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cooking wood vs smoking wood

 
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wa5ngp



Joined: 22 Oct 2012
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Mon Oct 22 12 9:33 pm    Post subject: cooking wood vs smoking wood Reply with quote

I know from first hand experience that we cannot cook over plain hardwood like oak, it must be charcoal, otherwise the volatile gasses will make the meat taste awful. I learned the hard way. Sad

OK, now comes smoking chips. I usually use hickory and peach. So my neighbor asks, if you can't use wood directly to cook (only charcoal) what keeps the hickory from smoking with the same volatile gases. ie it tastes good not nasty.

Is it the nature of hickory and other "smoking" wood that it does not have the nasty gasses? or is something else going on? I know we don't smoke with oak chips.

don
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SoEzzy
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Joined: 13 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 23 12 5:46 am    Post subject: Re: cooking wood vs smoking wood Reply with quote

wa5ngp wrote:
I know from first hand experience that we cannot cook over plain hardwood like oak, it must be charcoal, otherwise the volatile gasses will make the meat taste awful. I learned the hard way. Sad


Nope, what you will find is that lots of folks with offset pits cook over hardwood all the time without bad tastes, the difficulty is you need to burn a small hot fire, not a big smoldering one, you need to have it burn cleanly, once it is burning cleanly and only once it is burning cleanly do you put the beat on to a thoroughly heated pit do you put the meat on.

Quote:
OK, now comes smoking chips. I usually use hickory and peach. So my neighbor asks, if you can't use wood directly to cook (only charcoal) what keeps the hickory from smoking with the same volatile gases. ie it tastes good not nasty.

Is it the nature of hickory and other "smoking" wood that it does not have the nasty gasses? or is something else going on? I know we don't smoke with oak chips.

don


Nope it's down to the fact that shavings / chips of wood will burn faster and therefore cleaner.

Make sure that logs are split, and that the split side is the side that is put down on the fire.

Practice a couple of times, with learning to burn a hot clean fire, there should be a little smoke or just heat shimmer at the top of the exhaust. Control the fire by the intake vents not by the exhaust.

Give it another go!
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wa5ngp



Joined: 22 Oct 2012
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23 12 8:44 am    Post subject: good smoke and bad smoke Reply with quote

OK, so the reason that small chips make acceptable smoke for flavoring is that since they are small they burn very hot? Not real consistent with soaking the chips however? Maybe they burn up hot regardless since they are so small. So if I have peach wood for smoking I should saw into small slivers.

I just got an egg so I will be going exclusively charcoal anyway.

I've got a lot of mesquite, oak, and peach that I'm going to make into charcoal so charcoal is best for me. or have a separate fire outside and shovel the hot coals in.

I do see how a smoldering weak oak fire doesn't get hot enough to burn those nasty gasses so they just escape and make the meat taste bitter and nasty. If the gasses get hot enough a long distance from the fire then they burn up before hitting the meat. Makes sense.

tks
Don
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SoEzzy
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 23 12 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are welcome!
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1MoreFord
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Joined: 28 Jun 2005
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Location: N. Little Rock & Hot Springs, Arkansas

PostPosted: Fri Oct 26 12 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wa5ngp,

I started to give you a very different reply until I saw you pony upped the money for an egg.

Don't turn your flavor wood into charcoal. You can't make it as efficiently as the 'coal makers do anyway. Instead, take all your flavor wood an' turn 'em inta chunks. 'Bout fist size usually works jus' fine. Scatter a few throughout your 'coal load an' enjoy. Start with a couple an' adjust to your taste. Wink An' keep 'em Dry. Don't Soak! Evil or Very Mad
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Last edited by 1MoreFord on Sat Feb 06 16 10:56 am; edited 1 time in total
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Seminole
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Joined: 26 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04 12 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We have been used wood for thousands of years and hard woods are fine. Actually, the oak wood is my favorite. It was always popular in England as well. It does burn a little bit slower because it so dense so there are less gaps for the oxygen to enter. As SoEzzy explained you burn wood first and then you place the meat on the screen. Wood will burn clean when it gets plenty of oxygen, you cut off the air supply and it starts to smoke. Smoking is due to insufficient combustion, certain wood components are not burned anymore and they escape with the smoke. They will impart a different flavor to the meat. Smaller wood chips burn at lower temperature as they make less contact with the air. Take sawdust for example. In a large wood fired smokehouse the entire logs are added to the fire pit. If the the fire gets out of control and the flames are getting bigger, they are damped not with water but with sawdust. An operator grabs the shovel and throws some sawdust on top of the flames.

Oak is the great wood and one may say why there are so few oak chips around? Well, my friend owns a wood chips factory and I gave him the same question. He answered that oak is a wonderful wood but it is so hard it kills his wood saws. It costs him more to produce oak chips than alder or beech.

Barbecue places that use wood, use double units: the right side pre-burns wood logs and only then hot embers are pushed to the left side where the meat is being cooked. It is hard to explain in words, have a look at the drawing of a such unit (middle of the page):
http://www.wedlinydomowe.com/barbecue/building

It is the same concept as with charcoal briquettes: you don't add more new briquettes to the fire when you cook the meat. In the initial stage of combustion they also produce nasty gases and flavors. You have to pre-burn them until they are white and only then they can be added.
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Catfish
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Joined: 27 Apr 2008
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Location: Central and Coastal Georgia

PostPosted: Sat Feb 06 16 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Red Barn on St Simon's Island, GA, cooks steaks and other meat directly over oak and it tastes great. When using wood for cooking, as stated above, it has to be a hot fire or hot coals from the wood. Growing up, we smoked whole hogs with the coals made from burning oak in a 55 gallon drum and shoveling the coals out of a hole in the side at the bottom of the barrel and into the pit under the hog.

When smoking, you don't want a lot of smoke. You want a clean fire burning but not a roaring fire. Give it enough air to burn and control the burn rate with the dampers. Seasoned wood will allow you to do that fairly easily.

There is a point during after green wood is cut and before it is seasoned where the wood will will produce a sour/tangy taste. Once the moisture level drops to the point where the wood is considered to be properly seasoned, it won't give that sour/tangy/bitter taste. So either burn seasoned wood or green wood but stay away from in between wood. I won't burn green because it makes too much smoke and creosote.
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