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. Make sure is not green. Stripped of bark, and not growing some sort of unruly fungus or anything.
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, 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.
With these things in mind, here then is a list of choice smoke woods to get you started, or experiment with. All good choices, and good, smokey fun!
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 but 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.
*Patron of the Pit favorites
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