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Fire Starter
Original poster
Jun 28, 2006
My name is Reid and I have been following the BBQ world since I was in high school. I am a certified KCBS judge and have judged many competitions. Now that I am done with my higher education and have joined the working world I bought a smoker to start participating in both cooking and competing. In the last few weekends I have smoked a pork loin, pork butt, turkey breast, and ribs. It must be beginners luck because everything has been tender and delicious. I need to lighten up on the rub, however! I overestimate how much rub will leave the meat during the cooking process. So far, I doubt one grain of rub has left the meat I have cooked. I am lucky to have many experienced cookers around me giving me advice. One problem I have run into is finding a source of wood. I have been taught to use wood exclusively when smoking. That means no charcoal. THis has produced great results thus far however I have used up the charity wood I was given when I bought my smoker. I am going out tonight to cut up a fallen apple tree and another tree of which I am not certain the variety. Of course I will have to wait for it to dry. Does anyone have an opinion as to how long I will have to wait to use this wood? Anyway, I am glad to be on the board and look forward to learning more. You may see me in a few weekends at the Illinois State BBQ Championships in Shannon, IL(my hometown).
Welcome to SMF Reid. Check out the "Woods for Smoking" Forum in the "Smoking Supplies and Equipment" Section. There is a discussion going now on where to get wood.
Welcome Meat

Cut it up and split it, and your looking at 6 months.

What kinda cooker is that in your avatar?

Oh yeah, welcome
Oh yeah, whats your team name.

Might make it to Shannon. Not judging this year though
Welcome, don't be afraid to share your knowledge. I don't think your cooks were beginner's luck. I think you have been around smokers long enough to soak/absorb a lot of the tip, tricks, and general overall knowledge
Welcome Reid. Nice to have you aboard. I'm sure many of the members looking to get into compeating will be picking your brain about what judges look for.
Cut the apple wood up into about 3"x15" pieces and wait about 3 weeks with the wood uncovered and spread out to let the moisture out.

As far as the wood of unknown variety, if you don't know what it is don't use it :roll: .

Welcome to the forum by the way.
Welcome to the forums, Regarding your wood question.. Check the yellow pages for firewood, you might get lucky and have a business that specializes in smoking woods like I did. The only downfall to that is it gets real pricey.

Might also try tree trimming places, and Nurseries.

Another posible source, put the word out to friends and family, let them know you are looking for firewood from (insert favorite wood here) you might be surprised like I was when a co-worker comes up and says they have a lot of Pecan, Apple and a few Peach and Cherry trees that need trimmed up and I was welcome to all of it...for free!

good luck with the competition.
If you were cooking with charcoal and using that apple just for flavor, I would say go ahead and use it....just use less than you normally would because green wood generally adds more flavor.

..but since you plan on cooking with splits, go ahead and split the wood and stack it to allow for good air flow and let it sit for 6-9 months if it was alive when you cut it. Since you said it was a fallen tree, it may have some linbs that are suitable for cooking with now... far as the tree of the uncertain variety....I would figure out what it is before you decide to smoke with it...some wood can ruin a perfecty good smoke....

I went out last night and cut up enough crabapple to last a few years. I was worried about it not being a traditional apple tree but I did a google search and all sources said crabapple is similar and fine to use. The wood smells very sweet and looks identical to apple. Many of the branches were already dead and dried and I found a limb which had blown down a year ago that was dry. I should have plenty for this season and even more for next season when it dries. My only problem now is that I have committed to cutting up a few more trees this summer for people and I don't really need it now! I guess that is a good problem to have.
To answer a few questions on the board-

1. My smoker was designed by a friend who has made a number of smokers. It is 1/4 bent steel and is so heavy that struts were put on to get the lid up. It is equipped with two propane burners which run the length of the smoker. Can get to 400 degrees in two minutes. The smoker box is offset and pushes the smoke under the rack. I have been putting the meat near the smoker box and end and seem to get a good amount of smoke. I have heard people on some boards say how they do not like propane cookers for smokers but it doesn't effect the smoking at all. The burners are there if you need them but they don't impede on your ability to smoke. They can be taken off and the cooker can be sealed with a few minutes of work but I haven't found a reason to do this yet.

2. I don't have a team name yet since I haven't signed up for a competition. I will be in Shannon for the cookoff but I haven't decided whether I am going to compete yet. This contest usually gets 60 teams and some of the best in the country attend. I have heard many cookers that travel to events all summer say it is the most competetive cookout around outside of the Royal and Jack Daniels. I would need to get some major beginners luck to even stay in the top half. One advantage I would have is that I have judged this event since its first year. Most of the judges are returnees and I know most of them. I have seen what gets good scores and what doesn't fly(many midwestern cornfed folk do not like spice on their bbq, their tastes tend to react to sweet and bland sauces, they also like abundance! load the meat box til it overflows as that will be extras for the judges to take home). I feel I have a good idea of what kind of product I need to have to get the scores but I haven't had enough time with my smoker to know I can produce that product. I know it isn't about winning but when you are dropping around $500.00 to compete you would like to do well! is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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