Why Size & Quality Matter
when choosing your wood for food smoking.... Chunks Chips or Dust ?
Everyone likes a bargain, but sometimes buying cheaper products can be a false economy which can work out more expensive in the long run, and the wood you use for food smoking is no exception.
Your Smoking wood should be free from mould, pesticides, rot, mildew and other impurities which can contain toxins. These nasties can impart unusual flavours which you certainly don't want transferring via the smoke onto your food.
If the smoking wood you are using is either "green" unseasoned or has too much moisture in your Smoking Wood this will produce too much smoke when burning and can impart bitter flavours during cooking.
If the wood has been commercially kiln dried or has been dried out too much all the natural sugars and flavours can be destroyed so you will not fully benefit the great flavours that the wood naturally produces. Kiln Dried or dried wood will also burn more quickly therefore you will use a lot more wood, so basically either one will ruin you food and cost you more money in the long run.
You want you Smoking Wood to have the correct amount of moisture to produce a constant and reliable amount of smoke, but more importantly you want your wood to burn and produce the same amount of smoke as the last bag you bought, so you get consistency time and time again.
We go to great lengths to ensure we provide you with the best quality wood available, and source all our wood from sustainable orchards & forests, therefore we know where the wood has come from.
All our Smoking Wood is dried to specific parameters to retain it's natural flavours and sugars therefore retaining the correct moisture content to produce a constant and reliable burn. This process can take from 6- 18 months depending on the species. As wood is hydroscopic it can either lose or take on moisture depending on the environment and climate, that's why we test all our woods on a weekly basis to ensure it meets with out strict criteria.
In the quest to produce the best Smoking Wood in the UK we then cut the logs into sizable chunks, paying particular attention to remove any inpurities, crack or splits, and only use food grade oils in our machinery so there is no risk of contamination.
Out of every tonne of Smoking Wood we produce we discard about 5-10% as is does not meet our strict criteria, this wood is not wasted as it goes into our biomass boiler for heating.
We stand by our company motto "Quality Smoking Wood Every Time"
The process of producing Quality Smoking Wood cannot be rushed and it is ready when it is ready! It takes a lot of time, money and effort so if you find Smoking Wood that is a very cheap or a real bargain there is a good reason for it! they are skipping a lot of steps. We proudly sponsor a number of BBQ Teams in the UK who use our products, their results speak for themselves.
BBQ Smoking Wood Chunks
Smoking Chunks are about golf ball to tennis ball, uneven size chunks. They tend to burn slowly, and often a few chunks is all that's necessary for cooking low & slow for any amount of time. Wood chunks are a slow steady source of smoke, and are in many ways the most desirable.
BBQ Smoking Wood Chips
Smoking chips are great if you plan to smoke for only a short time. Smoking Chips are great for short and medium cooks, but for longer cooks, chunks are better. You can either place the smoking chips in a flat tin or wrap them in kitchen foil and pierce the foil a couple of times which allow the smoke to escape. Place the Smoking Chips on or near the hot coals. This method can also be used with gas BBQ's.
Cold Smoking Dust
Smoking dust is mainly used for cold smoking as it smoulders nice and slowly and doesn't create much heat. Smoking Dust can be used for BBQ'ing and hot smoking but you are better using either chunks or chips.
Try experimenting by mixing 2 dusts together like Oak & Apple for a mixture of flavours.
Definitely worth having a bag in just to experiment with.
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Cold Smoking Troubleshooting
During every batch of dust we make we take moisture readings to ensure the dust falls within our parameters, in addition we also complete a test burn to ensure that the dust burns correctly.
Throughout thousands of hours test burning since we have been manufacturing our own dust we have found that the following can make a difference:
1. If there is a build up of smoke, and therefore not enough air passing over the dust this can starve oxygen to the dust. To rectify this, either keep all your vents open , or ensure that the top and bottom vents are fully open to allow maximum air flow through the bottom vent, over the CSG and through the cooking chamber and finally allowing the smoke to exit.
2. Baking the dust in the oven will reduce the moisture level of the dust but there is no need as the moisture level of the dust is already dry enough to start with. By completely drying out the dust you are effectively destroying all the natural sugars and flavours so you will not fully benefit the great flavours that the wood naturally produces.
3. Drying dust in the microwave has an initial reverse effect on the dust. We have found through tests that by microwaving the dust this will produce excessive steam and create additional moisture within the dust, this will increase the moisture level of the dust by up to 90% until the dust fully cools down and the steam has fully evaporated. Our experiments have shown that by microwaving the dust and waiting for the dust to cool down you will only lower the moisture level by 1 or 2%.
4. Through experience I have found that if the dust burns for a while and then goes out after burning for some time the small mesh holes of the cold smoke generator may be blocked with carbon therefore starving the dust of oxygen:
If the dust was burning OK, and then went out, something has changed for it to go out. You have selected the dust randomly from a bag which has been added to the Cold Smoke Generator, therefore It can't be the dust as it was burning fine previously.
Going back to basic fire making, you need a fuel source (the dust), an ignition source (the candle), and oxygen to maintain combustion, if you emit one of the above you will not manage to light your dust.
5. In most cases if the dust goes out straight away it is because the dust has not been lit in the first place. I have found that keeping the candle lit and in place for around 10-15 minutes , or until the lit dust has travelled about 2.5 - 3 cm's, therefore proving that the dust can remain lit and burn without the aid of the candle flame.
6. I have found that by spraying the Cold Smoke Generator with oven cleaner every couple of uses helps to dissolve and remove the build up of carbon that can block the fine mesh on the walls of the CSG. This will allow better air flow through the fine mesh walls of the CSG.
7. A couple of years ago we conducted a study of seven of the most popular dusts, Apple, Beech, Cherry, Hickory, Maple, Oak, and Whisky Oak. All the dusts had different moisture levels ranging from 7% (which is the moisture level of the average internal house door) up to 23 % which is a very high and excessive moisture content for dust. Each species of dust completed the burn cycle , however the only difference was that the dusts with the higher moisture content took longer to complete the burning cycle and produced more smoke throughout the burn.
How To Store your Smoking Wood
We have taken great care to supply you with the best Smoking Wood on the market, so it should arrive to you in perfect condition, however like all quality products the correct storage is also important.
As Smoking wood is a natural wood product there is still a certain amount of moisture in the wood so the correct storage is very important. For Chunks & Chips & Dust you need to store the bags in a dry ventilated place like a shed or garage with good airflow, and ideally keep the bags opened to allow air to circulate, this will allow any condensation or moisture to evaporate. Do not keep the bags unopened in a warm place or they will go mouldy. The exception to this is Whisky Oak where it is better to keep all the fantastic whisky flavour contained.