People have been cooking with wood-burning fires for almost as long as there have been people.
It’s one of our oldest collective human traditions and has stood the test of time largely because of the uniquely delicious flavors of fire and smoke that it imparts to food.
While most folks would agree with this, far less understand what it takes to get the best flavors and results from that fire and wood.
Let’s talk about that…
The fact is, not all wood is equal for cooking. Much like that gourmet-on-the-grill dinner you’re planning, a lot of the final quality has to do with how each ingredient (in this case, the wood itself) is prepared and handled before it ever being used.
Green wood, or wood that has been freshly cut, tends to produce very poor results for cooking, or any type of fire.
Green wood has the highest moisture content of any cooking wood, which not only makes it hard to light and keep lit but lends itself to a dank, smoky fire and the bitter, off-putting flavors of contaminates that are being “cooked” out of the wood.
While seasoned wood is better than green, as its lower moisture content allows it to burn more easily, it’s still a poor choice for cooking.
The long, slow process of air-drying, known as seasoning, leads to the decomposition of the wood (and decomposed wood is, well…dirt), as well as encouraging the presence of additional contaminants like molds, fungus, and insects.
Let’s face it…nobody wants those flavors in their cheeseburger.
The third, and best, option for cooking is kiln dried wood.
Kiln Dried Wood
The ideal wood for cooking would be fresh enough that it hasn’t begun to decompose or collect contaminates, but also has the lowest possible moisture content to encourage clean, evenly hot combustion and an extended burn time.
Until recently (history-wise) this was an unattainable ideal. But, with the invention of the kiln-drying process, any outdoor cook can get the best of both worlds from their cooking wood.
Kiln drying is a much faster process of drying wood. With this method, the wood goes into a drying oven (or “kiln”) and is dried for hours, using fairly high heat – typically anywhere from 175F to 250F. This “fast drying” reduces wood’s moisture content to as low as 5-10% and also kills any bugs, molds, or fungus, creating a dry, clean wood that provides a vastly superior cooking experience.
Why Kiln Dried Wood is Best for Cooking
Ironically, live-fire cooking is one of the newest, hottest food trends in the world right now. Many big-name chefs are returning to the earliest roots of cooking and count the use of kiln dried cooking wood and its smoke among the “secret ingredients” in their kitchens.
Kiln dried wood help cooks achieve unique and superior flavors, it’s easier to light and burns both hotter and longer.
Yes, time and technology have given us many convenient cooking tools, from the electric oven to the microwave, and even the charcoal briquette, but while these “new-fangled” cooking methods provide adequate heat to cook food, they do nothing to add any flavor.
Wood-fire cooking alone holds the unique position of being both a method of cooking our food and an ingredient in the finished dish.
Let’s face it, whether we’re talking about burgers and hotdogs, or T-bone steaks and fresh lobsters…everything tastes better cooked over a wood-burning fire.
Kiln Dried Wood is Easier to Light
Because the wood is drier, it’s more combustible. Making it easier to light and get burning on the first try. Kiln dried wood lights even easier than charcoal and requires no additional accelerant (light fluid) which itself adds off-putting flavors and aromas to food.
Wood that ignites faster also reaches its optimal cooking and smoking temperatures faster, decreasing the amount of time you’ll have to wait before adding your food to the grill or smoker.
Kiln Dried Wood Burns Hotter and Longer
Moisture reduces both the heat and the longevity of a fire. Great if putting out a house fire, but for grilling a steak…not so much.
Wood that’s been kiln dried isn’t fighting this constant battle with moisture and will burn up to 45% hotter, for twice as long, and much more consistently than “seasoned” or air-dried woods.
A hotter burning fire allows you to sear meats and vegetables over high heat, and the properly timed use of a longer burning kiln dried wood lets you cook long and slow, the ideal method for traditional smoked BBQ.
If you’re looking to create the best possible food with fire and smoke, nothing is going to match the experience you get from kiln dried cooking wood. Whether you’re using sticks, splits, or chunks, the flavors and aromas of a meal cooked over a fire of properly dried wood are incomparable and unforgettable.
Cutting Edge Firewood offers the best kiln dried cooking wood available. Period. You’ll taste the difference in every bite.