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Smoking with Eucalyptus

akhap

Smoke Blower
138
19
Joined Sep 3, 2012
To start, Eucalyptus is a monstrously huge group of trees! There are some 700 species of Eucalyptus... and many have been moved from Austrailia to the US. The range of volatile compounds in most woods is huge... But in Eucalypts there are a lot more than most. Which is common in trees growing in water-stressed conditions.

A digression may be in order about how naturally occurring proteins are left-hand twist and a simple change in location of a single atom will make the difference between widely divergent flavors... or how mirror-image molecules will function completely differently... but that would take a lot of very dry words to convey... So I will skip the digression for now.

Terpenoids are the class of compounds (oils) that produce a lot of smells folks will recognize with their eyes closed. Menthol, cinnamon, pot, and camphor are some biggies that come to mind. Of course, eucalyptus is another. There are thousands more.

In Oz the first-aid kits include eucalyptus oil as an anti-bacterial and that is why many think you should not be eating it. And smoke is a function of incomplete combustion.

But realize the chances are good the wood you are burning is not the same species someone on the internet is ranting about... good or bad.

Look at walnut as a better example. I just saw a post here this evening talking about it as a good smoker wood! Walnut makes a compound called juglone which is a potent, widely-studied allelopath with many known effects. Do not try to grow tomatoes near walnuts, for example... There is evidence juglone is a potential cancer chemotherapy agent. It works by interrupting cell division by scavenging one or more of the four amino acids needed, stopping and killing dividing cancer cells in the process.

Eucalyptus oil is another noted allelopath...

I would not consider smoking with walnut...
 

moikel

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
3,198
217
Joined Jul 26, 2011
Broad leaf peppermint gum & narrow leaf produce 2 different oils when processed,one will just about strip paint the other goes in cough lozenges.
We grill over gum wood all the time whatever is handy ,pizza joints burn a lot of iron bark the list goes on. It's often the leaves that seem to hold more oil.
Red gum gets used by smokers a bit I prefer hickory myself . Or fruit woods.
One thing about it ,it's hardwood.Hard on everything,tools,saws but it does make great furniture now that technology has improved saw blades.Lasts forever.
 

akhap

Smoke Blower
138
19
Joined Sep 3, 2012
Broad leaf peppermint gum & narrow leaf produce 2 different oils when processed,one will just about strip paint the other goes in cough lozenges.
We grill over gum wood all the time whatever is handy ,pizza joints burn a lot of iron bark the list goes on. It's often the leaves that seem to hold more oil.
Red gum gets used by smokers a bit I prefer hickory myself . Or fruit woods.
One thing about it ,it's hardwood.Hard on everything,tools,saws but it does make great furniture now that technology has improved saw blades.Lasts forever.
Exactly! Your point about the different oils is prefect. Hard to know what you are burning for most folks.
 

moikel

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
3,198
217
Joined Jul 26, 2011
I had neighbours that had a distiller for peppermint gum.The finished product was the best natural cleaning product ever,you could degrease motors with it just for starters. Our BBQ shops sell red gum charcoal.As you point out huge number of different trees.I don't any chemistry just what I like to look at, Flowering gum,& what makes great furniture when recycled out of bridges,wharves,ware houses.
 
1
11
Joined Aug 16, 2016
I am Australian, and have cooked BBQs with Eucalyptus all my life. It is good hard wood. The Eucalyptus oil is obtained from the leaves, not the wood. Even then, 'billy tea', a traditional camping tea is made by boiling water with a few eucalyptus leaves in the 'billy', or tin. Hope this helps.
 

Paulygbme

Newbie
1
1
Joined Dec 7, 2019
Hey guys I am a bit new to smoking and trying out differenf woods. A few years ago I lived in Australia and had a few Hangys there (food cooked under ground) and obviously used eucalyptus to heat the stones. This gave the food wonderfully smoky flavour which everyone liked.
When I bought a smoker I thought I's have a go at it in there and bot hold of a lot of Eucalyptus logs to try and the effect was great- we all loved it and so did the neighbours we gave some to.
Now I did a quick search on the net and everyone says eucalyptus is unsuitable for smoking although most do not think it is actually poisonous. Does anyone know anything more about it?
Probably the two biggest smoking woods which Aussies use are red gum ( Eucalyptus camaldulensis) and ironbark (Eucalyptus paniculata ). I am an Aussie and personally use red gum 99% of the time as that is local to my area. I live on the Murray River which is the largest river in Australia and I simply collect a few branches off the ground and snap a piece off and use it on top of charcoal. Certainly nothing toxic about it and red gum and ironbark both impart delicious flavours I much prefer them to Hickory or mesquite. P.S. Hangi is a New Zealand Maori Tradition and is similar to how the Hawaiians cook food underground
 

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