Let's explore the primary heat sources for Grilling!
Let’s explore the primary heat sources for Grilling!

Exploring the primary heat sources for Grilling Click To Tweet

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PRIMARY HEAT SOURCES FOR GRILLING-

We grill outdoors frequently yet I bet not many of you know the science behind grilling.  What happens to food when we grill?  How does food cook to a safe level on a grill?

Let’s cover the types of heat sources that cook grilled meats and help you decide the ideal method for cooking your favorite animal proteins.

What Is Meat?

Before I get into the types of heat sources to do the actual grilling, let’s talk about what meat really is.  Meat is muscle from various animals.  It is made up of 75% water, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates and fat.  Each cell of a muscle is made of two proteins: actin and myosin.

Now breaking down the proteins of meat, these are made of amino acids which react nicely when salt ions are added.  Thus, when salt ions are added, the water-retaining capability of meat increases which results in production of a juicy piece of grilled meat.

Now these proteins in meat are coiled when the meat is raw.  Add heat, and these proteins uncoil as the protein molecule bonds are broken.

Note – heat shrinks the muscle fibers which will then squeeze out water allowing the molecules to recombine.  Brining or marinating meat will reduce this shrinkage of the fibers.

Sources of Heat

There are three heat sources for cooking foods: conduction, radiation, and convection.  Let’s get an understanding of each one.

Conduction primary heat sources for grilling:

The best example of conductive heat is when meats are placed directly on the grill grates over direct heat.  The transfer of the heat energy to the grill grate brands the food item with grill marks.  Heat is transferred from the source (burner, lit charcoal or wood, electric element, ceramic plate) to the food which then engages the cooking process.  The meat cooks from the outside to the inside due to heat transfer.  The surface of the meat gets hotter and transfers to the center which is why people who rely on the meat’s outside coloring will under-cook the meat inside.

Convection primary heat sources for grilling:

Convection heat is transferred with a fluid which can include water (think boiling a food item like potato), oil (think French fries), and air (think your oven or two-zone cooking on a grill).   Now, convection cooking only occurs on the exterior of the food while conduction heat cooks the interior.

Radiation primary heat sources for grilling:

My favorite example of radiation heat is cooking marshmallows on a stick held near a campfire.  Essentially, this is how charcoal/wood grills cook. You elevate the food over the heat source.

What influences grilling is the length of time and the type of heat.  Add in difference between temperature and heat as materials also play a part in the transfer of the heat energy.  Water transfers slower than metal.

Radiation produces more heat than convection.  You can easily increase the radiation heat on a charcoal grill by increasing the number of charcoal pieces.  Gas and pellet grills produce convection heat. Convection heat dissipates easily by air currents.   Infrared units known as intense infrared (IR) have marketed that they produce a better sear on meats.  What is happening is heat energy is delivered faster than convection heat units but slower than conduction units.  You also have the risks that the delivery of this energy via IR could be uneven resulting in black/burnt areas while other areas of the meat are light in color.

Types of Heat on Different Equipment

Let’s look at the heat types for specific equipment so you know how the energy used cooks your meat.

Gas Grills:

Burner produces radiant heat that in turn heats the heat shields above the burners producing radiant and convection heat (note gas grills have permanent vents built in the unit).  The grill grates then heat and produce conduction heat to the exterior of the meat which converts all this heat energy to conduction to cook the meat thru the interior.

Note gas grills can be set up with direct cooking (all burners on) and indirect cooking (only half the burners lit).  If you cook with the lid up on a gas grill, you allow radiant heat to escape which will cool the top of the meat.

Charcoal/Wood Units:

Radiant heat is produced at the bottom of these units with the grilling grates absorbing the heat energy that produces conduction heat.  Heat from below the meat is absorbed and converted to conduction heat to cook the interior. The lids on these units will produce convection heat due to the built-in vent that has a control setting.

Like gas units, charcoal/wood units can be set up direct or indirect cooking method with the foods absorbing indirect convection heat from all sides which then converts to conduction heat to cook the meat’s interior.

Flat Tops/Plancha/Griddles:

Whether gas or charcoal fed, the fuel source produces radiant heat while the solid cooking surface produces conduction heat to the meat.  Due to direct contact of the meat to the solid cooking surface, the direct contact side of the meat will brown easily while this no lid unit allows radiant heat to escape causing the top of the meat to cool and not brown.

Infrared Units:

Burners on these units produce radiant heat which then heat energize the ceramic, glass or metal plate.  Grilling grates absorb the heat and produce conduction heat where the surface of the meat contacts the grate.

Always remember, on any unit regardless of heat source, thickness of the meat and not poundage will determine cooking time as you must remember that conduction cooking progresses to the interior.  You must use a digital thermometer to ensure meat is cooked properly before consuming.  Never rely on the outer coloring of the meat or recommended time per pound in a recipe.  A digital thermometer is the only way to know.

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

SmokinLicious® Products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Minuto®

More related reading on the primary heat sources for Grilling & Smoking tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!
More related reading on the primary heat sources for Grilling & Smoking tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Other blogs you may like:

-3 METHODS OF SMOKING BOSTON BUTT FOR AUTHENTIC BARBECUE FLAVOR

-TEMPERATURE, MATERIAL AND TIME DETERMINE WHEN ITS CALLED BARBECUE

-PICKING YOUR IDEAL FIRE SETUP FOR COOKING

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

Dr. Smoke- Let's become better chef's and explore the primary heat sources for Grilling!
Dr. Smoke- Let’s become better chef’s and explore the primary heat sources for Grilling!

Taste is aroma blog discusses how aroma affects our tasting sense.

TASTE IS AROMA

It is likely the most common question posed to us – how does the wood make the food taste?  Although I have answered this question hundreds of times, it started me thinking about my answer.  It was not complete.  I was not explaining that taste IS aroma.

Flavor by Mother Nature

Flavor by Mother Nature

Our experiences with food revolve around our senses and of those senses 3 deal primary with food: taste, touch, and smell.  Obviously, you would assume that the sense of taste is the absolute in food experience but you would be wrong.  10,000 plus different odors are relayed via our sense of smell which occurs through our nose and mouth.  As much as 80% of what is referred to as taste is aroma.

smoke vapor

Cooking smoke vapor flavors food

Now, apply this information to the fact that we use wood in cooking techniques that involve infusion of smoke vapor to foods and ingredients, and you will begin to understand where I am going with this.  We have all had the experience of smelling a neighbor burning fallen leaves come Fall.  It is not a pleasant aroma.  Could you imagine someone putting food over a fire that contained leaves as fuel and then tasting the food cooked over that fuel source?  Terms that come to mind include bitter, acrid, burnt, and pungent.

Overall Flavor is Dependent on a lot of Factors

I have my answer to the question “What kind of flavor does (insert wood type here) produce.” The overall flavor is dependent on a lot of factors.  These include:

  • climate and soil of where the tree is grown: the more balanced the pH level of the soil and a location that has suitable precipitation throughout the year, are more favorable to a hardwood tree’s benefit as a cooking wood
  • bark or bark-free: this affects burn rate and flavor, and yes, it can fluctuate your temperature control
  • moisture level: the drier the wood the faster it goes through combustion and the more heat it produces. You need some level of moisture left in the wood to produce smoke
  • humidity of the cooking environment: dry cooking environments do not allow for smoke vapor to stick
  • type of dry rub and/or sauce/marinade used: wood needs to be viewed as an ingredient to the entire cooking experience so ALL the ingredients need to marry to produce a great flavor. The wood is just one flavor component
  • what you’re cooking (beef, turkey, pork, chicken, lamb, goat, etc.): maple used on beef will taste completely different than maple used with chicken. Plus, the type of meat/poultry also influences the flavor,  so think generic versus farm raised and cage free versus free range. Just as the soil and climate affect the trees so too does the diet and climate affect the animal.

Flavor Guide

Although we offer a SmokinLicious® flavor guide with descriptors of the undertones the wood can produce, here is my best summary of the hardwoods we provide:

Mild: Alder, Ash, Sugar Maple, Wild Cherry

Moderate: Beech, Hickory

Strong: Oak

If you treat the wood as an ingredient you will come to appreciate all that it can offer. Now, you will be able to produce some spectacular tasting and aromatic dishes both during the cooking process and at its final stage!

Dr. Smoke

Dr. Smoke

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Minuto®

More blogs on this topic:

-WHAT WOOD TO USE FOR SMOKING: A PRIMER

-SMOKING-GRILLING WOOD SELLING TERMS DEMYSTIFIED

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

-TO BARK OR NOT

The Three ways we smoked-wood flavored our Boston Butts!
The Three ways we smoked-wood flavored our Boston Butts!

3 METHODS OF SMOKING BOSTON BUTT Click To Tweet

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This certainly is a clear example of how anyone can produce authentic barbecue on the equipment they have even if it’s not a traditional smoker.

3 Methods of Smoking Boston Butt-

It should come as no surprise that majority of grill owners invest in a gas grill for their outdoor cooking with over 80% of these owners investing in multiple accessories for that grill.  Often, many of these grill owners will venture to make an additional purchase of a second type of grill like a charcoal or pellet grill/smoker, in order to be able to cook more barbecue or smoked food options.

My intent is to demonstrate to you that you can produce authentic flavors, colors, textures, and aromas of favorite barbecue proteins with a variety of equipment, all outfitted with hardwood for the authentic wood flavoring.

I’ll be taking Boston butt to a traditional gas grill, a kettle charcoal grill, and a convection-style grill to demonstrate just how easy it is to cook this popular animal protein while giving you a bit of education on how these units are different when hardwood is incorporated.

Set Up Similarities and Differences

When it comes to setting up the grills for smoking, there are some obvious differences.  First, let me name the equipment brands I’ve included and the intended set up of each for cooking and smoking the Boston Butt cuts, all of which approximate 8 lbs.

Our Boston Butt (s) on the Stok Gas Grill with accompanying Smoker boxes
Our Boston Butt (s) on the Stok Gas Grill with accompanying Smoker boxes

The Stôk Quattro 4-Burner Grill:

If you are not familiar with this grill, it is equipped with an insert system to allow you to use a standard grilling grate, a griddle, grill basket, vegetable tray, pizza stone, Dutch oven, Wok, and other inserts that easily pop in and out of the cast iron grates.  Despite this feature, you can do traditional smoking using wood chunks without the need for the smoker/infuser insert.

Whenever I smoke on a traditional gas grill, I always set up a two-zone cooking method.  This means, on my 4-burner Stôk, I will ignite just two of the burners on one side.  You can either place wood chunks directly on the heat shields of the unit or use a metal smoker box.  My Boston butt will cook on the unlit side of the grill with a metal smoker box containing 3 wood chunks on the hot side.  I’ve also included a second smoker box to make it easier to swap out the first when the wood becomes completed charred.  My temperature is 225°F for the actual cooking.

Our Boston Butt on the Orion Cooker with Minuto® wood chips in the inner ring
Our Boston Butt on the Orion Cooker with Minuto® wood chips in the inner ring

Orion Cooker:

This is an outdoor convection unit that uses briquets for the heat and Minuto® Wood Chips placed around the drip/water pan for the wood flavoring.  This unit will be the fastest to cook the Boston Butt, with an anticipated timing of 4-1/2 hours total.  This is a direct cooking method that uses the radiated heat of the stainless-steel body to trap and circulate the heat for faster cooking time.

There is no ability to replenish the wood chips with this unit due to the high heat level.  About 15 lbs. of briquet and 4 ounces of Orion Custom Wood Chips is all that is needed to smoke, plus some water in the water/drip pan for a moist outcome.

Our Boston Butt on the Weber® kettle Grill with double filet wood chunks
Our Boston Butt on the Weber® kettle Grill with double filet wood chunks

Weber® Kettle 22” Charcoal Grill:

 Likely one of the most popular charcoal grills, the Weber® kettle provides for the opportunity to cook with charcoal and hardwood.  I’ll be setting up my grill using a two-zone method; charcoal/wood on half the fire area and the meat placed on the indirect side.

Due to the length of time Boston butt takes to cook, you likely will need to replenish the charcoal for maintenance of heat level.  I prefer to maintain a temperature around 250° F.

For similarities: both the Weber® and the Stôk grill were set up with a two-zone cooking method.  Both included use of the SmokinLicious® double filet wood chunk.  The length of cooking time between the charcoal unit and the gas unit are very similar, taking close to 10 hours.

For differences: temperature maintenance is easier with the gas and convection units.  The charcoal unit requires much more supervision to ensure that the fuel (charcoal) is replenished prior to the temperature of the grill decreasing significantly.  You are also able to check on the meat’s coloring and evenness of cooking with the charcoal and gas units while the convection unit is generally left alone until closer to the recommended cooking times.  Though you can check on the doneness of the meat at any point with the convection unit, generally there is no need to do anything but wait.

Regarding cooking variations, let’s discuss color, bark formation, moisture of the meat.

Barbecue By All Methods

With all four of the Boston Butt (s) prepared in the same manner – excess fat trimmed to ¼-inch or less, a dry rub applied on all sides, and marinated for 24 hours – this is a fair comparison of how each grilling and smoking method produces the barbecue results commonly looked for.

Bark:

Without question, bark or the outer crust that develops from exposure to a lower temperature, long cook time, and smoke vapor infusion was greatest on the Boston butt cooked on the Weber® Kettle 22” Charcoal Grill.  The gas grill produces the least amount of bark which is dominate on the outer edges and top surface.

Color:

The darkest coloring to the bark and the most obvious smoke ring was on the meat cooked on the charcoal grill.  The Orion Cooker produced a brown hue to the meat’s exterior while the meat cooked on the gas grill retained a red hue that was indicative of the dry rub color.  Charcoal grills will produce a black hued coloring due to two combustible materials: charcoal or charred wood and hardwood.

Moisture: 

The meat that produced the greatest amount of rendered juice was from the charcoal cooking method.  Second, the convection grill method followed by the gas grill.  However, the greatest internal moisture level was obtained from the indirect cooking method on the gas grill, followed by the charcoal method and lastly the convection method.

Final Notes:

What we’ve set out to accomplish with this multi cook segment is to prove that no matter what equipment you have, you can produce authentic flavor, aroma and texture to Boston butt.  This can be invaluable for those times when you may not have a lot of time to supervise the smoker or grill but still want authentic barbecue.  Or, when you must make a lot of meat meaning you must use all the equipment options you have available.

All four Boston Butt (s) one done on charcoal with the Weber, another in the Orion with wood chips and two on the gas grill with wood chunks- the coloring is not much different!
All four Boston Butt (s) one done on charcoal with the Weber, another in the Orion with wood chips and two on the gas grill with wood chunks- the coloring is not much different!

From a taste perspective, our sampling group indicated that the strongest smoked flavor was from the charcoal unit, followed by the convection grill and lastly, the gas grill.  Keep this information in mind when you’re cooking for others, as boldness of the smoke flavor can be controlled not only by the amount of time exposed to the smoke vapor, but also with the equipment used for the cooking and the amount and type of hardwood used in the process.

This certainly is a clear example of how anyone can produce authentic barbecue on the equipment they have even if it’s not a traditional smoker.

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

SmokinLicious® Products used in these techniques:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Minuto®

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

More blogs you may enjoy:

-Charwood Grilled Salmon Fillets for a Hint of Smoky Flavor

-GRILLED LAMB

-GIVE ME THAT BEEF BRISKET!

-ROSEMARY INFUSED SMOKED BEEF SHANKS FROM THE GRILL

Dr. Smoke- We used three different methods to cook our Boston Butts for a party! All turned out tasty!
Dr. Smoke- We used three different methods to cook our Boston Butts for a party! All turned out tasty!

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®

When its Called Barbecue?

What does it mean when its called Barbecue Click To Tweet

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It’s time I go there.  I’ve fielded way too many questions to ignore it.  Now is the perfect time for me to opine on this highly controversial topic: when it’s called barbecue.

How do you define “true” barbecue?

I have three parameters to cooking that I’d like to address that should help explain my justification for what qualifies as barbecue.

Temperature Comes First

People are often surprised that I don’t include equipment in my considerations but if you’ve followed our recipe blog “Cooking With Dr. Smoke”, you’re well aware that we include a wide array of equipment to demonstrate wood flavor infusion to all types of foods.  One area we do focus on, however, is temperature when cooking.

Extremely Low Temperature (below 80° F):

If the first thing that comes to mind is a temperature under 80°F is just not cooking, you’d be right.  Basically, this is a temperature that is ideal to complete cold smoking.  Fish, cheese, and some meat products can be exposed to this low temperature process when a combustible plant material is used.  In most cases, that is wood to smolder and produce a gas or vapor.  The smoke vapor produced from the smoldering wood invokes flavor and preservative qualities to the foods without causing fragile items such as cheese, chocolate, and similar food items to have their molecular composition destroyed by heat. When meats are exposed to this low temperature environment with smoldering wood, the smoke vapor penetrates completely through the meat since there is no high heat surface hardening that occurs like with hot smoking temperatures.

Low Temperature (180° to 300°F):

We’ve all heard the term low and slow cooking.  This is the low temperature reference to cooking tougher cuts of meat.  However, for me, even more tender cuts can be done using low temperature cooking, especially when paired with an indirect cooking set up or two-zone cooking.  Additionally, this temperature range is not just for meats and poultry, but fish, fruits, and vegetables also benefit.

our thermometer at 350 degrees F is the beginning of high temperature cooking.
high temperatures

High Heat Temperature (350° to 550°F or more):

Higher temperatures are generally for cooking smaller cuts of meat and poultry that don’t require a lot of cooking time.  Plus, high heat temperature can develop the char crust exterior on foods that many people crave with outdoor meals.  Know that you can use traditional grills for both direct, high heat cooking as well as indirect set up.  The indirect will allow you to cook the food through by placing on the indirect, non-heat side and then use the direct side for adding a sear to the finished foods.

Combustible Material

If you agree with me that barbecue is cooking with smoke then you’ll understand the need for a combustible material.  Some type of plant material must be used to generate the smoke.  The most popular material is wood or hardwood to be specific, since you should never cook with softwoods due to their higher sapwood content, resin, and air space in the cell walls.

Smoke is a key ingredient to Barbecue
Smoke is a key ingredient to Barbecue

First, understand smoke is a gas or vapor and can result from juices and fats that drip off foods into the fuel area of equipment, result from a fuel source like charcoal emitting smoke at it gains temperature to produce hot coals, and result from wood or other plant material (think herbs, teas, etc.) that is ignited.  You’ve likely experienced the first when cooking hamburgers, hot dogs or steak on direct heat of a charcoal or gas grill and watched the flames start with each drip of the fats/juices.  Just as you’ve likely experienced lighting charcoal and having a plume of smoke sit until the charcoal begins to gray over and produce high heat.  Come Fall and Spring, if you are a leaf burner, you’ve experienced the thick sometimes choking smoke that results from burning leaves, certainly not a pleasant plant material to use for food cooking.

Once you have a source for the smoke understand that not all smoke is good.  For detailed information on this, see our published article on the types of smoke and what they mean for cooking.

Length of Time for Cooking

our Dr Smoke clock,  Always keep track of your cooking time.
Cooking Time is Important

Although you’ve likely read that true barbecue is done low (temperature) and slow (length of time to cook), I will tell you that you can still produce smoked foods using temperatures considered above traditional hot smoking levels and in shorter time periods.  I’ve done bone-in beef shanks on the gas grill using a two-zone cooking method with wood chunks and had these done in about 75 minutes using a temperature close to 300°F.  They, to me, are a true barbecue item, right down to the wet rub, wood flavor infusion, and smoke infused color.

I agree, tougher cuts of meat and poultry benefit from longer cooking times to allow the connective tissue to dissolve.  Plus, my preference is to use a temperature closer to 275°F for most of my animal protein cooking.  For my vegetables and fruits, though, I turn up the heat still using wood for true smoking. I use the tenderness of the vegetable and fruit to guide me on the timing.

Double Filet hardwood chunks pure wood and bark free!
Double Filet hardwood chunks pure wood and bark free!

In short, true barbecue is cooking with smoke and for me that is cooking with suitable hardwoods known to present pleasant flavors to foods you cook.  You can introduce hardwood to pretty much any type of equipment including home made smokers whether for the outdoors or on your indoor stove top.

The key is to utilize an ideal temperature to generate quality and flavorful smoke gas production, as well as a tempered hand in the amount of wood to use at a time.  You’ll find that you can produce the flavors of barbecue with any equipment and any food.  After all, barbecue seems to have gone beyond just animal proteins.

How do you define barbecue?   Leave us a comment to opine and subscribe for more great recipes, techniques, tips, and the science behind the flavor, that’s SmokinLicious®.

SmokinLicious® products in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More related reading on when its called Barbecue and other smoking & grilling tips-techniques.
More related reading on when its called barbecue and other smoking & Grilling tips -technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More blogs on this topic:

-YOU ARE WHAT YOU EATII – APPLIES TO WOOD COOKING

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

-SMOKING-GRILLING WOOD SELLING TERMS DEMYSTIFIED

Dr. Smoke-Dr. Smoke- The culinary team explores the question- When its Called Barbecue?
Dr. Smoke- The culinary team explores the question- When its Called Barbecue?

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!

Smoked Whiskey Cocktails are great libations for drinking!
Smoked Whiskey Cocktails are great libations for drinking!

Guest blog- Kylee Harris, an events planner and writer.

 

Let's Smoke the Whiskey for our cocktails Click To Tweet

There are over 550 annual barbeque competition events in the United States. Originally constrained to the Southern states, barbeque is now ubiquitous in most parts of the country. Thanks to the popularity of all things vintage, craft cocktails have made a huge comeback, and although it may not seem so at first glance, these two are a match made in heaven. As creative as barbeque pitmasters can get with their rubs and sauces, so, too, can you with specialty cocktails to pair with smoked meats.

A Classic Match

You don’t need a pull-behind trailer rigged with the latest smoking equipment to make your own delicious smoked meats. As long as your kitchen is equipped with a stove, you can get in on this delicious food preparation. While you can purchase stovetop smokers, it’s fairly easy to DIY a smoker yourself with household products you probably already own. No matter what you’re serving, a Manhattan will pair beautifully with your meat.

Classic Manhattan

Classic Manhattan- for our smoked whiskey cocktails
Classic Manhattan (up)

Ingredients:

  • Ice
  • 2 oz. whiskey
  • ½ oz. sweet vermouth
  • dash of Angostura bitters
  • orange peel
  • Maraschino cherry

Shake whiskey, vermouth, and bitters with ice; strain into lowball glass. Rub the rim of your glass with the orange peel and garnish with cherry. Substitute vermouth with 1 oz. of agave nectar and use chocolate bitters and Jim Beam Devil’s Cut (barrel aged whiskey) for an alternate take on this classic.

Perfect for Summer

Take this simple, two-ingredient cocktail and kick it up a notch by infusing it with a smokey flavor that matches your menu. With a smoking gun (available for around $100, or you can make your own with some inexpensive tubing and a small-mouthed container), you can “rinse” your chilled glasses with smoke, or even smoke your entire concoction, using the same wood you use for your meat. The tartness of the grapefruit juice will cut the richness of the meat and is perfect for a backyard, al fresco dinner.

Jack Honey

Jack honey cocktail
Jack Honey cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey
  • 3 oz. fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice

Pour over ice into collins glass.

Something Truly Special

If your skills as a pitmaster aren’t the only thing you want to show off, here is a very special cocktail that will wow your guests. The smokey flavor and touch of cinnamon gives the classic whiskey sour a brand new twist that will leave your guests in awe. You’ll need to plan ahead for this one, as it requires two different, homemade syrups, but if you’re looking to win for best bartender, this one can’t lose.

Smokey Sour

classic whiskey sour
Classic whiskey sour

Ingredients:

  • Ice
  • 2 oz. whiskey
  • ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz. cinnamon bark syrup (.3 oz cinnamon bark, 1 cup Turbinado sugar, 1 cup water; bring ingredients to a boil and simmer over low heat for 2 minutes, let sit for 2 hours, strain and keep refrigerated)
  • ¼ oz. Lapsang souchong tea syrup (3-4 tea bags, 1 cup Turbinado sugar, 1 cup water; bring ingredients to a boil and simmer over low heat for 2 minutes, let sit for 2 hours, strain and keep refrigerated)
  • 1 egg white

Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake until frothy. Strain into a coupe glass. 

The bold, rich flavor of whiskey is the perfect complement to a rich, smoked meat dish; both American traditions trace their roots back to the South. If you are looking to skip the same old beer next time you smoke meat for your guests, you can’t go wrong with whiskey cocktails, either made-to-order or batched for a larger group. Let the elements of barbequing guide you to experiment with new techniques and flavors and take your pairings to a new level.  

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chips- Minuto® & Piccolo®

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

More related blogs:

-How To Maintain A Safe Kitchen Environment

-HOW TO MAKE THE BEST SMOKY COCKTAILS

-SMOKY BOURBON CRANBERRY COCKTAIL

Dr. Smoke- Thank you Kaylee for another very informative article!
Dr. Smoke- Thank you Kylee for another very informative article!

Ashwood will tantalize your smoke with a Mediterranean flare

Ashwood will tantalize your smoke with a Mediterranean flare

Ashwood- I’LL TAKE MINE WITH AN OLIVE!

We’re off to introduce you to another hardwood that may not be as well known for cooking as some of its siblings in the hardwood family.  But this particular wood is, in my opinion, one of the hidden gems of the hardwood forest.

Ash hardwood is part of the Oleaceae family of wood which is the family of olive trees.   The scientific name for the variety we manufacture is Fraxinus Americana L. but the common names for the varieties found in the Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania regions include American Ash, Ash, Biltmore Ash.

Ash is so versatile in the kitchen whether indoors for stovetop smoking, cold smoking, or handheld food smoking or outside in the traditional smoker, LP grill or pizza oven.  It can be used with any food for natural wood flavoring/smoking; essentially, any wood-fired cooking technique.  The flavor profile is on the light side making it ideal for most any food but in particular, it works great with wood-fired pizza and fish due to its lower moisture level and ability to form the most even bed of coals. I really like using Ash for ember or coal cooking as nothing beats how this wood lays the perfect small dimension bed of embers.

Ash provides a neutral coloring to the outer skin of foods.  This wood mixes easily with other hardwoods and fruit woods, particularly Hickory, Maple, Cherry, and Alder.  It can even tone down the harshness of pungent woods like oak and mesquite.

 Heat Level: High – 23.6 MBTU

Fuel Efficiency: Good to Great

Ease of Lighting: Fair

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

Why not consider leaving the traditional hardwoods for your wood-fired cooking and flavoring and enjoy the awesome benefits of the lesser known Ash hardwood tree!

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 blogs about wood species:

THE USA IS NOT ALONE: ITALY’S OLIVE TREES FALL TO BACTERIUM

WHAT WOOD TO USE FOR SMOKING: A PRIMER

Dr. Smoke- picking the ideal fire set up is a great beginning to great results

Dr. Smoke

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.


Picking the ideal fire set up for cooking depends on circumstances- this is the cabin Style
Picking the ideal fire set up for cooking depends on circumstances- this is the cabin Style

YOUR IDEAL FIRE SETUP FOR COOKING Click To Tweet


We are so lucky to have so many options for cooking our foods, not to mention the option to not cook at all!  This got me thinking about the fact that we do rely on our outdoor equipment and cookware when it comes to outdoor cooking.  Even if you’re a person who has experience campfire cooking, you likely do this style of cooking with one type of fire setup .

Let’s look at some of the options for setting up an outdoor fire that don’t include purchased equipment, just the natural elements found outdoors – rock, tinder, kindling, and logs/wood.  As I always like to remind you, though you may not use this information immediately, you should read it and keep a reference handy for when a situation may arise that you need it, such as a natural disaster, power grid emergency or other such catastrophic event.

Setup #1: Trench Fire

Trench style fire Set up
Trench style fire Set up

One of the best reasons for learning this type of fire set up is it works particularly well in windy conditions.  The key is to dig a trench that is large enough to acquire oxygen to keep it going.  Best sizing is 12 inches wide by 36 inches long by 12 inches deep.  Find rocks to add to the bottom of the trench that are hard and porous-free.  Be sure the 12-inch depth is AFTER the rocks are added.  Now build your fire on top of the rocks.  You can secure tree branches to act as postings for supporting a spit or layer green branches (not dried branches) over the top of the pit for placing your foods.  Of course, if you have a grill grate, place over the hole for direct grilling. 

Setup #2: Dakota Fire Hole 

The Dakota Hole fire set up
The Dakota Hole fire set up

The Dakota Fire Hole measure 12-inches deep by 12-inches wide with a channel that is 6-inches wide off to one side of the main fire area.  There should be a 12-inch space between the chimney opening and the channel.  The channel is dug at an angle meeting at the base of the fire pit area 12-inches down.  Build a fire at the base of the chimney area which draws air in from the side channel producing a draft for outtake at the top of the fire pit.  This is another cooking method that burns wood efficiently and produces very little smoke.  Plus, if you should need to keep yourself concealed, no one can see the glow of the burning fire because it is concealed underground.

Setup #3: Bushcraft Fire

This is an ideal fire setup when you know you can remain in a specified area for a longer time period.  It is perfect for sustaining a fire for days as it includes flat rocks for cooking on, a rock surround for maintaining a safe fire area, and a keyhole channel made of rock that allows you to place larger logs for continuous burn.  This produces a great bed of coals for cooking and if made against a rock barrier or tree stump, it can also provide the heat output necessary to keep you warm.  Plus, you can simply push the long log pieces into the fire circle when additional wood is need for heat and/or coals.  No need to keep splitting wood.

Setup #4: Log Cabin Style

This is a familiar fire set up in the camping world.  It is easy to do as you simply alternate pieces of wood from vertical positioning to horizontal, like building a Lincoln Log set, with tinder and kindling placed inside the base.  This is a setup that produces a great bed of coals so it is perfect for cooking but depending on the amount of time you need for cooking, may require replenishment of wood.  

The Upside Down Fire

This setup is essentially a log cabin style setup in reverse.  Instead of tinder placed under the base of the logs, it is placed on top.  This is also known as a top-down fire.  Although you can use this for cooking, I’ve found it doesn’t produce the best coal bed.  It does, however, burn a long time.

Other Fire Setups

There are some additional fire setups that you may be familiar with but are not considered ideal for cooking. These include:

Tepee Fire: burns very hot and fast producing more ash than usable coals

Teepe Style fire Set up
Teepe Style fire Set up

Lean To: although ideal for windy conditions, this setup does not produce any uniform coal bed and very limited heat

The Star Fire: Although this can produce a very long burn, because of the extension of longer pieces of log in a star-shape to the center of the fire, a true cooking coal bed is not formed, just a lot of ash.

Additional Tips

As a final reminder when it comes to cooking by outdoor fire, you are not cooking with flame or for that matter, direct heat.  Use the hot coals that are produced from the fire to cook with.  That includes placing heat tolerant cookware on or in the hot coals, or even burying within the coals.  The rocks are an energy absorber, producing a lot of heat.  Clean, large rocks can be used like a griddle surface and have foods cooked directly on their surface.  Remember, they get very hot so any unclean quality to them will be burned off with the heat.

A final note, always have fire proof gloves available to grab log pieces in the fire or cookware placement and removal.  A coal shovel is ideal as well for moving hot coals around.  Don’t forget, when you’re finished with the fire you made, ensure that all hot embers and coals are extinguished.

Do you have a favorite method of stacking wood for a cooking fire?  Leave us a comment to let us know.  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 additional tips, techniques, recipes, and the science for all things wood-fired cooked.

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!

Related reading:

-GOING BEYOND “FIRE” COOKING

-THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART I

-OPEN PIT COOKING FIRE BUILDING: PART I

Dr. Smoke- picking the ideal fire set up is a great beginning to great results
Dr. Smoke- picking the ideal fire set up is a great beginning to great results
The simple campfire has many uses!
The simple campfire provides more uses beyond just fire cooking!


fire cooking and beyond! Click To Tweet

Listen to the audio of this blog

You’ve likely heard this phrase before whether as a child, adult or at intervals of both.  “Fire is meant to be respected.”  I’m going to go one step further.  Fire should not only be respected, it should be honored and appreciated for all it can offer.   I’m going to point out to you just what other uses fire can present to you.  Perhaps next time you light a fire whether in your charcoal chimney starter, charcoal grill, fireplace, or even outdoor fire pit, you’ll give some pause to the other uses to keep in your knowledge arsenal for times you may need this information.  As I age, I am always in tune with my environment and how I can use it to survive if a situation I can’t control should call for it.

Use #1: Heat

If you are fortunate as I am to have an outdoor source of fire other than your traditional grill, then you’ve likely found yourself enjoying this first benefit of fire.  Heat.  But you likely don’t know about the radiant heat quality of fire.  With a single fire, only the surfaces facing it are warmed.  When it comes to surviving outdoors with heat from a fire, this is when you will want to learn about reflective ability of the fire.

If you have a choice in fire building location when you need it for survival, elect to build one near a large rock or tree stump but add a reflector component on the other side of the fire.  This will allow the rock or tree stump to absorb the heat from the fire and then reflect it back.  By adding a reflector on the other side of the fire, you will enjoy heat both on your back and front, the ideal for surviving if you must rely on fire for body temperature.  Plus, the two reflecting points will force the smoke to go upward allowing you to avoid smoke in the eyes. 

Use #2: Signaling

We all know that fire makes smoke and that smoke acts as a signal.  When you want to be found, this is the perfect means for attracting attention.  What you need to know is that the terrain plays a part in being seen.  If you want to use smoke to signal for help, then seek high points for making one.

Use #3: Water Sterilization

If you are in a dire situation where you’ve been unable to bring many supplies with you, know that fire can aid your ability to stay alive.  You can only survive 3 days without water so finding water is a priority.  You can sterilize water found from any source for consumption by boiling it which is a temperature of 212°F.  Essentially, 1 liter of water per person will get you through survival of 3-4 days. 

Use #4: Preserving Foods

We tend to rely on someone else in the food production chain to preserve food but you may find a time where you either want to do this for your own family or you have to.  Drying, smoking, pickling, and salting are methods of preserving foods from micro-organisms that spoil food.  When you smoke meat you dehydrate it and produce a protective coating on the outside that prevents bacteria and condensation from penetrating.  This is a means of ensuring you have a food supply that can keep you alive for quite a long time.

Use #5: Protection

If you’ve ever been camping or glamping in a forest area, then you know that you are never alone.  Wildlife dominates in these areas.  Fire can be a protector when it comes to keeping these visitors at bay.  Always be sure to have a portable fire set up such as a rag tied to the end of stick or similar tool to use as a portable weapon should a forest resident elect to come close to you.

Do you have another survival use for fire?  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 recommended:

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 fire cooking, smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Other blogs like this one:

THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART I

-OPEN PIT COOKING FIRE BUILDING: PART I

-HOW TO TURN YOUR CHARCOAL GRILL INTO A SMOKER


Dr. Smoke-fire is for more than just cooking!
Dr. Smoke- fire cooking and beyond!
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

Maintaining a Safe Kitchen should be your primary attention! Click To Tweet

Guest Blogger Kylee Harris
Guest Blogger Kylee Harris on safe kitchen
Listen to the audio of this blog
Introducing Kylee Harris as our Guest Blogger

Foodborne illnesses and allergies are common problems that affect many Americans. The CDC estimates that Americans acquire roughly 9.4 million food related illnesses each year, and more than 19 million people were diagnosed with allergies in 2017 alone. Between one and three percent of beef may contain toxic strains of E. coli, which sicken as many as 265,000 Americans each year. Fortunately, the high temperatures involved with smoking meats can help protect your family from E. coli infection. Since the kitchen is a haven for germs and irritants that can make you and your family sick, knowing how to maintain a sanitary environment can make the difference between a healthy family and one who becomes ill frequently.

Eliminating Mold for a Safe Kitchen

Although mold doesn’t grow quite as readily in the kitchen as it might in the bathroom, without proper attention, your kitchen can become an ideal home for types of mold that could be aggravating or even causing allergies in the younger members of your family. The heat and humidity that is the result of cooking in a kitchen provides an optimum environment for mold. Kitchen sink leaks may also lead to the development of mold if left undetected as well as garbage cans and disposals. Turning on kitchen fans and opening windows in the kitchen and in the whole house will lower the level of humidity in the kitchen while also allowing fresh air to enter. If you live in a humid climate, purchasing a dehumidifier will be the best bet for preventing humidity related mold growth. Checking for leaks regularly, as well as keeping your kitchen environment clean, including the regular sanitation of cupboards and drawers will also help to eliminate mold growth in the kitchen.

Preventing Foodborne Illnesses in a Safe kitchen

Another common way that an unclean kitchen can lead to illness is through foodborne illnesses, due to incorrect preparation or spoiled food.  Proper handling of foods, particularly raw meat, can prevent your family from making that list. Smoking meat and other delicious foods can have rewarding results, but if food is not handled properly, unfortunate consequences may result. Washing hands for 20 seconds with warm, soapy water both before and after preparing food is the first line of defense against foodborne illness. Washing hands immediately after coming into contact with raw meat, as well as any surfaces the meat might have touched with hot, soapy water will help you have peace of mind that your meal will not make you sick. Proper food handling, like cooking meat to the correct temperature, will allow you to fully enjoy a delicious steak, possibly smoked with hickory chips.

Making sure to create a clean and safe environment, free from mold, germs and various contaminants, will allow your family to maintain the high levels of health we all strive for.  Be sure to always follow proper food safety guidelines, and check for mold regularly, as not doing so could negatively affect your family.

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 blogs like this one:

-Outdoor kitchen location tips

-Does Outdoor Kitchen Stainless Steel Rust

THE WOMAN’S GUIDE TO ‘MAN’-ING THE GRILL

Dr. Smoke- food Safety begins with a sanitary Kitchen
Dr. Smoke- food Safety begins with a sanitary Kitchen
Our Fresh Okra ready and on the stove top smoker pan to become our Smoked Okra
Our Fresh Okra ready and on the stove top smoker pan to become our Smoked Okra

Smoked Okra- Veggies like a Smoky flavor Too!

Listen to the audio of this blog

It’s time to bring a smoky flavor to one of my favorite though limited in availability, vegetables – smoked okra!  Known as a super healthy food but one that sometimes confuses people on how to cook and eat it, I’m going to bring you an easy method of tenderizing and infusing okra with a pleasant smoky flavor that doesn’t stimulate the sticky juice known to lurk inside. 

Though I’m going to use a stove top smoker for my infusion, you can easily adapt this method to the gas grill, charcoal grill or electric smoker using a vegetable basket or tray.  Seek out some vibrant green, firm okra and let’s get started on a new way to cook and flavor this healthy vegetable.

Smoker Set Up

The nordic ware stove top smoker we used
#smokedokra

I’m using my Nordic Ware Stove Top Kettle Smoker for this hot smoking method.  To start, I place the smoker base on the unlit burner and add about ¼ cup of Minuto® Wood Chips – I’m using a #6 in Sugar Maple – from SmokinLicious®.  I place the drip pan on top of the wood chips and then ensure the food insert pan is clean and dry.  For vegetables, I usually use a medium heat setting on my stove – I have a gas stove top.  This will register between 200-250°F on the kettle smoker’s temperature gauge.  Next, I’ll do a simple preparation to the okra and we’ll be ready to turn on the heat to the stove top unit.

Tasting Notes: For the charcoal grill set up, use a two-zone cooking method  – charcoal and wood lit on one half of the grill while the vegetable tray or basket containing the okra will go on the unlit side of the grill.  Do the same set up on the gas grill.  For the electric smoker, be sure to use a lower heat setting – around 180°F.

Trim and Smoke

Nothing could be simpler than the preparation for okra.  You’ll want to ensure that the outside is clean and dry so a simple water wash is good with a pat dry.  I like to remove the stem top to allow penetration of the smoke vapor into the center of the pod.

our prepared fresh okra on the smoker pan
#okra

Place about one pound of fresh okra with the stem tops trimmed into the smoker’s food tray.  Try making an even layer of pods so the smoke vapor can flavor the pods evenly.  Cover the kettle smoker with the lid and turn the burner on to a medium setting.  I use my stove’s vent on high to keep the aroma down somewhat. 

Allow the okra pods to tenderize and smoke for about 20 minutes before checking.  You just want them to be tender (not falling apart), to where a knife can still cut them into pieces.  Once done, remove the pods to a bowl and use these in recipes calling for okra or you can serve as is with a favorite sauce. 

I plan to make a soup with this batch of smoked okra that will compliment my diced tomatoes.  You’ll find that recipe publishing soon under the title “Wood Fired Okra Soup,” which is a great way to enjoy the healthy benefits of this less used vegetable. 

our finished bowl of smoked okra soup
#okrasoup

Tasting Notes: By smoking the okra you’ll find the mucilaginous juice reduces significantly.  There will still be enough of this juice left within the pods to gently thicken the soup.  I prefer to start cooking this soup, then refrigerator overnight, and reheat for serving the next day.  This produces the perfect, slightly thickened consistency to be ladled over cooked rice.

Do you have a favorite method of cooking okra?  Leave us a comment to opine and subscribe to get all our postings on tips, techniques and recipes.  Bringing innovation to wood fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.

SmokinLicious® products used for this technique:

Wood Chips- Wood Chips

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More related reading on smoking & Grilling tips and technique besides smoked okra

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Dr. Smoke- Wood Fired Smoke Okra is fun and easy to prepare on the stove top with a smoker unit or a stock pot!
Dr. Smoke- Wood Fired Smoke Okra is fun and easy to prepare on the stove top with a smoker unit or a stock pot!
Your BBQ shoes for safety is as important as comfort!
Your BBQ shoes for safety is as important as comfort!

“Wear your shoes!” how to protect  your feet around  hot embers!

Listen to the audio of this blog

I remember a particular year, I believe it was 2007, when my Culinary Events Crew traveled to 29 of the 50 states in the US and 4 provinces of Canada.  I felt like I never slept in my own bed and constantly was repacking the suitcase with clothing suitable for the area we would be traveling to.

That was the year I lost my favorite lace up/zipper ankle boots to the fire.

Not literally burning in a fire but from repeated exposure to hot, stray coals that are common when you engage in wood fired cooking.  I was constantly stepping on these stray embers and this consistency lead to me putting more than one hole in my favorite boots.

It was a lesson well learned and one I want to pass on to you.

Don’t Be Surprised

Just as your educated that the standard oven mitt won’t cut it when your dealing with excessive heat levels in metal equipment commonly used for wood fired cooking, the same holds true for your footwear.  When working around chimney starters that spit and shoot hot sparks of scalding coals and water pans that hold 212°F water, flip flops are not the ideal choice in footwear.  Unlike the professional kitchen where Chef’s clogs are the ideal to prevent slips and falls on the constantly wet floors as well as to keep your tootsies comfortable when on your feet 15 hours a day, cooking with fire takes some thought for footwear practicality.

That led me to look at options in footwear designed for safety, specifically fire safety.

We are testing the indestructible shoe for hot ember resistance on the soles
indestructible shoes

Indestructible® Shoes

We run a factory operation at SmokinLicious®, which means we have strict policy when it comes to personal protective equipment or PPE.  That includes policy on footwear that specifies the need for steel toed footwear.

Over the course of a decade, safety footwear has seen a metamorphosis in style, comfort level, and level of protection.  Gone are the days of limited color options and welcome the new days of vibrant patterns and even height options on the boot cuff.  I was particularly intrigued with a relatively new shoe on the market called the Indestructible® Shoes. 

Not only are the shoes stylish, but they offer features many other work shoes can’t match.  Like the steel toed cap that cannot be penetrated by nails, saw blades, and weight (see the very impressive videos on these tests). With a shockproof midsole, these are also a work shoe that can be worn for hours.

But given that we work around a lot of extremely hot fires that emit stray coals, we wanted to ensure that the anti-slip rubber soles would not only protect you from slips but also from the penetrating heat of hot coals and embers.  That led us to conduct our own tolerance testing.

The Test

After firing up the charwood production oven and running a full day of production, we removed hot embers from the oven that had a heat temperature of nearly 1000°F.  Our controlled testing included establishing a coal bed within an aluminum foil pan since aluminum is a great medium for radiating heat.  We also elected to test the shoe without weight bearing so note that we cannot speak on this parameter, merely the shoes’ outer sole tested on high heat without weighted pressure from a wearer.

There were three levels of testing: 30 seconds, 60 seconds, and 90 seconds which in our opinion, simulated the length of time a person would stand stationary at a high fire or cooker.  Following each test, the shoe was placed in snow with an ambient temperature of 30°F.  We also alternated shoes between tests to ensure no carryover temperature of significance factored in to the stability of each test level.

Temperature of the hot embers is 963 F
963 degrees F of heat
shoe on the hot embers
Shoe on the hot embers
measuring the time resting on the hot embers
Time for resting on the hot embers- 30, 60, 90 seconds
Sole inspection post resting on hot embers
Sole inspection post resting on hot embers
shoe sole resting in the snow to provide the cool down for our experiment
Shoe sole resting in the snow to provide the cool down for our experiment
Temperature of sole post cool down
Temperature of sole post cool down

Results

At all three test levels, the Indestructible® Shoes performed brilliantly.  Although there is an obvious odor of the heated rubber, it is not considered excessively dangerous.  Keep in mind, the thermodynamics of heating rubber results in the rubber shrinking not expanding with heat like other materials.  This is due to the molecules of the rubber becoming disordered unlike when they are at a normal temperature which results in the molecules becoming less disordered (i.e. entropy/isothermal).

There was minimal discoloration to the lightest coloring of the rubber sole which is a reaction of the rubber’s cells and the carbon in the combusted material.

Overall the Indestructible® Shoes proved to be a great option for those who work with live fire and hot coals for cooking.  Between the steel-toe and the thick rubber outer sole, as well the shock-proof inner sole, these are an option in footwear for the barbecue and live-fire cooking enthusiast, whether amateur or professional, in protective footwear that is comfortable, long-wearing and fashionable.

You can find the Indestructible® Shoes at: https://indestructibleshoes.com/

What is your favorite footwear when you barbecue?  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®!

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Dr. Smoke- testing BBQ shoes for your safety!
Dr. Smoke- testing BBQ shoes for your safety!

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