How to choose wood for smoked dishes?

The woods used for smoking should have a low resin content and be well dried to facilitate their preservation, in order to be able to incorporate the necessary moisture at the time of smoking.

The best woods should be specially cut hardwood species (Fagus sp., Quercus sp.). The selection of one wood or another has a lot to do with the olfactory and taste tones that one wants to give to the food.

This selection of wood will be of vital importance when the smoking process is long, since it is then when these peculiarities released from the combustion will be decisive in favour of the food.

Apple, oak, beech are some of the best possible choices.

Another commonly used technique is to flavour sawdust or wood chips with essences. It is always better to use natural essences without added neutral oils (usually glycerine oil), as oils are usually a vehicle for transporting aromas and help to integrate them into doughs, ice creams, sauces or creams. However, in smoking, a high oil content tends to mask the main aromas during combustion and is not the best choice. The volatilisation of smoke leaves essential oils or resins in the food, which give the exposed food its characteristic flavour and aroma.

What are the most common mistakes in the smoking process?

Whatever the wood chosen or the aroma, it is essential to avoid the wood being too dry. This error significantly reduces the controllability of the combustion, which means that, when the fire is lit, it quickly reaches temperatures of over 600ºC.

In this case, the flavouring will be too aggressive, spicy, not very aromatic, with toxins and even annoying for the diner. Because the essence contained in the wood will not be transported with the smoke and the high temperature reached in the combustion, this will destroy the weak aromas that may have escaped with the smoke, leaving the food impregnated with toxic tar.

If you want to learn more about smoking techniques, we recommend you to download the manual for free: