WOODS OF WISDOM
Much like in religion, where a common question is WWJD (what would Jesus Do), BBQ enthusiasts can often be heard asking? ?WWWWWAWWWW?? (Wondering what woods would work wonders and which woods would wilt weariness) Throughout the years, our competition team has tried an assortment of woods, here is what we have found out. The traditional woods for smoking are well known, but there are many woods out there that are perfectly suitable for your needs. While we haven?t tried them all, there is plenty of info in BBQ books and on the Internet that can help. Below is a list of woods that should answer your question ?WWWWWAWWWW.??
ACACIA ? We haven?t tried this one, but if it is essentially mesquite light. Think of mesquite like a Budweiser heavy and Acacia as Budweiser light.? Both are HEAVY on smoke flavor, Acacia toned down. A very hot burning wood, used most commonly on brisket and poultry.
ALDER ? Mild wood with a hint of sweetness.? Good with fish, pork, and chicken.
ALMOND – A sweet smoke flavor, little ash, good on all meats.
APPLE ? Use this to add sweetness to pork and chicken. Think of the pig with the apple in it?s mouth, a natural for pork. We use this as a compliment wood. For example, mix in 1 log of apple to every 4 oak, etc. Crab apple has similar properties.
ASH ? Quick burning, light smoke flavor, but unique. Most commonly used with brisket and fish.
BIRCH – Medium-hard wood with a flavor similar to maple. Good with pork and poultry.
CHERRY ? not overly powerful, but sure is sweet. Great on pork, beef, and chicken. Mixed reviews, but many folks swear it is the best wood to smoke with.
COTTONWOOD ? We have never used this, but? local gurus say it is extremely bland. Seems it is used only as fuel, not flavor. If you use it, add your another wood with it. We are not rushing to try this.
HICKORY ? Our favorite. Great flavor, almost bacon-like. When in doubt, you can?t go wrong with this on anything. It is a staple item on our rig.
LILAC ? Our teammate Chris always has some of this in his pockets and in his truck. He must enjoy the floral aroma that seems to radiate off him. As far as smoking with it, be weary. You will taste a mild floral smoke flavor. Not sure who would want that. Research shows it is most commonly used on fish.
MAPLE ? Another sweet tasting wood, use like apple wood.
MESQUITE ? Texas, Texas, Texas. A southern tree that will produce a heavy smoke taste and conveniently gums up your smoker. Use on large cuts of meat, otherwise you will be eating smoke. Brisket, whole chicken, pork butt, etc. Some swear there is nothing better, some refuse to use it. No real in between.
MULBERRY ? produces a taste like apple or maple, but burns pretty poorly and inconsistently. Use it if that?s all you got, most of the people we asked say its junk wood.
OAK ? Generous smoke flavor, we use tons of white oak in our competitions, usually complimented with hickory. White oak is great for building a coal bed, and the hickory takes care of the rest.? It?s our 1-2 punch
PEAR ? medium smoke flavor with some sweetness. Pork and chicken would be a good fit. Not too common in our parts.
PECAN ? Known as an all around great smoking wood. Decent smoke flavor with a hint of sweetness.? Used by many in competitions, we have used exclusively in some seasons.
WALNUT ? Mesquites step brother. Super smoky taste, almost bitter if too much is used. Use a complimentary wood with this. Better yet, use this to compliment a mild wood, like ash or almond. If you want to play a good joke, tell a first time competitor they can?t go wrong with a walnut/mulberry blend. That would be difficult to keep consistent temp and tough to produce a winning flavor.
Other fruitwood trees can be used for smoking (orange, lemon, etc.) Be sure to do your research prior to using.