Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mail Bag

Today I received a good question about curing wood. If you are lucky enough to have a smoking wood tree in your yard or come across one, you have to allow the wood to dry properly before using it, or you'll ruin your food. Make sure to also check out my blog entry regarding smoking woods here.

Today's email is from DB in Texas:

My son unfortunately cut down a 25' pecan tree about 4 months ago(Houston,Tx).  The base is about 5 or 6 inches in diameter.  Can I use it to smoke a Turkey yet.  It doesn't look green at all but still has a little weight to it compared to oak.  Was going to smoke with mostly oak but wanted to compliment flavor with pecan.  Thanks for the help.  Happy Thanksgiving.


Dear DB,

I generally recommend that you wait about 6 months to let smoking wood age. That allows the natural moisture to evaporate along with some of the other undesired elements, and leaves us with a good combustible carbon. You mentioned another good indicator of curing and that is the weight of the wood. If it seems heavier then it should be for a piece of it's size, that may indicate it's not cured enough for smoking.

However, if you have been having low humidity and plenty of sunshine in your area, you might be alright. Try to use some small branches or tips first. I'd stay away from the heavier pieces. You can conduct a test with a small piece. Toss a small piece into your fire and let it begin to smolder. Sniff the air and see if you get any aromatic flavor out of it. If it is harsh or burns your nose or waters your eyes, don't use it yet.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Please feel free to add comments to my blogs and send me email questions. You can contact me by clicking on my signature above. I'd like the blog to be interactive so we can all participate. Coming up this week, I'll be writing about brining a thanksgiving turkey and I'll share the recipe with you. I will also be covering the smoking of the turkey and providing tips and pictures.

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