July 17, 2019

Grilling is a popular way to cook steaks, hamburgers, pork chops and chicken because of its ability to sear the exterior of meat. When you grill meat, the heat from the burning charcoal or wood will sear the exterior, thereby preventing the meat’s flavorful juices from escaping. For this to occur, however, your grill must first achieve an appropriate temperature. If it’s not hot enough, you won’t be able to create a seared exterior on your meat, which can negatively affect both the flavor and texture of your meat.

How Hot Should My Grill Get?

Most grills should reach a surface temperature of approximately 500 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, if you shine a laser thermometer directly on the cooking grate, it should read between 500 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, you’ll be able to grill delicious meats with a charred exterior and juicy interior.

Keep in mind that the temperature of your burning charcoal or wood will likely be higher than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s not uncommon for burning charcoal or wood to reach 2,000 to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. But your meat won’t be exposed directly to the fire. Because cooking grates are typically placed several inches over the fire, your meat will cook at a lower temperature.

Help! My Grill Isn’t Getting Hot

If your grill isn’t getting hot, you’ll need to turn up the temperature so that you can cook deliciously grilled meat. On a gas grill, you can adjust the temperature by turning a knob for the respective burner. Charcoal grills don’t offer temperature control knobs or buttons, though. With that said, there are still several ways to turn up the heat with your charcoal grill.

Use a Cast Iron Grate

The type of metal your grill’s grate is made of will affect the temperature at which your meat cooks. Most grill grates are made of either steel or cast iron. While steel grates usually cost less, they don’t offer the same heat retention properties as cast iron grates. Cast iron has high thermal conductivity properties, meaning it’s able to absorb and hold heat better than other metals like steel. Therefore, you can make your grill hotter by switching from a steel grate to a cast iron grate. Just remember to choose a cast iron grate in an appropriate size for your grill.

Lower the Grate

In addition to using a cast iron grate, you can also make your grill hotter by lowering the grate. The higher the grate, the lower the temperature at which your meat will cook. By shortening the distance between your meat and the fire, you’ll achieve a higher cooking temperature. Of course, not all grills offer adjustable heights for the cooking grate. But if your grill features an adjustable height for the grate, try lowering it until it’s about 1 inch from the fire.

Use Lump Charcoal

Another way to make your grill hotter is to use lump charcoal rather than charcoal briquettes. Lump charcoal consists of large blocks of almost-pure carbon. In comparison, charcoal briquettes are made of burned sawdust and other particles held together with a binding agent. While similar in size, lump charcoal offers the highest level of performance when grilling. It burns hotter, cleaner and produces less ash than charcoal briquettes. By using lump charcoal, you’ll create a hot fire that’s perfect for grilling meat.

Use Kiln Dried Wood

If you’re going to use wood for added flavor, choose kiln dried wood for the hottest temperature. All wood contains moisture in its pores, but some wood contains significantly more moisture than others. When wood is first harvested from a tree, it may have a moisture content of 100% or higher. At 100%, half the wood’s weight comes from moisture. As a result, it’s difficult to light, and even if you’re able to light it, the wood won’t burn very hot.

Kiln dried wood, however, burns hot because of its low moisture content. When wood is kiln dried, it’s placed inside a large drying oven known as a kiln. While inside the kiln, moisture is forced out from the wood’s pores. The end result is kiln dried wood that’s easy to light and burns hot. Choosing kiln dried wood rather than fresh, green or air dried wood will allow you to grill food using more heat.

Keep the Lid Closed

When using your grill, keep the lid closed so that the heat remains trapped inside. It’s not uncommon for pitmasters to open the lid every few minutes to check their meat as it grills. Each time you open the lid, though, heat will escape from inside your grill. So, if you’re struggling to achieve a surface temperature of 500 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, leave the lid closed. After adding your meat to the grate, close the lid and don’t open it again until you need to flip your meat.

You’ll still have to open the lid when you flip your meat — and that’s okay. As long as you closely shortly after, and keep it closed, it shouldn’t have a noticeable impact on your grill’s temperature.

Open the Dampers

While you should keep your grill’s lid closed, it’s recommended that open the dampers. Dampers, of course, are the adjustable air vents on your grill. On charcoal grills, there are usually two dampers. One damper is located on top of the lid, whereas the other damper is located on the bottom section of the grill. The purpose of these dampers is to provide greater control over the grill’s temperature. When the dampers are closed, air isn’t able to enter the grill’s fuel compartment. And without fresh air, the fire will eventually die.

When the dampers are open, on the other hand, the fire will pull in fresh air, thus allowing the charcoal or wood to burn at a hotter temperature. Fresh air acts as fuel by providing the burning wood or charcoal with additional oxygen. As the oxygen feeds the fire, your grill will become hotter. So, remember to open the dampers to achieve the hottest temperature when grilling.

Don’t Block Dampers With Charcoal or Wood

Use caution when adding charcoal or wood to your grill to ensure that you don’t accidentally block the dampers. As previously mentioned, most charcoal grills have a damper at the bottom. Because this damper is located around the fuel compartment, charcoal or wood may obstruct it. Therefore, you should position your charcoal or wood away from the damper. Ideally, there should be at least 1 inch of space between the charcoal or wood and the damper. If it’s any closer to the damper, it may obstruct airflow, resulting in a lower grilling temperature.

Add Food Directly Over Coals

Whether you use charcoal, kiln dried wood or both, place your meat directly over the coals to achieve the hottest cooking temperature. If you place your meat to the left or right side of the grate — where it’s not directly over the fire — it probably won’t get hot enough to sear the exterior. By placing your meat directly over the fire, you can avoid the headaches associated with low grilling temperatures.

Don’t let your grilling activities suffer because of low heat. Invest in a Primo Oval All-in-One today for all your grilling and smoking needs.

July 16, 2019

A fire pit is an essential component of an attractive patio or outdoor living space. It serves as a focal point while offering a container in which you can build fires. Whether it’s spring, summer, fall or winter, you’ll probably spend more time outdoors if you have a fire pit. To get the most use out of your fire pit, though, you should consider the seven following tips.

#1) Use Sand to Protect the Bottom From Extreme Heat

If you’re worried that the bottom of your fire pit will sustain heat-related damage, add a thin layer of sand to it. Sand acts as an insulator, reducing the amount of heat to which the bottom of your fire pit is exposed. For additional protection, you can add a layer of lava rocks over the sand. After adding the sand and lava rocks, you can build fires in your fire pit using kiln dried firewood.

Keep in mind that neither sand nor lava rocks will protect your fire pit from rusting or corrosion. To protect your fire pit from rusting and corrosion, you must keep it dry. When moisture accumulates on the metal surface of a fire pit, oxidation will occur, which results in the metal rusting or corroding. As long as you keep your fire pit dry, however, it shouldn’t rust or corrode.

#2) Add a Grill Grate to Cook Using Your Fire Pit

You can use your fire pit to grill hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, chicken and other foods by adding a grill grate to it. Consisting of either cast iron or steel, a grill grate will convert your fire pit into a fully functional grill. As shown below, you simply place the grill grate directly over the top of your fire pit. Once in place, you can add meats, veggies or other foods to it. The grill grate will absorb heat from the fire, allowing your grill delicious foods at the appropriate temperature.

While grill grates are available in both cast iron and steel, most people prefer the former type. When compared to steel grill grates, cast iron grill grates retain more heat, are easier to clean, and they typically last longer. The only downside to cast iron grill grates is that they cost more than steel grill grates. But since they also last longer than steel grill grates, most people will agree that they are a smart investment.

#3) Burn Sage Bundles to Deter Mosquitoes

Don’t let mosquitoes prevent you from enjoying your patio or outdoor living space. It’s frustrating when you’re trying to relax and lounge outdoors, only to be constantly attacked by these blood-sucking pests. While small in size, mosquitoes are a serious nuisance. But the good news is that you can keep mosquitoes away by burning sage bundles in your fire pit.

Sage plants emit a unique aroma when burned that most people love but mosquitoes hate. After building a hot fire in your fire pit, toss a bundle or two of sage in it. It will fill your patio or outdoor living space with a pleasant, fragrant aroma. At the same time, the burning sage will act as a natural mosquito repellent. Granted, smoke in general deters most insects, including mosquitoes, but sage smoke is particularly effective at keeping these blood-sucking pests away.

#4) Use Kiln Dried Firewood for Long-Lasting Fires

You can spend more time lounging around your fire pit and less time collecting and adding firewood by choosing kiln dried firewood. Kiln dried firewood burns cleaner and longer than other types of firewood because of its exceptionally low moisture content. The kiln dried firewood sold here at Cutting Edge Firewood, for example, has been dried for 12 times longer than the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) kiln drying standard. With its low moisture content, it burns longer while producing less byproduct emissions in the process.

#5) Protect Your Patio With a Fire Pit Mat

When using your fire pit on a patio, deck or any other wooden surface, it’s recommended that you use a fire pit mat. What is a fire pit mat exactly? As the name suggests, it’s a fire-resistant mat that’s designed to protect the underlying flooring or surface on which a fire pit is placed.

If you place your fire pit directly on your patio, the heat from the fire may scorch and single the underlying flooring. Granted, your patio flooring probably won’t catch fire. Rather, it will likely develop black marks where the wooden planks are scorched from the heat. A fire pit mat can protect your patio from such damage, however, by acting as a layer of insulation. Its heat-resistant properties will minimize the amount of heat to which your patio is exposed, thereby minimizing the risk of heat-related damage to your patio.

#6) Light Your Fire Pit From the Bottom Center

The secret to lighting a fire pit is to place your match in the bottom center of the wood. Going back to the basics of chemistry, heat rises. Therefore, if you place a match on top of the wood, you’ll struggle to light it. You must place the light in the bottom center of the wood so that the heat will rise and ignite the rest of the wood.

If you’re struggling to light your fire pit, don’t use lighter fluid or other accelerants. Although it may sound like an easy and effective way to start your fire pit, it’s not necessary — and using lighter fluid or other accelerants will only increase the risk of bodily injury and property injury. To light your fire pit, place a match in the bottom center of the wood with a small amount of tinder and kindling. Assuming you use kiln dried firewood and not fresh or air dried firewood, you should be able to easily light your fire pit using nothing more than a match with some tinder and kindling.

#7) Save the Ashes

Rather than discarding your fire pit’s ashes in the trash, consider saving them. Firewood ash has dozens of practical uses, some of which may surprise you. During the winter, for example, you can sprinkle ash on your driveway and sidewalk to melt snow and ice. This is because wood ash contains potassium salts, which acts as a natural de-icing agent. Unlike other de-icing agents, though, wood ash is safe and environmentally friendly.

In addition to melting snow and ice, you can use ash as plant fertilizer. If you have a garden or flowerbed, try sprinkling some leftover ash in it. Wood ash contains essential nutrients, including potassium, that plants need to grow and stay healthy. Furthermore, wood ash can improve the pH level of soil that’s too alkaline.

You can even use leftover ash to keep pests out your garden or flowerbed. Common pests like snails and slugs will actively avoid ash. Therefore, sprinkling a ring of ash around your garden or flowerbed will protect your plants from these and other common pests. These are just a few common uses for wood ash. There are literally dozens of ways to use leftover ash.

Upgrade your patio or outdoor living space with a premium S&S Fire Pit today. We offer a variety of high-quality fire pits, with sizes ranging from 30 inches to 42 inches in diameter.

July 10, 2019

Does your smoker leak smoke? If so, you might be worried that it will affect the flavor, tenderness and overall quality of your food. This is a common concern shared by countless pitmasters. In this post, we’re going to explain whether it’s normal for a smoker to leak smoke.

The Basics of Smokers and How They Work

Before we reveal whether it’s normal for smokers to leak smoke, let’s first go over the basics of this common outdoor cooking device. Smokers are designed to cook food at a low temperature over a prolonged period of time by exposing the food to smoke. They typically contain one or two fuel compartments in which you can place charcoal and/or smoking chunks. Experienced pitmasters usually add both charcoal and smoking chunks to their smoker. As the charcoal burns, it produces heat that releases flavorful smoke compounds from the adjacent pile of smoking chunks.

While all smokers rely on flavorful smoke to cook food, the way in which they operate varies depending on the type. Some of the most common types of smokers include the following:

  • Offset Smoker: The most common type, an offset smoker, is a type of smoker with a firebox attached to the side. The firebox in offset smokers is the main compartment in which charcoal and smoking chunks are added. Since the firebox is located away from the cooking grate, food is exposed to less heat.
  • Drum Smoker: Also known as a barrel smoker, a drum smoker is an alternative type of smoker that’s characterized by a drum-like design. In fact, many drum smokers are made of real drum barrels. Drum smokers are available in a variety of sizes, ranging from just 30-gallon drums all the way to 85-gallon drums.
  • Bullet Smoker: As the name suggests, a bullet smoker is a type of smoker that’s shaped like a bullet. It’s essentially a variation of the drum smoker, with the only difference being that bullet smokers have a water pan or bowl below the cooking grate.

Photo: Eric Kilby

Yes, Some Smoke Leakage Is Normal

Although it sounds alarming, it’s normal for smokers to leak some smoke. Whether you have an offset smoker, drum smoker or bullet smoker, it will probably leak some smoke. If the lid, for example, doesn’t create an airtight seal, smoke will inevitably escape. This is particularly true when speaking about new smokers.

Contrary to popular belief, new smokers are more likely to leak smoke than old smokers. When a smoker is still new and hasn’t been used many times, it will have a smooth and clean finish. If you frequently use your smoker, on the other hand, it will develop a layer of carbon on the surface. This layer of carbon acts as a seal to prevent smoke from leaking. As a result, smoke can escape new smokers more easily than old smokers.

All Smokers Must Release Smoke

It’s important to note that all smokers must release smoke. You can’t smoke or grill food in a completely closed and airtight environment. If there’s no air flowing through the fuel compartment, the charcoal or smoking chunks won’t burn. And if the smoking chunks don’t burn, they won’t produce the flavorful smoke that’s responsible for cooking your food.

To allow airflow through your smoker’s fuel compartment, you must adjust the dampers. Dampers are the adjustable air vents that you can open or close. Most smokers have two dampers: one on the top and another on the bottom. Normally, you should keep the top damper open and the bottom damper closed. With the top damper open, your smoker will release smoke out the top. At the same time, it also allows air to flow in and out your smoker, ensuring that your smoking chunks continue to smolder at a low temperature.

You can use the bottom damper to adjust the temperature of your smoker. Keeping the bottom damper creates a cooler environment by minimizing airflow. Assuming the top damper is open, your smoker will still have enough air to keep your smoking chunks smoldering. With the bottom damper closed, though, only a small amount of air will flow into and through the fuel compartment, thereby keeping the temperature of your smoker — and your food as a result — in check.

Excessive Smoke Leakage Is Not Normal

You can expect your smoker to leak some smoke, but it shouldn’t be leaking an excessive amount of smoke. If you see large amounts of smoke pillowing from seals or between the lid, you may struggle to cook delicious food. The lack of smoke means your food won’t have the same smokey flavor as it normally would. You can still cook delicious food using a leaky smoker, but it comes at the cost of less flavor.

Furthermore, smoke does more than just enhance the flavor of food; it makes food more tender. The smoke compounds break down the otherwise tough tissue of meat to create a superior level of tenderness. But if your smoker leaks too much smoke, you won’t be able to cook tender meat. For the best flavor and tenderness, you need to expose your food to lots of smoke from high-quality wood, such as smoking chunks.

Again, it’s normal to a small amount of smoke to leak. What’s not normal, however, is for thick plumes of smoke to roll out the sides and seals.

How to Prevent Your Smoker From Leaking Too Much Smoke

If your smoker is leaking an excessive amount of smoke, there are a few things you should do. First and foremost, try using your smoker more frequently. As previously mentioned, the inside surface of a smoker will develop a layer of carbon over time. Each time you use your smoker, some of the carbon-based particulate matter from the smoke will stick to its interior walls.

When using your smoker, make sure the lid — the top piece — is properly positioned over the bottom piece. If the lid is tilted just slightly to the left or right of the bottom piece, it won’t create an airtight seal. The lid must be aligned with the bottom piece. Otherwise, smoke will escape through the gap between the two pieces.

You can also minimize the amount of smoke that escapes your smoker by adjusting the dampers. For most smoking activities, only the top damper should be open. If you open the top and bottom dampers, smoke will escape out both these air vents. Keeping the bottom damper closed ensures that smoke only escapes out the top, which is necessary to keep fresh air flowing into the fuel compartment.

When all else fails, you may want to upgrade to a different smoker. Cheap, low-quality smokers are more likely to leak than their higher-quality counterparts because they are poorly constructed. By upgrading to a high-quality smoker, such as a Primo Oval, you shouldn’t have a problem with smoke leakage. With their ceramic construction and premium craftsmanship, Primo smokers are universally recognized as being some of the best smokers on the market.

For the best quality smoking chunks, visit our online store today. Cutting Edge Firewood offers a variety of high-quality smoking chunks, including white oak, hickory, cherry, pecan and whiskey, all of which will allow you to smoke delicious meat.

July 10, 2019

Since the beginning of humankind, people have gathered around campfires to tell stories. It’s a fun activity that brings friends and family together. Regardless of age or gender, everyone enjoys listening to a good campfire story.

Like any art form, telling great stories is a craft that should be practiced. If you’re faced with the task of telling a campfire story, following these tips will give you a great start towards perfect it.

1) Stand Up

Try to get into the habit of standing up when telling campfire stories. If you tell your story sitting down, some people may struggle to see or hear you. Furthermore, standing up allows you to project your voice more effectively. It’s perfectly fine for everyone else to remain seated, but if you’re telling the story, you should stand up until you are finished.

2) Use Your Hands

Telling the perfect campfire story requires more than just oral narration; it requires the use of body language. Specifically, you should use hand gestures to help convey key points of your story. Hand gestures can turn an otherwise dull story into an active and engaging story. You can even use them to act out what’s happening in your story.

3) Keep the Fire Going

Don’t let your campfire burn out while telling a campfire story. A hot and roaring campfire is essential when telling a campfire story. It provides illumination while creating a relaxing atmosphere in the process. If you neglect to add more firewood to your campfire, it may burn out.

To keep your campfire going, add a few pieces of high-quality kiln dried firewood from Cutting Edge before you begin to tell your story. Our premium firewood burns brighter and longer than most other woods, so it’s less likely to need replenishing during your story. But, if you are telling a true epic and discover your campfire dying down midway through your story, take a short break to add a few more pieces of firewood. A hot and roaring campfire serves as the basis for the perfect campfire story, so don’t allow it to burn out.

4) Pull Out the Props

You can use props to enhance your campfire story. Perhaps the most common prop used in campfire stories is a flashlight. Even if you have a hot and roaring campfire (which you should), a flashlight will add a spooky element to your story. If you’re telling a ghost story or other horror-themed story, for example, shine the flashlight in your face while you talk.

And if you happen to hear a noise in the woods (or if you want people to think they heard a noise), you can shine the flashlight in the direction of the noise to create a sense of realism. Of course, a flashlight is just one of many props you can use when telling a campfire story. Feel free to pull out other objects to make your story more active.

5) Research Campfire Stories

Now for the million-dollar question: What campfire story should you tell? If you don’t know a story off the top of your head, you can either create one from scratch or tell an existing story. If you choose the latter, you should research some of the most popular campfire stories. You can check out this website for some ideas on campfire stories. Alternatively, you can always tell a relevant ghost story in front of a campfire. Regardless of where you are camping, there’s probably a well-known ghost story in a surrounding city.

You don’t have to necessarily copy an existing campfire story. You can make your campfire story unique and memorable by altering an existing one. By adding your own unique touch, you’ll have a better chance at connecting with your audience. At the same time, you can rest assured knowing that no one has heard the story before.

6) Make Eye Contact

Don’t forget to make eye contact when telling a campfire story. Whether you’re telling the story to a single listener or a dozen listeners, you should make contact with them. Research shows that eye contact exudes confidence and authority.

By making eye contact with listeners, they’ll subconsciously believe your story — even if it’s not a real story. The key thing to remember is that you shouldn’t focus your eyesight on any single listener for too long. After maintaining eye contact with a listener for a minute or so, focus your eyesight on someone else.

7) Wait Until Sundown

While you tell campfire stories day or night, it’s best to wait until sundown. The dark background with the bright fire simply allows for better storytelling. Once the sun goes down, everyone will be positioned around the campfire for warmth and illumination. And when everyone is gathered around the campfire, they’ll focus their attention on you.

8) Avoid using green or seasoned wood

When you decide to to build your campfire, you’ll want to start planning for your story. Hopefully, you have kiln dried firewood from Cutting Edge ready to use. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck gathering fallen tree branches and limbs or using seasoned firewood. This presents several problems: green and seasoned wood will take longer to light. They also produce a lot more smoke and smell bad.

You don’t want people moving around, coughing, or getting smelly smoke in their eyes while you tell your story. Using Cutting Edge firewood helps ensure everyone has a great fire experience, and the fire won’t distract from the story. It will enhance it.

9) Consider a Classic Opening

You can’t go wrong with a classic opening when telling a campfire story. The opening “Once upon a time,” for instance, works well for nearly all campfire stories. It’s a familiar opening that’s been used in thousands of campfire stories. Another common opening to use in a campfire story is “Legend has it.” Classic openings such as these set the tone quickly and help captivate listeners and pique their curiosity.

But you need more than one sentence to tell a good story. Consider using this simple story structure from Pixar: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

10) Keep It Short… But Not Too Short

The length of your campfire story will affect your ability to keep listeners engaged and interested. If your story is too short, it will lack any meaningful sustenance. If it’s too long, some listeners may become bored halfway through the story.

So, how long should you make your campfire story? There’s no set length for the perfect campfire story. Some stories will naturally take more time to tell than others. The best way to determine how long your story should be is to read your audience. If they look engaged, keep going and don’t lose their interest. If people are starting to get distracted, better to wrap the story up quickly and concisely.

Ultimately, the goal of any story teller should be to tell a long story that feels short.

11) Listen to Others Share Their Stories

You should ask others to share campfire stories as well. When you are finished telling your story, see if anyone else has a story they’d like to share. Depending on the size of your group, you can keep the stories going long into the night. Furthermore, you may learn a few new tricks of your own by listening to the stories of others.

It’s important to remember that you don’t need to pressure people to tell a campfire story. Not everyone knows great stories, and even if they do, they may lack the confidence to share it in front of an audience. It’s still important to ask, however, because when other people share their stories, it creates a more memorable experience for everyone involved.

The best stories deserve the best firewood

Make sure you’re ready to tell great campfire stories by stocking up on the best firewood available. Visit our online store today, where you can find a variety of kiln dried Oak, Hickory, and Cherry firewood that is perfect for an amazing fire experience.

July 2, 2019

According to a recent survey, pizza is America’s favorite food. Consisting of round baked dough topped with sauce, cheese, meat and veggies, it’s an incredibly versatile dish that can be prepared in countless ways. However, you’ll need two things to cook delicious pizza likes the pros: a pizza and oven and the right wood. Once you’ve mastered the art of using a wood-fired pizza oven, you’ll be able to professional-quality pizza from the comfort of your home.

What Is a Pizza Oven?

Also known as a masonry or stone oven, a pizza oven is a special type of baking chamber that’s designed to cook large foods, including pizza, at high temperatures. Although they are designed in different ways, most feature a brick or clay construction with a half-dome baking chamber. You simply slide your pizza into the oven, at which point it will cook from the heat produced by the burning wood.

A pizza oven isn’t the same as a conventional kitchen oven. For starters, pizza ovens are typically heated using wood, whereas kitchen ovens are heated using electricity or gas. This alone can have a significant impact on the flavor and overall quality of your pizza. Since they use gas or electricity, kitchen ovens don’t offer the same flavor as their wood-fired counterparts. You can still cook pizza in a kitchen oven, but you shouldn’t set your expectations too high.

Kitchen ovens aren’t able to produce as much heat as a pizza oven, either. A typical kitchen oven has a maximum temperature of about 500 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. While this is more than enough heat to bake chicken, pork chops, casseroles and other dishes, it’s not enough to cook crispy pizza. When cooked in a kitchen oven, pizza dough will remain relatively soft. By cooking pizza in a pizza oven, on the other hand, the dough will turn to a golden brown color with a crispy texture. This is because pizza ovens can reach temperatures of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit or more.

Why the Right Wood Matters When Using a Pizza Oven

Unless you’re experienced with pizza ovens, you may assume that all wood is equal. After all, how much of a difference can wood really make when cooking pizza? Well, using the right wood matters for several reasons. It affects the amount of heat to which your pizza is exposed, the flavor of your pizza and more. If you’re looking to step up your pizza-cooking game, you need to use the right wood.

Choose Dry Cooking Wood

Always use dry cooking wood in your pizza oven. Burning wet or damp wood will result in a less-efficient combustion process. Once you light it– if you’re even able to light it — it will convert less organic wood matter into heat. Unfortunately, this means the temperature of your pizza oven will be too low to create a crispy crust. At the same time, the wet or damp wood will release high concentrations of particulate matter into the air, some of which will land on your pizza.

Don’t assume that a piece of wood is dry just because it doesn’t feel wet or damp. All wood has at least some moisture embedded within its pores. But the amount of moisture in wood varies depending on whether it was seasoned. Seasoning simply refers to the process of drying wood. There are different ways to season wood, the most common of which include air drying and kiln drying. Of those two seasoning methods, though, kiln drying is able to create the driest cooking wood, making it ideal for use in a pizza oven.

Choose Logs Over Chips or Chunks

While wood chips and chunks are ideal for smoking meats and veggies, they don’t work well in pizza ovens. Wood chips and chunks are significantly smaller than wood logs. And because of their small size, they’ll burn to ash more quickly than wood logs. For the longest burn time and hottest temperatures, it’s recommended that you use pizza-cut cooking wood.

Available for sale here at Cutting Edge Firewood, pizza-cut cooking wood lives up to its namesake by featuring the perfect size and shape for pizza ovens. Each pizza-cut log is approximately 16 inches long. At this length, pizza-cut cooking wood burns hot and long. You can experiment with other types of cooking wood, but you’ll probably discover that pizza-cut cooking offers the best performance when using a pizza oven.

Choose a Flavorful Variety

For the best-tasting pizza, choose a flavorful variety of wood to use in your pizza oven. The variety of cooking wood refers to the tree species from which it was harvested. Research suggests that there are over 60,000 species of trees in the world, each of which has unique qualities that affect its performance when using as a cooking wood. For pizza ovens, oak is a popular variety of cooking wood that excels in several ways.

Oak is a relatively mild variety of wood, so it won’t produce an overbearing flavor that masks the natural flavor of your pizza and its topping. Since it’s a hardwood rather than a softwood, oak also produces lots of heat and stays lit for a long period of time. And while it has a mild flavor, oak wood is still flavorful. When you cook pizza using oak wood, some of the oak’s flavorful compounds will be absorbed by the dough and toppings.

Tips on Using a Pizza Oven

Along with using the right cooking wood, follow these tips to cook delicious pizza in a pizza oven:

  • Aim for an internal temperature of 700 to 800 degrees Fahrenheit in your pizza oven. You can raise the temperature of your pizza oven by adding more cooking wood.
  • Build a fire in the center of your pizza oven, and when you’re ready to add the pizza, use a metal scraper to move the coals to the back of the oven.
  • Clean any remaining wood or ash out of your pizza oven after each use.
  • Avoid using dough with a high sugar content. Sugar-based dough is fine when cooking pizza is a conventional kitchen oven. When used in a wood-fired pizza oven, though, it causes the crust to cook unevenly.
  • Don’t leave your pizza sitting in the oven for too long. Assuming your pizza oven has reached a temperature of 700 to 800 degrees Fahrenheit, it should only take one to two minutes to fully cook a pizza. Allowing it to cook for longer than two minutes may result in the crust or toppings burning.
  • Use caution when adding and removing your pizza to protect against burns.
  • Remember, while it’s called a “pizza oven,” you can cook other types of foods in it, some of which include potatoes, bread, fish, hamburgers and more.

Don’t limit your pizza-cooking activities to a conventional kitchen oven. Using a pizza oven with the right wood will help you create better-tasting pizza that simply can’t be achieved with a kitchen oven. And once you get the hang of it, you can use it to cook other foods.

Find the best deals on premium smoking chunks by visiting our online store today. Cutting Edge Firewood offers a variety of high-quality smoking chunks, including white oak, hickory, cherry, pecan and whiskey, all of which will allow you to smoke delicious meat.