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life span of chips or chunks

skihornskihorn Posts: 600
edited November -1 in EggHead Forum
I keep an inventory of more than a dozen types of chips and chunks. Therefore, some of it takes a while to use, possibly two years or more for some of the lesser used woods. Do they age too much at some point?

Does it matter how I store them? All are bought from a vendor (as opposed to my collecting the wood), so I assume they are properly aged when I get them. When I open the bag I don't do anything to seal it (no twisty). I keep them in my garage which is not climate controlled. I am only 20 miles from the Gulf Coast, so it is pretty humid most of the time. Should I be doing something different?

Thanks in advance for the insight.

Freddie
League City, TX

Comments

  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 6,878
    wood will last forever. just keep it dry.
    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

    "Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic." Bourdain
  • NibbleMeThisNibbleMeThis Posts: 2,237
    Good question.

    Most of my batches of wood are small (20lbs or less) so I haven't had too much of a problem with keeping it too long. :laugh:

    But the peach that I got late last summer smells totally different then than it does now. I would guess that the "flavors" of the wood would continue to break down somewhat over time but the question is how much.

    I'll be curious to see the replies to this one.
  • Mike in AbitaMike in Abita Posts: 3,302
    As long as it doesn't get moldy it'll last forever. I have some chopped up pecan that is going on 7 years. I haven't noticed a difference in flavor from using it.
  • RRPRRP Posts: 13,131
    Mine is just a personal opinion - OK? I kinda doubt you would have a problem as long as the wood is allowed to breathe AND stay dry out of wet conditions. That is, if it gets soaked and not dried properly I'd bet you would have issues...otherwise you're fine IMO.

    BTW I used a walnut timber that was harvested 142 years ago and spent "its life" as an exposed framing timber rafter in a common farm barn in Indiana! As soon as my saw cut into the fiber it released the same walnut smell as fresh!
    Ron
    Dunlap, IL
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 6,878
    Ron, you smoked with walnut or you used it for furniture or something? I have some air dried walnut that my dad had milled in the 70's or so that is still waiting for me to get off my butt and do something with. I know this... it will not be used as a smoke wood. :)
    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

    "Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic." Bourdain
  • skihornskihorn Posts: 600
    Thanks guys. Doesn't sound like I have too much to worry about.

    Freddie
    League City, TX
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,424
    Humidity is a good thing for your cooking wood.

    It's better to store wood where it's cool, dark and can get some air circulation. Like a cardboard box or a plastic container without a lid and maybe a few holes drilled into it.

    Moisture is the big factor, and over time wood gets too dry. In fact some dealers kiln dry their wood to retard mold because they package it in plastic bags. This wood is already too dry and won't give ideal results. Try to avoid plastic bags of wood. Look for a dealer that mentions a certain moisture content of their wood when shipped. 15% to 25% is a good number. One dealer I know of actually records the moisture content on the packing slip. Also try to buy heart wood, it's a better quality and holds up better in storage. I got some maple in a trade one time and the cardboard box was actually damp when I received it.

    It is possible to re-hydrate wood, (but kiln dried wood is too far gone to do much good) I just don't do it right before using. I have better results with a 15 or 20 minute soak a day or two before using it.
    Happy Trails
    ~thirdeye~

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • skihornskihorn Posts: 600
    Wow, almost everything down here is sold in plastic bags even at the boutique Egg store.

    The humidity thing I figured was good. That is why I keep it in the garage which has no windows so that helps with the dark.

    I will have to look around, but I may not have much choice on the plastic bags. So far though I haven't detected any problem.

    Freddie
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    The day I throw out my old wood to buy new wood is the day I have too much money and no sense
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    Zackly. I don't care how old your wood is, cut it or snap it and it'll smell new.
    My house is 80 years old or so, and any cuts into structure or even the dried old tinder that is the lath, yields brand-new smelling fragrance

    Even if I were worried, I'd still try it. And two minutes into the cook I'd have my answer
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • mo eggmo egg Posts: 131
    ii bouught some wood from this site and they said to leave in open box so air gets to it

    http://www.smokinlicious.com/index.php?Refill Boxes
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,424
    Those guys have premimum wood, and it's heart wood. You won't be disappointed. They are the ones that will record the moisture content on your shipping paperwork.
    Happy Trails
    ~thirdeye~

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,424
    The day I throw out my old wood to buy new wood is the day I have too much money and no sense

    Jeff,

    How long do you keep your spices, cigars or duck breasts hanging around? Oops, scratch the duck breasts. Heheheee.
    Happy Trails
    ~thirdeye~

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    spices are used up fairly quickly.

    anyone who throws out wood simply because it is old, without trying it to see whether it has lost its virtue, is wasting it, in my opinion.

    we are interested in the lignins and sugars in the wood, not the water. nothing is lost but water, and perhaps some fragrance a few bare millimeters deep. i haven't ever encountered and old piece of wood, (furniture, structure, smoking woods, etc.) that has lost any amount of its character when cut into.

    i respect your opinion, but spices have volatile oils, are ground up, can go rancid, etc. That is quite different from a chunk of wood losing moisture

    water vapor lost over a few years time will not diminish the (undefined, by the way) magical 'qualities' of smoking wood. lignins remain, sugars remain.

    only if kept wet (as some folks do), allowing the wood to steep and make a 'tea' of sorts, you aren't going to notice anything lost by the wood simply because it is drier. spices and wood don't equate.

    if so, then i would say that gee i'm treating it like wine, and if wine gets better as it ages, then so would wood :laugh:

    seriously, though, i cannot fathom how wood is truly going to lose so much of its character that it should be tossed. if you can tell the difference between ribs smoked over 5 year old hickory versus year old, then you need to be a wine taster. huge money in that.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,424
    I guess one solution is like spices or cigars.... buy good quality ones and replenish often. And when you do have them, store them correctly. You can do the same with wood.

    Tossing wood out is up to you, I'm just saying that there is a huge range in quality of cooking wood. If the producer abuses it, or doesn't package it ideally, and if you store it incorrectly... it won't produce ideal results.

    Sorry to disagree, but I cooked too many years with a stick burner to agree that old dried out wood is as good as any other wood.

    Competition cooks usually don't like to visit about their seasonings, sauces or specific procedures, but those boys and girls will visit about wood for hours. And I've been given samples of some amazing wood. Hey speaking of wine, have you ever used splits from wine barrels? A comp guy in Washington is my connection on this too.

    DSC04700.jpg
    Happy Trails
    ~thirdeye~

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • ChubbyChubby Posts: 2,790
    You are absolutley right my friend!

    I'd add that with short cooks, where there's little time/interaction with the smoke)...maybe the difference isn't as perceptable..,but otherwise...I'm on board wit'cha till we get off the interstate..lol!!!

    Nice staves... BTW!!!
  • FidelFidel Posts: 10,168
    I've got cigars that are well over ten years old -- and not a chance in the world they'd ever get tossed. I've been aging them myself since I purchased them new.

    I have some cigars made with with tobacco over 30 years old. I've even got a few pre-embargo Cubans in my collection.

    Not to hijack the thread, but cigars get much, much better with age.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    i just don't buy it that old wood loses anything significant.

    i have two year old apple wood that i store outside, absolutely no drop off in flavor. but than again, i guess that means i have no taste :laugh:

    chips, exposed to weather, i could buy it, since there's so much surface area.

    but chunks? even stick? i think it's is yet another "my friend told me so..." kinda thing.

    i doubt there's been any side by side
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 26,161
    Was there an embargo on Cubans? Want some next time?

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • skihornskihorn Posts: 600
    I forgot to check this thread today and missed the subsequent spirited debate. I have always been more worried about chips. I had assumed that chunks would more or less retain their character once you got past the surface.

    BTW, I was not planning on discarding any wood just based on arbitrary age. I started the OP with two thoughts. First, if age was a problem then I would reconsider my inventory - use more chunks and fewer chips and stock fewer kinds rather than the dozen or so I have now so they would get used quicker. Second, if age did matter then how to minimize the problem with storage methods.

    As always, I appreciate everyone's advice.

    Freddie
    League City, TX
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