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View Full Version : Is it good to soak the wood before you start smoking?


zahiratom
09-22-2011, 08:45 AM
First of all, sorry.
Im new at this forum. In fact, Ive never been in a forum before.
Sorry, because Im sure that this is not the place for this question, but Im a little lost.
And sorry, again, because Im spanish and I need to improve my english.

Ok, my question is if I should soak the wood for a few hours befor start smoking. Ive read in websites that I should, and in other websites, that I wouldnt.

thx.

Hozman
09-22-2011, 08:49 AM
First welcome and no need to apologize for your English you write better than some other folks I have read.

To answer your question I imagine you will here it both ways here as well. What are you smoking in? I do not soak my chunks or split logs when smoking but I do soak wood chips.

1FUNVET
09-22-2011, 08:54 AM
First welcome and no need to apologize for your English you write better than some other folks I have read.

To answer your question I imagine you will here it both ways here as well. What are you smoking in? I do not soak my chunks or split logs when smoking but I do soak wood chips.


I agree. It's a waste of time to soak chunks and the water does not really soak in very far.Welcome to the maddness :thumb:

Spoony
09-22-2011, 08:56 AM
I never soak never found a benifit I use log and it burns right without soaking.

Arlin_MacRae
09-22-2011, 08:56 AM
You're English is great, zahiratom!

I agree about the soaking. There's no real reason to do it.

Arlin

HeSmellsLikeSmoke
09-22-2011, 09:12 AM
Welcome. I too do not soak smoking wood.

You are looking for thin blue smoke from a clean burning fire, not white smoke from a smoldering fire.

Smoked
09-22-2011, 09:14 AM
I'm in the "don't soak chunks, but do soak chips" boat.

Lake Dogs
09-22-2011, 09:18 AM
First of all, sorry.
Im new at this forum. In fact, Ive never been in a forum before.
Sorry, because Im sure that this is not the place for this question, but Im a little lost.
And sorry, again, because Im spanish and I need to improve my english.

Ok, my question is if I should soak the wood for a few hours befor start smoking. Ive read in websites that I should, and in other websites, that I wouldnt.

thx.


Welcome to the forum, and your english is fine.

Many people recommend soaking your wood (particularly wood chips) before using them in your smoker. The result is a wonderfully white billowy smoke that engulfs the meat. Honestly, I doubt if any of these people (who recommend this) have ever cooked a really delicious piece of barbecue in their life, and I'll bet money they've never won a sanctioned barbecue contest with that approach.

The billowy white smoke is the least desirable smoke. The best smoke for barbecue is called "sweet blue", which is thin (almost completely transparent) and has a slight blue hue/tint.

To get "sweet blue" the fire needs to be clean and hot. Wet wood smothers and cools the fire and as a result produces white billowy smoke.

Use dry wood, and if you can, warm the wood before putting it on the fire. You'll have nice thin sweet blue smoke. Your barbecue will be better for it, and your taste buds will thank you.

silverfinger
09-22-2011, 09:36 AM
Welcome to the forum, and your english is fine.

Many people recommend soaking your wood (particularly wood chips) before using them in your smoker. The result is a wonderfully white billowy smoke that engulfs the meat. Honestly, I doubt if any of these people (who recommend this) have ever cooked a really delicious piece of barbecue in their life, and I'll bet money they've never won a sanctioned barbecue contest with that approach.

The billowy white smoke is the lease desirable smoke. The best smoke for barbecue is called "sweet blue", which is thin (almost completely transparent) and has a slight blue hue/tint.

To get "sweet blue" the fire needs to be clean and hot. Wet wood smothers and cools the fire and as a result produces white billowy smoke.

Use dry wood, and if you can, warm the wood before putting it on the fire. You'll have nice thin sweet blue smoke. Your barbecue will be better for it, and your taste buds will thank you.

I've been smoking big chunks to cook my ribs and for the life of me could not get rid of the white smoke. Looks like Im going with dry wood and hardwood charcoal on my next try. THANKS!

Lake Dogs
09-22-2011, 09:42 AM
I've been smoking big chunks to cook my ribs and for the life of me could not get rid of the white smoke. Looks like Im going with dry wood and hardwood charcoal on my next try. THANKS!

You're welcome. I too learned the hard way. The next thing I had to learn was not to put on too much wood. You can still smother the fire. It only takes a piece or two (or chunk or two). Some people cant see the smoke and think it's time to add another piece of wood. Look closely and carefully. When it first turns blue it's a little thicker, but soon afterwards it'll get VERY thin, almost unnoticable. It's there. It'll usually take about an hour before it completely burns.

As pictures are worth a thousand words, here are two that I use in describing it:
http://i570.photobucket.com/albums/ss141/hance_patrick/smokegoodvsevil.jpg

Bad smoke on the left, good "Sweet Blue" on the right. Although it's just gone to sweet blue. It gets much thinner soon, like in this pic:

http://i570.photobucket.com/albums/ss141/hance_patrick/P1020282.jpg

Yes, there is smoke here. Look in the leaves (background), there's a hint of blue... This is PERFECT. Creosote doesn't build up on the barbecue, and it ends up with a wonderful smoke flavor.

CharredPiggies
09-22-2011, 09:48 AM
+1
Spot on


...The result is a wonderfully white billowy smoke that engulfs the meat...

... Wet wood smothers and cools the fire and as a result produces white billowy smoke.

attrezzo
09-22-2011, 09:53 AM
I've never found that soaking the wood provides desirable results, I've heard the same about white billowy smoke. I've found it produces a bitter flavor.

I suppose when it comes right down to it it depends on your taste buds.

Personally, I like a hot (emphasis on the HOT part) fire burning a well aged wood base (dry as a bone). Char is good for this too. Then into that I add FRESH wood. Preferably cut earlier that week. Pecan and apple are my favorite. Small branches and twigs work best. You don't need much and I find you can impart some sweetness to the meat and that peppery pecan flavor.

This is how my family has smoked sausage for many-a-generation in Texas. They used pecan almost exclusively in a large wash-pan in a smoke-house they would put lots of char as the burning base, and over the course of the next couple of days add relatively green pecan. Bits of branch anywhere from an inch to 4 inches thick.
As a result, the whole smoke-house was "seasoned" in this smell and god did it smell good. The smoked sausage we used to make was incredible. (Partly my bias from growing up with it) I've had trouble ever since finding anything like it anywhere so I make my own when I can.

The trick is to use just enough fresh wood. Too much and you'll have creosote buildup and the meat will get bitter and nasty quick. It's much easier to manage in a large smoking operation like a smoke-house vs a cabinet smoker, but I've found it can be done. It's tricky because it's so easy to add too much fresh wood at once, Start with just a little bit, (less than a handful for a pit-type smoker and a few pounds of meat) and add it over the course of the smoke. If you want more flavor next time add a little bit more till it's just right.

Back in the day, there were no competitions for bbq. The local ranchers and farmers would learn from their fathers and friends because smoking was a way of life. In my area county fairs were instrumental in a yearly evaluation of who had the best foods of any variety. So every year everyone who could afford it would beg the winners to smoke their meat or share their secrets. If you didn't smoke or dry your meat you lost it quickly as it would go rancid. So it was an art out of necessity performed often and by many people. And because of that, I guess in that area at least, pecan smoked meats from an old' timer were some of the best smoked meats I've ever tasted. The typical regime in my hometown was sausage because of the german heritage of the area, but I'm sure other meats were smoked that way.

I've heard fresh wood is a no no all the time. But I've never experienced that to be true unless they used too much.

Goldflinger
09-22-2011, 09:53 AM
I do not soak my wood at all. Heard it leads to creosote build up if you do.

deguerre
09-22-2011, 09:55 AM
Welcome zahiratom! Q-Talk was the right place for the question. Lakedogs has already covered it perfectly. As to chips, I never soak them either. In a grill I'll make a foil bomb, but in my gasser I use a three lb coffee can filled to the brim and covered with a perforated cast iron lid which reduces the airflow and allows for embers instead of flames with the chips.

zahiratom
09-22-2011, 11:52 AM
Thanks to all of you!!
I've tried several times soaking the wood but it did not seem to improve anything.
In Spain its not easy to purchase wood chips. I like the hickory and cherry, but lately I'm experimenting with oak.
Thanks again for all your answers!!

deguerre
09-22-2011, 11:57 AM
Oak works wonders on beef.

zacman
09-22-2011, 12:29 PM
I used to soak wood chips till I learned better. Gives an off flavor I found, now never ever soak anything.

Forrestbro
09-22-2011, 12:46 PM
Years ago, when I used to use wood chips, I soaked them good. When I first started using chunks, I soaked those too. The results were often funny tasting and I thought it might be the charcoal I was using. A few oldtimers set me straight when they saw the billows of thick white smoke coming out of my pit. I've been on the path of thin blue smoke using dry chunks and splits since then. Man, what a difference!

...and I'm still learning!

jimmyinsd
09-22-2011, 02:35 PM
air+fuel+heat=fire
fire+meat+knowledge=good
water+fuel=http://media.scout.com/media/forums/emoticons/banghead.gif

silverfinger
09-22-2011, 05:01 PM
Welcome zahiratom! Q-Talk was the right place for the question. Lakedogs has already covered it perfectly. As to chips, I never soak them either. In a grill I'll make a foil bomb, but in my gasser I use a three lb coffee can filled to the brim and covered with a perforated cast iron lid which reduces the airflow and allows for embers instead of flames with the chips.

How do you go about grilling steaks with wood chips? I have always soaked them and throw them on the hot coals just before I put the steaks on but I hate how it always cools my fire down.

deguerre
09-22-2011, 05:34 PM
How do you go about grilling steaks with wood chips? I have always soaked them and throw them on the hot coals just before I put the steaks on but I hate how it always cools my fire down.

Foil bomb. Make a pouch with foil, fill with chips and fold to seal then poke a bunch of holes in one side with a sharpened pencil or phillips head to release the smoke, toss on coals.

Mooner
09-22-2011, 05:43 PM
brother, soaking wood is both a waste of time and perfectly good water. Throw some chunks on lit coals and get smoke. Soaking IMHO is an urban legend similar to ghosts or bigfoot :-D