Apple Orchard Wood Question

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by dougelian, Feb 26, 2015.

  1. Living in Saskatchewan, not many fruit trees can withstand the cold winters. Some Crabapples, and Chokecherries, Maple and so on. I found some Apple firewood for sale on Kijiji (Canadian Craigs List) a couple of provinces over. I would have to have it shipped, for the price, it might be worth it.

    This is apple orchard wood cut down to make room for housing development, or newer varieties. Now i understand that growers might spray 10 or 20 times a year, and used to spray with a product called Alar, which was banned after an expose by 60 minutes, but as always two sides to every story. So if the trees are old enough to have been sprayed hundreds of times, likely with Alar, and if Alar (which breaks down into "unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine" or UDMH) is a carcinogen, will the wood be safe to smoke with? As I type this out it, I realize it would be silly to take the chance, but i have already composed my question, what do you think?

  2. Hello Doug.  Interesting question.  Many of us buy wood for smoking.  None of us actually know what the trees have been sprayed with to be honest; as I am sure other members will agree.  Never really gave it any thought before.  I recently found out that when using nut wood for smoking it MAY cause an allergic reaction in folks with nut allergies.  Most fruit and nut trees have been sprayed with chemicals at some point so stands to reason that chemical COULD  be released during the smoking process.  Seems to reason the wood from sprayed trees MAY contain the chemical they were sprayed with.  BUT!  How far do we go here?  [​IMG]   I normally say "If in doubt leave it out" but do we really know anything about the wood/pellets we buy and use on a daily basis?  It might even have a name brand on it like Weber wood chips but????  I haven't seen "organic" smoking wood for sale.  I think this one has to be a personal call.  If you feel safe using it go for it; if not leave it alone.  Of course now a days eating, breathing, sleeping and BBQ MAY cause cancer.  Just my opinion.  Keep Smokin!

  3. Not like I'm walking around wearing a tin foil hat or anything, in this case I pretty well know about the spray. Looks like I will be calling the arborists around here.
  4. Yep!  Know what ya mean Doug.  Should I use it?  Is it safe?  We don't want our friends and family getting sick.  Tough call.  You may find that an arborist has no idea as to the use of the wood for smoking meat.  If you find any info please be sure to post your findings!  IMPORTANT info we should all know.  Food safety is TOP PRIORITY here.  Keep Smokin!

  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Doug, morning... I don't see/taste much difference between maple and apple... I would go with local wood.... skip the shipping costs... Sugar maple, Big leaf maple... Alder ... any of the broad leaf hardwoods EXCEPT ELM... it is horrible, nasty tasting stuff....
    Do you use wood for heat or just flavoring the smoke.... maybe switch to electric and flavor chunks or chips or sawdust to smoke flavor...
  6. I too cannot taste a distinct difference in certain types of wood, man thing all the fruit woods seem similar , Oak and Pecan or pretty mild Hickory is stronger and mesquite is even stronger.  I use peach when I can get mainly use pecan because it's plentiful around here.

  7. I have been mostly using cherry scrap run through the thickness planer, supplemented with some bagged chips in my propane smoker. Most of the bagged stuff has been apple and cherry. I bought a bag of mesquite and found i don't like it. Man is it pungent. For the new reverse flow i will need something more than chips. I have one silver leaf maple in my yard, of the 8 i planted, a late frost killed the rest when they were whips. Manitoba Maple is a common shelterbelt tree here, and lots of abandoned yards to source a few logs. You can tap Manitoba maples like a sugar maple, never tried it or tasted the syrup. But that is probably my best bet, store bought bacon around here has been maple smoked for as long as i can remember although that is likely sugar maple. I use birch to heat my house, along with the natural gas, and have used it to cook over with good results, not sure how the smoke would  taste, again i hear it has been tapped for syrup, (it might be an acquired taste). I have used chokecherry, which is well received, never tried Saskatoon berry wood, they both grow on a bush, and plenty of wild plants just no sizable wood.  We get a lot of shipping crates that are oak, and though it would likely be pretty dry, i might give it a try. I have a couple of Burr oak growing, but they are tough to get started, (again plant 8 and see 2 grow), and slow growing, so you only see them where someone is stubborn enough or has a large staff, like on the university grounds. I thought i might talk to a couple of arborists and get them to save me some Crabapple wood when they are pruning/removing trees.

  8. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Crabapple and chokecherry are good smoking woods. So is lilac. Maple is great, alder, birch, even aspen has been used. I love lilac when I can get my hands on it.
  9. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    The answer is yes you can use the apple wood. Pesticide and fungicide use is so common in fruit orchards that I am willing to bet that all of the fruit trees used for BBQ wood in the past 20 years has been sprayed with something. IMHO this is a non issue.
  10. Hello.  I gotta agree with cliffcarter on this one.  I would say use the apple wood.  I would be more concerned with the oak shipping crates.  With "processed" wood you never know what has been done to it or what has been in the crate.  Just like using pallets; I wouldn't go there.  Just my opinion.

    Now for mesquite!  [​IMG]   Being from Tx. I would eat cardboard smoked with mesquite; but I grew up on it.  What meat did you smoke with it?  It is sort of " IN YOUR FACE!".  For new folks mesquite needs to be used for BEEF, as in big brisket.  MAYBE a pork butt.  For new folks to try I usually mix SOME mesquite with pecan and cherry.  I would never use pure oak, hickory or mesquite for a novice to smoked food.  I think that is the "trick" to good smoked food.  Blending the proper woods for the meat or using the proper wood for the meat.  You just can't always use something like mesquite or hickory for something like fish or chicken.  Also I think you CAN get foods that are "over smoked".  I don't want my foods yelling " HEY! I'M SMOKED!"  In my opinion if the smoke takes over from the taste of the food then it is over smoked.  Fine balance.  If doing a 8-15 lb. brisket you can "go for it".  If 1 small chicken you need to back down.  The smoke should enhance the flavour of the food, not mask it.  Quality meat, salt and pepper and a good smoked flavour is all that is necessary.  Just my opinions for what they are worth.  Keep Smokin!

    timberjet likes this.
  11. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Ok I am just going to re affirm that all trees probably drink pesticides and stuff right in from the groundwater anyway. So why not just go with the flow. sort of speak..... hahaha.... I would still rather use wood than liquid smoke any day, month, year ......etc..
  12. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Gary if you can find some lilac give it a try. Just about everybody has some lilac in there neighborhood. It has a distinct perfume to it that no other wood that I have found does. You can definetly tell it's lilac if you have ever had it before or if you ever smelled them when they are in bloom full force. Makes for some really awesome chicken or turkey breast.
  13. Hey thanks TJ

  14. You eat the apples from the trees right? I would imagine more chemicals on and in the apple itself than the wood would absorb and release during smoking. Just my 2 cents opinion.
  15. I never would have thought of smoking with lilac, pretty easy to find around here. Thanks for the tips
  16. So, kt5py, what you are saying is the kind of wood in the smoke is like an ingredient in the recipe? I will have to choose my wood more carefully, and consider the meat when I choose.
    I used the mesquite to smoke some pork loins, I used it alone, and it didn't take much smoke to get the flavour. As for the finished product, I sure never heard any complaints. Next time I will brine the loins and make canadian bacon, although I don't know where you guys get that from, I grew up eating pork belly bacon, we call your canadian bacon, back bacon, and that breading it with pea meal, I've only seen that in the States. Maybe it's an eastern canadian thing.

  17. Hi Doug.  Yes.  Blending wood and matching wood with meat I feel is part of the whole process.  Canadian bacon is called back bacon here in England also.  Back bacon is USUALLY not smoked here in England.  Before you get confused, I am from Tx. but have lived in England for the last 15 years.  Keep Smokin!

  18. Danny,

    Well I have never been to either Texas or England, all though they don't sound like similar places to me. It must have been a big change for you. I hope you were not offended by my tongue in cheek remarks.

    The smoked belly bacon being usual here, my dad always thought the unsmoked fried pork belly was a treat when we butchered our own hogs.

    To date I have described my smoking in the propane smoker as lazy mans cooking, sure I have to get up early, but then other than adding more wood chips, nothing to do but be patient. Now the new reverse flow might be a little more involved, at least until I get the hang of it.

    I like the idea of lilac, we had large hedges on either side of the driveway on my dad's farm and I remember the smell when they were in full bloom like it was yesterday, maybe the smoke will impart some of that into the meat.

    To get back to the topic of the spray, and speak to some other comments, In the spirit of open discussion.

    I am certain everything I see in the grocery store has been sprayed, irradiated, inoculated, vaccinated, genetically altered, gassed, and god knows what else. Even the items marked organic, grass fed, or free range have likely had things done to them that I wouldn't do in my own garden, or to my own animals. I think that we will poison our environment with our thirst for oil long before we bring on the zombie apocalypse with the commercialization of our food supply. Don't get me wrong, my family chooses apples that look like apples should, shiny, red with no scabs, beautifully ripened, crisp and sweet to the bite. We realize that that choice has a price, and that is the use of sprays like Alar on our apples, the selective breeding of varieties, the hauling of the apples across the country in refrigerated diesel trucks. So to answer the question, yes I eat the apples, but it doesn't mean I can't question the use of sprays, or the hauling of them across the country, in fact it might be the only thing i can do, other than not eating the apples. And I do enjoy a good apple


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