Tips for Making the Most of Your Cooking Wood

Tips for Making the Most of Your Cooking Wood

Did you know that wood can be a game-changing ingredient in your next meal? Wood that you smoke food with is a great ingredient to incorporate into your recipes because it can add new flavors and allows you to try a new way of cooking! Make the most of your cooking wood with ButlerWood’s expert tips below.

Choosing the Correct Cut of Wood

One size log does not fit all cooking appliances or methods, so finding the correct type of wood can improve the food you’re cooking. For example, if you’re cooking a homemade pizza in a domed pizza oven, thinner, 12-inch to 18-inch pizza cut wood is your best bet because the thinner wood will ignite quicker and release bursts of heat to reach the extremely high temperature needed to bake your pizza.

You can use other types of cut wood for various cooking applications, including logs, chunks, and chips. How long you plan on smoking your meat/food, how intense you need the flavor, and how hot you need the fire all play a role in deciding which cut of wood to burn for your cooking.

Pairing a Type of Wood With Meat

You might consider pairing the type of wood you’re using with your meat choice to incorporate subtle or intense flavors. Classic wood pairings such as mesquite wood with chicken, hickory wood with salmon, or applewood with pork complement each other perfectly and bring out the natural flavors in your meat. You can, however, still experiment by pairing other hardwoods with various types of meat to find a unique flavor for the recipe you’re creating. Oak is known for its mild flavor profile and is always an excellent choice for all types of meats.

Avoid Using the Wrong Type of Wood Cut

Not every type of wood cut you come across in nature is suitable for cooking food.  While some woods will not only add acrid tastes, others may even contain irritants, poisons, and other containments that are not appropriate for cooking. You should avoid species like aspen, hemlock, fir, elm, and spruce.

As a rule of thumb, never use chemically treated wood, varnished or stained wood, pallet wood, or any wood that has started to rot or grow fungus. Ensure you know where you’re purchasing or finding your cooking wood, and give it a thorough inspection before burning it.

Ensure Your Wood Is Dry & Seasoned

When you want to make the most of your cooking wood, you should ensure it’s seasoned properly, so it smokes your food perfectly. When wood is too green—meaning it’s wet and moisture heavy because it was recently cut—it can produce heavy smoke and, if not applied correctly, produce an unpleasant or overbearing smokey flavor.

Don’t Be Afraid To Mix Woods

There is no official rulebook that tells you how you should use your cooking wood. When it comes down to the bottom line, how you use it is up to you and your preferences. When it comes down to the bottom line, how to cook with wood is up to you and your preferences. You can combine a few different wood species to create a unique flavor profile.

A great pairing includes one wood that is more intense in earthy tones with another with light and fruity tones to strike a balance in flavor. For instance, pairing hickory and apple wood together is popular among avid BBQers. Think of the smoke as an ingredient; play around with various combinations to find the one your taste buds love the most.

What Wood To Use With an Offset Smoker

One of the most popular ways to use your commercial cooking wood is in an offset smoker. The wood and charcoal rest inside a firebox attached to the side of a chamber where your food or meat goes. As for the wood to use for this method, choose larger pieces with higher moisture content to create an adequate amount of smoke. This provides some of the best flavors and tastes to your meat.

What Wood To Use With a Grill

Grilling is popular regardless of whether you’re using cooking wood with it or not. However, adding wood to your grill will enhance your cooking by adding unique flavors to your burgers or steaks. You will need a higher heat to cook your meat, so use smaller, dryer pieces of wood to establish a bed under the grill. The heat will cook the food appropriately, and the subtle smoke adds tiny notes of decadent flavor.

What Wood To Use With a Pizza Oven

Using wood to smoke a pizza is a fun and unique cooking method you don’t usually see someone perform! As we said before, you will need high heat to cook the pizza evenly and on time. As for the wood you would use, smaller pieces with low moisture content are your best bet. The smaller pieces will combust more quickly and emit higher temperatures.

How Much Wood Should You Add?

How much wood you add to your cooking session can depend on many variables. How well-sealed your smoker is, the airflow, the style and size of your smoker, and the wood you use can all play a role in how much fuel you should add to your cooking. Every time you smoke your food with wood, keep note of the temperature, the type of wood, how much, and how long you used the fuel to determine if this combination was suitable for your meat or if you should adjust it next time.

Learning how to cook with wood is all about trial and error. Try under smoking your food at first because it’s always better to have less smokey flavors than ones that are too intense that could ruin your food.

Maintaining Proper Oxygen Levels for a Clean Smoke

The type of smoke your cooking wood creates can either enhance the flavor of your food or add an acrid taste. Many factors go into developing a clean smoke for your food and meats, including temperature, the wood you use, and oxygen level. However, maintaining the proper oxygen levels is more important because your smoke will be extremely dirty and bitter tasting otherwise.

To develop clean smoke for cooking, you must avoid smoldering the wood because that is also a factor in creating dirty smoke. This goes hand in hand with oxygen levels. Never prohibit the airflow to your grill or smoker; your fire needs this so oxygen can constantly stream in and stoke the fire. Pro-tip: use a bed of hot coals to ignite your cooking wood to avoid a massive spike in temperature and to give off clean smoke.

Smoking your meat and food is an art that requires time and practice. Remember the tips in this article to use your cooking wood to its full potential. ButlerWood has a variety of wood species on our website that you can choose from—browse through our selections to find your perfect wood for smoking meat! Tips for Making the Most of Your Cooking Wood


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