live fire cooking wood selection


The type of wood you choose when cooking over live fire has a big impact on your success and ultimately, the flavour of your food. 

The Good Woods

Most hardwood or slow growing woods are welcome in live fire cooking.
If a tree has fruit or nuts, it'll be suitable for live fire cooking. 

Subtle Woods

- Fruit tree woods impart a wonderful subtle smoke flavour to your cooks and are
   medium to hot burning

- They are generally easy to light and create good coal beds

- They present a really wide variation in flavour, but are generally more suited to
   subtle flavoured foods such as chicken, fish, veggies and pork

- Almost all fruit tree woods are suitable, including Apple, Cherry, Feijoa,
   Avocado, Guava, Olive, Peach, Pear, Plum and Apricot    

Medium Woods

- Oak, Old Gum, Pohutukawa and Puriri are a bit more robust than the fruit trees
   in flavour

- They burn hotter and due to their density create really long lasting coals

- Oak is most people's go to for larger cooks

- Pohutukawa is a treat (especially for us South Islanders) with a lovely
   flavour. All food choices will handle this group

Rich Woods

- Locally, Manuka is all I would put in this category

- Absolute king of New Zealand smoke flavour and performs fantastically in
   a live fire cooking application

- Has a strong in flavour, but not offensive

- Suitable for most foods, possibly too strong for poultry and low oil fish (white)     

 The Bad Woods

Unfortunately you can't just head out to the woodshed and assume your log burner wood will do the job for cooking. Almost all soft woods are not suitable, primarily due to the temperature they generate not being sufficient enough to create clean or nicely flavoured smoke. Cooking with the wrong woods will give your food an acrid or bitter taste and will render most foods inedible.

Woods to avoid include: Pine, Rimu, Macrocarpa, Douglas Fir, Spruce, Redwood, Cedar, Poplar, Elm, and Eucalyptus. 

If you've got any questions, please feel free to comment below or send us a message.

1 comment

  • Wood workers

    Wood selection is one of the most important thing in making buildings. Before buying anything related to wood must read this.

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