardwood that is less than 6 months of age (ensures this is still a “green” product), chemical-free (no pesticide or growth enhancement techniques employed), and in raw state to allow us to process it into a suitable cooking wood size.

The Risks

If you love foods that are cooked with wood, then you should know a few specifics to keep you on the path to health and long life.

Hardwoods only!

  • Softwoods or coniferous woods should never be used for cooking as they have elevated sap levels and more air in their cell structure. This causes them to burn fast, produce lots of sparks, and unpleasant flavors that are not ideal for flavoring foods. These include pine, redwood, cedar, fir, spruce, hemlock, larch, cypress.

Toxicity Risks:

  • There are many known toxicities in certain species of wood with softwoods containing the highest risk. Other woods have the potential to cause sickness and in some cases death if a person’s system is already compromised. Most of the risks are associated with the cooking process rather than the ingestion of the actual wood-fired food. But know that if a balance of the wood-tar creosote is not found, then the ingestible risks of the food heighten.  One of the best means of obtaining a balance is by starting with hardwoods that are considered safe for cooking, are clean, are bark-free, and derive from the inner cores rather than outer of the wood, where more impurities lurk.

Cooking Technique Influence Risk:

  • At some point, I’m sure you’ve read about heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These are the chemicals that form when meats, poultry, and fish are cooked using higher temperature methods like grilling. Why does this pose a health risk?  Because these chemicals cause changes in DNA and when you change DNA and they are metabolized by specific enzymes in the body, you can increase the risk of cancer associated with these compounds.  There is no definitive link between HCA and PAH exposure from cooked meats and cancer in humans.  There is no way to differentiate between other exposures to the chemicals from the food exposure.

HCAs are found to only be associated with meat cooked at high temperatures. While PAHs can be found in other smoked foods.  Remember, PAHs are also in cigarette smoke and fumes from car exhaust.  A recommendation is to remove any charred portions of meat, continuously turning meat over the high heat source, and avoiding direct exposure of meat to the open flame to reduce exposure.  Here’s a tip that can also reduce the risk of forming HCAs – marinate your foods for at least 10 minutes.

Purchase products:

Wood Chips: Grande Sapore®, Minuto®, Piccolo®

Wood Chunks: Double & Single Filet

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-Food & Smokehouse Processing Double Standard?

-TO BARK OR NOT

-COOKING WITH WOOD YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT YOUR SAFETY

-HOT TREND MAY NOT BE THE SAFEST BET

Dr Smoke-As we promote a healthy diet enjoying different foods please remember "you are what you eat" !

Dr. Smoke- As we promote a healthy diet enjoying different foods please remember “you are what you eatII” !

We do a summer favorite WOOD FIRED GRILLED WATERMELON!

We do a summer favorite WOOD FIRED GRILLED WATERMELON!

WOOD FIRED GRILLED WATERMELON BECOMES A STAR

Summary:

Learn how to do wood fired Grilled Watermelon by using your gas grilling techniques, charcoal grilling techniques, wood grilling delicate fruits and other gas grilling tips and tricks. Wood flavors add to grilled watermelon taste for a spicy grilled watermelon desserts. Add to your grilled watermelon recipes!

Listen to the audio of this blog

You may have seen segments on grilling watermelon before which show slices of watermelon on a standard gas grill.  Although I agree that the heat generated from the grill will produce a sweet outcome, there is no comparison to doing a grilling technique that incorporates wood for added flavor.

In this segment, I’ll show you how to grill watermelon on a grill of your choice with wood chunks for the unique combination of sweet and char flavors that only comes from grilling with wood.

Easy Prep

I think this is by far, the easiest preparation for the grill.  All you need is a watermelon of your choosing and a grill; gas, electric or charcoal.  Just 2-3 wood chunks from SmokinLicious® and about 20 minutes once you have a lit grill, and this method of bringing flavor to the standard watermelon will be complete.

As watermelon contains a lot of water, it is essential that you work with a medium heat setting on your gas grill and hot coals with a moderate flame for the charcoal grill.  If using a gas grill, be sure to set up the wood chunks on just one side of the grill and allow the chunks to smolder first so there is plenty of smoke vapor.  Since watermelon grills in no time at all, you want to have enough smoke vapor produced to give a great tasty outcome for both a gas grill or charcoal grill method.  Electric smokers are self-contained allowing for simple dialing in about 15 minutes worth of smoking time.

our slices ready to be wood fired!

For the watermelon, cut lengthwise in half and cut each half into individual slices about 1-1/2 to 2” thick.  Or, you can remove all the rind and grill just the watermelon meat.  Keep fire safe tongs at the ready so you can turn the watermelon slices just once as they evaporate some water and sweeten up.  DO NOT leave the grill!  This fruit requires a careful watch so stay put and you’ll have every piece cooked to perfection.

So Many Uses

You’ll see how the watermelon darkens in color, get bits of char coloring to the skin, and is less water soluble.  That’s the perfect outcome.  Now it’s time to think about how to use your wood flavored melon.

Our finished wood fired grilled watermelon

First, you can enjoy it as is.  When I serve this naked, I just give one additional flavor such as fresh, chopped mint.   But if you’re looking for a lunch or lite dinner entrée, think salad by including some baby arugula, goat cheese and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  For a spicy version, sprinkle the wedges with red pepper flakes, a bit of granulated sugar, and lime zest.  Wood fired watermelon also works great with other summer favorites like grape and cherry tomato, pepper slices, sugar snow peas, and cucumber.  No matter how you choose to serve it, grilled watermelon with wood flavoring is going to top your list of grilled favorites.

 

 

Proving that there’s more to wood-fired cooking than just animal proteins, SmokinLicious® brings you great ideas for recipes featuring a wood-fired ingredient.  Bringing you tips, techniques, recipes and the science behind the fire and smoke.

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-WOOD-FIRED APPLES MAKE THE BEST CAKE

-PEACHES WOOD FIRED FOR A SMOKY FLAVORFUL GAZPACHO

-Smoked Snow Peas With Cucumber Salad

 

Dr Smoke

Dr. Smoke- Wood fired grilled watermelon is my favorite summertime dessert!

Electric Smoker Guy is our guest blogger discussion how to select the best electric smokers

Electric Smoker Guy is our guest blogger discussion how to select the best electric smokers

Electric Smoker Guy Guest blogger

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST ELECTRIC SMOKER

Summary:

Tips from the Electric Smoker Guy about electric smokers, best electric smokers, electric smoker reviews, small electric smoker and finally how to choose the best electric smoker. Read this and his blog to guide you in looking for a good quality smoker, purchasing electric smokers, analog smokers or digital smokers!

Listen to the audio of this blog

You don’t have to be an expert to prepare a perfectly smoked meat if you have the best electric smoker by your side. Now, you have to be aware that you can’t just come into the store and ask for the best electric smoker because that doesn’t exist.

The best electric smoker for me and for you doesn’t have to be the same model and that is why it is important to know what to look for an electric smoker. You don’t have to be modest, there are many electric smokers on the market which means that you can adjust almost every part of the smoker to your needs.

If you don’t know where to start, let me guide you through the process of picking the best electric smoker for you.

#1 Choose the Capacity  

The size of the smoker is the most important feature you can adjust because there is no need for buying a big electric smoker if you are smoking only for your family. If you want to smoke for your family and friends, go with the medium electric smoker and if you want to smoke for a large group of people, then I would suggest you take a look at the commercial-grade electric smokers.

#2 Choose the Place for It

Electric smoker has to be outside and you can’t smoke in the kitchen if you don’t have a special ventilation, which most homes don’t. Choose a place for it and see if it can stay there all the time. That place should be protected from the wind, the rain and under a roof. If you don’t have that place, buy a smoker with wheels so you can take it out of the garage to smoke it and store it again when you are done.

#3 Choose the Smoker Features

If this is your first smoker, choose the one that has a window on the doors so you can see the smoking process. That is very important, especially for rookies who aren’t sure what smoking does to the meat and how long it takes for the meat to be done. If you are constantly opening the door of the smoker you will lose smoke and the heat. That will prolongate the smoking process a lot. The window on the door should be from tempered glass to withstand the heat and it mustn’t be easy to break.

#4 Choose the Controller

The electric smoker can be analog and digital. The analog smoker shows you the temperature on a temperature gauge and it is not so easy to control it. The electric smokers, on the other side, are easier to control. You have to set the time and the temperature you want and the smoker will maintain the same temperature through the entire smoking process.

As you can see, smoking is not just picking the first smoker you see in the store and buying it. If you buy a good quality smoker you will be able to control the heat and the smoke better and that will result in a good smoked meat. If you choose the best electric smoker you won’t have to do anything, the smoker will do most of the hard work. But, if you want to learn more about electric smokers you can visit the site about them called the Electric Smoker Guy:

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-ELECTRIC SMOKERS: WHEN IS A WOOD CHIP DEAD?

-HOW MUCH WOOD TO ADD WHEN SMOKING

-SALT FREE SPICE RUBS- HEALTHY CHOICES

-Does Outdoor Kitchen Stainless Steel Rust

Dr Smoke

Dr. Smoke-Read more from the Electric Smoker Guy on his blog!

Our recap of Smoking-Grilling Wood Selling Terms

SMOKING-GRILLING WOOD SELLING TERMS

Listen to the audio of this blog

Package labeling.  It is the key to drawing attention to a product, to reduce interest in other similar products, and to make someone buy a specific product.  Let’s be honest.  Not everything printed on a label necessarily provides ALL the information.  Use certain words and an “implied” thought will occur.

When it comes to packaging wood for smoking and grilling purposes, there are a lot of terms floating out there that certainly can be deceiving.  Let’s see if I can provide clarity on what specific terms and wording mean when it comes to purchasing wood for cooking, smoking, and grilling. SMOKING-GRILLING WOOD SELLING TERMS

100% Natural

The intended meaning of 100% natural implies that it has not been touched by human hands.  As such, with wood, this would refer to the fact that a tree is a plant designed by nature and other than cutting the tree down, it is not modified in any way.

However, we do know that trees, like flowers, can be manipulated when it comes to their genetics.  Genetically modified trees are quite common in the growth of orchard woods, especially those seeking to develop dwarf varieties or specific blossom colors or hybrids.  Keep in mind, genetically modified trees will have a reduction in the lignin compound which is responsible for the flavor the wood gives when it burns and gives off smoke vapor.

Currently, it is not legal to genetically modify forest trees but there is a lot of allowances when it comes to plantation and orchard/nursery trees, which often have chemicals applied to make up for the weak lignin which makes the wood susceptible to decay and pest infestation.

Kiln-Dried

Wood that is dried in a closed chamber in which the temperature and relative humidity of the circulated air can be controlled is called “kiln drying”.  There are three types of Kiln Drying methods: low-temperature drying which is below 130° F, conventional electric dehumidification drying, and conventional steam-heated drying which have temperatures up to 180° F.

For the most part, when a smoking or grilling wood product lists “kiln-dried” on the packaging, it does not state the type of method being employed.  Also, many that use this term do so without providing any information on what compliance record keeping is in place to attest that they are doing what they say.

There is one company who states that they adhere to the protocol designed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) but quote a core temperature and length in minutes of the heating process that is not the standard written by the USDA.  Their compliance agreement is provided by the state in which the business is located, which may have a different standard in place than the USDA.

Air-Dried

The process of drying green wood by exposure to prevailing natural atmospheric conditions outdoors or in an unheated shed is known as air drying.  There are three dominate Air Drying methods: open yard, shed, and forced-air shed.  The first is not held in high regard as the wood is exposed to all the elements making it the longest method of depleting moisture content from the wood.  The second has the addition of a roof covering to maintain a precipitation-free environment, while the third option is mostly used by traditional lumber companies as it produces quicker results meaning products can be sold quicker.

Here’s the issue when you see “Air-Dried” on package labeling of grilling and smoking woods: you don’t know what method is used and no one is saying how long the wood was air-dried for.  You don’t know how old the wood is, what method of air drying was employed, how long it took to “dry” it, and you likely won’t know what moisture content is left in the wood.  Remember, dry out a piece of wood too far, and it is simply firewood designed for heat output only.

Naturally Cured

This is another term that floats out on the packaging that implies it is different from air drying techniques.  It is not different.

Naturally curing wood means the wood is stacked in a manner that allows air to flow around the wood pieces usually in an outdoor setting.  It may be left exposed, covered with a tarp or have a roof structure overhead.  Naturally curing wood for fireplace use is recommend for 365 days but there is no benchmark for the timing used to dry the wood for the use of smoking or grilling.  Some suppliers will use moisture levels of 20-30% as their benchmark but 10% is a large variable in moisture when it comes to wood.

Here is the biggest challenge with a natural curing method: dry the wood too quickly and you will find cracks, splitting, honeycombing, and/or warping.  Dry too slowly and the wood will stain and suffer decay.  Remember, decay attracts pests as that is what they feed on. SMOKING-GRILLING WOOD SELLING TERMS

Selecting

I won’t lie to you – there are a lot of choices out there for wood.  How do you go about selecting from the limited information on the packaging?

Some decisions you’ll have to make on your own: do you want to cook with bark or do you find that bark indeed fluctuates the temperature of your equipment too much?  Do you want to use a kiln-dried product even if you don’t know what temperature and for how long that product was heated?  Would you want to use a product that hasn’t had any heat application applied to it meaning there may be pests, larvae, mold, and spores that haven’t been eliminated by a heat process?  Do you want to use a product from a supplier that provides no information on the moisture of the wood?  Do you want to go with a “natural”, “air dried” product that may have been exposed to anything that could access the wood: animal feces and urine, insects, chemical contaminants from the ground or another source?

In the end, I think the selection can be easy by simply looking at the wood for purity and cleanliness, looking at the packaging for evidence of air exchange meaning its likely not completely dried out and looking at the packaging information for claims that don’t seem to match the product that is packaged inside.

Most of all, you should be able to gain valuable information from any supplier’s website on the wood they are selling to you.   If not, be cautious that they may not know anything about the manufacturing process of the wood and/or what is needed in wood to qualify it as cooking ingredient.  We hope that our discussion of smoking & Grilling Wood Selling Terms adds clarity to your selection process.

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-COOKING WITH WOOD YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT YOUR SAFETY

-Is It Fresh? Here’s Why You Need to Know

-WHAT WOOD TO USE FOR SMOKING: A PRIMER

-HOT TREND MAY NOT BE THE SAFEST BET

SMOKING-GRILLING WOOD SELLING TERMS

Dr Smoke 6 TIPS FOR A HEALTHY OUTDOOR COOKING SEASON

Dr. Smoke- SMOKING-GRILLING WOOD SELLING TERMS

 

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WHEN YOU COOKING WITH WOOD YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO THINK

ABOUT YOUR SAFETY

Listen to the audio of this blog

I’m going, to be frank.   When having an opportunity to search through social media photos of various foods cooked by fire and smoke and seeing a reference to the wood, I get uncomfortable.  There doesn’t appear to be the same concern for the choice of wood as there is for the rub, cut of meat, quality of meat, choice of equipment, and sauce.

Why is it that the wood used to flavor the foods grilled and smoked is an afterthought?

Rating Scale

Recently, I ran across an article in Reader’s Digest that focused on the dangers of wildfire smoke, especially for those living in areas of the United States that are hit repeatedly by these events.  What struck me the most was the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index: good, moderate, unhealthy for sensitive groups, unhealthy, very unhealthy, and hazardous.  This guide is used to recommend evacuations of locations, use of HEPA filtration to allow people to remain in an affected area, and as a method of gaining valuable data post-fire on the effects, smoke has on plant life.  There is considerable data available from tree bark which has long been known to absorb pollutants.

This got me thinking about hardwoods used for smoking, grilling, and overall cooking of foods.  There is no regulatory agency that oversees wood used for cooking.  Despite efforts to get the Food Safety and Inspection Services division to recognize the risks associated with cooking with wood, no governmental agency has stepped up to offer regulations in this area such as established inspections of equipment and wood.

Why Kosher

As the manufacturer of all the products sold under the brand SmokinLicious®, we struggled with what steps to take that would demonstrate our commitment to only offer hardwoods that are considered safe for cooking.  Although we stressed that we are bark-free (an important step to reduce the exposure to toxins locked in the bark layers), that we only manufacture from the heartwood (an area of the tree that is known to be resistant to insects and decay), and that we manufacture each cut to the wood for the end cooking product, we simply desired some validation of these steps.

Since we’ve always considered the wood another ingredient to cooking, we decided to explore the options from the food perspective.  What certification could we apply for that would demonstrate that we are a food-related item?  Kosher certification was the perfect place to start!

Certification Means?

For us, the steps we’ve taken to obtain Kosher certification via VA’AD HAKASHRUS OF BUFFALO verified our commitment to keep our manufacturing facility at the highest standard possible.  People are drawn to kosher food for various reasons including quality, a healthy lifestyle, food safety, and allergy security.  By securing this certification, we can demonstrate to the public that our products satisfy the food quality and safety requirements they should strive for daily.  As such, our customers don’t have to settle for an unregulated product that frankly, could contain pretty much anything in the package because, as pointed out, there is no system of check on wood cooking and smoking products.

The SmokinLicious® Index

Taking a page from the Environmental Protection Agency, I thought it would be helpful to develop an index to use for hardwood intended for cooking.  Our grading system is based on toxicity factors of a wood, ease of lighting, sustained burn, coal formation, smoke production, and heat level.  Our index is: Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor, Unhealthy.

Excellent: Alder, American Beech, Ash, Cherry, Hickory, Pecan, Maple, Apple

Good: Persimmon, Red Oak, White Oak, Mesquite

Fair: Birchwood, Chestnut, Walnut, Peach

Poor: Aspen, Basswood, Poplar, Sycamore, Butternut, Cottonwood, Elm, Willow, Dogwood

Unhealthy: Buckeye, Hackberry, Gum (Sweetgum)

We hope you will find this guide useful. Use it as a means of sorting through all the types of wood offerings to make an educated decision, to look for key information on the packaging that will confirm you are making a safe decision.  After all, why take any additional risks when it comes to the health and safety of your family.

Making you an informed consumer through valuable articles like this one.  Hope you enjoyed this blog about cooking with wood!  Leave us a comment and subscribe for more great recipes, techniques, tips, and the science behind the flavor, that’s SmokinLicious®.

Products discussed in this Blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

 More Related reading on this subject

 Additional reading:

-WHAT WOOD TO USE FOR SMOKING: A PRIMER

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

-Is It Fresh? Here’s Why You Need to Know

-IS HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE & GRILL WITH?

 

Dr Smoke Our reccommendation on what wood to use for smoking

Dr. Smoke- Our recommendation on safety with wood cooking!

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.

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 wood to use for smoking

Purchase products:

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

HOT TREND MAY NOT BE THE SAFEST BET

Listen to the audio of this blog

Recently, I came across a great article on the new hot trends in cold cuts and smoked meats.  The article stressed how the $200 million in sales was the result of companies offering such things as chorizo, pepperoni, salami, and smoked bacon with bolder flavors and cleaner ingredients.  So, why do I have a problem with this?

What About the Smoke

The article went on to explain that the No. 1 trend in smoked and processed meats is products that are “uncured” or “no-nitrates added”, stating that this is due to the new health-conscious consumer.  This got me thinking about smoked products in general.  No one seems to be asking about the smoking process used to get that bacon hickory smoked!

If people are so sensitive to the ingredients in their foods, why haven’t we become concerned about the smoke component used for the actual process?

Demanding Label Changes

There are so many companies investing in the repackaging of their products to include such labels as “no-sugar-added”, “dairy-free”, and “gluten-free”.  Consumers are label readers and keenly interested in how products are made, how animals are raised, how products are preserved, and the percentage of fat in the processing.

One factor in food preparation that doesn’t seem to have been included in labeling is the actual smoking process for food products like smoked bacon, fish, or beef jerky.

Why doesn’t anyone seem concerned enough to ask what are they smoking with?  Is it actual wood or the wood-flavored vapor that is used to make liquid smoke, hardly an ingredient that would be considered chemical-free?

Wood Should Be a Food Ingredient Hot Trend

Let’s examine why wood should be looked at as a food ingredient when used for hot or cold smoking or wood-fired cooking in general.

First, not all companies selling wood products under the guise of smoking, identify what components of the tree are manufactured in the product.  Nor do they give any indication if the wood used in the manufacture of products started for only the purpose of food application. To clarify this point, let’s review one common seller of wood products found on Amazon.com.

This popular choice in wood chips started as a hickory and mesquite manufacturer of log products by a single owner back in 1986.  Originally, they sold logs to locals around their area.  Eventually, they branched out to wood chips and wood chunks in retail packaging when BBQ became so popular.

The company was sold to a fire log company who uses recycled wood sawdust and agricultural fibers to produce fireplace log products.  With the change in ownership, the company began selling other woods; pecan, post oak, and mesquite that are native to their home state of Texas, and the rest of the offerings which are brought in from other suppliers and locations.  There is no bark removal, there is no separation of wood layers.  Much of the product lies in open areas on the ground exposed to the southwestern sun as well as to anything else that may make contact.  The product is left uncovered in outdoor areas awaiting packaging, even after it has been kiln dried which is the only reference made to any preparation of the wood.

Here is one concern with the current ownership – keep in mind, with a primary business of manufacturing charcoal and fire log products, this business was originally connected to a cedar and basswood pencil business.  For those who don’t know woods, cedar and basswood are both softwoods, something that can be toxic if used for cooking food.

No Wood Regulations

There are no regulations that specifically state that you must guarantee that the wood packaged is clean, pure, and 100% of what it says it is on the label.  Just about anyone can start to package wood, whether hardwood or softwood or a combination of both, as a “cooking”, “grilling”, “smoking” or “BBQ” wood.  There are no regulations that it must be kiln dried or heat treated.  It is a free-for-all!

There may be claims that we are label readers, but it appears when it comes to wood used for cooking, we don’t have a clue.  This may be the oldest method of cooking in existence, but it certainly doesn’t have to contain the same risks as what the earliest homo sapiens endured.

The next time you see packaging that bacon, jerky, deli meat is of a smoked variety, look at the label and ask the question, “How was this smoked?”  You will be amazed that little or no answers are provided.  I hope you enjoyed our topic “Hot Trend” and the argument for better food labeling!

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-THE SMOKINLICIOUS® STORY

-WOOD SUPPLIER- ARE YOU GETTING WHAT YOU PAID FOR?

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

-Is It Fresh? Here’s Why You Need to Know

 

Dr Smoke

Dr. Smoke- Food safety labeling is important and should apply to all smoked foods!

THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART IV

THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART IV

THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART IV

Listen to the audio of this blog

In THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART IV, we examine how wood fired cooking has evolved around the world, focusing on those countries who still rely solely or in great part on wood fired cooking for sustenance.

Many Still Rely on Fire

The numbers can be staggering when you take a close look.  In developing countries, some 2.5 billion people rely on biomass to meet their energy needs for cooking.   For many, these resources account for over 90% of the household energy consumption.  Biomass includes charcoal (derived from wood), fuel wood, agricultural waste, and animal dung.  As area populations increase, the number of people relying on biomass for cooking also grows.  By the year 2030, it is estimated that 2.7 billion people will relay on biomass for cooking!  The immediate concerns are that biomass will be used without sustaining harvests and that technologies for energy conversion will not be used properly.  In fact, 1.3 million people, the majority of whom are women and children, die because of exposure to indoor air pollutants from biomass.  Slowly, the goal for switching to modern cooking fuels and/or promoting more efficient and sustainable use of traditional biomass is under way.  For now, there are millions who wood fire foods for their family’s nutrition using traditional methods and recipes.

The Many Methods and Meals of Fire Cooking

Without question, the continent of Africa houses most of the countries who are reliant on wood fires for cooking.  The top 12 countries using wood fires for cooking are: Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Guinea, Laos, Ethiopia, and Central African Republic.  However, there are many other countries that carry generations of wood fired cooking recipes into today, making them a family gathering special occasion.  Let’s examine some of those countries and what they cook.

Morocco

Moroccans cook in earthen ovens called tagine, a conical shaped terra-cotta lid that sits on a flat terra cotta bottom. It sits on a base called a majmar, an unglazed brazier full of hot coals that cooks the tagine slowly. In the market place, tagines are lined up with various foods like fish & potatoes, chicken & olives and lemon, or lamb with prunes. They also use small elevated grills in the port areas to cook various fish.

Laos

Although the people of Laos do grill some items, including water beetles, they mostly make soup in large pots set over an open wood fire.  This is much like the American style of cowboy cooking. Vegetables, sprouts, and noodles are often added to the broth to make the traditional Laotian daily dish.

Guatemala

Guatemalans use a method of wood cooking known as three stone cooking. A fire is started between 3 fire proof materials, usually stones that are used to support pots placed over the fire.  Pepian, the national dish of Guatemala, is a mouth-watering chicken stew made with different types of native chilis, seeds, and vegetables.  In addition to hand-crafted tortillas, it takes 3-4 hours to make this recipe traditionally over a fire.

Argentina

Here they call barbecue asado and it is certainly about the meat.  Vegetables, calamari, bread, and other foods are introduced to fire and heated either on heavy grates or iron pans.

India

One of the biggest misconceptions is that tandoori is a recipe from India.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  Tandoori is a technique of grilling meat over fire in a tandoor, a clay oven.  The tandoor is buried.  Heat escapes from the top.  Tandoori is very hot!  Skewered meat or fish is inserted into the tandoor vertically to cook.  The traditional bread, Naan, is placed along the sides of the clay vessel.

Korea

Koreans use a very unique method of wood fire cooking while at the same time utilizing the heat from that fire to heat their homes.  They are one of the earliest users of radiant heat.  Outside the home, a fire proof container is hung over the fire area.  A series of flues travel horizontally under the house.  Ondol is a layer of flat stone located directly beneath the house floor.  A chimney flue is located on the opposite side of the house from the fire source preventing any smoke from entering the actual home.  As the smoke travels through the underground flue system, it acts as a preservative to the wood house by preventing insects, mold, and bacteria from developing.

Don’t Think All Wood-Fired Cooking is BBQ

The variety of foods and techniques noted are not considered BBQ but have traditions that originate in every corner of the world.  Through trial and error, sourcing material that was available in each country, and incorporating foods and other edible items into recipes to feed families, fire cooking has advanced in some countries, while others still have seen little change.

Now we see the essence of barbecue by other names in other countries.  Asado in Argentina, braai in South Africa, lechon in Philippines, mezze in Lebanon, and parrilla in Uruguay.  Without question, the days of fire cooking are far from over as our innate nature seeks the flavors only provide by flame and smoke. Hope you enjoyed THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART IV, the final installment of the fire history series.

Purchase Products:

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional Reading:

-THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART III

-THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART II

-OPEN PIT COOKING FIRE BUILDING: PART I

Dr Smoke "Hope you enjoyed the variety of cultures that have roots in wood cooking."

Dr Smoke “Hope you enjoyed the variety of cultures that have roots in wood cooking.”

 

THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART III

Listen to the audio of this blog

In Part I, we covered scientific theories on how cooking with fire began approximately 2 million years ago.

Part II, we presented information on how our bodies developed from the introduction of cooking meat. THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART III, we delve into the early risks of cooking with fire and gender roles.the history of fire cooking part III

It May Not Have All Been Good 

Although we’ve discussed the benefits of the discovery of fire for cooking, including the higher caloric content needed for survivability, there are other effects to fire cooking that aren’t so positive.  This is a relatively new focus in research concerning fire cooking and human evolution.

A USA study suggests that a genetic mutation may be present in modern humans that allows certain toxins, including those found in smoke, to be metabolized at a safe rate.  This genetic mutation was not found in other primates like the Neanderthals or hominins.  Breathing toxins found in smoke can increase the risk of respiratory infections, suppress one’s immune system, and even cause disruption in the reproductive system.  It is possible that by having this genetic mutation, the tolerance to smoke toxins was a needed adaption that gave early humans the ability to survive in this very toxic environment.

Closeness Brings Disease

We also know that fire allowed for not only cooking but warmth, light, and protection.  To gain the positives of fire, early humans would gather together in close proximity to one another.  A 2016 study suggests that with the advancement of fire’s uses, people remained in huddled groups for long periods of time, suffered persistent coughing resulting from the smoke toxins, and subsequently damaged the lungs.  This may be what spurred the spread of tuberculosis which some scientists believe emerged 70,000 years ago.  In fact, most scientists believe that fire was regularly used around 400,000 years ago, thus supporting the advent of tuberculosis.

Other scientists believe the use of controlled fire introduced additional airborne diseases.  Plus, many opine that the early days of exposure to inhaling smoke from open fires stimulated our discovery of smoking tobacco.  Without question, these believers feel that climate changes resulted from the ongoing burning of carbon.  For them, biological and environmental changes co-mingle.

Gender Identities

It is amazing that in those early years of fire discovery the establishment of gender roles occurred and seems to have held in general theory. As tools developed and cooking with fire expanded, men did the hunting and women stayed with the fire, maintaining it and cooking previously hunted and foraged foods on/over it.

Although today both males and females hunt, the number of men still outweighs the woman.  Despite the number of male chefs outnumbering the women, women still dominate as the primary cook in the home.  Yet, males still barbecue and grill in a greater number.

It seems clear that there are other influences on the roles men and women play when it comes to fire cooking around the world.  Finally, in Part IV of our series, we’ll explore the variations in method and technique from around the world. Finally, we hope you enjoyed THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART III blog.

History of woodfired Cooking PartIII

History of wood fired Cooking Part III

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART II

-THE SMOKINLICIOUS® STORY

-GRILL-BUILDING THE PERFECT COOKING FIRE- PART II

 

 

Dr Smoke- "Part III of our ongoing series on the history of fire cooking focuses on the early risks and how they shaped today's food practices."

Dr Smoke- “Part III of our ongoing series on the history of fire cooking focuses on the early risks and how they shaped today’s food cooking practices.”

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