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Cedar Chunks

MattMatt Posts: 143
edited 5:07AM in EggHead Forum
Hi, All --

Just came into some scrap cedar chunks from a woodworker friend (he supplies me with a good bit of natural hardwood scrap). I suspect that these would not make good smoking wood, but thought I would check: has anyone used cedar chunks before?

Note that I'm not talking about (e.g.) placing a piece of fish on a plank for grilling, but rather adding soaked cedar chunks directly to my fire. Thoughts?



  • RRPRRP Posts: 22,048
    found this on the topic...

    Can you Smoke Meat with Cedar Wood
    The simplest answer to this question is: Sure! But you'd be crazy to do it! Cedar is a kind of wood that has a lot of resin (oils) directly in the wood itself. This makes it perfect for building or shingles for your house because it takes forever to rot. However, as a source of smoke for smoked meat products, it is really nasty.

    If you use cedar as the source of smoke for your smoking efforts you'll end up with a meat product that tastes pretty much like turpentine. Not only will it be impossible to eat, it will probably be at least a little toxic. The same is true for any other wood that is in the "Evergreen" category - Pine, spruce, fir, hemlock, redwood and others.

    This doesn't mean that cedar can't be used in your smoking and barbequing efforts. Many people use cedar planks when they smoke or barbeque fish - in particular Salmon. Basically you soak a clean 1 inch thick board that is about 8 inches wide and 12-16 inches long and then lay the fish on it during the cooking process. This allows some of the cedar flavour to enter the fish, and protects it from the direct heat of a barbeque. If you do this, just be really sure to get good clean wood and be 100% absolutely sure beyond any doubt at all that it isn't pressure treated wood made to look like cedar.
    L, M, S, &  Mini
    And oh yes...also a 17" BlackStone gas fired griddle! 
    Dunlap, IL
    Re- gasketing AMERICA one yard at a time!
  • MattMatt Posts: 143
    As I suspected -- thanks for the reply. Maybe I should use better Google-fu next time, eh?
  • RVHRVH Posts: 523
    It's not a good idea to use cedar as a smoking wood in the traditional sense, but we cook on it all the time.
    We have a lot of land that has cedar brush piles that need burning. Once those piles get going well we will get several shovel fulls of the coals and dump them on the ground, throw a cooking grid over them, and start cooking. It is very, very good: a good bit of cedar flavoring without the pitch taste.
  • cedar planks are meant to smoke. not a lot though.

    there would be no difference between planking a salmon or cooking salmon indirectly and tossing in a SMALL chunk of cedar.

    i wouldn't use it for any other type of food that i could think of, except maybe planked mashedpotatoes, because cedar is resinous. too much smoke would be bitter. and like any flavoring, you need to consider what it'll taste like. cedar smoke on salmon can actually be a compliment to the fatty/fishy nature of the fish. but cedar on brisket?

    i would be careful that you know the source of the cedar. seems most folks here are convinced cedar is pressure treated... never seen it myself. i have seen shingles treated with fire retardents. if it is furniture grade, or not treated for fire retardency (as with some clearly marked shingles/shakes), you should likely be ok.

    but a little goes a long way, and it would seem more logical to just plank it in the first place
  • seems mostly ok, but...

    i don't understand why some folks think the cedar flavor "enters the fish" by being merely in contact with it. especially since the skin is usually still on the fish.

    you soak the cedar, it eventually dries, and toward the middle/end of the cook it smokes. that smoke is where the flavor comes from.

    you don't want continuous smoke, or it would taste just as horrible as they suggest. hence the soak, to delay the smoke.

    seems counter intuitive to use the plank and ALSO set up indirect. some do it. misses the point, i think. though you probably get some tiny amount of smoke.

    the recommendation of an inch thick board is a little nutty, too. a quarter inch or thinner (shingles!) means less would goes into the trash, and there's no compulsion to try to re-use it.
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,817

    Cedar burns like a pack o' firecrackers. Ash would be all over the place. I think Alder is one of the few evergreens that can be used for smoking.



    Caledon, ON


  • well. cedar IS used for smoking. planked salmon is smoked.... unless you go indirect, in which case you just have a fancu serving platter :laugh:

    i'll admit that maybe you get some smoke if the plank is also above a platesetter. but the plank direct will give you the 'traditional' smoke for salmon. i actually like it. the cedar smoke smell balances the fat, i think.

    but i can't think of another thing i'd use it for. and i wouldn't use a lot.

    i think a small chunk of cedar would be akin to the underside of the plank scorching and smoking. but as i said, i'd rather use the plank anyway.

    salmon is smoked over juniper, too. for every person with a definitive admonition against doing something, there is often an equally fervent proponent.

    think mesquite! :laugh:
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,817

    Yes it is smoked on juniper branches above an alder fire. Way above. Yes cedar planks do smoke above the fire but are not in the coals. :)



    Caledon, ON


  • i hear ya.

    i'm just saying.. in an egg,. there's no diff between using a cedar plank direct (making the cook 'indirect'), and cooking the salmon on the grid indirect (platesetter) while also adding a small chunk for smoke.

    that's all.
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,817
    All I am saying is cedar in the lump will spark and crack like crazy IMO. Haven't ever tried it though. I have some salmon out for tonight and have a bunch of 2 x 10 under the deck. Maybe I'll try a piece B)



    Caledon, ON


  • Capt FrankCapt Frank Posts: 2,578
    Hey Guys,
    There are two kinds of cedar in this country, western red cedar, and eastern red cedar. Western is what is used for shingles, trim wood, decking, and is sold in Home Centers. That is the wood [planks] we use for smoking. I still would not use it as a "chunk."

    Eastern red cedar is used to line closets, build linen chests, and farmers use it for fence posts since it will last for years, even buried in the ground. It burns like NAPALM, never put it in an egg, although it is great to start a campfire. :ohmy:
    I am just wondering if you are both on the same page with this? :whistle:
    Just my .02 cent

    Capt Frank
    Homosassa, FL
  • Frank, I have several bags of Maine White Cedar chunks. Haven't used it in a while, but I don't remember it being bad flavor-wise, & no napalm qualities either, Marc
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,817
    Capt. Frank,

    We're not really arguing. Growing up in Canada sometimes cedar is all you can find when camping and it does pyrotechnics in a fire. Burned western cedar too after tearing down a couple of decks. It is pretty lively too. I'll try a piece tonight and see what happens.



    Caledon, ON


  • Capt FrankCapt Frank Posts: 2,578
    I think this says it all ;)[img size=150][/img]

    Capt Frank
    Homosassa, FL
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,817

    I stand corrected :blush:



    Caledon, ON


  • Capt FrankCapt Frank Posts: 2,578
    Thanks Steve, I know there is a lot of confusion about some of these things, just trying to help :)

    Did it come through this time? Ijust got the link before ;)

    Capt Frank
    Homosassa, FL
  • I'm not so sure, this stuff doesn't look like any cedar I've ever seen, of course I've only ever seen the red stuff... it is extremely light weight & lighter in color than just about any other chunks I have (of any variety of smoking wood)
  • Capt FrankCapt Frank Posts: 2,578
    Sorry Marc, I don't know anything about white cedar, but I would imagine that growing that far North it would have less resin than what we are used too. Are you sure you don't mean white pine? Just asking, this is where a lot of the confusion originates ;)

    Capt Frank
    Homosassa, FL
  • All I'm saying is I'm gonna drive up there and cram a cedar board into you sideways. Being a gentleman, I'll allow you the courtesy of choosing which end to crammit inta...

    Smiley emoticon here
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,817
    What size? :kiss: Any fore stuff?


    Caledon, ON


  • The egg isn't smart enough to know whether you are using a chunk or a plank
  • Fore stuff only if you buy me a drink first, sailor.

    (what the heck. Were you sitting thre hitting the refresh button waiting for my reply? That's as fey as Fidel constantly friend-requesting me on facebook
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,817
    With baited breath Captain


    Caledon, ON


  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 12,994
    Beats me. I have cooked a BUNCH of meals over an open fire when camping. I pay no attention to what kind of wood I am gathering. I grab a bunch of whatever's there and light it. Have never had a bad steak or burger cooked over an open fire with who knows what kind of wood.

    I hate it when I go to the kitchen for food and all I find are ingredients!


    Central Connecticut 

  • "bated", as in " abated". Crack a book once in a while.

    (yet another smiley emoticon> here)
  • Frank, I don't know much about it either; my buddy gave me a few bags of it a couple years ago, I've used a bag & a half of it over that time on various things, it really isn't a standout, not one of my favorites, but I still toss it in for a change every now & then, Marc:

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