Woods used in cooking

Wood has been used for cooking and flavoring foods for thousands of years. These days wood is widely used to impart distinctive aroma and taste in smokers, grilling, or simply cooking over an open campfire. Often times the wood used is in the form of logs, chunks of wood, slivers, or pellets. This wood can be used by itself or in conjunction with charcoal or gas. There are a number of woods in common use with each type imparting a distinctive aroma and taste. A quick internet search revealed numerous retailers that sell cooking wood; or, an industrious person can supply their own. Not all woods are desirable for cooking though. Woods that contain a lot of resins such as most conifers do not impart desirable flavor. When using wood products make sure that they do not contain glues, preservatives, paint, or any other chemical. Using moldy wood or wood with a lot of rot is not a good idea either. Using wood that contains the outer bark of trees is probably not a good idea because this bark can contain tannins and other chemicals that impart a bitter taste. Some of the more common woods recommended for cooking include: fruit woods (apple, crabapple, peach, cherry, pear, and mulberry). These woods impart a fruity flavor and aroma to foods. Many online grilling gurus recommend fruitwood with poultry, pork, fish, and vegetables. Alder and white or western red cedar provide fruity, woodsy aromatic flavor good for fish, and seafood especially salmon. Maple and birch produce a light, sweet taste good for poultry, fish, and vegetables. Pecan provides sweet, rich, nutty flavor. Oak and beech, imparts a moderate smoky flavor. These are good cooking woods for larger cuts of meat because they burn evenly and for a long time. Hickory offers a fairly strong smoky flavor. Hickory is used widely for smoking meats. Mesquite produces strong smoky flavor used extensively for south western cooking.

Apple cooking wood

Wood has been made into charcoal for thousands of years for cooking and other applications. There are two main forms of charcoal, black and white charcoal with the black variety being much more common. The Japanese have been producing a white charcoal called Bincho-tan from the ubame oak for thousands of years. This white charcoal is produced by curing the oak at a very high temperature (1,000 degrees Celsius) then rapidly cooling the charcoal. This treatment burns off the outer bark leaving a smooth, dense product with whitish coloration. This very dense Bichotan charcoal has metallic sound when struck. Bichotan burns at a lower temperature and for a longer period of time than black charcoal and does not impart much smoky flavor on the food. This makes it especially good for seafood, and vegetables bringing out the natural flavor of the food. Bichotan charcoal has numerous small pores which absorb water and unpleasant odors. The burning of this charcoal releases negative ions which is said to have a soothing quality and increases blood circulation. Besides burning for fuel, white charcoal has been used in water purifiers, soil enhancers, dehumidifiers and in the production of musical instruments and wind chimes.

Article by FCFCDB

Nature Note for 5/23/20