Subject: Wood Types

Subject: Wood Types

Date: 1998/08/12

the following: courtesy of Lloyd


On the subject of BBQ woods, I have found the best results to be from nut and fruit bearing trees, cut down from 6 months to 2 years old. Like Oak, Hickory, Mesquite, Pecan, Peach, Pear, Apple, Apricot, and Maple to list a few. These are the safest types to use for cooking. I have found that wood over two years old tends to produce a dirty taste in the food more often than not. Wood can be cut down whole, and split after five or so months of seasoning. I recommend spliting three days or so before cooking with it.

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

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, available white or black. Good with fish and red meats.

BLACK WALNUT - Very heavy smoke flavor, usually mixed with lighter wood like hickory or mesquite. Can be bitter if used alone. Good with red meats and game.

CHERRY - Mild, fruity, but slightly bitter if it comes from chokecherry trees. Good with poultry, pork and beef (turns skin brown).

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

HICKORY - Most commonly used. 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 - One of the hottest burning. Strong earthy flavor. Good with beef, fish, chicken and game.

OAK - Lighter version of mesquite. Red oak is good on ribs, white oak makes the best coals burning longer. Good with red meat, fish and heavy game.

ORANGE - Light and citrusy. Good with pork and game birds.

PECAN - A cool burner. Nutty and sweet. Tasty with a subtle character. Good with steaks, ribs and cheese.

HERBS & SPICES - Don't forget you can add soaked garlic, peppers, onions, herbs and spices directly to your fire. Good with all meats and vegetables.

You can use some woods green for cooking, but under no circumstances should you to use green mesquite for smoking. It will produce a bitter taste in the pit for years that cannot be sandblasted out. People have used this before because they saw someone in a restaurant using it. That was grilling with it, not smoking where there is top capturing the bitter smoke. That stuff will black your eyes it's so strong. Also don't use any pine limbs. I saw a man cook with the heart of pine, promptly promoting some of the nastiest red splotches all over the skin of the unhappy diners, making them extremely sick. I think the antigens got in their bloodstream. Yuck! Stay away from pines......

Try apple chips soaked in water, placed on your charcoals when you cook duck or goose in your smoker. It will taste like you rubbed your bird for hours with honey. Delicious... Also try smoking a cherry pie on pecan wood. Great... "Let there be Smoke"....... See ya in the Great Outdoors.

And here is something that Bill put together a while back:

Various Woods to Use for Smoking Meats
AlderA medium, tart smoke taste  Beef Poultry Game
MapleSweet, hearty smoke flavorFish Jerky Bacon
AppleA light, sweet flavorPoultry Ham Sausage
HickoryHeavy smoke flavorBeef Pork Game
MesquiteA light, tangy smoke flavorBeef Fish Poultry
CherryDistinctive and deliciousBeef Pork Game Lamb
PecanA rich, sweet flavorBeef Pork Fish Poultry Game Lamb
OakHeavy smoke flavorBeef Pork Lamb
Grapevine  A strong smoke flavorBeef Poultry
AcaciaSimilar to mesquite