Have you been wondering whether to try out apple tree wood for smoking on the barbecue? You’re not alone! More and more BBQ enthusiasts are trying out apple tree wood for smoking. Maybe the fact that apple-smoked food is fast becoming a crowd favorite is the reason behind this.
But is apple tree wood any good for smoking? The short answer is yes. However the results depend on the food you’re smoking and the duration of the entire process among other factors.
Apple wood compliments pork—particularly ham—exceptionally well. It’s also excellent for smoking foods such as lamb and certain seafood. While you can also use it to smoke poultry, extra attention should be given to the smoking process with regards to total cooking time. The mild and fruity flavor is known to overwhelm poultry especially if you smoke it for too long.
Apple wood gives smoked food a distinct sweet flavor. Though it imparts sweetness to most meats, it’s extremely subtle. That’s why apple wood works better with lighter foods such as pork and fish.
Just know that there’s an art to smoking your meats using apple tree wood. You don’t have to necessarily reach for the first apple tree you see. You need to know which apple tree wood to use with regards to type and density for best results.
Aside from the wood you use, other factors will affect your smoking process. The type of smoker you use, smoking method and cooking temperatures are some of the key factors you need to be cognisant of.
But no need to feel overwhelmed. I’m here to answer all your burning questions regarding whether using apple tree wood is best for smoking. I’ll also give you insight on how you can go about the entire process the right way. And also outline the factors you should keep your eyes peeled on when selecting the right apple wood for smoking.
Table of Contents
How to Pick the Right Apple Tree Wood
For best results, you need to consider the following factors when picking apple tree wood:
- Density: Pay attention to the size and shape of the wood. Do you use chunks, chips or logs? The type you pick will depend on the smoke you’re trying to create. Chunks generally release a slow and steady flow of smoke. Chips as you can imagine burn much faster and produce quick smoke. I’d advise you to use thin apple tree twigs or chips for optimum results than thicker logs. Logs make it much difficult to control the heat and flavor of your meat. Quite frankly, this concept is true of any type of wood you use. Apple tree wood chips or twigs not only burn faster and they are also much easier to source. Unless you’re a skilled aficionado who has mastered the art of controlling smoking temperatures, rather steer clear from logs.
- Amount: After size, you need to consider the amount of apple tree wood that you’ll use. Needless to say the amount of wood you use will depend on the size of your smoker.
- Type: Avoid using wood from evergreen apple trees. Such wood is soft, has more air and pungent sap. As a result it tends to burn much faster. Not to mention that such wood will give your meat an unpleasant funny taste. Rather use hardwood as opposed to soft. While you’re at it, make sure you don’t use moldy wood either. Why? Some molds may contain toxins that are not good for your health.
- Dry or fresh wood: Consider if the apple tree wood is dry or wet. Whatever you do, never use fresh wood for smoking. It has more sap, burns irregularly and also imparts weird flavors to your meat. Dry wood is your best bet.
- Bark or no bark: Many smokers are often conflicted regarding whether or not to remove bark from their apple tree wood. Whether you remove it is a matter of preference. Some people prefer removing all the bark from the wood while others don’t. I usually remove the bark, but not all of it. Bark has more air inside it so it’s more flammable than heartwood.
Factors to Keep in Mind When Smoking With Apple Tree Wood
There are a few factors you need to keep in mind when smoking with apple tree wood for optimal results. Pay attention to the following aspects.
Type of Smoker You Use
I’d advise you to invest in one of the best wood pellet smokers for this exercise. When smoking food, the wood serves to smoke and flavor your meat rather than cook it. That’s why using the right smoker for the job is crucial.
As you’re probably aware, there are different types of smoking methods. When smoking meat using apple wood, you must aim for a slow cooking method. This means that under no circumstances should you have your meat directly over high heat.
Ideally you want to use a wood smoker that has a separate smoker unit. If it doesn’t have a separate area to place your meat away from direct heat, push the wood chips on one side and place your meat on the opposite side.
Smoking temperatures should be kept between roughly 95 and 110 degrees when using apple wood. Since your wood chips or twigs are likely to burn fast, you can always add wet chips to lower the temperatures.
How to Smoke Food Using Apple Wood
Smoking food is a skill you can only perfect with time and practice. Now that you have your wood and smoking tips on hand, let’s discuss the actual process.
One thing you need to understand is that the secret to perfectly smoking your food lies in the amount of smoke produced by the wood. Using too much smoke during the smoking process WILL make your meat taste bitter.
Generally speaking, apple tree wood produces mild smoke so it’s important that you maintain this level. Also, remember that apple wood burns slowly and produces a steady smoke. Just make sure that you always remember to use it when dry.
I can’t tell you how much apple wood to use at any given time. This is because to get the right flavor from your meat will depend on factors such as:
- The volume of your smoker’s cooking chamber. The larger the capacity, the more wood you’ll need.
- Amount of airflow into and out of the smoker. This will depend on how often you peak into the cooking chamber, number of air vents present on the unit or if there are any leaks.
- Whether the food is marinated or has any form of basting. You’ll need more fuel if you’re smoking basted meat since it’s more difficult for smoke to penetrate such surfaces.
- Humidity and overall weather conditions. Smoking foods during a warm sunny day doesn’t require your smoker to burn up much fuel. This is because of the high environmental weather conditions. If you smoke food at night, you will use up more fuel.
- Type of meet you’re smoking. Dense cuts of meat will require more wood. Thin cuts won’t need as much wood.
Steps to Smoking Meat Using Apple Tree Wood
With these handy tips on your fingertips, you can go ahead and smoke your meat by following these easy steps:
- Get your meat ready. Make sure that it’s cold. Why? Smoke penetrates cold meat better. Try not to let your meat come to room temperature.
- Use moist meat when smoking to prevent it from drying out during the smoking process. You can spritz your meat using a spray bottle to achieve this. Alternatively, you can moisten your meat with apple juice for that added flavor.
- Use your desired spice rub on the meat. This process has a lot to do with flavoring your meat. But more than anything else, smoke tends to stick much better onto the layer of spice or herbs on your meat.
- Use a smoker with a water pan. Water is known to slow down evaporation thereby keeping your meat moist.
- Place your wood into the smoker early on, but only when the fire is hot. This is because meat generally tends to soak up more wood flavor at the start of the cooking process—and when it’s cold.
- How long the smoking process takes will depend on the meat you’re cooking and the cuts. For example, you need between 60 and 90 minutes to smoke a pound of pork. This is provided you’re maintaining a temperature of between 195 and 205 degrees. Chicken will need roughly 1 hour 20 minutes.
Ready to Smoke Your Food?
Hopefully you now have all the facts you need to smoke your food using apple wood. To wrap up this article, I’ll reiterate how apple tree wood is indeed great for smoking food. You simply need to know which type of food to smoke, type of apple wood to use and the smoking technique in general.
Are you ready to try out my tips and enjoy some delicious apple-smoked food? I’ve included a recipe you can try out. See this video.