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Wood for cooking -- a list to use

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Post Wed Sep 12, 2007 8:12 am
mrgrumpy well done
well done

Posts: 1846
Location: North Carolina

Here is a list of wood for using to smoke/cook with. As well as some not to use. I think this may have been around before, but it is some times hard to find when you want it. I copied it and pasted it into a word processor and saved it for handy reference. Print one out and enclose it in plastic, put it with your cooking stuff.

Bill

ALDER - Very delicate with a hint of sweetness. Good with fish, pork, poultry, and light-meat game birds.

ALMOND - A sweet smoke flavor, light ash. Good with all meats.

APPLE - Very mild with a subtle fruity flavor, slightly sweet. Good with poultry (turns skin dark brown) and pork.

ASH - Fast burner, light but distinctive flavor. Good with fish and red meats.

BIRCH - Medium-hard wood with a flavor similar to maple. Good with pork and poultry.

CHERRY - Mild and fruity. Good with poultry, pork and beef. Some List members say the cherry wood is the best wood for smoking. Wood from chokecherry trees may produce a bitter flavor.

COTTONWOOD - It is a softer wood than alder and very subtle in flavor. Use it for fuel but use some chunks of other woods (hickory, oak, pecan) for more flavor. Don't use green cottonwood for smoking.

CRABAPPLE - Similar to apple wood.

GRAPEVINES - Tart. Provides a lot of smoke. Rich and fruity. Good with poultry, red meats, game and lamb.

HICKORY - Most commonly used wood for smoking--the King of smoking woods. Sweet to strong, heavy bacon flavor. Good with pork, ham and beef.

LILAC - Very light, subtle with a hint of floral. Good with seafood and lamb.

MAPLE - Smoky, mellow and slightly sweet. Good with pork, poultry, cheese, and small game birds.

MESQUITE - Strong earthy flavor. Good with beef, fish, chicken, and game. One of the hottest burning woods.

MULBERRY - The smell is sweet and reminds one of apple.

OAK - Heavy smoke flavor--the Queen of smoking wood. RED OAK is good on ribs, WHITE OAK makes the best coals for longer burning. All oak varieties reported as suitable for smoking. Good with red meat, pork, fish and heavy game.

ORANGE, LEMON and GRAPEFRUIT - Produces a nice mild smoky flavor. Excellent with beef, pork, fish and poultry.

PEAR - A nice subtle smoke flavor. Much like apple. Excellent with chicken and pork.

PECAN - Sweet and mild with a flavor similar to hickory. Tasty with a subtle character. Good with poultry, beef, pork and cheese. Pecan is an all-around superior smoking wood.

SWEET FRUIT WOODS - APRICOT, PLUM, PEACH, NECTARINE - Great on most white or pink meats, including chicken, turkey, pork and fish. The flavor is milder and sweeter than hickory.

WALNUT - ENGLISH and BLACK - Very heavy smoke flavor, usually mixed with lighter woods like almond, pear or apple. Can be bitter if used alone. Good with red meats and game.

Other internet sources report that wood from the following trees is suitable for smoking: AVOCADO, BAY, CARROTWOOD, KIAWE, MADRONE, MANZANITA, GUAVA, OLIVE, BEECH, BUTTERNUT, FIG, GUM, CHESTNUT, HACKBERRY, PIMIENTO, PERSIMMON, and WILLOW. The ornamental varieties of fruit trees (i.e. pear, cherry, apple, etc.) are also suitable for smoking.

Types of wood that is unsuitable or even poisonous when used for grilling. Don't use any wood from conifer trees, such as PINE, FIR, SPRUCE, REDWOOD, CEDAR, CYPRESS, etc.

There are many trees and shrubs in this world that contain chemicals toxic to humans--toxins that can even survive the burning process. Remember, you are going to eat the meat that you grill and the smoke particles and chemicals from the wood and what may be on or in the wood are going to get on and in the meat. Use only wood for grilling that you are sure of.

If you have some wood and do not know what it is, DO NOT USE IT FOR GRILLING FOOD. Burn it in your fireplace but not your smoker.

Also ELM and EUCALYPTUS wood is unsuitable for smoking, as is the wood from SASSAFRAS, SYCAMORE and LIQUID AMBER trees.

Here are some more woods that you should not to use for smoking:

Never use lumber scraps, either new or used. First, you cannot know for sure what kind of wood it is; second, the wood may have been chemically treated; third, you have no idea where the wood may have been or how it was used. For all you know, that free oak planking could have been used in a sewage treatment plant.

Never use any wood that has been painted or stained. Paint and stains can impart a bitter taste to the meat and old paint often contains lead.
Do not use wood scraps from a furniture manufacturer as this wood is often chemically treated.

Never use wood from old pallets. Many pallets are treated with chemicals that can be hazardous to your health and the pallet may have been used to carry chemicals or poison.

Avoid old wood that is covered with mold and fungus that can impart a bad taste to your meat.
__________________

Post Wed Sep 12, 2007 8:31 am
Ian Mack well done
well done

Posts: 367
Location: Cornwall, UK

Excellent list Bill, have kept a copy..... just one thing though, what is the problem with Sassafras, as we sell BBQr's Delight pellets and it is one of their varieties :o

http://www.bbqrsdelight.com/flav.html

Post Wed Sep 12, 2007 10:37 am
davdon well done
well done

Posts: 413
Location: Wethersfield,CT.
I haven't seen any list that has Blueberry on it. I have bushes in my yard that I trimmed and want to use. Any thoughts on how blueberry would work?
Dave

Post Wed Sep 12, 2007 10:46 am
Kenny 13 well done
well done

Posts: 4051
Location: Belle Chasse, LA
Bill, that's a great post that will definitely be very useful. I have a similar list that I got somewhere online a few years ago. I actually have a large 3-ring binder that I keep on top of my refrigerator with that and lots of other great info refering to barbecue/cooking. I have printed copies of some of the FAQ's from this site and lots of other great info. That way if I need a quick reference, I don't have to run upstairs to the computer.
Large Big Green Egg

What's On The Grill?

Post Wed Sep 12, 2007 4:21 pm
mrgrumpy well done
well done

Posts: 1846
Location: North Carolina

Ian Mack wrote:
Excellent list Bill, have kept a copy..... just one thing though, what is the problem with Sassafras, as we sell BBQr's Delight pellets and it is one of their varieties :o

http://www.bbqrsdelight.com/flav.html


??? can't tell you. That is just how the list was wrote... I recollect hearing years ago with some home remedies, making sassafras tea..... Maybe you can use the leaves but not the wood??? Can't tell ya....

Bill

Post Wed Sep 12, 2007 4:22 pm
mrgrumpy well done
well done

Posts: 1846
Location: North Carolina

davdon wrote:
I haven't seen any list that has Blueberry on it. I have bushes in my yard that I trimmed and want to use. Any thoughts on how blueberry would work?


Good question. I would think that maybe you could.... I would want to research some before saying for sure.

Bill

Post Wed Sep 12, 2007 4:24 pm
mrgrumpy well done
well done

Posts: 1846
Location: North Carolina

Kenny 13 wrote:
Bill, that's a great post that will definitely be very useful. I have a similar list that I got somewhere online a few years ago. I actually have a large 3-ring binder that I keep on top of my refrigerator with that and lots of other great info refering to barbecue/cooking. I have printed copies of some of the FAQ's from this site and lots of other great info. That way if I need a quick reference, I don't have to run upstairs to the computer.


Kenny,

You are as bad as I am. I too have a LARGE 3 ring binder. I have tabbed index pages and separated categories. The wood sheet is a must add for me too. I had to look up the cherry wood I used to see if it was recommended for poultry. I was thinking it was, but wasn't for sure....

Bill

Post Wed Sep 12, 2007 4:37 pm
jamesstew well done
well done

Posts: 899
Location: Minnesota
Here be an interesting article by Mr. Smokey Hale with some info on sassafrass:
http://www.barbecuen.com/burningwood.htm

Post Wed Sep 12, 2007 5:34 pm
Kenny 13 well done
well done

Posts: 4051
Location: Belle Chasse, LA
mrgrumpy wrote:
Kenny 13 wrote:
Bill, that's a great post that will definitely be very useful. I have a similar list that I got somewhere online a few years ago. I actually have a large 3-ring binder that I keep on top of my refrigerator with that and lots of other great info refering to barbecue/cooking. I have printed copies of some of the FAQ's from this site and lots of other great info. That way if I need a quick reference, I don't have to run upstairs to the computer.


Kenny,

You are as bad as I am. I too have a LARGE 3 ring binder. I have tabbed index pages and separated categories. The wood sheet is a must add for me too. I had to look up the cherry wood I used to see if it was recommended for poultry. I was thinking it was, but wasn't for sure....

Bill


Bill, I have the tabbed indexes for mine too but I haven't really had a chance to go through it and organize it the way I want it. It really is handy to have though.
Large Big Green Egg

What's On The Grill?

Post Wed Sep 12, 2007 8:29 pm
TX Sandman well done
well done

Posts: 1977
Location: DFW, Texas
Thanks for posting that list, Bill. I was looking for that, but couldn't find it.

Kenny 13 wrote:
I actually have a large 3-ring binder that I keep on top of my refrigerator with that and lots of other great info refering to barbecue/cooking.


We did this for the MIL many years ago. Her cookbooks were falling apart, so we took her favorite recipes, plus the recipes she'd saved from magazines and teh newspaper, and mounted them on paper in sheet protectors. She has binders for beef, chicken, pasta, sides, desserts, and other catagories. I'm working on one for me, with same stuff y'all have.
Image

Low-N-Slow rare
rare

Posts: 23
Location: Sherwood Park, AB
I'm pretty new here. Just got my CG Outlaw with SFB going and am using charcoal for the first time in my life. We have a little over 4 acres of treed property and a TON (ok many tons) of willow and birch from trees we've cleared.

Is this suitable to use as a fuel instead of charcoal? Just seems wasteful to have all this wood lying around and to be running out to buy charcoal.

If the results are better - that's fine - its not just about the money, but if I can achieve good results with the wood I have on-hand, why not??? :idea:

Post Sat Apr 11, 2009 5:05 pm
squashed possum well done
well done

Posts: 599
Location: Virginia Beach,VA
i use hickory and mesquite chunks for fuel on short grilling cooks like steak or chicken breasts. i'm sure you could use other woods and for different cooks, but you need to let the wood burn down to coals before cooking with it or adding it to lit coals. charcoal is much easier to manage for longer cooks, as you'd need a seperate pit to keep wood burning to use for additional heat.
Weber 22.5" Green One-Touch Gold
Weber Smokey Mountain
Weber 2002 Silver C Propane

Post Sun Apr 12, 2009 11:10 am
Low-N-Slow rare
rare

Posts: 23
Location: Sherwood Park, AB
Ok - I can really see why cooking with charcoal over using wood is preferred now. Broke in my CG Outlaw w SFB yesterday - I guess I was a little over-zealous with the apple wood - used about 5 chunks of it during the cooking process, and tried out some apple wood smoking pellets as well.

the 3 sirloin tip roasts came out incredibly tender and I had a very prominent smoke ring. The au jus that it made was too smoky to even eat, and the meat was borderline - VERY strong flavour.

I guess like anything, moderation is the key here. Charcoal with a "touch" of wood will be the norm now. More ain't always better!

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/XR ... directlink[/img]

These were three AAA Sirloin Tip roasts (AAA is the highest Canadian grade - I think that's what Americans would call "Prime") totaling about 6 pounds (not individually wrapped) - cooked around 6 hours at 225. They only got to 150F, and I did see what looked like a band of connective tissue in there. I'm guessing that means that although it was quite tender, it could have been cooked longer and come out even better. I was thinking that the plateau issue is just with brisket, but I guess that's going to happen with any beef??

Post Mon Apr 13, 2009 9:39 am
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
Large trailer pit smokers use wood exclusively for cooking. :wink: It's not just how much wood you use to cook with, but also how you use the wood.

When cooking with wood as your main fuel source, you need a small clean burning fire. The fire needs to burn with flames like you would see in a fireplace. That is why it needs to be the right size for the pit, so it can burn without burning out of control.

A burning fire produces less smoke than a smoldering log. To get a clean burning fire you must let in enough fresh oxygen to feed the flames. Most of the time my intake an exhaust vent are open or only slightly closed. You can tell it is clean burning by the color of the exhaust. It should look more like a bluish haze than a billowing cloud of smoke. Sometime you can barely see the smoke. That's when you have a good cooking fire. Adjust the heat by how much fuel you add.

Cooking with an all wood fire works better with a lot of thermal mass like the big heavy gauge steel pits. It can be done in smaller ones like the CG but you will have more temperature fluctuations and more fire tending.

If you are smoking low-n-slow using charcoal and wood chunks, then your findings are correct... moderation is the key to not over-smoking the food.

If your sirloin was "quite tender" as you said then I don't think they needed to cook any longer. It looks like a pretty lean cut of meat in the picture. Cooking it longer may have only dried it out and made it tough. :( I wouldn't sacrifice the quality of the meat to try to tenderize one tendon. It looks so tender and juicy in the photo. :D

According to the list Birch is good and Willow is suitable for cooking. The other factor would be if YOU like their flavor. :wink: Give it a try on some chicken (inexpensive and light in flavor) as a test and let us know.
Image

CharredGriller User avatar
BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 5795
Location: Central Alberta, Canada
Low-N-Slow wrote:
I'm pretty new here. Just got my CG Outlaw with SFB going and am using charcoal for the first time in my life. We have a little over 4 acres of treed property and a TON (ok many tons) of willow and birch from trees we've cleared.

Is this suitable to use as a fuel instead of charcoal? Just seems wasteful to have all this wood lying around and to be running out to buy charcoal.

If the results are better - that's fine - its not just about the money, but if I can achieve good results with the wood I have on-hand, why not??? :idea:


I wouldn't recommend willow, as the smoke from certain species of willow can be quite bitter.

Birch makes a great smoking wood if 1) it's well seasoned, and 2) you remove the bark. There's a lot of resin in birch bark and it can give food a really sooty taste.

I've noticed a plateau with just about any kind of beef roast I've cooked if the beef has a coarse grain and a lot of connective tissue. That's usually brisket and chuck roasts, though. Sirloin tip is something I like to cook to about medium at most as it tends to toughen up a bit at higher temperatures.

Incidentally - a lot of sirloin tip roasts up here are actually tri-tips. Check for "bottom sirloin roast" on the label or check with the meat cutter (or butcher if they're lucky enough to have one). Then check one of Steven's books or search this forum for "tri-tip", and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with the results.
Unlike propane, you'll never wake up scorched and naked in another county because you mishandled a bag of briquettes.


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