Best Wood For Smoking
What’s the Best Wood For Smoking food? Good question and the answer is, well that depends! All of the usual woods we use to smoke meats have different properties and all impart a different flavor to the foods we smoke. Generally speaking, your smoker will be pretty forgiving with the wood you use but there are exceptions and some general guidelines that you should follow to make sure your food tastes as good as it can!
What wood is good for smoking ribs?
If you are smoking pork, which is a very popular protein, you can use a wide variety of woods. If you are preparing pork ribs one of the most popular woods to use is hickory, but pecan wood is often a good alternative choice. It has a fairly strong flavor but does not overpower the meat, although you need to be careful, more is not always better. In this case, if you use too much hickory smoke it will impart bitter flavors to your meat.
If you are doing something like a pork shoulder your meat will be in the smoker for a long period of time. In this case, you should consider using a mild wood such as applewood. Apple produces a mild and sweet flavor and is a good choice for BBQ pork and is usually the wood of choice for smoking ham. Generally, the longer you have your pork in the smoker, the lighter the wood you should use, fruitwoods like apple, pear, or peach work well. Although I find pear and peach are not always readily available.
What wood is good for smoking Beef?
If you are going to be smoking beef, like a brisket, it can usually stand up to a stronger smoke flavor like mesquite, but again may not be the best choice for a longer BBQ. Oak is another great option for beef or other red meat like lamb for example. The flavors are strong but it does not overpower the taste of the meat.
What is the best wood for smoking chicken?
I find the best wood for smoking chicken is applewood. It also works very well for other poultry like turkey or even duck. I have done everything from smoked chicken wings to whole chickens and turkeys. One of my favorites is smoked duck breast, absolutely wonderfully rich, juicy and tender, of course, I do marinate the breast beforehand.
This brings me to another debate, to brine or not to brine. I know people who are totally opposed to wet brining poultry, and I know people who insist on it. Personally, I usually do like to wet brine my poultry if I have the time. I find it produces a more tender and juicy result, but in the end, it is really all up to you. Do whatever you like, try different technics and ideas and see what works best for you.
What is the best wood for smoking fish and seafood?
The best wood for smoking salmon and other fish and seafood is a light wood, again apple, cherry or alder wood all work great. Fish and seafood are generally more delicate, so be careful when smoking these proteins; you don’t want to create too strong a smoke flavor to cover up the natural flavors of the fish or seafood.
I wanted to mention something about seafood while we are talking about it. You will note below that Cedar is listed as a wood that you should not smoke with, but you can cook up some amazing salmon on the grill using a cedar plank! A word of warning though, make sure you buy your cedar plank from the grocery or BBQ store. DO NOT go to the lumber yard and pick up a piece of Cedar. Often times construction wood is treated with preserving chemicals and you definitely do not want to put your salmon dinner on a board full of chemicals!
Can you use any wood for smoking?
Can you use any wood for smoking, the answer is no, there are some woods that simply do not lend themselves to use is your smoker. The great thing about smoking is you can mix it up! Add a little hickory wood when you are smoking with applewood. Or add a little bit of mesquite wood when you are smoking pork or pork ribs for some additional flavor. It is honestly up to you if you follow the basic guidelines you can mix it up.
WHAT WOOD CAN I USE TO SMOKE WITH?
Firstly, what are you going to be smoking? That makes a big difference in what type of wood you should use. The woods that are most commonly used for smoking are:
What wood should you not smoke with?
You have plenty of options when selecting a wood to use in your BBQ or smoker; these are the woods that you should definitely avoid when smoking meats. They are:
- Poison Oak
These woods will destroy the flavor of your meats, and they really do taste terrible!
Play around with the good wood combinations and find out what flavor works for you and what you like when smoking meat!
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