Going Back to the Basics by Cooking with Wood


Bring the taste and smells of the great outdoors to the home by using wood for grilling and preparing food. This method of food preparation has been used for thousands of years, back when human ancestors discovered fire and its various uses. Wood-fired methods have evolved from just plain survival cooking. Today, there is a renewed interest in combining various types of wood to produce unique tastes and smells when preparing food.

Back to Basics

Foodies rave about the trend of grilling or roasting meat and vegetables over planks of wood. The technique started when ancient humans learned to use fire for cooking, whether over hot rocks or wood. But before wood can be used for roasting and grilling, it has to be prepared or made combustible.

Drying is the basic method for preparing the wood. When the material has excess water content, it will not light up easily. It would take a fair amount of energy to combust wet firewood. With the trend of using biomass fuel, firewood production has now become an industry. In the U.S. and some other countries, they are usually sourced from sustainably managed forests.

Wood Flavors

Those who use wood for cooking choose from hardwood and softwood options. The burning rate distinguishes soft from hardwood. While softwood burns easily compared to hardwood, there are other factors that determine the burn rate for each wood variety. It could be due to the material’s low carbon composition or its water content.

Cooking on maple wood, cedar, and other types of wood generates different types of flavor profiles. Aside from maple and cedar, other commonly used wood varieties for grilling and roasting include alder, apple, cherry, pecan, and hickory. Maple is one of the versatile wood options that can be used for different types of meat, fish, vegetables, and even hard cheese. It can also be used for firing up a traditional wood oven as it lends a distinct flavor to pizza and bread. Cedar is popularly used when grilling or roasting fish varieties such as salmon and tilapia.

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Wood Forms

When roasting or grilling raw food, these wood options are used by itself or in combination with other varieties. The firewood comes in chips or log forms. Wood chips burn easily, which could be a disadvantage for those who are looking for a longer burning fuel source. However, wood chips work great for direct or indirect grilling purposes. On the other hand, logs take quite a while to completely burn, which works great for preparations that require longer cooking hours. Wood chunks last longer than chips and produce longer hours of heat for grilling and roasting.

Add a smoky flavor to meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables by using maple, cedar, and other types of wood. This natural fuel can be used when grilling, roasting, and even baking. Cooking with wood should not be limited to just an outdoor camping tradition, it can be a method for infusing new flavors to ordinary food.