There are different forms of wood that are used as fuel in cooking. They usually come in chunks, logs, dust, and chips. However, wood chips are more commonly used in smoking meat and other foods. The main challenge in using this type of fuel is how to keep wood chips from burning in smoker.
Unlike grilling meat, it takes more time to smoke meat, such as beef brisket. It typically takes 5 hours or so to cook beef in a smoker. Some even spend up to 12 hours to smoke pork. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that wood chips don’t burn too fast in the smoker to achieve more flavor and thoroughly smoked meat.
How to Make Wood Chips for Smoking
Quality makes a huge difference in many aspects of life. It is also true when it comes to using wood chips for smoking. If you want the most suitable results, you need to use the right wood for more stable burning. Here are some tips when making wood chips for smoking:
Wood chip size should be bigger.
When you use larger chips, it will burn longer and produce more smoke while cooking your meat.
Wood should be denser.
Avoid putting the wood outside so it won’t decompose, which can reduce its density. If your wood is less dense, then it will not burn enough to produce more smoke. So make sure your wood is thick to burn more consistently for a more extended period.
Avoid seasoned firewood.
Typically, seasoned wood contains bugs, fungus, mold, and some moisture. It will make things much harder to burn while giving off sooty smoke at the same time. The result would be a bitter flavor for the meat and uneven cooking.
The quality of your wood chips plays a major role in your smoked products. It would be excellent if you were careful not to burn them too much as it will only ruin a slice of good meat. Try the tips mentioned above to make sure you get a perfectly smoked food at home.
Should You Soak Wood Chips before Smoking
There are many ways to keep wood from burning in smoker, but the most common technique is soaking wood chips for an electric smoker. It gives your smoked meat a delicious barbecue flavor with juicier texture. Below are some necessary steps in how to soak wood chips before smoking:
1. Soak the chips in water for at in 30 minutes to make splintery wood chips. Now, if you want to make chunkier chips, you need to soak the wood for up to 2 hours.
2. Use a few wet chips with dry wood chips to create a stable heat for your steak. Soaking wood chips can prevent fire and allows your meat to cook evenly without any interruptions.
The main goal for soaked wood chips is to keep wood combustion to smoke. Compared to dry wood chips, the soaked ones can produce more smoke that is needed to be infused with the meat for an extra savory flavor. Often, the results are smoky, juicy, tender steak that is easy on the mouth.
On the other hand, there are debates about the ineffectiveness of using soaked wood chips in smoker. Some people tell that it doesn’t make any different at all for grilled and smoked meat products. They may have a point, but adding soaked chips into your smoker prevents them from catching fire, which can result in a bitter flavor.
Grilling, smoking, and barbecuing can be as challenging as a sport. If you’re a beginner, it can even be more overwhelming to start using a smoker at home. However, knowing the importance of using the right type of wood chips when smoking any meat product can help create the best results. You may not master using chips on a charcoal grill that easy, but enough practice can get you there.
How to Use Wood Chips on a Gas Grill
Some people might think setting their gas grills at a necessary level is all it takes to avoid catching fire. Combustion can be triggered by many factors, such as the wind, if you’re grilling outside. Too high temperatures may not be suitable for smoked food, but knowing how to prevent your gas grill from producing too much heat is enough to enjoy a perfectly smoked steak.
One of the most convenient ways to help gas grill or electric smoker produce more smoke is by using wood chip boxes. If you want to ascertain how to use wood chips on your gas grill, here are some tips you can follow:
· Choose what type of flavor you want with the wood chips to match your meat or smoked product. Familiar flavors include mesquite, hickory, and cherry.
· Put the wood chips into your smoker box or make a pouch out of foil to contain the chips. However, most gas grill models usually come with smoker boxes to make it more convenient to smoke food. If there’s none, you can add a smoker box or the disposable one which can be bought from most stores.
· Put the smokebox back on your grill and start the fire.
· Wait for several minutes before the chips start to produce smoke.
· Put the steak or any meat product on your grill. Don’t forget to cover it.
· With direct or indirect method, cook the meat until it becomes a perfectly smoked product with exciting flavors.
There are some indispensable things to remember when smoking your food in a gas grill. For instance, soaked wood chips may slow down the burning process while adding time due to delayed smoke. Don’t open the lid or smoker door to maintain the smoky flavor throughout the cooking process.
Can You Put Wood Chips Directly on Charcoal
When you add wood chips to your grill, it helps boost the flavor and juice for your food. If you’re utilizing a charcoal grill, you can safely put wood chips next to the coals to create more consistent smoke throughout the cooking process. Also, you can use wood chunks if you prefer to use them on your charcoal grill but never put them directly on burning coals to avoid catching fire.
This practical method of putting smoking chips on charcoal can help extend their life. However, the best way is to add the wood chips next to the coals because they can burn quickly. If it’s blazing hot, it can burn your meat rather than smoke it slowly. Add a few chips over the coals, but make sure it doesn’t create flames. While the coal slowly ignites, the chips will also ignite until they produce enough smoke to cook your steak.
Additional Tips to Prevent Wood Chips from Catching Fire Very Quickly
Place the chips in your smoker before the meat to make sure they don’t burn that quick. Also, you can put the smoking chips into your preheated smoker before putting your meat. Keep in mind that quality wood chips will easily ignite but burn slowly to provide smoky flavor throughout the cooking time.
If you put the chips too early on the smoker, you may lose up to 30 minutes of smoking time. Therefore, it’s essential to wait until the smoker is heated and the coals are ignited. When everything is ready, you can place the chips and then the food to be smoked or grilled.
Another technique to prevent the wood chips from burning fast is to use a cast-iron smoker box. The smoker box is usually a rectangular metal that is used for storing smoking chips. Typically, they come with a lid that you can close or open, depending on how much smoke you want.
There are aluminum and stainless steel smoker box models in the market, but it’s convenient to use the cast-iron types. Although they are more expensive than those aluminum and stainless steel options, cast iron is better insulated. With proper insulation, it can reduce the heat level to which chips are exposed. As a result, your wood chips burn more evenly and slowly.
Finally, you can also adjust your dampers to make sure the wood chips take time to burn while smoking your food. Changing the dampers help control the burning speed of wood chips. Besides, you can either open or close the damper to manage the airflow in your smoker.
Partially opened dampers allow more air inside the smoker, which gives higher temperature. Partially closed dampers make the wood chips burn at lower temperatures. Remember, the hotter your fire, then the faster it will burn. Size and quality are vital in making your wood chips last longer.
Overall, you will need a lot of patience when smoking food to create the ideal result you want at a given time frame. So, do you think you can achieve a more flavorful, juicier smoked meat with this guide? After all, they say happiness is best served slow-smoked and sauced.