Wood For Barbecue – What To Use For A Full Flavor
Most barbecue woods are cut from hardwoods, fruitwoods, and nutwoods, but never pine and softwoods that have a lot of turpenes and sap. Logs must be dried. Hardwoods, deciduous trees which include fruit and nut woods, have compact cell structures, and they are the best woods for cooking. Softwoods, like pine, fir, spruce, redwood, hemlock, and cypress, are all evergreen, coniferous trees, and they have more air, more pungent sap, and they burn fast. They are not recommended for cooking.
Here is a list of the types of wood one can use to either cook pr smoke with.
Alder – Very delicate with a hint of sweetness. Good with fish, pork, poultry, and light-meat game birds.
Almond – A sweet smoke flavor, light ash. Good with all meats.
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. Good with fish and red meats.
Birch – Medium-hard wood with a flavor similar to maple. Good with pork and poultry.
Cherry – Mild and fruity. Good with poultry, pork and beef. Some List members say the cherry wood is the best wood for smoking. Wood from chokecherry trees may produce a bitter flavor.
Cottonwood – It is a softer wood than alder and very subtle in flavor. Use it for fuel but use some chunks of other woods (hickory, oak, pecan) for more flavor. Don’t use green cottonwood for smoking.
Grapevines – Tart. Provides a lot of smoke. Rich and fruity. Good with poultry, red meats, game and lamb.
Hickory – Most commonly used wood for smoking–the King of smoking woods. 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 – Strong earthy flavor. Good with beef, fish, chicken, and game. One of the hottest burning woods.
Mulberry – The smell is sweet and reminds one of apple.
Oak – Heavy smoke flavor–the Queen of smoking wood. RED OAK is good on ribs, WHITE OAK makes the best coals for longer burning. All oak varieties reported as suitable for smoking. Good with red meat, pork, fish and heavy game.
Orange, lemon and grapefruit – Produces a nice mild smoky flavor. Excellent with beef, pork, fish and poultry.
Pear – A nice subtle smoke flavor. Much like apple. Excellent with chicken and pork.
Pecan – Sweet and mild with a flavor similar to hickory. Tasty with a subtle character. Good with poultry, beef, pork and cheese. Pecan is an all-around superior smoking wood.
Sweet fruit woods – apricot, plum, peach, nectarine – Great on most white or pink meats, including chicken, turkey, pork and fish. The flavor is milder and sweeter than hickory.
Walnut – English and Black – Very heavy smoke flavor, usually mixed with lighter woods like almond, pear or apple. Can be bitter if used alone. Good with red meats and game.