“Green” or “Dry” Chunks?
Is it a big deal? Yes ma’am it is a matter of flavor, maximum taste.
I looked around the internet and found a lot of discussion concerning chunks, chips and whether green or seasoned wood is better for smoking food. Folks involved in the discussions I saw were smoking everything from bacon & hams, Fish, Steaks, Turkeys and Chickens to homemade Cheese. Smoked Gouda is one of my favorites.
I only found a couple articles proposing the idea that BBQ should be smoked using dry seasoned wood and both articles stated that soaking the wood only slowed the burn. Soaking dry wood will slow the burn, but it will not add as much flavor as green wood. Many chunks are dried to make packaging and shipping easier and cheaper and this might be why those fellows think dried dead chunk wood is the best.
Green wood is the best for smoking meat, vegetables, cheese or whatever food is your choice. All my favorite BBQ joints use green wood, mostly green hickory although some use green pecan. My favorite pork chops are grilled using sugar maple.
Green Wood produces a superior flavor because it still has the life blood inside the chunk, the sap.
The water inside a tree exists in two(2) forms: Bound and Free.
Free Water is the liquid filling the wood cell cavities
Bound Water is liquid or vapor bonded to the cell walls
When wood is dried the free water in the cell cavities is drawn out first then the bound water is released below the fiber saturation point- approximately 25-30% for most species. Heat must be applied to wood for production of lumber and firewood with moisture contents as low as 10%. While dried wood is good to burn in the fireplace or to build furniture or a house it is not as well suited for smoking meat and vegetables as green wood.
The bound water, the liquid and vapor material attached to the cell walls is in there marinating and once the bound water is driven out it can’t be put back in the cell. Soaking wood can replace some of the free water and it might slow the burn and make some smoke but concerning taste it pails in comparison to green wood.
Chunks are dried for several reasons: much lighter than green chunks-it costs less to ship, easy to package-dry chips will not mildew inside a heat sealed plastic bag, part of a waste stream-made from a kiln dried forest product. Some states require wood chunks to be kiln dried or heat treated because of pests.
FiddleSticks Chunks are premium woods. We cut the finest hickory, sugar maple and pecan. Our chunks are treated special with a water steam bath at 180°F to eradicate any pests. The water steam bath ensures the bound water is not driven out of the cell before reaching their destination.
Green Wood is the best because it still contains the taste inside the wood cell-the taste you can’t get back once it is gone. Green Wood – more flavor and longer burn.