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dumb question about wood for smoking

One thing I don't lack for in life is wood scraps between firewood and a woodworking shop. I dug out a couple of pieces of cherry and rock maple from the kindling pile at the shop. I realized that I have no idea how big the chunks should be for using in the bge. What varieties do people use? Thanks.

Comments

  • Cherry ,oak,apple, hickory,mesquite,alder,pecan as far a size chunks about the size of your fist is standard 
    2 Large Eggs and a Mini 2 Pit Bulls and a Pork shoulder or butt nearby and 100% SICILIAN
    Long Island N.Y.
  • You're fortunate to get it for free! I buy wood chunks from local stores and smaller than fist size works well too. Cherry chunks are my favorite, especially for beef.
    Cherry Hill, NJ
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 26,159
    I like oak for beef and I have to go a long way to get it. I bought an 8' piece of 1x2 and cut it into three inch pieces. Two of those is loads for a beef roast to my tastes.

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • You're fortunate to get it for free! I buy wood chunks from local stores and smaller than fist size works well too. Cherry chunks are my favorite, especially for beef.
    I'll have to try some next time.  I always like the color I get from cherry on pork and poultry but never tried it on beef.
  • SkiddymarkerSkiddymarker Posts: 5,530
    I like smoke wood chunks to be about 2"-3" long and from 1/2"-1" in diameter. Easier to mix them throughout the lump. 
    Delta B.C. - Vee-Gan: old Indian word for poor hunter. 
  • jaydub58jaydub58 Posts: 1,201

    @bearcat, as has been said here before, the only dumb question is one you don't ask.

    That way you can't get an answer!

    Don't ever hold back on any question on this forum.   

    ;)
    John in the Willamette Valley of Oregon
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,194
    Any "hard wood" that really is hard, or even semi hard is fine. Some woods that are nominally "hard woods," like poplar or box elder, tend to give a smoke flavor that is not very desirable. From what i have read, it seems that the lignin that makes woods hard and stiff is what breaks down into good flavors/smells. Woods that don't have lots of lignin, like those above, don't produce as much good flavor.

    Some woods produce strong flavors. Myself, I don't much like mesquite. Walnut is, um, don't quite know how to describe, just sat on top of the other flavors. Every other nut wood I've used has been fine.

    As far as I know, the wood bits need to be big enough that when the burning lump touches them they don't just vaporize. Saw dust, some twigs, break down w/o producing good flavors. The bits need to be big enough that they sort of bake away. Chunks will do that for sure.

    I once used a piece of soft maple branch, about 2" wide, and at least 6" long. Worked fine, and at the end, I had a new piece of lump for my next cook. Mostly, I don't use anything bigger than a tennis ball.
  • bearcatbearcat Posts: 36
    Thanks all for the help. I think I went too small. We just made some cutting boards with some oak in the mix so I should be able to find scraps of oak. If nut woods are good I wonder what butternut would taste like? Ash? We mostly have local hardwoods.

    I added some little pieces of cherry when I was roasting a chicken with lemons tonight. Delicious though I miscalculated the time. Luckily my guests were family and patient.
  • gdenby said:
    Any "hard wood" that really is hard, or even semi hard is fine. Some woods that are nominally "hard woods," like poplar or box elder, tend to give a smoke flavor that is not very desirable. From what i have read, it seems that the lignin that makes woods hard and stiff is what breaks down into good flavors/smells. Woods that don't have lots of lignin, like those above, don't produce as much good flavor.

    Some woods produce strong flavors. Myself, I don't much like mesquite. Walnut is, um, don't quite know how to describe, just sat on top of the other flavors. Every other nut wood I've used has been fine.

    As far as I know, the wood bits need to be big enough that when the burning lump touches them they don't just vaporize. Saw dust, some twigs, break down w/o producing good flavors. The bits need to be big enough that they sort of bake away. Chunks will do that for sure.

    I once used a piece of soft maple branch, about 2" wide, and at least 6" long. Worked fine, and at the end, I had a new piece of lump for my next cook. Mostly, I don't use anything bigger than a tennis ball.
    Not to harsh anyone but the flavorful woods are a matter of taste. I have made the BEST steak ever with mesquite. But that's me. It's like beer...so many different styles and flavors but it's all good. :) Find out what you like and how much smoke do you need. Wood is like a spice, try different  amounts and combos to see what you like. It's all in the experience. Enjoy.
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