BBQ Arts 101: Good Woods To Smoke With
As you delve further into the BBQ arts, eventually you’ll wish to smoke something. It’s just the natural course of things. You need not fight it. Where to start, you ask? Well, as a general rule of thumb, if it grows fruit or nuts, it is probably a legitimate candidate for a smoke wood. Use common sense tho. Make sure it is seasoned, (not green) and not growing some sort of unruly fungus or anything. And please people, no smoking with green treated one by sixes off your back deck. That’s very bad!
Now one of the most common mistakes made by newbie smokers is over-smoking. The assumption that more is better is wrong. Don’t do it. Such antics can impart a bitter taste on your meat. If you see your pit puffing like a choo choo train, tweak the dampers, lift the lid, or wait it out. Wait for the smoke to taper into thinner, almost blue-tinted tendrils. That’s just right. And there is really no need to keep tossing on smoke wood through-out the cook. After about two hours, most meat has gotten all the smoke exposure it needs. Remember the old BBQ adage, smoke is a seasoning, not an ingredient.
Not counting the realm of pellet smokers, the smoke woods you will find come in either chips or chunks. Both work fine, but there is nothing like a good chunk! Two or three apple-sized chunks of smoke wood placed directly on the coals will give you all the smoke you need, many times generating wispy tendrils of it for a couple of hours. Many a pit keeper soak their chips, and even chunks in water or a variety of interesting brews, this to elongate the burn time and to add a bit more flavor. In point of fact, if you boil your wood in water, it will open the fibers and absorb even more water, and thus the wood will smoke longer. But let it be said, because its true, you need not bother with such heady antics, for at the end of the day a good chunk of smoke wood speaks for itself. Just place it on the coals, close the lid on your pit, ensure a good draft, and observe the magic that which gently transpires.
With these things in mind, here then is a little list of choice smoke woods to get you started, or experiment with. All good choices, and good, smokey fun! And many of them can be found at your local hardware or big box store. You may even have some laying in your back yard.
For your smoking convenience, a copy of this list was also placed up on the page index at the top of the site. Now lets smoke something!
- ALDER – A light smokey flavor. Excellent with the likes of fish, pork, and poultry.
- ALMOND – A sweeter tint of smokey flavor. Suitable with all meats.
- APPLE* – Very subtle, slightly sweet. Excellent with poultry and pork. This is one of our favorite smoke woods.
- ASH – A rather subtle but articulate flavor. Another fine choice for fish.
- BIRCH – Another subtlety sweet smoke. Good with pork and poultry.
- CHERRY – Lightly tinted of sweet. Does really well with red meat and pork.
- HICKORY* – Moderate to strong smokey flavor. Good for a variety of meats. If we could only pick one smoke wood, this would be it.
- MAPLE – Easy going and subtlety sweet. A light smokey taste. Good with pork, poultry. Great wood for planking.
- MESQUITE – Maybe the most robust of the smoke woods. Strong smokey flavor. Good with beef, chicken, and pork.
- MULBERRY – Reminiscent of apple wood, just harder to find.
- OAK* – Moderate to strong smokey flavor. Readily available, and a fine all around choice. Excellent for red meat. Does well with pork and fish. We would put this one in the smoke wood hall of fame.
- ORANGE- Mild and slightly sweet. Good with fish and pork and chicken and beef.
- PEACH -Another mild one. Slightly tinted in sweet. Great with beef, pork, fish and poultry.
- PEAR -Light smokey flavor.Great with chicken and pork and fish.
- PECAN* – Mild to moderate smokey flavor. Slight hint of nut. Good with all meats, especially poultry. Pecan is right up there with our very favorite smoke woods.
- WALNUT -Robust smokey flavor. Best with red meats.
*Patrons of the Pit Favorites
Just below are some Amazon links for the smoke woods we tend to favor most here at the pit. We do get a tiny kickback of goodness if you should buy through these links. So we do kindly thank you for your ongoing support.
-All the best, PotP
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