Choosing Your Smoking Wood
Using wood chips, chunks, dust or pellets to create smoke is a great way to transform barbecued foods into meals that will have your friends and family begging for more. Smoke is used as you would seasoning on food to impart flavour, so don’t compromise on quality.
When you choose a wood it’s important to take the following into consideration:
If the wood you use still has the bark on, it will impart a bitter flavour to your food. The bark is also the tree’s protection and often contains stuff like mould and moss or other contaminants.
Where the wood comes from is of great importance. Be friendly to our environment by buying woods that are harvested from sustainable sources. People often visit the local woodworking shop to ask for off-cuts or shavings, and while this may be cost effective, please make sure that the wood you’re getting has not been treated, doesn’t contain traces of oil used to lubricate saws and hasn’t been swept from the floor. If you’re harvesting your own wood from a fallen tree, don’t use wood that has been cut with a chainsaw, as most chainsaw blades are lubricated by oil. It’s time consuming and hard work, but if you’re going to use the wood for food smoking, use a hand saw and make sure you remove the bark and season the wood well in a dry place.
The type of wood you use will make a big difference. The general rule of thumb is that fruit woods are mild and sweet, hard woods are more robust and savoury, and nut woods produce a strong smokey flavour. Do not use coniferous or oleander woods (pine, cedar, fir, hemlock, cypress, and spruce are some common ones).
Lastly, don’t be afraid to try different wood varieties to what you’re used to using. We suggest using Hickory for chicken and pork, Apple or Cherry for Ribs and Beech for fish (these are just our personal favourites). Think about the amount of different flavours you can create by mixing different wood varieties together!
All ProQ Smoking Woods are free from bark, sustainably sourced and are specifically harvested for food smoking. Here is a short guide on some commonly available woods:
|Alder||Sweet and musky, with a light smoke flavour.||Works especially well with salmon and turkey.||X||X||X|
|Apple||Slightly sweet and fruity with strong smoke flavour.||Very good with pork and game birds due to the sweetness.||X|
|Beech||Mild smokeyness with a slight nutty flavour.||Good all round, especially with game birds and salmon.||XX||X||X||XX|
|Cherry||Cherry adds a sweet, fruity flavour with a mild smokeyness.||Cherry also adds a pink tinge to meats and will make the skin of poultry dark brown.||X||X||XX||X|
|Hickory||Sweet and strong with a savoury bacon like flavour.||Fantastic with ribs, pulled pork and fish.||X||XX||XX||XX|
|Maple||Mild smoke flavour with a subtle sweetness.||Good for game. Absolutely fantastic for pork roast.||X||XX||X|
|Oak||Oak is a versatile smoking wood that is mild and has no aftertaste.||Must-have for brisket.||XX||XX||XX||X|
|Whiskey Oak||Strong smoke flavour, similar to oak but with a malty taste.||Fantastic with venison, game and poultry.||XX||X||X||X|
X = Good
XX = Very Good