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best woods for smoking

 
gardener & author
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Location: Manitoba, Canada
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I think the first two that come to mind for me are hickory and apple wood. What are some other woods that are good for smoking food with?
 
pollinator
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Location: Ontario, Canada
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I love apple and any fruit tree is probably good.  I use hickory and mesquite sparingly because I find too much can make the meat a bit bitter in a long smoke.  I've only used a bit of pecan, but I quite like it and, as with fruit, you can probably use most nut trees, but I have my doubts black walnut.

I think a great use for prunings is wood for the smoker. I've used maple and sugar maple, the latter being quite nice.  I would be interested in tasting the difference between sugar maple cut when the sap's flowing and when it's not.  My dogs always chewed the wood bits when I tapped the trees.
 
master steward & author
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I use the prunings from the apple and pear trees.  Sometimes cherry but those don't break as often (less heavy fruit).
 
gardener
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Hickory is my favorite, Mountain maple is my most used.  Apple,  Cherry , sarsaparilla , pecan are all ok . I find mesquite to be much to powerful for my tastes.  
 
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Alder is what I use here in northern BC.
Peel off the bark and green cambium layer (bitter smoke if you don't) then whittle it or run it through the chipper.
 
pollinator
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Here in Hawaii my top choice is a native wood for smoking food is called ohia.
 
gardener
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In TX I used mesquite & oak because that was available on site. More options here with hickory, oak, maple, sassafras, & pecan. I tend to use oak to control the heat & smaller amounts of the other woods for flavor. If I had to pick just one as best it would be mesquite.
 
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Post oak.  I usually knock the bark off to get a cleaner burn.

I don't mind a little bit of cherry as well, but I don't put nearly as much smoke on my brisket as I used to.  If I'm cooking with charcoal, I will put some cherry on the fire for the first hour or so, and then really back off the smoke.  There is enough smoke from a clean burning charcoal fire to give you a nice smoke ring.

Too much smoke and it starts to taste like an ashtray.
 
master steward
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My favorite wood is what is easily available.  Where I used to live we had a lot of pecan shells and whole walnuts.

I noticed that what is available at the stores here is cedar.  I not sure I would want to smoke with cedar.

Hickory or mesquite is what is available at the big box stores.

Wood Chip Flavor Pairing Guide for Grills and Smokers

https://www.academy.com/explore/wood-chip-flavor-pairing-guide-grills-and-smokers
 
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Try some fox grapevine.  It imparts a sweet flavor, much like cherry wood.
 
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Red Oak and Pecan are plentiful in these parts and so we use those primarily to wonderful effect.
 
pollinator
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Location: Western central Illinois, Zone 6a
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I have used Pecan, Oak, Black Cherry, Apple, Hickory, Mesquite, and Peach. Which one depends on what is being smoked. I really like a Pecan /Cherry mix when I do a Boston Butt for pulled pork.
St. Louis Spares are usually Oak with a little apple or cherry. I tend to go with Pecan or Hickory for poultry.
 
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