Is it fresh, is always a question that comes from new customers! At Smokinlicious® we are cutting products daily and measuring moisture to maintain the best smoking wood in the world

Is it fresh, is always a question that comes from new customers only! Our old customers know that at Smokinlicious® we are cutting products daily and measuring moisture to produce the best smoking wood in the world!

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

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I always find it interesting when we receive a new inquiry about providing specialty products for commercial-grade smokehouses.   I’m speaking specifically to the large commercial-grade smokehouse.  The type that utilize walk-in, wall smokehouse units that can turn out hundreds of pounds of product each cycle.

First, there’s always the question if we can duplicate the current wood chip product.  That’s where the education begins.

The Truth Is in The Sample

Sending the current wood supply sample is key to determining what should be used in product.  Once we provide the video review of what is in the sample in terms of sizing, we’re on the way to getting an understanding of why the current product may not be ideal.  Our concern is not just the overall flavor and color to the finished product, but also to reducing equipment failures that may occur from clogging of the wood material due to dust particulants.

Is It Fresh- Is Best

we check all our products for the proper moisture levels for the proper balance of too dry and just perfect for smoking. Following our discussion on product sizing, it’s time to explain why ordering fresh product is key.  We don’t operate on the concept that you need tons of extra product inventory sitting in your location, making the potential for color changes to the wood, moisture depletion, and susceptibility to mold spores a reality.  Instead, fresh product is produced when you need it, allowing for consistency in your smokehouse products’ flavor and color.  I know this is a stretch when there are many suppliers out there who encourage you to order pallet after pallet of product with the incentive of saving 10% if full truck loads go out.  Good luck getting the premium flavor and color your looking for with that old, dehydrated product!

We’ve Got Your Back

We know every customer we have the privilege of doing business with needs assurance that we can cover their needs.  That’s why our entire Team is involved to ensure that we can ship earlier if needed.  We take the time to monitor your Company’s usage and predict your next order.  Or, we can set up a shipping schedule you’re comfortable with that is easy for everyone involved and won’t require extra, valuable storage space be used.

our Minuto wood chips are a clean bark free wood chip for superior results in any commercial smokehouse. There are many sizes to fit any equipments need.Yes, you could say we are not the norm and we’d be just fine with that.  In fact, we encourage it.  To us, there’s nothing like cooking with fresh product that has been designed with your Company’s needs in mind.  That’s why our superior product will give you a superior outcome.  Fresh hardwood product for unmatched smoke infused food products. That’s the SmokinLicious® way!

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Related reading:

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

-CAN HARDWOOD BE TOO DRY FOR COOKING?

-TO BARK OR NOT

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Dr Smoke giving advice- "Fresh is best in food and in the wood products you use for smoking."

Dr Smoke- “Fresh is best in food and in the wood products you use for smoking.”

Wrap or no wrap is our topic. The pros and cons for smoking foods in foil- in particular your BBQ and how it can affect the food.

We discuss the pros and cons for smoking foods in foil- in particular your BBQ and how it can affect the food.

SMOKING FOODS IN FOIL: PROS & CONS

Listen

“Does smoking foods in foil still allow the wood flavor to penetrate?”

 It is a common question heard when it comes to hot smoking.  In fact, there is even a technique called the Texas Crutch that relies on wrapping meats like ribs, pork shoulder, and brisket in foil with 1-2 ounces of liquid into the foil and then sealing all ends tightly so no liquid or steam escapes.  This process tenderizes and speeds the overall cooking process, which with hot smoking, can be quite lengthy.

Here’s the thing – when you use this technique, you do so after the meat product has cooked to about 135-150°F.  That means a great deal of smoke flavor has already penetrated.  What about if you start out smoking foods in foil?  Let’s look at the pros and cons of smoking foods in foil, information you can use for traditional oven cooking as well.

Con #1

Aluminum leaches into foods that are wrapped in it.  Current research indicates that the average person can tolerate about 2400mg of aluminum exposure per day due to our body’s ability to excrete the small amounts of this metal efficiently.  Therefore, any ingestion levels over this would be considered a health risk by the World Health Organization.

Pro #1

Aluminum foil is disposable so it is a convenience.  There is no clean up when you cook foods in foil and often there are recycling programs that accept used foil.  It can save on degrading your cookware and grill grates.

Con #2

Aluminum is found in other items like corn, yellow cheese, salt, herbs, spices, tea, cooking utensils, and in over-the-counter medications like antacids.  A derived from aluminum is also used during the purification process of drinking water.  These all must factor into the recommended daily intake of this metal, meaning you need to assess whether cooking in foil will put you over the daily recommended limit.

Pro #2

Aluminum foil aides in producing a convection heat as it is an excellent heat conductor.  Thus, cooking times can be significantly reduced when foods are placed in foil.

Con #3

Foods with higher levels of acid have a higher rate of leaching aluminum into them.  This is true whether the acidic ingredient is in solid or liquid form.  In fact, acidic liquids have a higher leaching rate than solids.  Give this consideration when working with foods such as tomatoes, vinegar and citrus items.

Pro #3

Using aluminum foil can tenderize tougher cuts of meat when you include an ounce or two of liquid.  Additionally, aluminum foil is leak proof when you seal all ends.

Con #4

When you cook acidic ingredients in foil, both the appearance and taste of the foods can be altered by the reaction to aluminum.  The tastes are often described as metallic.

Smoking Considerations

From the smoking perspective, if you start the foods on the grill grates without any aluminum foil, cook until 135-150°F internal temperature, and then wrap in foil to finish, you likely will find very little change in taste.  Ingredients containing acid would have cooked down and not be at a level that would interact as aggressively with the aluminum.

If you do elect to cook on the smoker, charcoal grill or LP grill with foil, know that you can see firsthand the reaction of the aluminum with food ingredients. You can see the wood molecules by the smoke vapor particles that develops on the outside surface of the foil.  As foil is a heat conductor, it also is somewhat of a sponge and will steal some of the smoke vapor particles from the food.

Remember, one of the key benefits to using aluminum foil is its ability to seal tightly whether preventing spillage to a piece of cookware or sealing in liquids for cooking.  Cooking smoked items wrapped in foil from start to finish will not allow for full penetration of the smoke vapor particles that account for the unique color, texture, and taste to smoked foods.  Plus, you likely will increase your risk of health issues with repeated exposure to high aluminum levels.

Thank you for the question submission and we hope you found value in our information.  We welcome all types of questions and encourage you to follow and subscribe to our social channels so you don’t miss anything.  We look forward to providing you with tip, techniques, recipes, and science for all types of wood-fired cooking.

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Here’s some additional reading:

Why Charcoal Is Not An Ingredient

How Much Wood To Add When Smoking

Purchase products:

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chunks- Double and Single Filet

Dr Smoke- "To foil or not to foil? That is the question (personal preference)."

Dr Smoke- “To foil or not to foil? That is the question (personal preference).”

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our Hickory double filet is great for most smoking or grilling equipment

Our Hickory double filet is great for most smoking or grilling equipment

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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?

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 root of 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 in to 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 (EVO) are using low grade oils in the production rather than meet the requirements for EVO 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.

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

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

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chips- Minuto® & Piccolo®

"While hickory is the number one choice for Southern barbecue, it should not be your only choice. Think of the other 7 species that add unique flavor to any of your dishes."

Dr Smoke- “While hickory is the number one choice for Southern barbecue, it should not be your only choice. Think of the other 7 species that add unique flavor to any of your dishes.”

 

 

 

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.

our Hickory double filet is great for most smoking or grilling equipment

our Hickory double filet is great for most smoking or grilling equipment

Our double filet box of pristine no Bark hardwood chunks ready for the next customer!

Our double filet box of pristine, NO BARK, hardwood chunks ready for the next customer!

 Listen

WHAT’S IN THE SMOKINLICIOUS® WOOD CHUNK BOX? Click To Tweet

These two questions have been quite common for the 12+ years we’ve been in business.  What does a cubic foot box of wood weigh?  How many pieces do you estimate are in a cubic foot box of wood?

Due to the regulations imposed by The National Conference on Weights and Measures -Uniform Regulation for the Method of Sale of Commodities, we cannot specify weight on a wood product, even though we are a cooking wood.  Instead, when asked about weight, we only provide an estimate clearly stating that wood is not sold by weight due to the variation in moisture level and density of the wood selected.

I can, however, tell you the details that a recent first-time customer posted to an online forum that had me elated!

The Specifics You’ve Asked About

This customer took a lot of time and effort to get to the details about our wood; the packaging and the weight not just of the carton, but of specific select pieces.  This customer purchased the Serious Smoker Double Filet Wood Chunk which is our cubic foot carton product with the smallest chunk sizing.  We offer an option to select up to 3 wood choices for this carton size, with this customer selecting our 3 most popular hardwoods: Hickory, Sugar Maple and Wild Cherry.

First, let’s look at this customer’s overall purchase.

It’s In The Numbers

The packaged hardwood weighed in a 32.5 lbs.  A total of 139 pieces of wood were packaged.  Of that total, 48 pieces were Wild Cherry, 44 pieces Sugar Maple, and 47 pieces Hickory.

Individual Weights

This customer owns equipment that references specific weight of wood needed to smoke optimally.  In this case, just 2-4 ounces of wood is ideal.

Although weights for each of the 139 pieces of wood were not obtained, a sufficient sampling was done.  Here is what was reported:

The lowest weight of a Wild Cherry chunk (remember, these are all double filet) was 1.5 ounces and the highest was 4.1 ounces.

The lowest weight of a Sugar Maple chunk was 2 ounces and the highest at 5.7 ounces.

The lowest weight of a Hickory chunk was 2.8 ounces and the highest at 6.4 ounces.

For this equipment user, there was an estimate that 139 pieces of hardwood would provide for some 100 smoking events!

What I loved the most about this report is that it correlates specifically to the density of these 3 hardwoods.  Hickory has the highest density of the 3 woods selected and this is reflected by the weight of the individual pieces sampled.  Sugar Maple would be next in density followed by the Wild Cherry, all proven with the reported weights.

What Did You Learn?

Unquestionably, there is a lot of wood chunk pieces in a cubic foot carton!  Which means, you want to ensure you can use that much wood in a reasonable amount of time to maximize the freshness factor and peak level for function as a smoking wood.  Individual pieces will vary in weight even if the dimensions of the pieces are relatively the same.  That is the nature of a water rich material – the water weight influences the overall piece weight.

We are indebted to this customer for taking the time to inform us all of his findings since by law, SmokinLicious® can’t offer this detail.

We hope you liked this post.  We’d love to hear from you so subscribe, comment and follow us on all social media platforms.  Keep those suggestions coming for future information you crave.

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

HOW MUCH WOOD TO ADD WHEN SMOKING

BOOST UP THE FLAVOR OF YOUR SMOKER BOX!

THE ART OF CUSTOMIZING YOUR COOKING EXPERIENCE

Purchase Products:

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

Dr Smoke- "Thank you to this great customer for analyzing our box."

Dr Smoke- “Thank you to this great customer for analyzing our box.”

Fruit trees are sprayed with pesticide to maximize the fruit yield. Spraying of chemical on the bark may not be too good for using in barbecue?

[Fruit trees are often sprayed with pesticide to maximize the fruit yield. Spraying of chemical on the bark may not be too good for using in barbecue?]

Listen

ARE FRUIT WOOD TREES LIKE THE APPLE “SNOW WHITE” BIT INTO?

There is a fierce debate out there about the use of fruit wood trees, specifically apple and cherry varieties, for cooking purposes.  As a Company, we frequently get the same question – “Why don’t I see Apple wood as an option to purchase?” Here’s the short answer: We do not, and will not, produce our products from orchard-based woods.  Our reason is simple – we do not believe in smoking foods over woods that have been or have the potential to be sprayed or growth enhanced with chemicals.

Let’s review a fact about trees.  All trees produce prussic acid, better known as hydrogen cyanide.  We feel that humans can use woods produced in nature when they have been left alone, unburden by the human hand in trying to manage what sometimes is the normal cyclical pattern of nature.  In the areas in which we purchase the heartwood for our cooking wood production facility, the varieties of cherry (Prunus pensylvanica L.f.) we commonly deal with are: Northern Pin Cherry, Fire Cherry, Wild Red Cherry, and Pigeon Cherry.  Of course, predominately, we bring in Wild Red Cherry.  There are many different cherry tree varieties available throughout North America.  The main difference in these woods is that our forest trees, the type we manufacture, tend to be on the sweet-tart side versus the sour-bitter.  For the most part, hydrogen cyanide is found mainly in the leaves and seeds of the cherry tree.  Black Cherry bark is also commonly used in herbal cough remedies.

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

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

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

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

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More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

For related reading:

TO BARK OR NOT

TASTE IS AROMA!

WOOD FIRED CLAMS MAKE THIS THE PERFECT BITE

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet
Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Dr Smoke- "Enjoy the fruit of the tree because that is what they're there for. Just be careful when using wood from on orchard to cook your food."

Dr Smoke- “Enjoy the fruit of the tree because that is what they’re there for. Just be careful when using wood from on orchard to cook your food.”

 our food scale demonstrates Grande Sapore® and Double Filet wood chunks as a guide to adding wood flavoring with our Smokinlicious® products.

Our food scale demonstrates Grande Sapore® and Double Filet wood chunks as a guide to adding wood flavoring with our Smokinlicious® products.

HOW MUCH WOOD TO ADD

WHEN SMOKING

One of the most common questions asked when it comes to smoking foods on a gas grill, traditional charcoal grill or smoker is, how much wood do I need?  Likely the second most common question is where does the wood go?

 Let’s break this down by equipment and method of smoking so you have a good place to start in answering the above questions.

Get A Food Scale

As a reminder, wood should not be sold or referenced by weight so I always recommend you keep a food scale handy to weigh pieces of wood or handfuls of wood chips until you get comfortable with eyeballing your needs.  After working with wood on your specific equipment, you’ll develop a sense of how much will produce a smoke infusion level you and your food guests like.

To make easier understanding of the amount of wood needed, I will be referencing by ounces in my breakdown lists.

The Traditional Smoker

If you adhere to the basic rule of low temperature cooking on a smoker, then you’ll likely be cooking between 225° and 250°F.  You will also likely be using lump hardwood charcoal or traditional charcoal known as briquets, for the fuel or heat.  That is the material that keeps the smoker at a steady temperature.

Regardless of whether you use the snake method, minion method, or simply dump the charcoal in the smoker’s charcoal area, wood will be needed in some form to provide the actual flavor to the foods being smoked.  Why?  Because wood is what gives foods that smoky flavor and distinct texture and appearance.

For the smoker, here is a guide on wood quantity based on food being smoked and for using wood chunks.  Note, you can smoke different foods at the same time with small adjustments to these amounts.

 

Fruits/Vegetables Turkey/Chicken Ribs Pork Shoulder/Brisket
2-4 ounces 4-6 ounces 8 ounces 10 ounces with additional needed during cooking

For placement of the wood chunks, these can go directly on the hot coals with some wood banked to the side to catch as the hot coals spread.

The Charcoal Grill

Essentially, you will be doing the same steps as above for the traditional smoker. The main difference between these two units is that smokers are for hot smoking and generally don’t do well when used for grilling.  In fact, I would highly recommend you never try grilling on a smoker.   Charcoal grills, on the other hand, can do both but you will have to make some airflow adjustments with the unit’s venting to ensure that you can maintain a low temperature consistently for smoking.  You also may find adding a heat insulator like bricks or stones works well to attract and use radiant heat.

Here is the guide on wood quantity based on food being smoked as well as type of wood product.  Remember, a wood chip product will combust faster so you will need more chips on hand when hot smoking.

Wood Fruits/Vegetables Turkey/Chicken Ribs Pork Shoulder/Brisket
Chips 2 ounces 6 ounces 10-12 ounces 16 ounces
Chunks 2-4 ounces 4-6 ounces 8 ounces 10-12 ounces

For placement of the wood chunks, these always go on top of the charcoal.  You should have a piece on the hot coals and then stage some on unlit coals that will ignite during the cooking process and keep the flavor going.

The LP/Gas Grill

I think the key misnomer is that LP/Gas Grills can only use wood chips if you want to attempt to do wood-fired cooking.  That has certainly changed with the advent of dual fuel or multi-purpose grills on the market today, as well as the development and design of diffusers over the gas burners for traditional grills.  The heat covers on burners are the perfect place for wood chunks.

Even if you don’t want to add chunks directly to a component of the grill, you can use a standard wood chip smoker box and simply put chunks in the box versus chips.  Usually these boxes will hold 3-4 small chunks of wood.  The box also aids in capturing ash.

Here are the options for wood placement:

  • wood chips in a foil pouch placed over a hot burner or directly on a heat bar/diffuser
  • wood chips in a smoker box placed on the grill grate with the heat under it
  • wood chunks in a smoker box (these will be small pieces about 2×2-inches) place on a grill grate with the heat under it
  • wood chunks directly on a heat bar/diffuser (3-4 pieces) with the heat on medium

Here is a guide on wood quantity based on food being smoked as well as type of wood product.  Remember, a wood chip product will combust faster so you will need more of it on hand than wood chunks when hot smoking.

Wood Fruits/Vegetables Turkey/Chicken Ribs Pork Shoulder/Brisket
Chips 2 ounces 6 ounces 8 ounces with replenishment needed as they reduce to ash 8 ounces with replenishment needed multiple times
Chunks 2-4 ounces 4-6 ounces 8 ounces – may need to add an 1-2 pieces 8 ounces with replenishment needed at least once

 

Also, keep in mind that if you’ve purchased a “green” wood or air-dried wood, it likely holds more moisture than a kiln dried wood.  This will change the weight.  Pieces of wood that fall into the “green” category, even if they are the same size, will weigh differently.  Work with wood long enough and you’ll develop a feel for what is just about at the perfect weight for wood-fired cooking.

Dual Fuel or Hybrid Grills

With technologies advancing in the grill world you now have so many more options for using charcoal and wood in the convenience of a gas fired grill.  For those looking to have that level of ease but the flavors of charcoal and wood at your fingertips, those equipment manufacturers are to be considered.  Just get ready to make a substantial investment as these models do not come cheap.

We hope this article provided you with new information.  Leave a comment and remember to follow us on social media for additional tips, techniques, recipes, and great photos.  As always, your suggestions on other article topics are always welcome.

Additionally reading you may enjoy:

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

WHY WON’T MY WOOD CHIPS SMOKE!

ELECTRIC SMOKERS: WHEN IS A WOOD CHIPS ‘DEAD?’

Purchase Products:

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

 

Dr Smoke- "With our moisture controlled products, you need a lot less wood then you think. Please follow our guide which is specifically directed to the use of our products. If it's in a plastic bag, it is not moisture controlled."

Dr Smoke- “With our moisture controlled products, you need a lot less wood then you think. Please follow our guide which is specifically directed to the use of our products. If it’s in a plastic bag, it is not moisture controlled.”

The sign is the entrance to the allegheny national forest which includes 513,175 acres or 801.8 square acres and includes the allegheny reservoir natural habitat

This Forest Covers 513,175 acres (801.8 square miles) and includes the Allegheny Reservoir Natural Habitat.

THE PRECIOUS FOREST

It is likely when you have your heart set on some wood-fired cooked foods that you give little attention to the wood that will be required for that cooking event.  You may have seen wood smoker chips or chunks available in your local box store and decided that you can always pick those up last minute, to be assured your plans aren’t foiled. Or, you simply plan to go with charcoal chips without considering that this product is made from wood as well.

STOP and ponder this for a moment – Do you realize where exactly those wood products come from?

Unless you are in a direct county of involvement, you likely haven not realized the invasions that are occurring readily to our forests, woodlots, and home landscapes.

To date, here are some of the diseases and infestations we are battling in the United States:

  • Emerald Ash Borer
  • Hemlock Woolly Adelgid
  • Whitebark Pine Beatle
  • Beech Bark Disease
  • Dutch Elm Disease
  • Butternut Canker
  • Asian Longhorn Beetle
  • Dogwood Anthracnose
  • Gypsy Moth
  • Balsam Woolly Adelgid
  • Laurel Wilt disease
  • Sirex Wood Wasp
  • Sudden Oak Death
  • Polyphagous & Kuroshio Shot Hole Borer affecting sycamores, willows, oaks, maples (including Boxelder), and commercial avocado trees.

EVERY state in the US has battled imported forest pests with the hardest hit being New York State followed closely by MA, WI, IL, VA, MI, NJ, OH, and CA.  Every decade, 25 new insect pests are established in the US which can lead for potential decimate of an entire tree species in just decades.

So why if you are a lover of BBQ smoking chips or BBQ wood chunks (smoking using woodchunks or woodchips) or other wood fired foods, should issues with bugs be of concern?  Because cooking by fire is the oldest known cooking method for human kind.  Right now, you may simply enjoy 3 benefits of trees: for shade, for beauty (viewing), and for flavor to foods cooked on your grill/smoker.

But there are many other benefits:

  • Decrease atmospheric carbon by capturing and storing CO2
  • Improve air quality by filtering pollutants and releasing oxygen
  • Reduce storm water runoff and pollutants entering local water bodies
  • Increase property values by 3-7%

The pollutant removal alone that trees are responsible for provides a human health benefit worth $6.8 billion per year!  Trees keep us alive!

As of December 2016, NYS DEC has detected increased prevalence of Oak Wilt in the state which has no known treatment to contain and kill this fungus.  Oak is one of the most popular hardwoods for wood-fired cooking methods.

Please, take the time to source wood for cooking from reputable sources and follow the laws in place in your specific state to ensure we can limit the spread of these pests and diseases, and continue to enjoy the oldest method of cooking: by fire!

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-ARE FRUIT WOOD TREES LIKE THE APPLE “SNOW WHITE” BIT INTO?

-TO BARK OR NOT

-SHOULD YOU GRILL WITH MOLDY WOODS?

Purchase Products:

Wood Chips-Grande Sapore®

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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Dr Smoke- “Appreciate our renewable resource.”

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WILL CHERRY SWEETEN EVERYTHING IT TOUCHES?

Without question, Cherry is one of the most popular woods for wood-fired cooking, particularly when it comes to hot smoking using traditional smoking equipment.  Despite information SmokinLicious® has provided on this hardwood species (Put a Cherry on It blog & Cherry Wood Question blog), there are still many questions posed and many misunderstandings about this wood.  My intention here is to speak on the cherry varieties in North America and ensure that you can make an informed decision when selecting this hardwood for cooking.

I think the one key question is always on the varieties of cherry that people have access to, whether it’s in their own yard or a neighbor’s, or they come across a “firewood” seller along the roadside or an ad online or in print.  A good place to start is with a primer on exactly what types of cherry would be common in this scenario and if all of them are suitable for using in cooking.

Black Cherry or Prunus serotine Ehrhart is the most prevalent variety of cherry in North America likely due to its ability to grow in rich bottomlands and moist hillsides as well as drier climates.  It is the primary variety used for commercial purposes in the Northeast.  Other common names are Wild Black Cherry, Rum Cherry, and Mountain Black Cherry.  Black cherry grows from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick west to Southern Quebec and Ontario into Michigan and eastern Minnesota; south to Iowa, extreme eastern Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas, then east to central Florida.  You can even find small areas in Georgia, Texas, and Alabama.

Let’s be clear, though.  There can be great differences in the wood from state to state.  Remember, Black Cherry has a high commercial purpose, meaning, it is harvested for cabinetry, paneling, trim work, etc.  To make the wood into those products it must be very dry.  Keep that in mind when you see prepackaged cherry under the name Black Cherry as the extremely low moisture level will make this hardwood burn more rapidly.

Prunus pensylvanica L.f. with the common names Pin Cherry, Fire Cherry, Bird Cherry, Wild Red Cherry, and Pigeon Cherry is a variety that does not tend to grow as large as the black cherry mainly due to its role as a cover for wasteland and protector of soil beds.  Usually once larger trees establish themselves, this cherry variety will be crowded out.  It is a wood commonly harvested in New York and Pennsylvania during timber harvesting (SmokinLicious® sources this variety) so it is plentiful in these areas.  Because this variety is not as readily found as Black Cherry, it does not have as popular a selling point for the grade lumber to produce the home construction items listed above.  If you can locate this variety of cherry, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at its performance as a cooking wood.

Now, briefly, let me touch on the ornamental cherry trees that usually are encountered within neighborhoods and are the trees most people inquire about for trimming and using in their equipment.  All cherry trees are part of the genus PrunusMost of what is sold as ornamental are the Prunus serotine variety.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that cherry means anything cooked with that wood will have a cherry-like flavor!  Nothing can be further from the truth.  The wood itself will have variation in aroma as you may readily find when you burn wood in a fireplace; burn a fireplace frequently enough and you can pick up the aromatics that come from cherry versus maple versus ash, etc.

Flavor from the wood is directly influenced by the other ingredients incorporated and exposed to the heat.  It will NOT produce a cherry flavor even if you had plain meat in the cooking chamber with the wood.

In fact, I dare you to find two people who would describe the flavor of a food item cooked over cherry hardwood with the same description.

If you get a hold of an ornamental cherry tree or you take trimmings from a tree, here are my cautions:

  • hydrogen cyanide, a poison, is present in the leaves and seed so never burn these when cooking foods as they are very bitter and you increase the potential for a reaction or worse
  • many ornamental trees are treated with chemicals to keep them free of insects, larvae, and mold – don’t cook with woods exposed to chemicals as this can contribute to a bitter flavor to foods and increase your risk for an allergic reaction
  • using trimmings that are fresh from the tree can produce an acrid smoke due to the high level of water in the wood. It’s best to allow any collected pieces to dry to ensure some of the water has evaporated

There are 18 Prunus varieties available in North America.   With a little research and trial and error, you should be able to source a suitable variety for cooking that will give you wonderful wood-fired food memories.

 

Dr Smoke

Dr. Smoke

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Smokinlicious pristine wood blocks is a great back drop to the 10 things to consider when purchasing cooking wood

Smokinlicious® wood blocks are a pristine backdrop for the 10 things to consider when purchasing wood for cooking!!

Many of you who reside in the Southern and Western States have the advantage of being able to engage in wood-fired cooking pretty much whenever you want, regardless of the calendar.  You may do so on an LP grill, a charcoal grill, charcoal/wood smoker, or electric grill or smoker.  Those of us living in the North and to the East – though we could continue cooking outdoors all year – usually elect to restrict our outdoor cooking methods until temperatures climb above 55°F!

Soon, it will be an even playing field when it comes to enjoying the outdoors for all of us so what better way to get prepared than to start thinking about replenishing supplies for our outdoor living and cooking.

Today, I’m going to give you a guide on the top 10 things to consider when you purchase wood for grilling, smoking, or cooking in general.

#1 Is the wood native to the USA?

If the wood comes from outside the United States, it doesn’t necessarily make it a bad choice but you do need to understand that importing wood products into the USA is highly regulated.  Mostly, the wood needs to be certified that it has been treated in some way to ensure no insects are hitching a ride in!  Remember, that treatment could be with chemicals or by heat only, so be sure you check the label.  This product may turn out to only be ideal for hot temperature cooking like searing and grilling due to the dryness of the wood, or if chemicals were used, it shouldn’t be used at all.

#2 Is the wood 100% hardwood?

It is imperative that any wood you use to cook with, over, or in be only hardwood.  Look for labeling that attest to the fact that only hardwood was used as some companies will use a mix of softwood and hardwood or include press woods.

The Pristine, Clean, Bark Free Double Fillet SmokinLicious Wood Chunks Displayed

SmokinLicious® Double Fillet Wood Chunks

#3 How does the company get the wood?

Many of the companies who supply wood for cooking have another manufacturing process that produces a scrap or waste product.  Often, those leftovers are used in this secondary business of BBQ woods, smoking woods, or cooking woods, to name a few of the labeling names.  Check packaging for the source or origin location of the wood and if that company name matches the one on the front of the packaging label.

#4 Are you getting the wood named on the label?

 This seems like a no brainer but honestly, wood is no different than olive oil or cheese.  You may not be getting 100% of the wood species listed on the label just as we’re finding extra virgin olive oils may not be extra virgin or grated cheese isn’t 100% cheese!  If you find packaging that simply states “hardwood” or “mixed hardwoods” then you don’t know what you’re getting.  Be sure to read the entire label and check for a reference to 100% of a species.

#5 Is the brand name the actual manufacturer of the wood or just the distributor?

It is very common for brands to be in a business that they don’t participate in from a manufacturing point.  Check the small print on the label to see if the manufacturer of the product is listed or if the label simply states who the product is distributed by.  Distributors don’t have a lot of history on the product in the box or bag.

#6 Does the seller make claim to a certain cooking method for the wood?

 This is key to ensuring you don’t end up with a disaster.  If the packaging clearly states the product is for grilling, then don’t try to use it in your smoker or stove top smoking pan.  Compatibility of a cooking wood to equipment should factor in the moisture level of the wood.  Too dry, and it will just catch fire.  Too wet and you won’t be able to grill with it.

#7 Are there any terms such as “naturally cured” or kiln dried on the label?

The terms generally mean that the wood has been air dried for an extended period, much like you do with firewood before using it in your fireplace, or the wood has been exposed to low temperature drying in an enclosed area.  Either method means the wood will usually have a moisture level of 4-13% which will not make it ideal for hot smoking techniques.  Again, these woods are best for high heat level cooking as dry wood produces a lot of heat.  Woods with a moisture level ~20% are ideal for hot smoking.

#8 Does the wood have bark?

Photo shows the nasty bark on products sold by our competitors

Our competitors’ bark on product

 Bark is the protector of the tree and so it is like a sponge, absorbing anything that isn’t healthy to the tree.  When bark-on wood is exposed to heat, you will get a lot of separation or weakness to the cell structure of the bark.  This can loosen during exposure to heat and burn separately causing flare ups in temperature control, sparks, and leave a coating on your equipment.  If you have an option, go bark-free!

#9 Does the packaging label reference cooking or merely say “firewood”?

If you planning on going camping and setting up an elevate cooking grate over the fire, or using a Dutch oven for cowboy-style of cooking, then I don’t have a problem with using split firewood for the cooking part.  This is in the great outdoors where there is a lot of area to handle the smoke vapor.  But if you are using any kind of equipment that has a contained firebox area, please use something other than firewood to cook with.  You simply don’t know where the wood has been or what it may contain so cooking within a confined chamber is not the ideal.  Firewood can have a lot of resin, sap, and spark.

#10 Does the brand sell the product by weight?

 Wood is a commodity that has a lot of variance when it comes to weight due to differences in density, moisture level, and variety of the species.  It is the reason why wood cannot be sold by weight legally.  Look at the packaging and be sure there is a reference to cubic inches, cubic feet, liters, centimeters, etc.  Anything but weight.

 There you have it!  A guide for your upcoming outdoor cooking season using cooking/grilling woods.  Take a bit of time to check the packaging and examine all the information on a website before making your decision.  Most importantly ask yourself: Do I want to eat anything cooked over this?

Dr Smoke

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

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beech-trees growing in the forest setting

Beech tree

Beech- WOOD SPECIES

 

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

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

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

Heat Level: High – 21.8 MBTU

Fuel Efficiency: Excellent

Ease of Lighting: Poor

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

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

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CRUSHED OR DICED WOOD CHIPS?

The Difference Between Crushed and Diced Wood Chips

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

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

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

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

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

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smoke vapor from the grill

Smoke vapor from the grill

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

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

This got me thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Smoke

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Smokinlicious Wood Blocks

Smokinlicious Wood Blocks- DrSmoke

 DON’T PUT US LAST!

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

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

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

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

Many do not reference:

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

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

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

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

Such things as:

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

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

 

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Alto Shaam Combitherm oven

Alto Shaam Combitherm oven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bon Bar B Que!

Dr. Smoke

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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