Okay yeah i am a nubie at this incredible art and way to cook and smoke some awesome meats and here is the deal. when i smoked my first butt this past Sunday during preparing everything before firing up the smoker i anticipated smoking the butt all day long as the side of the road rule of thumb 1 and a half hour per pound and went over board on the amount of wood chips i soaked and have alot left over still sitting in the water from sunday soaking well they are drowned for sure now sitting at the bottom of the pot in the very colorful water with a lid on it, but here is the questions. can these woodchips (mesquite and Hickory) still be used for the next weekend smoke? are they still holding their flavors? how long can you soak woodchips without losing the mesquite or hickory or whatever chips flavor. would like to hear from some of you master smokers before i maybe ruin some good meat by maybe using leftover woodchips i maybe shouldn't be using. thank you, thank you very much!
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left over wood chips
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The chips should actually be from hickory or mesquite wood so they won't lose any flavor.
What you'll need to watch out for is mold.
If it were me, I'd take the chips out and let them dry in the sun and then put them back in a dry bucket until you're ready.
Soaking the chips doesn't make better smoke or longer smoke.
Regulating your fire so it's low enough to start will allow you to keep the smoke rolling.
Remember too that more smoke isn't better. I learned that lesson the hard way.
We call it TBS for a reason...it's thin smoke, not rolling smoke. Most of the time you won't even be able to see it. As long as you smell it, you're good.
It's all good though...
I have had a n experience where water got into a bag of Alder and the wood molded a bit, that white fuzzy stuff.
I scrubbed the wood with a scrub brush under running water and dried it in the oven at 200 degrees for an hour then turned the oven off and let the wood stay in the oven till it cooled, but these were chunks.
I would dry the chips spread out on a cooling rack in the oven then keep them somewhere dry.
You could be lazy and pour the chips in a tupperware the same size as your chip pan and freeze them solid till your next smoke, then just pop the whole thing out into the chip pan.
Hey Everyone, really preciate all your suggestions and am going to try dry this weekend on the beercan chickens for the saturday Boston/laker game. i asked a scientific guy this same question and this was his reply below. thanks again!
Wood is hydroscopic meaning it will only absorb
water until it is in balance with the humidity and temperature of the
environment it is in. That is why swamp trees survive so long in water -
they don't drink the entire time, merely when they need to balance their
You cannot hurt the wood chips by leaving them in water. However, because
wood contains cellulose and hemicellulose which are sugar molecules, if
the wood is left for an indefinite period of time in water, the sugar
molecules will loosen and that is where some of the flavor is lost.
Our research shows that if the wood chips are left in water, completely
covered mind you, they will begin to develop an unpleasant ordor and lose
some of the cell structure after about 45 days. So, as long as you can
use up the soaked chips within a few weeks, you should be fine.
You may also remove the wood chips from the water and allow them to dry
again. Generally, you will only change the moisture level by 1-2% when
doing this. Remember, the wood has been cut away from the main supply
system of the natural tree. Although the molecular composition of the
tree allows it to retain and gain moisture again for a short time, the
cells are in the process of dying. This is the reason will generally
recommend that you purchase wood that can be used in an 8-12 week period.
Also, remember when santizing the wood, you can also use white vinegar and
water. This is a more "green" method of sanitizing that I personally
I would say that you can re-use your wood chips but I would like most of the folks here have said and pour out the water and then lay them out to dry. Then you can re-use them for your next smoke. Now I have stopped soaking my wood chips for if you soak them it just takes that much longer to get smoke. So I don't smoke them anymore.
- left over wood chips
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