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Feb 25, 2009 11:31 AM

Hardwood (for smoking) in Toronto

Is Ontarion Gas BBQ the only place to go? I want to pick up some apple wood and maple chunks (not chips). I know they have them there, but want to avoid the drive up to Concord.

Am I out of luck?

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  1. Sobies (Willowdale) is worth a call.
    Also, Downtown try Nicolau.

    4 Replies
    1. re: garlicandwingnut

      What's Nicolau? I tried to google it, but nothing.

      1. re: grandgourmand

        It's a restaurant supply store on Queen W, immediately west of last year's big fire. I don't know whether they sell wood.

        They have all of the woods at Sobie's, which is significantly closer than OGB. Apple isn't uncommon. I've seen it at various Home Hardware stores (try calling Malcolm at Sunnybrook on Eglinton) and some Crappy Tires, but hardware stores tend to sell wood only during BBQ season. Another possibility - Classic Fireplace on Queen near Woodbine.

        1. re: grandgourmand

          Nicolau used to sell the "Cook Shack" brand.

        2. re: garlicandwingnut

          Sobies definitely has everything you're looking for.

        3. I know that Sobies has been the the subject of much criticism but the last time I was there, they had a decent selection of hardwood chunks. I was at Ontario Gas a couple of weeks ago and did not see much of a selection. I think the choices will get better once the weather warms up.

          10 Replies
          1. re: LJS2

            I was at Ontario Gas BBQ, and the wood selection wasn't great, but they had the basics. Oak, cherry, maple, alder, etc. But no apple. Anyhow, it was good enough for me, but Concord is a bit of a hike.

            Seriously, I'm going to go to the country, drive by an orchard and ask for their trimmings. I have to think that's good enough, obviously let the wood dry and all.

            1. re: grandgourmand

              Orchards on the Brampton fringes sell apple wood by the bag. I get mine from Al Ferri's.

              1. re: Kagemusha

                good advice, i often forget this... i went to school with the Ferri sons, they're nice guys

                1. re: Davwud

                  I paid $5 for a big bag of well seasoned apple wood at Al Ferri's a while ago, maybe 40 lbs. It will last me a long time.
                  Walmart sells bags of Royal Oak mesquite and oak chips at $2.99 for about 2 lbs. Not all stores carry them through winter. They are $1.99 in the States and they sell 5 lb bags too. Zellers sells them too. CTC wants far too much for their brand of wood chips.

                    1. re: Davwud

                      Heritage Rd. just west of Mississauga Rd., north of Steeles. They're open daily but call for availability of bagged wood. Some apples from storage still available, too.

                      1. re: Kagemusha

                        Be sure to call first as they usually run out of apples and close down and the end of February every year.
                        Also, you have to remove the bark for food smoking purposes.

                        1. re: iamafoodie

                          You do?? The bags of chunked hickory I bring back from the south have bark on them. They're packaged by Char-broil and I would imagine they could remove the bark if needed.
                          I'll have to check to see if it says anything about it.


                          1. re: Davwud

                            Over the years several of the pit bosses I have talked to in the Carolinas and southern West Virginia told me that bark emits a bitter smoke. I have to admit I have not done any practical research on that detail so take it as hearsay evidence for now. I'll put that on one of my things to do list for this year as you got me curious now. There is no human endeavor so laden with folklore, old wives tales and pure bunk as cooking. However, with most of the wood from my property the bark falls off as the wood dries so it's not been an issue. In addition to the Ferri's apple wood, I use my own sugar maple, silver maple, cherry, (my favorite), and pear plus purchased hickory chunks and chips.
                            There's one more important reason, the commercial growers liberally apply pesticides to their trees and there could be a substantial residual in the bark of a mature tree. The BBQ suppliers all seem to provide their wood from "certified organic" wood lot sources.

            2. You can pick up oak and maple rounds, free, at the city lot on Unwin, east of Cherry St.
              They are easy to identify with a tree guide, which will have bark photos. These are the the trunks of trees cut by the city and stored for at least a year.

              6 Replies
              1. re: jayt90

                That's my excuse to pick up an axe, I guess.

                Maple smoked bacon. That's the weekend project (belly is curing right now).

                1. re: grandgourmand

                  Keep the axe, but skip the park. Can you imagine what the cops would think? Oh sure you're just a dedicated barbecuer, surrrre. Just put down the axe sir. Zap.

                  It's true that you can purchase untreated wood at your local hardware store and use it to smoke. You won't get the variety, but you will save dough. It's no different than what you'll buy in the bag. Just ridiculously inconvenient for a condo dweller like myself. I'd probably take out a chunk of deck while swinging.

                  1. re: Googs

                    They have some cherry trees in High Park, right? Hmmm....

                2. re: jayt90

                  Free is always a very attractive price!
                  Sometimes flooring manufacturers toss waste oak, maple and other untreated hardwood in a bin outside their back door and are happy for someone to take it away.

                  Just make sure it is not treated with Uueathane, arsenic or anything else.

                  1. re: jayt90

                    Nothing beats the flavor imparted by old phone poles and creosote 8^) !

                    1. re: jayt90

                      Guys keep in mind that any tree that is chopped down has to be cured (roughly a year in a dry, sheltered location) before it can be used for smoke. You do not want to smoke with green wood. Especially if you're not a season pit veteran.

                      I often search out craigslist or free-cycle where people are constantly looking to get trees removed. It helps to teach yourself about tree identification and their characteristics. But once you do, the adage of "one man's trash is another man's treasure" has never rung so true.

                      PS: over the past 3 years, I've accumulated roughly 3/4's of a cord of White Maple, White Oak, Chestnut, Cherry and Mulberry wood. And have never paid for any of it. It's always nice to experiment with the flavors.

                    2. grandgourmand, you could try online with Smokinlicious:

                      Unfortunately they don't stock apple but they do stock quite a few interesting products.

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