Since purchasing my WSM several months ago, I have been using the wood chunks available in bags at the local hardware store, Home Depot, OSH and Lowe's. I have found these to be very old, too dry, lots of bark and well beyond what could be considered as seasoned. Most have a overly dusty smell, rather than the distinct smell of the wood itself. The more traditional woods like hickory, pecan, maple, mesquite, etc, I have begun to order from other parts of the country. Fruit and nut wood on the other hand, are readily available locally, from the farms where I purchase my fruits and veggies. Now I have a couple of partially full bags of the wood I bought from the stores remaining. Time for me to figure out what to do with the remaining wood.
I have recently began purchasing wood chunks through several Ebay sellers. I have found a couple that sell well seasoned hardwoods, without bark, at what I consider a good price, $1.00-1.50/lb including shipping. Since I first began using the wood I ordered from Ebay(hickory smoked pork spare ribs yesterday), I noticed an immediate difference in flavors. Rather than the dull, single note, smoke flavor, more subtle nuances can be tasted in the smoked meat. Spices used in the rub appear more vibrant, pronounced and layered. The meat flavors themselves, comes through the smokiness with more richness, individuality and depth. I will NEVER use any of the wood chunks purchased from the big box stores again.
Today I received a medium USPS Priority box from Georgia. Crammed to overfull, with 18 lbs 12 ozs of good sized pecan chunks, mostly 3" x 3" x 4" sized pieces... Luckily, the entire box was wrapped in shipping tape, otherwise, it might have exploded in transit... I'm looking forward to trying the pecan chunks I received today in a future smoking (mis)adventure.
The smoking wood collection begins to grow...