Smoking with Maple Wood the Sweetness with surprise you! Click To Tweet

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If you checked out our previous article on the Maple tree (“Oh, The Mighty Maple”) then you know that maple is a great addition to cooking with wood whether your hot smoking, grilling or ember cooking.  Time to take a closer look at how this hardwood actually flavors the foods you cook.

Wood contains a variety of complex organic compounds with two that contribute to actual flavor – lignin and cellulose. In short, these compounds are sugars (cellulose is an indigestible carbohydrate).  Here’s the kicker – wood, regardless of species, burns incompletely and unevenly.  It is directly dependent on oxygen as well as the percentage of water it contains – what we call moisture content.  The four stages of combustion actually occur simultaneously which is why you have great variation in temperature of the actual fire.

That being said, woods do have different percentages of lignin and cellulose and so we tend to lean towards certain hardwoods over others for specific cooking techniques.  Tip: Not every hardwood is a good choice for cooking!

Which leads us to one of our favorite hardwoods!

The mighty maple tree!  With over 100 varieties and just as many sub-varieties, just about every one of them is ideal for any type of wood-fired cooking technique.  Maple wood, in general, is known to infuse mild, smooth, sweet components to foods cooked in or over it.

We absolutely believe cooking without the bark is ideal as we’ve found that the bark causes temperature spikes and only contributes to the ash build up which suffocates a fire.  Plus, being the driest part of the tree, it burns quickly and then cause the fire to stall when it reaches the more moisture rich wood pieces.  That’s when things can get bitter!

Keep in mind,

You can do any cooking technique (baking, grilling, roasting, braising, pit roasting, hot smoking, cold smoking) with maple.  Baking is generally done in some type of cookware (my preference is cast iron) that is placed either within an outdoor oven, on the grilling grate of an LP grill, or right in the hardwood coals of a charcoal unit.  With grilling, you can add chunks of wood to the heat shields of the gas burners or use a smoker box.  Most people don’t realize that chunks fit in a typical wood chip smoker box and produce a lot more smoke than wood chips.  If you only like to use wood chips then a foil pouch, smoking tube/pipe or small pan can be used.  Roasting is done in similar fashion to baking.  Pit roasting is rotisserie.

Here’s another piece of advice

We view the hardwood as a flavor or an ingredient.  That means it’s important to balance the wood’s flavor with the other ingredients you are using, especially any rub, sauce, glaze or brine ingredients.  With maple, because it already offers a sweet undertone, consider adding spicy ingredients like chiles, hot sauce, etc.  When done correctly, the outcome is spectacular.

There are no rules – simply use the basics of balancing the 4 flavor levels: bitter, sour, sweet, salty with all the ingredients including your wood choice.  This is the main reason why you can’t go wrong when you choose Maple as your primary cooking wood.

More Related reading Smoking with Maple wood and other articles

More Related reading Smoking with Maple wood and other articles

Dr. Smoke- Smoking with maple wood is my favorite hardwood to use!

Dr. Smoke- Smoking with maple wood is my favorite hardwood to use!