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Jun 8, 2010 06:36 AM

"Q" Experts - a question about green vs seasoned wood

I don't expect one of the classic debates of seasoned vs green wood to be settled here, but do have a question about a comment I have seen on one site. Specifically, "We recommend that the beginning barbecuer use only seasoned wood until he or she gets some experience in smoking with a wood-burning pit. Using green wood without knowing what you are doing is a quick way to ruin barbecue. " My question is what's the big secret to know about using green wood? Are we just talking about making sure it doesn't flair up or get too hot? Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

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  1. Green wood generates more smoke. Too much smoke ruins barbecue. Therefore, if you don't carefully use green wood you will ruin your barbecue.

    1. Its about having a clean burning fire. Your smoke stack should be emitting a thin blue wisp of smoke, that is difficult to photograph. Opposed to a thick white cloud of smoke, much of which is water vapor.

      1. "We recommend that the beginning barbecuer use only seasoned wood until he or she gets some experience in smoking with a wood-burning pit. Using green wood without knowing what you are doing is a quick way to ruin barbecue. "


        Would love to know the source of that statement!!!! I've not heard that one. I must admit I am not surprised with all of the other misinformation, disinformation, PR, manufacturing hype BS that is out there.. that is being passed down mouth to ear, internet forum to internet forum to the mostly uninformed/misinformed public....

        I know of no competent BBQ cook (or moonshiner) that uses/recommends "green" wood to cook with....It produces to much of the wrong kind of smoke....It is full of sap etc, and will render meat bitter in a heart beat...It tends to smolder (instead of burning hot and clean) creating creosote ~~ Wood for BBQing needs to be 'seasoned' for a period 6 months at least....A year is better.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Uncle Bob

          OK here we go with the debate, not that a good discourse isn't helpful, but this one won't every be settled to anyone's satisfaction. Here's the link to that comment

          If you scroll down the page you will see comments just as adamant about using seasoned wood. In fact one of the comments refers to the possibility of producing creosote with seasoned wood. It seems to me the common thread is not to overdo the smoking, which I think any good "Q" expert will tell you is not good for the taste of the meat. I even found a comment about seasoned wood that it gives a "dirty" type of taste to the meat. Now I don't understand that one but it illustrates that everyone has their opinion however strange it might be.

          1. re: Jambalaya

            It's hard to find a more reputable BBQ expert than Danny Gaulden, and his point about creosote is not that seasoned hardwoods give off more creosote, but that when very dry wood starts to burn and the temperature spikes, an inexperienced cook might shut down the vents in an attempt to control that spike. The result, as Uncle Bob implied, is a slow, smoldering fire - exactly the kind that throws off creosote. Instead, you want a small, hot fire.

            1. re: Jambalaya

              I see nothing in your link that I necessarily disagree with....Nor do I see anything contradictory to it in my previous post..So there is no debate ~~~ Any type wood of any age will/can produce creosote under the right conditions ~~~ Over smoking is the number one mistake of neophyte, inexperienced (and a lot of "experienced") cooks ~~~ Any wood regardless of age can/will produce "dirty" smoke ~~~ Smoke, the stuff you see, is "dirt"....Ash, soot, carbons, etc.and will give meat a "dirty" (over smoked) taste. ~~~ For that reason heavy white/gray (dirty) smoke is not desirable when BBQing but rather an almost invisible to completely invisible, thin blue smoke that is being produced from a "clean" burning hot fire is most desirable. HTH


            2. re: Uncle Bob

              6 months and it will be saw dust unless you store it under your bed.

            3. Ok. I simplified things for the sake of the syllogism, but the core truth is still there. In fact, most everything in this post is accurate. Making great barbecue with wood as your fuel is not easy and, as you can see, means dealing with myriad variables (Hell, why else is there a new thread every week where someone practically begs for permission to boil their ribs and then char them on a gas grill . . .). The bad news is its gonna take a lot of trial and error to learn. The good news is that you get to eat the fruit of your labors!

              1 Reply
              1. re: MGZ

                Man, thanks for all the great comments from everyone, this has been a very informative excercise.