Here in northern Michigan the only alder I can find is speckled (tag) alder. It grows in abundance. I have read about alder being a good smoking wood and some threads mention the speckled/tag alder but none of the ones I read seemed to comment on the outcome. Anyone have any practical experience with it?
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Thanks for the pic and comments. That trunk doesn't look anything like the stuff around here that folks call Tag Alder. I've copied below a post from a guy from MN. The post is from 2004, I think . He sounds like he is referring to the Alder that people call "Tag" Alder around here.
Tag Alder Box Alder I don't know. Grows in low areas and spreads like wild fire. Has a dark Brown/bronze bark and grows in clumps. I've used cherry, apple, hickory and wild choke cherry. The choke cherry was real good too.
The sodium nitrate changes the flavor. Same thing that sodium nitrite does to ham and beacon it just a different type of curing process. It also kills bacteria but if your smoking at 200 degrees theres no worry anyway. I buy mine from The Sausage Maker. I use it for making jerky too. I dry mine at 90 degrees in the smoker smoker. The nitrate kills bacteria that would otherwise grow in these temps. Again it changes the flavor and keeps the meat red. Then theres smoked chicken with the same brine. yum yum. Sorry I'm getting carried away.
The stuff that grows around here looks like the wood described above. I will get a pic of the stuff that grows here and try to post it.