Woods for Smoking
Decisions on smoking woods used are usually based on regional availability and preference. In fact, there are more woods used then what I have listed. As I come across more I will add them.
Well Known Smoking Woods
Hickory - Said to be the King of Smoking woods. I would have to agree. Hickory produces a strong sweet hearty taste. Hickory, in my opinion was made for pork. However, it works well with chicken and beef also.
Pecan- Being in the same family as hickory, pecan has a similar flavor but not quite as strong as hickory. It is great on all meats.
Apple – While Apple is an excellent Wood for smoking red meat; it does an exceptional job on poultry. I like to use Apple on chicken and turkey with a little bit of cherry.
Cherry – Can be a difficult wood to come by, Cherry produces a delicately sweet flavor. Great for poultry, beef, fish and pork.
Mesquite – Great tasting but strong. This uniquely flavored wood is as potent as it is tasty. Mesquite is actually used more for direct cooking than smoking. Be careful, too much or too long can produce a bitter flavor.
Oak – Most versatile of the hardwoods blending well with most meat. Oak is a milder smoke than hickory, works well with pork, chicken, or beef.
Maple – Produces a light sweet taste recommended for poultry and ham.
Alder – Native to the Pacific Northwest, alder is a mild sweet wood. Great for almost all meats, used mostly for smoking fish (salmon in particular).
Not So Well Known Smoking Woods (and other things)
Peach – Another sweet wood, good to use with other woods such as oak or hickory. Works well mixed with Alder when cooking salmon.
Plum – Similar to Peach, but make sure to use only the fruit bearing varieties.
Pear – Slightly sweet, woodsy flavor. Good with pork and chicken.
Walnut – A very heavy smoke, best when used with milder woods. Good with beef.
Almond – A nutty and sweet flavor, and fairly mild. Good with most meat.
Acacia – From the same family as mesquite, but a bit milder. Good with most meat.
Ash – Fast burner, light but distinctive flavor. Good with fish and red meats.
Grapevines – Becoming increasingly popular in California, does well on fish and poultry.
Citrus – Becoming increasingly popular especially in Florida, is the use of the wood from Orange trees, Grapefruit trees, and Lemon trees. Citrus wood imparts a mild fruity smoke, which works pretty well on almost all meats.
Australian Pine – The folks in South Florida are starting to use a wood called the Australian Pine. This tree is not from the Pine family but gets its name more so from its needle like leaves. I believe this tree is taking over South Florida and they are finding whatever use they can for it. However, its been reported to me to be a decent smoking wood. Could this be the next mesquite? I don’t know, but I will wait to hear more before trying myself.
Onion Skins and Garlic Skins – I have never tried this myself, but I was told to wrap in foil and let smolder rather than direct contact with the flame.
Herbs – Makes sense to use aromatics such as Rosemary, Thyme, and Basil. Make sure to soak them first.