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Heat, Time and Smoke are things anyone that aims to make the perfect BBQ should be conversant with. However, understanding that it is not just about the smoke but the wood producing the smoke is very vital as flavours are released into the food in the smoking process.

There is a wide range of wood that can be used for BBQ, any hard wood that is free from resin is good for smoking BBQ e.g Oak. The smoke gives the BBQ flavour and sweetness.

Wood for smoking can be classified from mild to strong. The mild woods are mainly fruit woods e.g apple, cherry, pears and peach which adds a sweetness to the food especially light food and poultry.

The middle classification of wood comprises of maple, pecan, hickory and oak. They are very good for smoking pork. Strong wood is mainly mesquite. Different geographical areas prefer certain woods due to their tradition which is informed by the available wood in the region and the flavour they prefer. E.g. In the southern and some midwestern states, Hickory is popular.

Below is a list of woods that can be used for smoking BBQ:


ALMOND WOOD: It gives the BBQ a sweet flavour that makes it good with all meat, it also gives a nutty flavour, it is similar to pecan wood.


PECAN WOOD: It is good  with pork, beef, cheese and poultry. It has a sweet flavour and is similar to hickory but a mild version. It burns cool also.


ACACIA WOOD: It is similar to mesquite, it should be monitored well as it is hot and burns fast. Its flavour is also similar to the mesquite.


ASH WOOD: It has a unique flavour, it burns fast. It is good for smoking fish and red meats.


BIRCH: It has a flavour similar to maple which is good with poultry and pork. It is a medium to hard wood.


MESQUITE: It is considered to be one of the best wood. It is good for smoking beef, fish, chicken and game birds. It is hot and its smoke is sometimes considered to be bad as smoking with mesquite for too long can give the food a bitter flavour. It is the strongest flavouring wood and is well known for its short time of cooking as it burns hot and fast.

CHERRY TREE WOOD: It is good for smoking beef, pork and poultry, It is often considered as the best smoking wood. It has a fruity flavour that is suitable for almost everything.


HICKORY: It is very common, it has a strong sweet and smoky flavour that is good with ham, fish, beef, pork and poultry. It is important to prevent its excessive use.


LILAC: It is also popular and it gives a sweet smoke that is good for cheese, poultry and pork. Its flavour has a flowery hint. It is also good for lamb and seafood.


ALDER: It smokes fish, pork, light meats and poultry well. It has a woody and smoke flavour. It is well known for smoking salmon. Its flavour is light and gives a hint of sweetness.


APPLE WOOD: It has a sweet and slightly fruity flavour. It is good for ribs and bacon but works well for poultry and pork. It turns chicken skin to dark brown.


COTTONWOOD TREES: Its flavour is very mild. It may be necessary to combine it with a stronger flavouring wood. It is softer than alder wood.


MAPLE WOOD: It is good with cheese, pork and poultry. It gives a smoky and slightly sweet flavour that is also perfect for ham.


CITRUS TREES: Its flavour is milder than apple and cherry. It is from wood like lemon and orange, it gives a moderate smoke with a fruity flavour. It is perfect with pork, fish, beef and poultry.


DRUPE WOOD: Just like other fruit wood, it has a mild and sweet flavour good for light meat like chicken, fish and pork.


GRAPEVINE: It is good for smoking red meats, lamb and poultry. It gives a rich and fruity smoke with a tart flavour.


GRAPE FRUIT: It is good for any meat, it is mild and produces a nice, smoky flavour.


PEAR TREES: It gives a mild smoky flavour similar to apple and is very good for chicken and pork.

OAK: It gives a smoky flavour that is good for red meats, fish and pork. There are different types of oaks. It is a hard wood and is very versatile.

MULBERRY: It has a mild flavour but gives a hint of sweetness.

WALNUT: It has a strong smoky flavour which makes it necessary to combine it with a fruity wood to avoid getting a bitter flavour. It is good for lambs.

PLUM: It is similar to hickory, it has a mild and sweet flavour that is good for poultry and pork.

PERSIMMONS: It is similar to the fruits woods, it gives a mild and slightly sweet flavour.

APRICOT: It is similar to hickory, it is sweeter and very good for pork and poultry.

Nectarine and Peach give good smokes. Wood can be gotten from wine or whisky barrels, it always has a unique flavour. Trees like beech, olive, fig e.t.c. are also good for smoking. Do not use woods with glue, nail, paint, chewing gum e.t.c. Do not use woods treated with chemicals or moldy wood. Wood with resin should not be used e.g Pine If the wood you desire to use is not readily available in your area, you can find a wood chunk or pellet available for sale on-line. You can also get wood from the firewood company or your neighbourhood. If the tree is from your neighbourhood, be aware of the type of tree is is before use.