Smoking Woods

Discussion about the various types of wood and charcoal used in outdoor cooking
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Smoking Woods

Post by Glenn »

Smoking Woods for your reference:

ACACIA - these trees are in the same family as mesquite. When burned in a smoker, acacia has a flavor similar to mesquite but not quite as heavy. A very hot burning wood.

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 people 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. I don't know if I get the flavor of bacon from this wood, but it does taste like BBQ to me. 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. Can be bitter. My family doesn't like it if I use only mesquite in the fire. They feel it makes the food "hot" and "spicy."

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.

Don't use any wood from conifer trees, such as PINE, FIR, SPRUCE, REDWOOD, CYPRESS, etc.

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Re: Smoking Woods

Post by redray »

Opposite of many folks I have a healthy supply of cherry but hickory is hard to come by around me. Cherry and oak are my go to woods. I also seem to have a bunch of maple but have never tried.
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Re: Smoking Woods

Post by cliffcarter »

redray wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:14 pm Opposite of many folks I have a healthy supply of cherry but hickory is hard to come by around me. Cherry and oak are my go to woods. I also seem to have a bunch of maple but have never tried.
Like you I've used cherry quite a bit, I can only get bagged hickory in Maine.
I do use red maple a lot, I have a ready supply in the woods around the house. It is a very good wood to use for BBQ, it imparts a nice golden brown color to chicken. Maple is generally a mild smoke flavor, black maple is stronger, but flavorful and better on red meat or sausage IMHO.
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Re: Smoking Woods

Post by SVonhof »

I was at a winery (lots of them nearby) and bought a use red wine barrel years ago for ~$25. Got home, grabbed the angle grinder and cut through the steel straps and it unrolled itself into the individual staves. I took the chop saw and put a stop on there and cut them all to the same length for ease of storage and use in all my smokers (even the Mini UDS). I only have a few pieces left but it has been great as it is American oak.

I also kept the sawdust for use when I want to cold smoke fish or cheese.
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Re: Smoking Woods

Post by BigO »

Fig isn't easy to come by, but it gives pork an almost cinnamon-y flavor. Had some persimmon once, but it didn't really do anything for me. Also, ornamental trees like Bradford pear and cherry should be avoided at all costs. Cherry fruit trees are great, but not the ornamental species.
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