Harvesting your own smoke woods questions

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by thsmormonsmokes, Jan 4, 2012.

  1. thsmormonsmokes

    thsmormonsmokes Smoking Fanatic

    Couple of questions.  I've got a massive purist streak in me regardless of what I'm doing.  If I can do it on my own, that's how I want to do it.  So after getting pissed at how much stores charge for a bag of chunks of smoke wood, I got thinking that maybe it was time to take a chainsaw out into the mountains and get my own smoke wood.

    1. Do you get better results if you go with an exclusive wood fire, as opposed to using lump or briquette charcoal?  Or will that put you at risk of making your meat taste like creosote?

    2. Has anyone tried using scrub oak?  We don't have actual oak out here in Utah (that I know of), but there's plenty of scrub oak.  But I haven't the foggiest if it would be good for smoking.

    3. What about cedar?  There's a ton of cedars the forest service recently chain dragged not too far from where I live to improve elk habitat, and I assume they wouldn't mind someone hauling it off since cedar takes forever and a day to decompose.  I've cedar planked fish (salmon and tilapia), which is great.  I've also grilled a Johnsonville brat over cedar coals on a camping trip (best brat I've had in my life).  But I'm wondering if anyone has used it as a smoke wood for beef, pork or poultry smoking.  I'm wondering if the tastes would jive.

    4. With apple wood, is there a kind of apple that is best?  You know, fuji vs. McIntosh vs. red delicious, etc...

    5. Same question, but with cherry wood.

    Here's the part where I make some of you envious.  The reason I ask about apple and cherry wood is because my grandpa owns a fruit farm.  They do several different kinds of apples and cherries, and they're always rotating out one part of the orchard or another.  A lot of times they just burn them after dozing them out to crop rotate.  I'm pretty sure that all I'll have to do is get my carcass out there with a chainsaw, be patient enough to let it cure, and I've got as much fruit wood as I could ever want.  They also do peaches, so I could try that.  But I'm wondering if I should target a particular type of apple and/or cherry for my smoke wood.

    Those are the only real options we have in this part of the country that I know of.  The majority of trees out here are pines of differing subspecies and quaking aspen, both of which seem certain to be absolutely horrible to cook on.

    As always, any input is appreciated.
  2. ecto1

    ecto1 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    You hit the jackpot apple cherry peach are all great smoking woods.  Any fruit bearing woods are going to work.  No Pine (for sure) No Ceder (i Think) and I don't know what scrub oak is but when i googled it it does not look like you could get much wood off it to begin with.  I would be all over that and post pics of my wood pile just to make people jealous on this site.  If it was cheap I would trade you a cord of mesquite for a cord of any of that but Texas is a long way. 
  3. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

  4. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Whatever you do, never use wood from conifers such as pine, fir, cyprus, spruce, redwood, or cedar.

    They contain too much sap and they can make the meat taste funny. Some have been known to make people sick. Yes, I know that cedar planks are popular for cooking salmon on, but I don't know anyone who burns cedar as a smoke wood. I have also heard that elm, eucalyptus, sassafras, sycamore, and liquid amber trees impart a bad flavor.
  5. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Cedar and pine are no's the fruit wood is a great find and any species of apple and cherry and peach should be good. Most oak is fine for smoking as well
  6. thsmormonsmokes

    thsmormonsmokes Smoking Fanatic

    Awesome.  Thanks guys.  It would have taken me a year or two to figure this out on my own.

    Especially thanks for that link, Big Casino.  Very helpful.
  7. walterwhite

    walterwhite Smoke Blower

    You can use the cedar for planks for cooking fish and probably similar stuff. That's not the same as burning wood to make smoke. I'd give it a try. It would be pretty cool to plank salmon on planks you made yourself.

    As to your first question, various smokers are designed to use either wood or charcoal. I use a WSM which is designed for charcoal and I throw a few wood chunks in with that to provide some additional smoke flavor. I'd stick with the fuel that your smoker is designed for.

    As far as scrub oak goes, oak is oak. if you have some pieces in a decent size for your smoker, give them a try and see how it works.
  8. fct202

    fct202 Fire Starter

    Cedar is not good for smoking, but dry cedar makes great hot coals and is great for Dutch oven cooking. 

  9. That's a GREAT link to a GREAT wood reference guide!!!! I'm keepin that one!!!  [​IMG]

    Thanks, Tim
  10. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    I run a pallet mill here in Southeast Texas, so we get in hardwood cants (4 x 8, 6 x 8, 6 x 6 , 7 x 9, etc.) and also boards (1 x 4, 1 x 6 and 1 x 8).  I go through the scraps (end trim pieces) and scrounge up any oak that I can find.  WE also get in some cottonwood, cedar, willow and a few others that I only use for the fire pit, those will never see the SFB of my smoker.  I have also bought some pecan, hickory and mesquite small logs from Academy for about $10 per bag. I don't feel like it is too bad a deal, more than enough wood for a good, long smoke. 
  11. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Sassafras should be taken off that list, many people use it with good results.

    IMHO the smoking woods list is in serious need of revision.

    The List posted in the link above is also in posted in the Wiki section of SMF-

  12. macinyart

    macinyart Newbie

    My "taster" may be a bit weak, and I have smoked with a variety of wood, ie maple, apple, cherry, smoked over a charcoal heat source.  I hate to say this, but I can't tell much difference when smoking salmon.  Oh by the way, try smearing your salmon or whatever with orange marmalade.  I know.. I know...sounds iffy, but before you bash it, just give it a try.  Great on Salmon and "first to go away" at parties when other choices were available.  See my thread re: Mesquite, free for pickup.
  13. i use self harvested wood cherry,apple,pear, for my stick fires and i make my own lump out of oak with the upside down 30 gallon barrel inside the 55 gallon burning barrel. i try to never buy the stuff unless my poor planning forces me to. i'd rather spend the money on more food and invite a bunch of friends over
  14. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Try some of that Cherry and Oak together. I use it as a mix all the time.
  15. diesel

    diesel Smoking Fanatic

    Looks like you got your answers.  The fruit trees are a gold mine.  I would use all of that.  Again, it depends on the type of smoker you have as to weather you use all wood or not. 

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