Smoking meat isn’t just about hanging it over a flaming barbecue. It’s a lot more intricate and takes a far longer period. To smoke meat, you drape it in a smoking chamber for anything from a few hours to half a day, usually half as long as you plan to cook it.
There are two kinds of smoking. Cold smoking uses temperatures of 20 to 30 degrees, while hot smoking uses 70 to 80 degrees and produces meat that is ready to eat. Cold smokes last a few hours since they still contain some moisture, while hot smokes can stay fresh for months.
Smoking is usually done over smouldering hardwood coals rather than raging flames. It preserves meat in two ways. One, it dehydrates meat, which means bacteria have no moisture to facilitate their growth. Two, the smoke itself can kill harmful germs which might cause the meat to rot.
When people smoke meat, they prefer to use wood from fruit trees. Fruitwood has unique smells that can be transferred to your meat.
If you’d like to order some baskets of firewood for smoking purposes, think about the strength of smoke that each tree provides. Light smokers are good for chicken and fish, while dense, heavy woods are better for beef and game meat. Smoke adds flavour to meat, but it also changes the colour of the meat, so factor that in as well.
For your birds and fish, go for sweet fruity wood like apple, pear, peach, and cherry. The wood will not sweeten the food, but it will give is a mild, gentle flavour. If you’re smoking fish that has more flavour and texture, try birch wood. It blends beautifully with salmon.
Pork, beef, and game meat need wood with a little more oomph, so select carefully cut logs of oak, hickory, pecan, and maple trees. If you’re going to use a lot of chilli in your cooking, you can use mesquite wood, which is the strongest wood flavour.
Hickory and oak are hardwoods known for giving the meat a rich, dark tone, so if you’d like to darken your light meats, you can use a combination of hickory and apple or cherry. Try different mixes and matches to see what works best for you.
Since much of the scent from a tree comes from the leaf, beginners might think tossing a leaf over your wood pile will help to flavour the wood. Leaves are full of moisture, so they don’t burn well and will raise a stink rather than a rich, inspiring waft.
You should also avoid pine trees and resin woods since they will spoil the taste of your meat. To find out more about fruitwood smoking or order a few bags for your barbecue, get in touch with Ample Firewood on 1800 677 918.