Wood Chunks-Huge Difference in Smoke Quality

Discussion in 'Slicers, Grinders, Tools, Equipment' started by sfprankster, Aug 8, 2015.

  1. Since purchasing my WSM several months ago, I have been using the wood chunks available in bags at the local hardware store, Home Depot, OSH and Lowe's. I have found these to be very old, too dry, lots of bark and well beyond what could be considered as seasoned. Most have a overly dusty smell, rather than the distinct smell of the wood itself. The more traditional woods like hickory, pecan, maple, mesquite, etc, I have begun to order from other parts of the country. Fruit and nut wood on the other hand, are readily available locally, from the farms where I purchase my fruits and veggies. Now I have a couple of partially full bags of the wood I bought from the stores remaining. Time for me to figure out what to do with the remaining wood.

    I have recently began purchasing wood chunks through several Ebay sellers. I have found a couple that sell well seasoned hardwoods, without bark, at what I consider a good price, $1.00-1.50/lb including shipping. Since I first began using the wood I ordered from Ebay(hickory smoked pork spare ribs yesterday), I noticed an immediate difference in flavors. Rather than the dull, single note, smoke flavor, more subtle nuances can be tasted in the smoked meat. Spices used in the rub appear more vibrant, pronounced and layered. The meat flavors themselves, comes through the smokiness with more richness, individuality and depth. I will NEVER use any of the wood chunks purchased from the big box stores again.

    Today I received a medium USPS Priority box from Georgia. Crammed to overfull, with 18 lbs 12 ozs of good sized pecan chunks, mostly 3" x 3" x 4" sized pieces... [​IMG]  Luckily, the entire box was wrapped in shipping tape, otherwise, it might have exploded in transit... [​IMG]  I'm looking forward to trying the pecan chunks I received today in a future smoking (mis)adventure.


    The smoking wood collection begins to grow... [​IMG]

  2. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Can you recommend any eBay sellers?
  3. The pecan I just received today, from >>HERE<<

    Nice sized chunks( average 3"x3"x4"), well seasoned, no bark, 18.75 lbs/$25.99 including USPS Priority shipping(3 days). Haven't used it for a smoke, but the wood has a nice clean aroma.

    Hickory from >>HERE<<

    Some smaller pieces( average 1"x2"x4"), well seasoned, no bark, 17.5 lbs/$24.99 including USPS Priority shipping(2 days). This seller has other varieties available(cherry, sugar maple, black walnut, white oak). I used the hickory on Friday and was impressed with the difference in flavor, over the bags of wood chunks available everywhere. The sugar maple is another I'm considering to order. Walnut and cherry, I can get locally here in CA.

    If you get the chance, peach is another to try.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2015
  4. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks for the link, I might try some sugar maple.
  5. Anytime!!

    Let me know how the maple works out for you. It's one I'm considering on ordering soon.
  6. av8tor

    av8tor Meat Mopper

    Great find, thanks
  7. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I get wood from Fruita Wood and BBQ Supply once in awhile. A little pricey but nice wood,they keep a certain percentage of moisture in there wood and cut only when ordered they offer bark free as well there mini splits are great.
  8. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    The chunk is Post Oak the mini split is cherry. Cherry and Pecan are my faves the Post Oak seemed kind of strong and I only used a little on a brisket.
  9. Thanx!!

    I've been on the Fruita Wood and BBQ Supply  web site before. Just a little on the pricey side.

    The moisture levels in the bagged wood is the very reason I'm searching online for other sources of eastern hardwoods. Without it, the smoke flavor is just blah to me. No real distinction between any of the varieties. I was hoping(but knew better), that I could overlook the differences, due to the convenience. 

    Recently, I'm been looking for eastern hardwoods(hickory, sugar maple, pecan) that are a little stronger smoke flavors than the fruit woods I have been using. The hickory I used a couple of days ago, just popped and made the spare ribs flavor more balanced and layered. Everything just came together and tasted much better than when I used the bagged hickory before. Could have been the smoke flavor was more substantial and pronounced. I'll give it another try in a few days, with the pecan I recently received, to see if it was the fresh hickory that made the difference, or if it was just my imagination.

    Most of the fruit and nut woods(cherry, peach, plum, pluot, apple, citrus, grapevines, almond, red and black walnut, etc), I can get from friend's farms, located here in CA. A quick phone call or text the day before the farmer's market, brings milk crates of fresh wood. I've been using this method for several years, on my kettle, with great success. Only problem, I have to cut, split and remove the bark myself. [​IMG]
  10. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I cut my own wood from my farm. Best you can get.

    I found the same thing with store bought.

    My wood has a stronger smoke too
  11. Everything around here is redwoods, douglas fir, madrones, oak and of course, the over abundance of poison oak...

    Not sure anyone would consider poison oak as viable... [​IMG]  
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2015
  12. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have oak, hickory , cherry, apple, maple.

    I buy pecan on ebay. :biggrin:
  13. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I will say this, and of course its my own personal opinion, you get what you pay for. Last year I got some apple and cherry from "Western" (I would guess one of the larger supplier in the country) and the wood SUCKED!!  I love Amazon, I told 'em what I thought and they immediately dumped all their stored "Western " wood at pennies on the dollar. I did announce it on here. It was old and dried out completely. It actually caught my Cold smoker on fire. I bought about 24 bags of multi-flavor wood.  Why you ask when it was so old. Because if you soaked it like the manufacturer's say it worked wonderfully. Not as good as the wood in the yard but better than normal store bought.

    The wood sold by those companies has been kiln dried to expedite the packaging, shipment and sale. Then if it sits there a year or more its just too dry.

    This is the biggest advantage of Todd's Pellets. They never need soaking, you need not check or worry about them. I find that fresh cured and not dried wood is best, pellets second then the store bought stuff. There is though , again I believe, a large difference between home grown, and pellets, as much as pellets and store bought.  Pellets do a low and slow smoke where home grown gets with the program!

    If you'll look on Craig's list, or the paper's classified (heaven forbid a news paper), or the bulletin board at the grocery store you can usually find local wood.

    All this is my perception of the wood quality of different types.

    AND now just a suggestion, every once in a while throw in a zinger. learn to use the woods that you wouldn't normally apply to some type meat. Use the quantity of smoke instead of the wood to do something different. Try a hard smoke on a light meat, just a lot less of it. It will blow ya taste buds away cause its different.
  14. You mean to say there are instructions included with wood chunks? [​IMG]  [​IMG]

    I just went out and checked to make sure... [​IMG]

    HOLY BOVINE FECAL MATERIAL, there are instructions on the bag... [​IMG]

    ...in multiple languages... [​IMG]


    I did find a use for some of the bagged wood chunks...

    ...the quicker and easier way to light mesquite lump charcoal... [​IMG]

    Last edited: Aug 9, 2015
  15. Finally got off my lazy rear a couple of days ago,cut and split some cherry I received from a friend's farm. Used a mix of cherry and the hickory I ordered on Ebay on chicken thighs. HUGE difference in the flavor over the bagged wood varieties.
  16. Once again, got busy this morning with my chop saw and filled a box with peach wood chunks.

    Another weapon added into my smoking arsenal... [​IMG]  
  17. Beautiful wood, hope it smokes as nice as it looks. Love peach, actually white peach. Alot of white peach orchards nearby that I'm able to pick and prune. Nice light smoke. Nice score.
  18. I've used the peach wood on my kettle for years. I receive the wood from a friend's farm every year, when they trim back the trees in Jan-Feb. I let it cure and when I get time, I cut it into chunks as needed. I usually remove the bark at the same time as I chop it up, but got lazy, and I'll have to do it as I use it. 

    I'll find out how well this batch works soon. I have the chimney just starting some lump to get my WSM rolling for more chicken thighs.  

    Fire in the hole!!

  19. Received another ebay order of eastern hardwood to add into my smoking arsenal... [​IMG]

    Sugar maple:

    Very pleased with the wood chunks I have received from this seller. All of the wood has been well seasoned and not too dry, unlike the store bought bags I have purchased.

    Beginning to get quite the collection of woods to use in my WSM[​IMG]

    Hickory, sugar maple, pecan, cherry and peach.

    Now I need to get off my lazy rear end and chop some local almond and apple, I have conveniently stacked next to my chop saw. [​IMG]
  20. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Because I had complained about my lack of mesquite for brisket, a few years back my cousins showed up at the back door wanting a weekend in New Orleans for the utility trailer of mesquite they had cut and loaded off the family property NW of Ft. Worth. I obliged after stacking it out back next to the fence. A few years later I had to load and haul the bulk of it off. Its just like food in the freezer, it has a shelf life.

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