Looking for a way to dry wood for smoking? No matter what you call it – wood drying, wood seasoning, or seasoning lumber, you need to prep your wood before putting it in the smoker.
The first step in achieving a rich smoking flavor is well-seasoned wood. This is wood that has aged and dried.
You will learn how to achieve the strongest possible flavors from your next smoking adventure as you continue reading this article.
How do you describe seasoned wood?
Wood that has been aged and allowed to dry naturally is called Seasoned Wood. It refers to wood chunks and logs that have been left outside for an extended period.
This means that it has enough moisture to smoke and cook and is almost dry. Dried wood is sometimes called aged wood.
Determining the right way to dry wood
Two ways are available for drying your wood for smoking:
- A wood drying oven such as Kiln Dry is available.
- Secondly, air drying is a natural method.
A Guide to Air Drying Wood
Drying wood by air is a traditional method that has been around for centuries. The wood sits passively at any given temperature and dries naturally during this process. The following steps will assist you in air-drying your wood.
- Temperature and humidity play a role in the drying process. When there is a lot of humidity in the air during colder months, air-drying your wood won’t produce quick results. If you want rapid results, start the drying process during the summer with much sunlight.
- Cutting the wood up into smaller chunks before drying is preferable. As wood surfaces are smaller, air penetrates them faster and dries quicker. You can purchase pre-cut wood to save yourself time and effort as another alternative.
- Choose a location where there is enough sunlight and airflow. Make sure the wood rack is high in the air so that the wood has adequate airflow from all directions. Save the woods from rain by covering the area with a tent.
- If you need to add another row, keep a distance of at least 51 cm between each woodpile when arranging them on the platform.
- It is now time to let your wood dry. Usually, it takes anywhere between three to six months for wood to dry thoroughly.
- A wood moisture meter can help you track the drying process. Store the piles in sheds if the moisture level is acceptable.
The moisture content of fresh wood is 30%. You can start smoking your wood once it has reached 9 to 14% moisture. Don’t over-dry your wood, or it will burn up too quickly and doom the process of smoking.
You May Like to Read: How to store wood for smoking
What is Kiln Drying and How to Do It
Wood is dried in a kiln at a controlled temperature. In general, it is a commercial process.
- Insert the wood into the chamber to dry. The type of kiln you have will determine whether you have to place/stack the wood along the walls or on the allocated space.
- Then you select your preferred temperature. Refer to your manual for more specific recommendations on the appropriate temperature to use. In general, the drying process takes about eleven days.
You should set your kiln to low temperatures if you plan to slow smoke your food. Your wood will dry slowly for longer if your kiln is set at low temperatures. Managing it properly will allow you to burn wood for a long time without producing much heat. High-temperature cooking has health risks.
- Turn on the ventilator on your machine. It won’t dry evenly if the fan isn’t on.
- Ensure a steady supply of fuel. You can find directions in your manual on how to load the fuel. Depending on your kiln, you can either use the slot provided for fuel, oil, or coal.
- To release the steam, you must turn off the kiln after it has dried for the recommended time. It usually takes between four and six hours.
- You can transport the cooled wood safely to your storage area after it has cooled down. A shed is a suitable place to store it. A tarp can keep the area dry if the weather isn’t conducive. Smoking is now a breeze!
Air Drying vs. Kiln Drying: Pros and Cons
Both methods have advantages and disadvantages. The least expensive solution is air drying in terms of simplicity and cost. Despite its simplicity, this method can be tedious and time-consuming.
Although kiln drying is faster, it can also be more expensive. You will need close supervision, as well as a kiln. Exposed wood can also become extremely dry when heated to high temperatures. Many people use a kiln instead of an oven. The meat will likely taste more bitter if your wood dries out faster. To achieve the best results, you need special equipment. The choice is ultimately yours.
Why is it important to let the wood dry?
Many people do not know there is no direct pathway from a tree to a smoker. The wood first needs to be dried out or seasoned. But why? The sap and water were still in the wood when freshly cut. Smokers commonly refer to this type of wood as greenwood.
Due to its high moisture content, greenwood is not recommended for smoking. In the process of smoking greenwood, the fire only dries out the wood and does not make the meat have that smoky flavor.
You’ll probably get an odd and unpleasant taste if you try it. In contrast, dry wood imparts a unique smoking flavor to the meat.
Smoke quality influences the final taste of the meat. For that flavor-filled smoke smokers crave, dry wood is the most satisfying.
Many factors determine the type of smoke you’ll get from smoking. Some of them include the type of wood used, the burning temperature, the humidity level, and the oxygen levels.
Is Your Wood Dried? What Can You Do to Find Out?
The following checks can help you determine whether your wood has appropriately dried:
Color: Bright tan color is characteristic of fresh wood. As dried wood ages, it gradually loses both its color and shine. Wood that is light in color but slightly gray suggests that water has evaporated.
Weight: A lighter wood will have a lower moisture content. The wood is still wet if it is still slightly heavy.
Bark: If you start noticing the bark falling off your wood or cracks appearing, it means it’s drying out.
Sound: Thumping your wood with your thumb is another way to check dryness. Wet wood produces a dull sound, but dry wood has a deep sound.
Tips for using seasoned wood
You need to add the appropriate amount of wood to your smoker before you begin smoking.
Having a more significant amount of wood will be necessary if your primary fire source. Smoking with another fuel type means that you need less wood since wood is used solely for smoking.
Traditionally, wood is the most popular fuel source for smokers, and they cook meat on a wood-fueled grill. A fire burning steadily at a high temperature produces the most desirable smoke.
As a result, the length and amount of wood you will need to smoke will differ depending on how you decide to burn gas, charcoal, or electricity. With time, you may develop your unique flavor combinations as you master the art of smoking.
It would be best to choose what works for your equipment based on your personal preferences and comfort levels.
The important thing to remember about seasoning is that it doesn’t take much effort, but it doesn’t happen overnight.
Seasoning wood for smoking is a simple process. Food tastes much better after it is seasoned.
You can also determine your success by the amount of time you have left before smoking. Each method works equally well for drying wood. It’s entirely up to your which way you use.
A kiln will help you dry your wood faster and smoke your food sooner. Alternatively, air-dry your wood and watch nature work its magic if you have some free time.