This is important part of grilling... what kind of smoking firewood will make up my coal base? Some people used commercial charcoal but I don't recommend that. There are many chemicals in commercial charcoal. For a long smoking period, oak firewood makes a great coal base. It can last long hours of grilling and smoking. I find that Apricot has also made a great coal base for me on my personal cooking. Since I have had it on hand, I'm going with the Apricot for a coal base at the bottom of your smoker. There will always be Oak firewood here around on hand. Although it's an okay wood, there are many different smoking woods for sale that are much better.
There are various types of smoking wood that I use as a great coal base at the bottom of my firebox. I believe the most important part is what you use to start your firebox fire. Never use anything like charcoal lighter fluid or gasoline. These chemicals do soak into the smoking wood and it will be transferred to your food you are smoking. One of the safest ways is to use some fruit wood kindling with paper to start the fire. If you want to get very detailed, use untreated BBQ smoker paper.
When it is time to smoke your favorite foods, don't resort to kindling and various wood you find in your backyard. There are types of local trees in your area that are not well suited for smoking food. One tree we have in our area that is awful for cooking is Elm trees. It creates a foul smell and will start your smoking session on a very bad note. Lately, I have been using our Apricot kindling and paper to start each of my fires. Then I go ahead and start with pecan wood chunks.
I suggest using smoking wood chunks at the beginning of your smoker coal base fire because the wood chunks allow you to precisely put the wood in the area of the fire and to let it begin to increase in heat and fire. At the beginning is also not the time for your unseasoned smoker wood, save that for later. You use unseasoned smoker wood later because it will smoke much more than seasoned wood. I like to have unseasoned and seasoned smoking wood on hand but that i just my personal preference. Another smoking wood technique you may want to consider is to let your firebox fire die down a little and then add your smoker box tray full of damp smoking wood chips or smoking wood pellets. The directions on how to properly use these wood chips and wood pellets are to let them soak in water for 30 minutes before hand. Some chefs even get creative and soak them in apple juice or another type of fruit juice. This gives the smoking wood chips and smoking wood pellets a kick start to your smoking session. You need to only put in a handful into your smoker box tray or wrapped up in aluminum foil with hole poked into it.
Today, I am going to be doing a smoking wood experiment with smoking Chicken drumsticks at a low heat for a few hours. I will use apricot wood kindling to begin the fire. I will then add pecan wood chunks to use as a base. When the fire dies down I will add my smoking box tray and add Plum wood chips. I will soak these plum wood chips in water for 30 minutes before I begin the smoking session. When the fire hits my smoker box tray, it will allow these damp plum wood chips to begin to smoke. It is going to create some excellent chicken and corn on the cob today!
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