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

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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.

The breville handheld smoker

#handheldsmoker

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 effect 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.  Everything regarding the level of toxicity with cooking is related to the type of food, method of cooking, cooking temperature, and length of cooking time.

Let’s examine those parameters from the handheld 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.

SmokinLicious® Double Filet wood chunks are clean and bark free wood pieces that will provide a tasty tinge of smoke to all of your favorite ingredients.

SmokinLicious® Double Filet wood chunks

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

I believe it is time to start asking more questions about the hardwood products being used for the smoking process rather than focusing on the process itself. Click To Tweet  Perhaps the risks associated with dirty, moldy, contaminated wood are too high to ignore anymore.

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

More related reading on the art of smoking food and cooking wood

More related reading on the art of smoking food and cooking wood

More blog topics like this one:

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

-SHOULD YOU GRILL WITH MOLDY WOODS?

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

-SMOKING-GRILLING WOOD SELLING TERMS DEMYSTIFIED

Dr. Smoke hopes you enjoyed-JUST BECAUSE YOUR SMOKING FOOD (THAT IS!) DOESN’T MAKE IT ALL BAD!

Dr. Smoke hopes you enjoyed-JUST BECAUSE YOUR SMOKING FOOD (THAT IS!) DOESN’T MAKE IT ALL BAD!

We don't use or sell Applewood! Too many potential health risks
We don’t use or sell Applewood! Too many potential health risks
We don’t offer any applewood for sale! Here's why. Click To Tweet
Listen to the audio of this blog on why we don't sell Applewod

Why we Don’t Use or Sell Applewood– Those of you living outside of New York State may be surprised to learn that we are the number two state for apple production behind Washington state. However, we do rank number one for the greatest number of varieties of apples.  Annually, our state produces nearly 30 million bushels of apples.

With an abundance of apple trees, the assumption would be that our number one hardwood offering must be apple.  However, you would be wrong.

Applewood Abundance Comes at a Cost

Just because apple wood is abundant in our state doesn’t mean it should automatically be sold as a cooking wood.  This is without question, a favorite fruit.  When something is at high demand it is protected in order to assure the supply for that demand.  For this reason, growers of apples put their priority into preserving the fruit production. 

Keep in mind, an apple tree may not start producing fruit for the first 8-10 years but it can produce for 50 or more years.  In fact, with careful and frequent pruning, these trees do remain in the orchard bearing fruit if they don’t become infested with a disease or pest.

Good Agricultural Practices

Around the year 2001, the New York apple industry began working on a strategic plan in conjunction with Cornell University to develop what they referred to as an integrated fruit production program.  The purpose of the program was to ensure apples were produced using environmentally friendly processes to include eco-friendly insect, mite, disease, vertebrate and weed pest management.  In other words, this was meant to use more “friendly” pesticide applications and methods.  What didn’t change is the that chemicals were still being used.

The USDA has done extensive study on pesticides and their life on agricultural products (USDA Pesticide Data Program). As a result of the studies, here is a list of the common pesticides found to be present on apples in what is termed residual form.

USDA Findings:

Diphenylamine (DPA) 82.8%
Thiabendazole 81.0%
Pyrimethanil 75.2%
Chlorantraniliprole 41.2%
Acetamiprid 28.7%
Imidacloprid 20.2%
Carbendazim (MBC) 17.3%
Tetrahydrophthalimide (THPI) 16.7%
Methoxyfenozide 15.9%
Fludioxonil 13.4%
Thiacloprid 12.7%
Boscalid 12.7%
Pyraclostrobin 11.8%
Phosmet 9.6%
Azinphos methyl 9.2%
Fenpyroximate 8.5%
Endosulfan II 8.1%
Myclobutanil 8.1%
Diazinon 6.5%
Trifloxystrobin 5.8%
Spinetoram 5.0%
Endosulfan I 4.3%
Etoxazole 3.3%
Pendimethalin 3.3%
Fenpropathrin 2.8%
Fenbuconazole 2.7%
Carbaryl 2.4%
Endosulfan sulfate 1.9%
Flonicamid 1.6%
Chlorpyrifos 1.6%
Cyhalothrin, Total (Cyhalothrin-L + R157836 epimer) 1.1%
Spinosad 0.9%
o-Phenylphenol 0.9%
Imazalil 0.5%
Chlorpropham 0.4%
Difenoconazole 0.3%
Permethrin cis 0.3%
Esfenvalerate+Fenvalerate Total 0.1%
Buprofezin 0.1%
Thiamethoxam 0.1%
Pyriproxyfen 0.1%
Tebuconazole 0.1%
Pronamide 0.1%
Methoxychlor olefin 0.1%
Dicofol p,p’ 0.1%
Permethrin trans 0.1%
DCPA 0.1%

The premise for using all these pesticides is the common belief that apples cannot be grown without chemical pesticides. Despite efforts to institute ecofriendly practices, we remain dependent on chemicals.  But here’s the kicker: apples are ranked number 4 out of 12 as a fruit most contaminated by pesticides.  Washing with water doesn’t do enough either. The chemical pesticides can penetrate the skin into the flesh of the apple making every bite a risk.

In the Fruit, In the Tree

So what does this mean for the actual tree growing the apples?  Spray the tree with chemical pesticides to protect the fruit production and consequently, you compromise the tree for any other purpose including cooking.  Pesticide applications embed into the soil base of the tree, which then enters the root system, and is on the way to the other parts of the tree.  Pesticides can also become air born as they turn into a vapor and travel by airflow (think wind).  The bark of any tree is a great absorber of these air particles.  Once pesticides enter the human body, they are stored in the colon.   Symptoms then progress to stomach pains, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Certainly, toxicity can advance and produce colorectal cancer.  Know that once the chemicals are absorbed into the tree’s roots and nutritional supply center, they are there for life.

As a company, SmokinLicious® just can’t participate in risk to the public’s health.  If we can offer products that are as natural as possible, bark-free to prevent absorption of pollutants captured by the bark, we will do it.

Avoid Applewood and orchard woods only use Forest Fresh wood for Smoking.
Our Forest Fresh Symbol

Given there are so many other choices for safe hardwoods free of potential chemical contamination. We opt to dismiss apple wood even though we are a state in apple abundance.

In conclusion SmokinLicious® makes you an informed consumer through valuable articles like this one.   So leave us a comment and follow us or subscribe for more great recipes, techniques, tips, and the science behind the flavor and fire.  Most importantly, that is SmokinLicious®.

SmokinLicious® Products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

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

Additionally, read more on orchard woods:

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

-TO BARK OR NOT

-6 REASONS WHY CEDAR WOOD SHOULD NOT BE YOUR TOP CHOICE FOR COOKING

-THE BALANCE OF WOOD LIGNIN IN BARBECUE

Dr. Smoke- Now you know the reasons we don't use or sell Applewood or any other Orchard woods for Smoking, Grilling or Cooking!
Dr. Smoke- Now you know the reasons we don’t use or sell Applewood or any other Orchard woods for Smoking, Grilling or Cooking!

We never apply THE 5 SECOND RULE at Smokinlicious®

We never apply THE 5 SECOND RULE at SmokinLicious®

THE 5 SECOND RULE

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

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

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

SmokinLicious® is proud to be Kosher certified

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

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

Our Double Filet wood chunk

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

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

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

Dr. Smoke does not believe in THE 5 SECOND RULE at Smokinlicious®

Dr. Smoke does not believe in THE 5 SECOND RULE at SmokinLicious®

Oak tree in full autumn canopy.

Oak tree in full autumn canopy.

AS HARD AS OAK HARDWOOD!

With over 60 species of oak hardwood in the USA, this hardwood can be split into two categories: Red Oak and White Oak.  It is one of the most popular hardwoods to use in cooking likely because of its ready availability.  But as we’ve mentioned before, just because something is available in your area, doesn’t make it a success for all cooking techniques and foods.

Oak is a heavy, strong, and ring-porous hardwood resulting in a coarse texture and prominent grain.  Oak hardwood is part of the Fagaceae family of wood.   The scientific names for the varieties we manufacture are Quercus coccinea Muenchh., Quercus falcata Michx. Var. Falcata, Quercus muehlenbergii Engelm., Quercus prinus L., and Quercus velutina Lam.   The common names for the varieties found in the Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania regions include Red Oak, Spanish Oak, Yellow Chestnut Oak, Rock Oak, Smoothbark Oak.

Oak is considered the strongest in flavor for hardwoods.  It is known for providing deep coloring to the outer skin of foods meaning a very dark often black outer skin and it can be overpowering to those who aren’t used to smoked foods.  It also is a hardwood that can mold easily especially when exposed to significant variations in temperature and humidity.  Additionally, it does not like to make contact with metal which can be a challenge when cutting with metal/steel tools!  Oak will show its distaste by producing black streaks on the wood or even coating its entire outside with a black “dye”-like substance.

Heat Level: High – 21.7 (red) 26.5 (white) MBTU

Fuel Efficiency: Excellent

Ease of Lighting: Fair

Ideal Uses: Grilling/Braising/Pit Roasting/Hot Smoking/Cold Smoking (white)

So, if you are keen on bold flavors and definitely like smokiness to your foods, then oak is a clear winner.  However, I do recommend using less of this wood when cooking poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables and herbs/spices especially if you have a gas assist unit or are using lump hardwood charcoal or hardwood Charwood for fuel.

Our Oak Hardwood is a very dense piece of wood for long-lasting wood-fired cooking and smoking

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Blocks

Smoker Logs

Wood Chunks: Double and Single Filet

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

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Related reading:

-THE BOLDNESS OF OAK!

-IS THE FOOD INDUSTRY CULPABLE FOR THE SPREAD OF OAK TREE MORTALITY?

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

-WHAT WOOD TO USE FOR SMOKING: A PRIMER

Dr. Smoke uses Oak Hardwood for long ember fired cooking and grilling!

Dr. Smoke uses Oak Hardwood for long ember fired cooking and grilling!

Olive Trees of Italy are facing the same Bacterium invasion as the USA
Italy’s Olive Trees

ITALY’S OLIVE TREES FALL TO BACTERIUM Click To Tweet

I am a wood geek.  I love the living cells of trees and the hundreds of compounds that produce the various aromatics, tannins and flavors that make trees so valuable for medicinal, cosmetic, and flavoring uses.  Whenever I’m in the woods, I always feel like these giants are breathing with me.

Then my joyful thoughts turn sad.  Observing over the years how our lifestyle and explorative ways have changed our atmosphere which in turn changes the natural order of things.  One of those things is our trees.

But North America is not alone!  Battles over the loss of various hardwoods and softwoods continue as we fight to save the forest giants as well as orchard soldiers around the globe.

Prepare for Higher Olive Oil Pricing

It’s called Xylella fastidiosa and it’s a deadly bacterium that is gaining attention as it takes mark on the olive trees and groves of Italy since 2013.  In 2016, this bacterium was blamed for the death of some one million olive trees in Southern Italy most of which were cut down to stop the deadly bacterium from spreading.  But it hasn’t stopped.  Even with netting and routine pruning, olive trees continue to suffer and eventually die or are cut down. 

We know that the bacterium starts somewhere within the heart of the tree and then travels towards the roots and branches.  This is the reason pruning can sometimes be beneficial.  Research has also shown that there are specific varieties of olive trees that are more susceptible to Xylella resulting in growers moving toward varieties with less risk when they replace or add new growth areas.

There is a pest, the meadow spittlebug, that is the carrier of Xylella and the reason it is necessary to net the trees to prevent this pest from traveling and spreading this major bacterium concern to other areas and other countries.

Much like our North American Emerald Ash Borer pest that is responsible for tens of millions of ash tree death and destruction, the meadow spittlebug and the Xylella bacterium it can carry results in loss of olive production to those damaged branches.  Although the olive oil pressed from the olives research shows does not carry any disease or risk, the bacterium has significantly reduced the volume of olives available to produce oil.  Thus, pricing goes up as availability of olives depletes.

It’s Not Just an Olive Concern

You might think this is just an olive tree issue but you’d be deadly wrong.  Xylella is a strain of bacterium that is considered one of the most dangerous plant bacteria in the world.  It causes a tree to die of thirst from the inside out by blocking the xylem or transport tissue of the tree responsible for moving water and nutrients from the roots upwards to other parts of the tree. Xylella is then carried from tree to tree by the spittlebug who latch on to the tree’s xylem tubes sucking out liquid.  When they travel to the next tree to feed, the bacterium they’ve picked up is passed into that tree’s xylem when they go to feed again.  With no cure, the plant or tree stays infected for life, until it dies. 

There have been strains of Xylella fastidiosa in citrus as well as pear, peach and plum.  There is also a potential new strain in Southern California that could affect the grape production which could decimate the wine production something not needed after all the years of wildfires.

Continents currently affected by this bacterium include North America, Europe, and Asia but more are expected.

What’s Next?

In my opinion, the focused concern is on the specific market of product whether it be olive oil, wine, or fruits and not on the tree destruction that is occurring all around us.  I’m wondering how much longer we have to witness century old trees dying and family businesses evaporating from what appears to be nature taking back or returning to the soil what she feels is rightly hers.  I can’t help but think that these pests that are invading our largest plants on our planet are likely the result of our own actions or even inaction.

How concerned are you about the North American trees?  Leave us a comment and subscribe to get our latest tips, techniques, and recipes, plus, the science behind the fire and smoke. 

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

Charwood

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products
More related reading on smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More related reading:

-I’LL TAKE MINE WITH AN OLIVE!

-TO BARK OR NOT

-IS THE FOOD INDUSTRY CULPABLE FOR THE SPREAD OF OAK TREE MORTALITY?

Dr. Smoke- Olive trees are threaten with pest just like our forests in the USA.
Dr. Smoke- protect our tree resources.


Wood Lignin is what produces the great flavor in Barbecue
Wood Lignin is what produces the great flavor in Barbecue

Choosing wood species for their lignin can help your BBQ! Click To Tweet

Listen to the audio of this blog

Let me start this article by first reminding you that wood contains hundreds of compounds that honestly, we don’t know everything about.  For this reason, I am only speaking today regarding those known compounds and what they contribute to foods cooked by wood fire.  Specifically, I’ll be looking at lignin which is the only large-scale biomass source that has aromatic functionality.  In English, this is what gives wood-fired foods the distinct flavor and aroma.

Often, you read about specific flavors and aromas as they apply to meats but today, I want to delve into the compounds that are most prevalent by wood species and what they offer to food.

Refresher on Lignin

Lignin is one of the primary compounds responsible for cell construction in a tree and makes up 15-30% of wood cells.  It has a primary role in conducting water to feed the tree’s cells and when burned, yields a tremendous amount of energy.   Plus, lignin produces rigidity in cell walls which prevents rot. 

As a polymer or large molecule composed of many repeated subunits that bond together, it is the only one that is not composed of carbohydrate (sugar) monomers.  Because lignin is a polymer, there are many possible bonding patterns between the individual units, thus, we don’t have full knowledge of all the possibilities.

What we do know is lignin contains phenols or hydroxyl groups which are alcohols.  As these compounds work together, they produce a preservative action on the food which is antibacterial in nature.  The surface of the smoked food is modified with resulting flavors and aromas which are associated with barbecued foods.   Let’s take a closer look at these smoke vapor flavors.

Profiles of Smoke Compounds Click To Tweet

If you recall our publication on wood-tar creosote we tapped into the science of wood-tar creosote and its purpose as a preservative as well as producer of flavor, color, and aroma to barbecued foods.  In that article, we just barely mentioned the compounds responsible for the flavors.  Let’s provide you with the main compound list and what the odor and flavor descriptors are.

Phenol: this compound provides the sharp, robust aromas and the astringent, sharp aftertaste to wood fired foods.

Dimethylphenol: another compound that has a sharp, robust odor that also has a sweet aromatic undertone.  Flavors are sweet, charred, and astringent.

Isoeugenol: this is the compound associated with vanilla aromatics in addition to sweet and fruity.  Flavor descriptors include sweet, smoked-ham notes, hydrolyzed vegetable protein-like, with clove-like undertones.

4-Methylguaiacol: another compound that includes vanilla-like, fruity, cinnamon-ish, and smoky odors, with flavors of caramel, vanilla, sweet, and pleasant notes.

o-Cresol: odors are smoked sausage like with robust, sharp undertones.  This one on its own can produce more unpleasant smoky flavors.

Guaiacol: Smoky, sharp, aromatic aromas with flavors that are spicy, sharp, sweet and dry.  This is the yellowish aromatic oil that forms from creosote.

Syringol: Sausage-like aromatic that is sharp and sweet, with a spicy note.  These flavors include whiskey notes with smoky-char taste.

Lignin Levels in North American Hardwoods

I’m going to report the lignin levels of common North American hardwoods derived from the Klason lignin method, which values the residue remaining after solubilizing the carbohydrate with strong mineral acid.  What follows are percentages of oven-dried woods with temperatures ranging from 68°F/20°C to 248°F/120°C. 

Acer saccharum Marsh./Sugar Maple = 22%

Alnus rubra Bong./Red Alder = 24%

Betula alleghanienstis Britton/Yellow Birch = 21%

Carya glaubra (Mill.)/Sweet Pignut Hickory = 24%

Carya ovata (Mill.) K. Koch/Shagbark Hickory = 21%

Fagus grandifolia Ehrh./American Beech = 22%

Fraxinus Americana L./White Ash = 26%

Populus tremoides Michx./ Quaking Aspen = 19%

Prunus serotine Ehrh./Black Cherry = 21%

Quercus alba L./White Oak = 27%

Quercus prinus L./Chestnut Oak = 24%

Quercus rubra L./Northern Red Oak = 24%

Quercus stellate Wangenh./ Post Oak = 24%

What do all these percentages mean when it comes to your barbecue?  You can assume that the higher numbers mean there are larger numbers of compounds at work to flavor your foods.  It’s obvious that woods like hickory and oak have great percentages of phenol, guaiacol, and dimethylphenol, since these woods tend to produce the boldest flavors.  Those hardwoods like cherry, alder, and maple have the compounds of methylguaiacol and isoeugenol coming forward in the flavors which results in sweeter and more toned coloring to meats. Another factor that must be kept in mind when examining lignin is the heat level the wood is exposed to.  Cook at a higher temperature and these compounds can become muddier as combustion occurs more rapidly producing ash accumulation that can change flavors and aromas quickly.   All factor in to the resulting flavor, color and aroma of barbecued foods, whether animal protein, vegetable, fruit, or other.  This just further supports that wood-fired cooking is an art that requires a balanced hand that understands the importance of controlling as many factors as possible, primary of which is cooking temperature and airflow to bring out the highest percentage of beneficial compounds the wood can offer.  

What is your favorite hardwood or mixture of hardwoods to cook with?  Leave us a comment to share your views.  Bringing you informative recipes, techniques, and the science beyond the fire, smoke, and flavor.  That’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products
More related reading on smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More information on the composition of wood:

-6 REASONS WHY CEDAR WOOD SHOULD NOT BE YOUR TOP CHOICE FOR COOKING

-TO BARK OR NOT

-Lab Report on Moisture and storage of wood

-10 THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE PURCHASING WOOD FOR COOKING, GRILLING & SMOKING

Dr. Smoke-
Dr. Smoke- the amount of wood lignin and taste is the “art” of Barbecue

We need to keep out Microbial Bacteria from the food chain!
We need to keep out Microbial Bacteria from the food chain!

Prevent microbial bacteria in the food system. Click To Tweet

Listen to the audio of this blog

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting some 48,000 cases of food borne illness events each year, resulting in some 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, food borne illness outbreaks are serious concerns.  This is an added stress to manufacturing facilities that produce smoked food products as they must adhere to multiple regulations regarding the raw food product, smoke process and final smoked food product.  The last thing a facility needs is to worry about the wood material used in the smoking process but that should be a priority for these facilities.  Why?

Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enteritidis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Lactobacillus plantarum, Pseudomonas fluorescens, and Aspergillus flavus have all been shown to survive on plastic material meaning that if a supplier utilizes the standard GMA pallet commonly found in the grocery industry, these microbial bacteria or viruses survive and can flourish increasing the risk that they can be introduced to new food product placed on these recycled plastic  pallets.

Hosts of Contamination

With the recent outbreaks affecting romaine lettuce (from E. coli) and beef (from salmonella), attention is being drawn to other potential hosts for the transfer of the bacteria.  We know the common hosts: unsanitary conditions at a farm or packaging facility, food handlers failing to employ personal hygiene standards prior to working with food, food exposed to climate conditions that stimulate the bacteria development.  One potential host that has not been fully publicized is the packaging materials used to transport.   Unfortunately, it is the lack of enforcement in this area that puts the smokehouse industry at further risk.

Raw Material Transport

Many smokehouse operations purchase wood product for the smoke infusion from companies that supply the wood chip in paper bags that are then stacked on wooden or plastic GMA pallets.  Although some of these suppliers may be able to attest that the wood chips have been kiln dried or heat treated to a certain temperature, none confirm to a heat level that would kill all the bacteria previously listed.  Specifically, listeria, which requires a temperature of 74 °C/165.2 °F to be killed, is a key concern in smokehouse operations that include meat, poultry and fish products.

The risk is elevated by the potential for these bags to be penetrated by a stray nail from a wood pallet or sharp edge of a plastic pallet.  If the pallet contains the bacteria, it is a host that can transmit to anything it has contact with.

Decreasing Your Risk

In previous testing of wood pallets, one or more of salmonella, E. coli, and listeria were found to be present in as much as 6.8 million spores/gram which is classified as an extremely high count.  Given that domestically, there is no requirement for wood pallets to be heat treated for movement between states, the contamination can be passed to multiple locations with food when the pallet remains in the transportation system.

Although there have been efforts to change the transport of food by road and rail through the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), to date nothing has been regulated on the packaging materials that the food is placed on.

One encouraging finding is that cardboard materials, if correctly stored, reduce the potential for cross-contamination of food due to a quicker viability loss by spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms compared to the plastic packaging.  For this reason, SmokinLicious® only packages our smokehouse wood chip products in cardboard packaging that is then placed on a pallet that has been heat treated to an internal core temperature of 75°C/167°F and holds this minimum temperature for 75 minutes.  We adhere to a higher heat treatment standard as the health and safety of everyone using our culinary products is of highest importance.  We believe that hardwood used for cooking should be regulated independently and adhere to stricter standards than those currently in place for the general wood industry.  Until that regulation is written and enforced, SmokinLicious® will self-regulate our product to this level.

At SmokinLicious®, we believe in Quality and Safety over profit!  Isn’t it time your smokehouse joins us and takes a proactive stand against microbial bacteria like listeria, salmonella, and E. coli and help in the fight to rid our foods of life-threatening bacteria.

What is your biggest concern in your smokehouse food operation?  Leave us a comment to share your views.  Bringing you informative recipes, techniques, and the science beyond the fire, smoke, and flavor.  That’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products

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

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

Additional reading:

-6 REASONS WHY CEDAR WOOD SHOULD NOT BE YOUR TOP CHOICE FOR COOKING

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

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

Dr. Smoke- we do our part thru heat treatment to reduce microbial bacteria risks!
Dr. Smoke- we do our part thru heat treatment to reduce microbial bacteria risks!

Wild cherry Wood smoking traits discussed!

Wild cherry Wood smoking traits discussed!

Wild cherry Wood smoking traits discussed! Click To Tweet 

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

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

Elizabeth Andress

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

Our Response to The Wild Cherry Wood Question:

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The history of fire cooking part I

THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING: PART I

Listen to the audio of this blog the history of fire cooking part I

 

to the history of fire cooking part I

 

For thousands of years, it was the only way to cook.  Many believe that this discovery separated man from the other animals.  Fire.

Estimated to have been discovered some 2 million years ago, the discovery of fire and more importantly, the discovery of how to tame fire, resulted in man’s brain development, value of food, changes in our body, and social structure.  It gave us survivability.  It extended our life by improving daily calories and nutritional needs by allowing us to cook poisonous plants and meats.

So how did fire cooking get discovered?  That is the million dollar question.  Here are some of the hypotheses out there regarding the discovery of fire for cooking:

Nature Provides Ignition

There are some scientists who believe that fire cooking was found by accident.  A lightning strike or grass fires that sprung up due to the excessive dry conditions exposed to the hot sun.  Many don’t feel man did anything to “discover” fire other than observe the characteristics of fire: it produces abundant heat, light, and when it traps an animal within its flames, it produced a more tender meat, easier to digest food source, and more pleasing aroma to the meat.

Tool Construction

There are others who believe that early humans realized the importance of tools.  By sharpening stones to produce spears, cutting tools, etc., these early beings observed spark.  Either through intention or perhaps with Mother Nature’s assistance, these sparks caught twigs, brush, fruit, and/or grains on fire.  Remember, early human life did not involve a developed brain.  A discovery of fire, however, would help advance not only our brains, but our bodies into the erect beings we are today.

The Earliest Cave Cooking

In South Africa’s Northern Cape province, a dwelling known as Wonderwerk Cave, contains the earliest evidence that our ancestors and apelike ancestors were using fire.  Compacted dirt showed evidence of ashes, carbonized leaf and twig fragments, and burnt bits of animal bones.  Scientists were then able to analyze this material and determine that the fragments were heated between 750 and 1300°F, which is the heat level of a small fire made of twigs and grasses.

If indeed our earlier species learned to harness fire for cooking, this would account for the advancement of our brains and our ability to become erect beings walking on two legs.  Cooking on fire allowed for easier chewing and digestion and produced extra calories to fuel our brains. Fire also warded off nighttime predators, allowing for sleep on the ground or in caves rather than in the trees.

It’s All About Energy

Raw food diets have been popularized as a method of losing weight and of being healthier.  However, only a fraction of the calories in raw starch and protein are absorbed by the body via the small intestine.  As a result, the remainder passes into the large bowel, where it is broken down by the organ’s high population of microbes, which consume the majority for themselves.  However, cooked food is mostly digested by the time it enters the colon. For the same amount of calories ingested, the body gets roughly 30 percent more energy from cooked oat, wheat or potato starch as compared to raw, and as much as 78 percent from the protein in an egg.  In experiments, animals given cooked food gain more weight than animals fed the same amount of raw food.

Cooking breaks down collagen (connective tissue in meat) & softens the plants’ cell walls to release their storage of starch & fat.  The calories to fuel the bigger brains of successive species of hominids came at the expense of the energy-intensive tissue in the gut, which was shrinking at the same time.  If you look at early imagery of apes, you’ll see how we morphed into narrow-waisted Homo sapiens.– the history of fire cooking part I

Coming up in The History of Fire Cooking: Part II, learn more about why cooking foods by fire made us who we are today.  In conclusion, did we provide you with new information you didn’t know?  Additionally, leave us a comment and subscribe as we bring recipes, tips, techniques, and the science behind the fire and smoke.

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:

-OPEN PIT COOKING FIRE BUILDING: PART I

-GRILL-BUILDING THE PERFECT COOKING FIRE- PART II

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

I hope you enjoyed the the history of fire cooking part I

I hope you enjoyed the history of fire cooking part I

6 reasons not to cook on Cedar wood

6 reasons not to cook on Cedar wood

6 REASONS WHY CEDAR WOOD SHOULD NOT BE YOUR TOP CHOICE FOR COOKING

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You love different techniques for cooking and absorb new information like a sponge.  In particularly, you love outdoor methods of cooking.  One of your favorites is plank cooking on cedar wood.  Every time you read a recipe, they all call for use of a cedar plank or cedar wrap.

But is cedar really the best choice?  More so, is cedar a safe choice?

Let’s examine the top 6 reasons why cedar may not be an ideal cooking wood choice. Click To Tweet

#1 Softwood Classification

Cedar wood is not a hardwood.  It is a softwood that is from the gymnosperm trees meaning, it is a conifer or cone producing tree.  As a rule, softwoods should not be used for cooking as they contain a lot of air and sap which equates to a fast burn and unpleasant flavors.  In fact, there are many softwoods that can be toxic if cooked over.

#2 Poor Fire Resistance

During plank cooking, you are using the wood as a vessel to infuse flavor to whatever food is placed on top of the plank.  Here’s the concern with cedar – because it is a lower density wood (23 lb./ft³), it has very poor fire resistance.  That means, it reaches full combustion much faster than hardwood and will burn as a result.  Certainly, that’s not what you’re looking for when you plank cook.

#3 Poreless

Unlike hardwood which contain pores in the cell walls, softwoods like cedar are poreless.  They use cell components called tracheids to transport water and nutrients.   In addition, the organic compound lignin found in the cell walls, is much lower than in traditional hardwoods used for cooking.  Why is this an issue?  Lignin is what gives wood fired cooking the distinct flavor and aroma to foods.  For cedar, the average lignin composition is 20%±4 compared to common hardwoods used for wood-fired cooking which average 28%±3.

#4 Plicatic Acid

Cedar contains chemical properties (specifically plicatic acid) that are shown to be a good absorber of odors and moisture.  This is one of the key reasons why cedar is a preferred softwood for pest control to keep fleas, ants, mites, moths, and mosquitoes away.  When exposed to plicatic acid for lengthy periods of time, a condition known as “cedar asthma” can develop.

Additionally, a regular exposure to the cedar oil found in the wood can result in contact dermatitis or skin irritation, rhinitis, and conjunctivitis.

#5 Animal Toxicity

There are many studies available on how the use of cedar wood chips and shavings have affected animals continually exposed to these products.  Most studies show a correlation with liver dysfunction in animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters.  In fact, smaller animals, like guinea pigs and hamsters, have a higher incidence of death which may be attributed to plicatic acid exposure.  The phenols and aromatic hydrocarbons also have been shown to cause respiratory problems in animals like those listed above.

#6 Not All Cedar Is The Same

Cedar is part of the pine family of trees with native origin in North Africa and Asia.  There are no native cedar trees to North America.  The red cedar common in the Eastern USA is part of the Juniper family and can be highly toxic if taken internally.  Under no circumstances should you ever cook with red cedar from the Eastern states of the USA.

USA cedar trees are referred to as false cedars since there are no native varieties.  There are commonly 5 varieties of the false cedars available: Western Red Cedar (common to Southern Alaska, Northern California, and the Rockies), Northern White Cedar (Southeastern Canada, Northeastern quarter of the USA, south into Tennessee, and west into Iowa), Eastern Red (Aromatic) Cedar (Eastern USA), Yellow Cedar (Pacific Northwest from Alaska to British Columbia into Oregon), Spanish Cedar (although Native to South and Central America, it was planted in Florida).  Every false cedar has some known health risks with the most common being respiratory due to toxicity of its pollen, oil, or other chemical compound.

Now you’re asking..

“So if there are all these documented health risks, how did cedar plank cooking gain so much popularity?”  I suppose the easiest answer is that cedar was used by the earliest settlers in the Pacific Northwest as a means of preserving, storing and cooking the seasonal fish.  Think about the limitations of the day: they would be using resources that are available without thought to the items we ponder today like health, future risk, etc.  This concept was examined from a different perspective many years later with the desire for flavor, appearance, and functionality.

We often make the mistake of jumping into something full throttle before asking some of the key questions to keep our bodies safe and healthy.  Remember, there’s lots of documentation out there stating why you should not cooking with softwood yet when it comes to plank cooking, specifically, cedar plank cooking, we don’t seem to carry that issue forward.  I don’t think I’ll ever understand why.

We love providing information to our readers and subscribers that is not in the open and letting you weigh the information for your own verdict.   All types of questions are welcome and we encourage you to follow and subscribe to our social channels so you don’t miss anything.  We look forward to providing you with tips, techniques, recipes, and the science for all things wood-fired cooked.

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single 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

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

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

Dr Smoke says "Just because it is "fad," it may not be good for your health."

Dr Smoke- “Just because it is “fad,” it may not be good for your health.”

We explore the question "is wood-tar creosote" bad for your BBQ food? (see our Listen button)

We explore the question “is wood-tar creosote” bad for your BBQ food?

IS CREOSOTE THE ‘MONSTER’ TO WOOD-FIRED COOKING

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There are lots of stories out there in the BBQ world about creosote!  Most have the same tone: creosote is not something you want when you cook with wood.

Unfortunately, that can never happen as creosote is always present in wood.

So, why has creosote become the monster of BBQ cooking?

Likely because there is confusion with another type of creosote: coal-tar creosote, commonly used to preserve such things as railroad ties, telephone poles, bridges, etc.  You know when material has been exposed to coal-tar by the black, charred appearance.

The Advantages of Wood-Tar Creosote

One of the primary advantages to having creosote in hardwood is its ability to act as a preservative.  Long before equipment was designed for cooking, people would dig holes in the ground to produce a smokehouse for preserving game meats they hunted.  It was the only method of ensuring safe consumption when refrigeration wasn’t readily available.

Wood-tar creosote is colorless to yellowish and presents as a grease or oil consistency.  It is a combination of natural phenols which are the natural compounds that produce the flavors of BBQ when the wood is combusted or burned.  In addition to the distinct flavor, phenols are also responsible for the aroma and color of BBQ foods.

Guaiacol is a compound derived from methyl ether and is responsible for BBQ’s smoky taste while the dimethyl ether syringol is the chemical responsible for BBQ’s smoky aroma.

Risks of Wood-Tar Creosote

Now that you know not all of creosote’s chemical composition is bad, what are the risks to a wood-tar creosote?

The biggest risk is in burning wood that is not at an ideal combustion rate.  I’m sure you’ve had experience with campfires that produce an acrid aroma and literally cause a foul “taste” in the air from poor combustion rate (too slow burning).  That is the challenge and risk when using wood products with food for hot smoking.  Remember, hot smoking requires temperatures that are lower – generally below 275°F.  To achieve a consistent low temperature, you must control air intake and damper or exhaust.  If you don’t achieve a good balance, the result will be a sooty, bitter tasting and smelling food outcome.

How do you know if your crossing into risky and poor outcome territory?

By the color of the smoke.  A poorly balanced combustion of wood will produce a black smoke.  Repeat these conditions and you’ll stimulate creosote deposits within your equipment which can reduce the draft needed to ensure the fire gets enough air to optimally combust.  Remember, creosote on its own is highly combustible which is why there are many wood stove house fires occurring due to poor maintenance/clean out of these units.

Not All Hardwoods Are Equal In Compound Percentages

Now that your aware that phenolic compounds, specifically guaiacol and syringol are key to tasty, flavorful BBQ foods, let’s talk about these compounds in specific hardwoods.

Interestingly, Beech wood is highly prized and used in Europe for smoking particularly in meat processing facilities.  This is no surprise to me since Beechwood has one of the highest percentages of guaiacol when at a high heat level (distilling).  Know that the phenolic compounds present in all wood distill at variant percentage levels and usually require a combustion temperature of nearly 400°F to peak.   Yet another reason why you want to keep a balance to your fire so combustion is optimal. Thus the resulting flavors and aromas are pleasant.

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Related reading:

-JUST BECAUSE YOUR SMOKING (FOOD THAT IS!) DOESN’T MAKE IT ALL BAD!

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

-SMOKING FOODS IN FOIL: PROS & CONS

Purchase products:

Smoking Wood Chips- Minuto® and Piccolo®

Smoker Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Smoking Wood Chunks- Double and Single Filet

Dr Smoke- "We as chefs need to always monitor how much creosote is good for our BBQ by balancing the time of each cook versus the taste of our results."

Dr Smoke- “We as chefs need to always monitor how much creosote is good for our BBQ by balancing the time of each cook versus the taste of our results.”

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

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

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WHAT’S IN THE SMOKINLICIOUS® WOOD CHUNK FOR SMOKING 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, 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 kinds of wood 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 the future information you crave.

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on wood chunk for smoking and other cooking tips and recipes

Additional reading:

HOW MUCH WOOD TO ADD WHEN SMOKING

BOOST UP THE FLAVOR OF YOUR SMOKER BOX!

THE ART OF CUSTOMIZING YOUR COOKING EXPERIENCE

Our Products Discussed in this Blog:

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- wood chunk for smoking.”

Fruitwood 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?

[Fruitwood 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 to the audio of this blog

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

There is a fierce debate out there about the use of fruitwood trees, specifically apple and cherry varieties, for cooking purposes.  As a Company, we frequently get the same question – “Why don’t I see Applewood 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, unburdened 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 dominant 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 in 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, an 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-<em> "Enjoy the fruit of the tree because that is what they're there for. Just be careful when using fruitwood trees from orchard based woods to cook your food."</em>

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

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

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

THE PRECIOUS FOREST

Listen to the audio of this blog

Listen to the precious forest blog

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 have 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 wood chunks 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 humankind.  Right now, you may simply enjoy 3 benefits of trees: for shade, for beauty (viewing), and for a 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 stormwater 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 an 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 FRUITWOOD 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- <em>"Appreciate the precious forest our renewable resource."</em>

Dr.Smoke- “Appreciate the precious forest our renewable resource.”

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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