When it comes to summertime parties, everybody’s trying to cook the perfect steak, and who can blame them? If you’ve decided that this is the summer that you’ll smoke your steak, you may be looking for the perfect wood for smoking meat. With so many types of wood out there, how do you know which one you should use? The secret lies in knowing a few fundamentals. Once you understand the wood types and uses, you’ll be ready to pick the perfect wood for any cut of meat you want to smoke. Here are some things to know if you want to be the meat smoking master.
Is Hardwood or Softwood the Best Wood for Smoking Meat?
It’s important to know the difference between hardwood and softwood because hardwoods burn longer and more consistently and won’t result in pungent, acrid smoke from sap content. Softwoods contain too much sap, which results in a foul flavor in the meat if you use it. Stick with hardwoods to get that rich smoked flavor you’ve been dreaming about. Most of the wood products sold for smoking meats are hardwood, but it’s worth making sure before you light that match.
What Type of Tree Provides the Best Wood for Smoking Meat?
Once you understand that hardwood is the best choice for your smoker, the next decision is the type of hardwood that you’ll use. This is where it gets a little more complicated. All sorts of wood are used for smoking, including hickory, apple, cherry and so many more. Choosing the right one depends on a couple of factors, including:
- What you are smoking — Fruit woods burn faster and have lighter, fruitier notes that are best for fish, pork and poultry. Oak, hickory and similar woods are stronger and better for beef. They will contribute deep red color to the meat, too.
- What is local to you — Sometimes, the best wood for smoking meat is just what’s local, well-dried and easily accessible, such as oak, almond or even mesquite. Especially with beef, which is versatile, you can choose almost any hardwood type with good success.
- What flavor you want — Every type of wood will impart its own unique flavor notes to the food you’re smoking. Consider whether you want something more fruity and light in flavor or something deeper and richer in taste. Hickory, oak or similar types of wood give you richer smoked flavors.
What Is the Best Style of Wood for Smoking Meat?
Smoker wood comes in many forms, including chips, pellets, chunks and split wood. Generally, smaller sizes are better for shorter cooking times. They generate smoke quickly and burn out in short periods. Bigger pieces, such as chunks and split wood, are better solutions for larger cuts of meat such as brisket because they burn much longer.
Don’t let the meat smoker intimidate you this summer. Tackle it like a pro with these wood selection tips. Now that you know how to get the right wood for smoking meat, reach out to us at The Rugged Standard for any other tips you might need.