Everything about food, from matching food and wine to recipes, techniques and trends.
no avatar
User

Jenise

Rank

FLDG Dishwasher

Posts

26635

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:45 pm

Location

The Pacific Northest Westest

Type of woods to use for smoking?

by Jenise » Mon Jan 28, 2013 10:44 am

I have to admit that I've not managed to give a lot of thought to what wood to use for smoking, other than to wonder what differences I'd detect between apple and cherry, say, when I'm some place that sells those cartons of wood for this purpose.

Our smoking career began upon our move to the Pac NW nine years ago with the gift of a smoker that came with a barrel of alder freshly cut from the gifter's sister-in-law's house near Seattle. And just about the time that stash ran out many years later, they miraculously showed up with another barrel so we've never used anything else.

However, at the point where we thought we were about to run out, I picked up one of those cartons I just mentioned, and it was mesquite. It was in a TJ Maxx store or some close-out kind of place like that--I didn't have a choice of woods, Mesquite was all they had. And it has been in the pantry ever since, undisturbed until yesterday when Bob grabbed it to smoke our chickens because the barrel of alder for some reason got pushed to a place in the garage inconvenient to access without moving a car. (Guys--does this sound familiar? :) )

Judging by what we had last night, and presuming the wood itself and not the smoker is entirely responsible for the difference, I'm thinking mesquite's too strong for chicken. It's the smokiest smoke-flavor I can remember, almost overwelming. It made me want a BBQ sauce or something to tame it where I'm normally loving my chicken natural.

So for those of you who smoke your own meats, do you use different woods? If you do, what guides your choice?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
User avatar
User

Howie Hart

Rank

The Hart of Buffalo

Posts

5953

Joined

Thu Mar 23, 2006 5:13 pm

Location

Niagara Falls, NY

Re: Type of woods to use for smoking?

by Howie Hart » Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:07 am

I use apple for everything I smoke because I have a very old apple tree in the back yard and there are always branches available. Hickory is also very good. A few years ago I brought some back from my B-I-L's in TN.
Chico - Hey! This Bottle is empty!
Groucho - That's because it's dry Champagne.
no avatar
User

Redwinger

Rank

Wine guru

Posts

3959

Joined

Wed Mar 22, 2006 3:36 pm

Location

Way Down South In Indiana, USA

Re: Type of woods to use for smoking?

by Redwinger » Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:19 am

I use hickory. Primarily due to a couple of 200+ year old hickories on the homestead and the nearby woodlands. Apple is nice, but no supply is readily available.
Smile, it gives your face something to do!
no avatar
User

Carl Eppig

Rank

Our Maine man

Posts

4039

Joined

Tue Jun 13, 2006 2:38 pm

Location

Middleton, NH, USA

Re: Type of woods to use for smoking?

by Carl Eppig » Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:50 am

I use hickory for pork; mesquite for beef, apple for chicken and turkey, and cherry for lamb.
no avatar
User

Karen/NoCA

Rank

Hunter/Gatherer

Posts

5264

Joined

Thu Mar 23, 2006 9:55 pm

Re: Type of woods to use for smoking?

by Karen/NoCA » Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:23 pm

We use apple, oak, cherry, hickory, and a few others but mesquite is just too strong for me. I really can't tell the difference between the different ones. I just like the smokiness of it all. The mesquite definitely gives you the stronger flavor. I usually buy from someplace in WA, the wood comes in neat little chunks and bagged. It is handy for Gene to keep in the cabinet under his grill.
User avatar
User

Jo Ann Henderson

Rank

Mealtime Maven

Posts

3159

Joined

Fri Feb 16, 2007 10:34 am

Location

Seattle, WA USA

Re: Type of woods to use for smoking?

by Jo Ann Henderson » Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:22 pm

I use apple, cherry, alder, hickory, pecan, oak and peach. Peach is especially good with pork. I've also had grape vines, which I use to smoke/grill beef. When you can get it, always buy a piece of old oak barrel wood that has been used to age wine. You can get that on occasion from a winery that may have some barrels that have been handed down for years and have seen their last season, due to rot or some other condition that makes them no longer usable for aging. Had a piece of that only once. Used it on beef. Yum!! :P All of the fruit woods is depending on what I can beg up. But my go-to vendor for woods is Barbequewoods.com. Great selection at good prices.
"...To undersalt deliberately in the name of dietary chic is to omit from the music of cookery the indispensable bass line over which all tastes and smells form their harmonies." -- Robert Farrar Capon
no avatar
User

Jenise

Rank

FLDG Dishwasher

Posts

26635

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:45 pm

Location

The Pacific Northest Westest

Re: Type of woods to use for smoking?

by Jenise » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:10 pm

Howie Hart wrote:I use apple for everything I smoke because I have a very old apple tree in the back yard and there are always branches available. Hickory is also very good. A few years ago I brought some back from my B-I-L's in TN.


Hmmmm...maybe I should try apple. I know of a tree.... Compared to other woods...sweeter, milder, spicier?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
no avatar
User

Jenise

Rank

FLDG Dishwasher

Posts

26635

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:45 pm

Location

The Pacific Northest Westest

Re: Type of woods to use for smoking?

by Jenise » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:12 pm

Jo Ann Henderson wrote:I use apple, cherry, alder, hickory, pecan, oak and peach. Peach is especially good with pork. I've also had grape vines, which I use to smoke/grill beef. When you can get it, always buy a piece of old oak barrel wood that has been used to age wine. You can get that on occasion from a winery that may have some barrels that have been handed down for years and have seen their last season, due to rot or some other condition that makes them no longer usable for aging. Had a piece of that only once. Used it on beef. Yum!! :P All of the fruit woods is depending on what I can beg up. But my go-to vendor for woods is Barbequewoods.com. Great selection at good prices.


Thanks for the link. And you remind me, a friend gave us some oak 'chips' (actually, they're dice) that he uses in wine making, so oak wood soaked in wine. We have looked forward to using it for smoking, but keep forgetting it's in the outside freezer. :roll:
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
no avatar
User

Jenise

Rank

FLDG Dishwasher

Posts

26635

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:45 pm

Location

The Pacific Northest Westest

Re: Type of woods to use for smoking?

by Jenise » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:13 pm

Carl Eppig wrote:I use hickory for pork; mesquite for beef, apple for chicken and turkey, and cherry for lamb.


Wow, you've got it all dialed in.

You agree that mesquite's stronger, then? I see Karen thinks so too.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
User avatar
User

Mark Lipton

Rank

Oenochemist

Posts

4346

Joined

Wed Mar 22, 2006 2:18 pm

Location

Indiana

Re: Type of woods to use for smoking?

by Mark Lipton » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:55 pm

Chiming in late to the party, I use fruit wood (apple, cherry) for game birds and salmon (alder's not readily available here in flyover country), mesquite for boldly flavored Tex-Mex type 'cue and our rendition of jerk chicken, and hickory for all things pork. I once tried hickory smoking a pheasant, but it ended up tasting too much like bacon (I can't believe that I'm writing those words). In order of boldness, I'd put mesquite at the top, followed by hickory, then the fruit woods. Oak I'd put on a par with hickory and maple with the fruit woods.

Mark Lipton
User avatar
User

Hoke

Rank

Achieving Wine Immortality

Posts

10548

Joined

Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:07 am

Location

Portland, OR

Re: Type of woods to use for smoking?

by Hoke » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:10 pm

I'd say you got all the info dialed in now.

One thing to think about: mesquite is the most pungent; it's also a wood that burns really, really hot, so be careful when you're cooking with it as it can overcook and dry out the meat. It's also way too pungent for veggies if you're doing those (fruit woods best for those).

Alder is the best for salmon if you can get it. Plank roasting is great for salmon too. If you're doing the real, buried in the ground salmon bake, then fresh cut apple branches are great as one of the "layers".

Fruits: for an interesting side dish or flavor boost for sauces, slow smoking fruits and teas can be intriguing.
no avatar
User

Jenise

Rank

FLDG Dishwasher

Posts

26635

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:45 pm

Location

The Pacific Northest Westest

Re: Type of woods to use for smoking?

by Jenise » Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:52 pm

Mark Lipton wrote:Chiming in late to the party, I use fruit wood (apple, cherry) for game birds and salmon (alder's not readily available here in flyover country), mesquite for boldly flavored Tex-Mex type 'cue and our rendition of jerk chicken, and hickory for all things pork. I once tried hickory smoking a pheasant, but it ended up tasting too much like bacon (I can't believe that I'm writing those words). In order of boldness, I'd put mesquite at the top, followed by hickory, then the fruit woods. Oak I'd put on a par with hickory and maple with the fruit woods.

Mark Lipton


So Hickory=bacon. I should have surmised that already since it's often mentioned on the packages; so, come to think of it, is apple. Or at least one really good uncured bacon that Trader Joe's sells.

But thanks to you, Hoke and everybody else who responded: you've told me what I need to know.


Jenise's task list:

Save the mesquite for beef or ribs
Steal some apple branches from Casa Ugly
Buy other woods to experiment with
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
User avatar
User

Drew Hall

Rank

Wine guru

Posts

866

Joined

Mon May 26, 2008 9:07 am

Location

Bel Air, Maryland

Re: Type of woods to use for smoking?

by Drew Hall » Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:37 am

I use cherry more than anything else, good supply, which seems to impart a sweet with mild spice flavor. Apple is similar but less spicy. I rarely use mesquite or hickory Jenise because they impart too strong of a smoke flavor for my tastes.

Drew
no avatar
User

Jenise

Rank

FLDG Dishwasher

Posts

26635

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:45 pm

Location

The Pacific Northest Westest

Re: Type of woods to use for smoking?

by Jenise » Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:59 pm

Drew Hall wrote:I use cherry more than anything else, good supply, which seems to impart a sweet with mild spice flavor. Apple is similar but less spicy. I rarely use mesquite or hickory Jenise because they impart too strong of a smoke flavor for my tastes.

Drew


I'm sure there re mesquite being too strong. However, I'm thinking back to a "rib-off" contest among friends at Bill Spohn's house last summer. My ribs were the least smokey, but had the most complex spice rub which had a great thru-flavor in the meat. Another guy's were the direct opposite and quite wonderful--less complex but smokier, and I remember wondering how he got that kind of flavor with less actual smoking time. Obviously, the answer's the wood, and I'm betting he used hickory or mesquite.

Love the idea of spice, so cherry's now on my to-buy-and-try list.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

Powered by phpBB ® | phpBB3 Style by KomiDesign