Q. "What is the difference between wood chips and wood chunks ?"
A. Wood chips are very small pieces of hardwood that provide a quick burst of natural flavouring or smoke to the foods you are cooking. At Smokinlicious, we developed a rather coarse-cut, fresh (never kiln-dried) wood chip that contains no bark. As a general rule, if you plan to smoke for only a short time, or if you desire only a small amount of smoke flavour to your food, then using wood chips is ideal. Keep in mind, that many electric and gas smokers on the market today, are only designed for use with wood chips. If you own a gas grill, then be sure to see our response to:
Q. "How do I smoke on a gas grill?"
Wood Chunks are large pieces of hardwood designed specifically for equipment that has a wood pan or drawer. At Smokinlicious, we offer two specialty cut "filets": 'The Single' which consists of wood pieces 3-4" wide that have been fileted one time for flavour release; and 'The Double' which consists of wood pieces of 2-3" wide which have been fileted twice allowing for maximum flavour release. Smokinlicious also offers "blocks" and "logs" which are considered "unfileted" cuts of heartwood that allow for extended smoking time. If you should have questions as to what gourmet wood is compatible with your cooker, see our ["Match Your Cooker"
page - simply select the manufacturer of your unit, find the model, and the appropriate gourmet woods are listed for you!
Q. "How do I prepare my wood chips or chunks for use in my grill or smoker?"
A. Whether you choose to use wood chips or chunks, the main idea is to sustain the burn time of the wood. These woods are used not as a fuel source but to impart natural flavouring into the foods your cook. We recommend soaking the wood chips in either hot water, wine, beer, whiskey, or any flavouring you wish to impart into the food. No, you do not have to use only water for soaking! Remember, what you soak the wood in will also reveal itself in the flavour of the foods being cooked. The soak time will depend on the desired result. Dr. Smoke's easy rule regarding the soaking time is ... the stronger the flavour of the liquid, the shorter the soak time! So if your using a Merlot wine which has a strong flavour, you may only soak for 15 minutes. Using lemon juice, you may want to soak for up to 12 hours. Smokinlicious wood chips have never been kiln dried! Therefore, rehydration and imparting of flavour will be very fast! Just drip dry the chips and you are ready to go!
Once wood has been harvested, it will continue to loose moisture in what is referred to as the seasoning process. At Smokinlicious we take a moisture reading on all our chip, chunk, block, and log products at the time of packaging. We scribe this reading on our packaging to assist the user in determining how to use our gourmet woods. Keep in mind, that for charcoal/wood based equipment, you ususally don't have to pre-soak the wood. You can apply the chunks and chips directly to the coals for smoke. Unsoaked wood chips are an easy way to bring the temperature of a cooker up quickly, while still adding natural flavour to your foods. However, you should always inspect your wood for the tell-tale signs that rehydration is needed: cracks appear at the ends of the chunks, blocks or logs or the wood has actually begun to split in two. If these signs are observed then you should consider soaking for rehydration. Since our gourmet wood products are never kiln dried they should re-hydrate adequately in about 30 minutes. Always allow the wood to drip dry for a few minutes prior to adding them to your fire. You never want to apply wood that is dripping wet.
Need further information on rehydration of woods, simply click on the pages titled "Importance of Moisture" and "Moisture Table" to further guide you!
Q "I previously purchased some of the Sugar Maple wood chunks and noticed that despite storing the wood in a cool, dry, dark place, the wood appeared to change colour. Is the wood still good?"
A. Yes - we harvest our Sugar Maple from the maple syrup producing maple tree. Generally, that requires us to harvest the wood between the months of June and January, in advance of the annual tapping of the trees for syrup. Although we do not tap any of the trees we harvest, they are still a maple syrup producer. The Sugar Maple hardwood will change from a light tan/blonde colouring to a deep brown/light gray colouring due to the seasonal change of the wood as influenced by the sap. There is no change to flavour of the wood even with the colour change.
Q "If I purchase a mixture of wood chunks or chips, are the woods labeled?"
A. Yes - we always package each wood species in a separate bag and label each bag clearly with the wood type. Please note, that when ordering a small refill of the chunks or small chip box, there will be two species of wood. For a large refill or "serious smoker" box, there will be three species. If you desire specific wood types, please note this in the comments section of the order page.
Q. "How much wood should I be using when I smoke or grill?"
A. There is no single answer to this question but let us provide you with some guidelines. Natural grilling or wood fired grilling, is the process of imparting the natural flavour of wood into your meats and poultry. If you have a charcoal grill, start the fire as you normally would. Be sure not to over fill the charcoal or burn area. Keep in mind, you will be adding wood pieces to this fire so don't over fill the basket or kettle area. Let all the charcoal catch fire and reduce itself to burning embers. You'll know when the charcoal has reached this stage by the color of the embers - they will appear grayish-white. At this point, you are ready to add wood. We recommend using 1-2 cups of pre-soaked wood chips or 5-6 wood chunks. As soon as the wood is added, you should see smoke begin to develop. Add your meat to the grilling grate at this time. This allows you to capture all of this natural flavouring into the foods being grilled. If there is a hood to your grill, lower it during the cooking process. This will ensure that none of the wood flavouring escapes from the cooker. Add additional pre-soaked wood chips or wood chunks as needed to maintain the smoke and temperature. If your cooker does not have a hood then be sure to have additional woods available as the level of oxygen entering the cooker will reduce the woods to ash at a faster rate.
Q. "How do I smoke on a gas grill?"
A. The two most important items to remember when smoking on a gas grill are you don't want the wood to burn too quickly and you don't want the ash to collect in your gas grill. We recommend a smoking box for using wood chips in your gas grill. These are readily available in any grill supply store. Most boxes are approximately 2-3 inches wide by 6-10 inches long. Remember, don't stuff the box! You need to leave room for the wood to breathe with the heat. Again, a 1/4 cup of wood chips should be your starting quantity. Most gas grills have a location for the box to slide in or will already include a smoking box as part of your purchase. If not, place your smoking box under the cooking grate and above the burners. If your gas grill still doesn't appear to have the room between the burner/diffuser and the grilling grate, then simply placee the smoking box on the grate that is above the lite burner.
Q. "How do I smoke on charcoal grill?"
A. First, start your charcoal grill and let the fire die down. Then add your wood chunks to the charcoal. If you're using standard charcoal briquettes, you will need to add approximately 4-6 wood chunks. If you're using lump charcoal, then reduce the amount of wood added, as lump charcoal adds some level of smoke flavouring on its own. Remember, soaking the wood chunks first will provide more smoke to your cooker. You may use either wet or dry wood chunks on the cooker/grill.
Q. "Is there any way to smoke without purchasing a smoking wood chips box or owning an actual smoker?"
A. Absolutely!! The easiest way to make a container for the smoking wood product is to use aluminum foil. Simply take a large piece of aluminum foil, place your Wood Chips inside, form a pouch around the wood, and poke many holes in the foil using a knife tip, tines of a large fork, or with a pencil/pen tip. This will allow for the smoke to escape and penetrate the food above. Remember, the aluminum pouch should be placed above the burners of a gas grill but under the grilling grate, or on top of the simmering charcoal briquettes.
Q. "How do I use the Fire Starters?"
A. Our Fire Starters contain a mixture of wood shavings and wax that allow for quick lighting of wood fires. This includes starting fireplaces and wood stoves! Stack the firewood tepee style, log cabin style, or any stacking method that has worked for you in the past. Set the Fire Starter on top of the wood and light the burlap wrapping. Our Fire Starters are designed to burn slowly for approximately 10-15 minutes. As the Fire Starter burns, the contents will cover the wood beneath, thus igniting the wood below. Our Fire Starters also work when placed on a single piece of wood.
Q. "What is plank cooking?"
A. Planks" are pieces of wood usually designed to be 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick that cuts of meat, fish, and poultry are placed directly on. Just like Wood Chips and Wood Chunks, planks can be soaked in hot water, wine, whiskey, or beer, to bring additional flavours to your food. They are also very pleasant without any added liquid flavouring. Try beef tenderloin on a plank, sea bass on a plank, turkey cutlets on a plank! You'll love this new way of cooking foods. The best part is plank cooking does not require a grill or smoker. A conventional oven is perfect for roasting all types of foods on planks.