One of the biggest concerns for pizza oven owners is knowing what type of wood to burn in their ovens. Different woods can impart different flavors, so it is important to consider what the wood you’re burning is adding to your dishes.
One of the key factors to making sure everything goes well when you cook with your wood fired oven is learning about the best types of wood to use and how to make sure they are in top condition for burning.
Types of wood and starters NOT to use
First And Foremost: Stay Away From Charcoal As A Main Heat Source!Charcoal seems like a good idea because it burns hotter than most firewood. However, it doesn’t transfer heat efficiently inside the oven. There are three factors that contribute to the heat inside the oven: hot coal transfer, flame refractions off the oven dome, and thermal equilibrium. When you use charcoal to heat your oven, you lose one of these sources of heat, as charcoal does not produce a sustained direct flame – or really, any flame at all. This leaves you with pizza that is unfinished and unevenly baked, with toppings that have been left un-melted, and dough that remains un-browned. You want the perfect pizza that results from a heated wood oven: A crisp pizza dough exterior, with a chewy interior, and ()Finally, charcoal also presents a safety issue. Charcoal produces more carbon monoxide than firewood, introducing an invisible and potentially fatal element to your food, your home, or your restaurant. To make matters worse, carbon monoxide is undetectable without specialized equipment.
- Processed Woods Are Cheap – But They’re A Bad Idea.
- Don’t Use Softwoods Or Resinous Woods.
Do Not Use Wood That Has Not Been Properly SeasonedEven the right type of wood won’t work properly unless it is perfectly dry. Wood that is wet burns poorly and will likely produce a lot of smoke, causing soot and creosote buildup in your oven. If your wood is still green, it is most likely not dry enough.
- The Best Firewood Is Made Of Hardwood
- Oak – Oak is one of the safest firewood options available. It burns hot and clean. It is also one of the easiest woods to find in North America, and is often available at reasonable prices. It is a great choice for firewood.
- Maple – Maple is also a great option for firewood. Like oak, it is easily accessible in North America.
- Ash – While still considered a hardwood, ash tends to be on the softer side. It also tends to be more easily available, and thus less expensive than other options.
- Mesquite – Mesquite does not need much seasoning; as a naturally dry wood, it can even burn when freshly cut! Mesquite tends to be quite difficult to start, however, so you will need to use a lot of kindling. When using mesquite, it is a good idea to mix oak into your firewood to extend your fire’s life – mesquite is a very hot burning wood!
- Fruitwoods Are Also A Great Option – Especially If They Come From Hardwood Trees
- Apple – Apple gives off a wonderful fragrance and a subtly sweet flavor. It also tends to burn very hot. That is why some of the best-known pizzerias swear by apple! However, apple does tend to be more expensive and harder to find than other firewood options. Cherry – Cherry imparts a mild, sweet flavor that can go with virtually anything. It can be difficult to source locally, but you can get some right away by ordering on Amazon.
- As much as possible, harvest or buy firewood between early spring and late winter. During these seasons, most of the sap and moisture will be accumulated in the roots of the tree, giving you wood that is easier to dry. Additionally, harvesting at this time will give your wood the summer to dry out. If you buy your firewood, it will be seasoned for you and ready to burn.
- Since green wood has not had a chance to dry properly, it does not burn very hot and tends to produce plenty of smoke when burning. Fizzling and crackling are also telltale signs that you are using greenwood.
- Always aim to purchase firewood a cord at a time. A cord refers to a stack of wood that measures 4’ x 4’ x 8’. This helps you make sure that you are getting a good price, as buying in units that are unrelated to the standard cord can conceal a high price per cord.
- Make sure to go to your wood suppliers’ yard so you can see exactly what you are buying. Don’t lose heart if you make a bad firewood purchase – we’ve all been there. It takes some time to develop the ability to judge good firewood.
- Here are some good places to get wood: firewood retailers; local parks; friends or neighbors who cut or prune their trees; companies that cut trees; manufacturers that process wood; and the municipal town maintenance crew.
- There are two main ways to dry your firewood: a kiln that is especially made for drying wood (expensive); or in a well-ventilated firewood shed.
- Depending on how large your wood pieces are, it could take up to two years for it to dry sufficiently. If you are cutting your own wood, try to split it into pieces that measure 16”x3”. It is always a good idea to split your firewood, as split wood tends to dry faster. Split wood is also easier to start and burns hotter. Your kindling can be smaller.
- Remove the bark from your firewood to reduce its moisture content.
- Some people leave the bark on their firewood because they prefer to cook with more smoke. If you do this, make sure to turn the wood with the bark facing up so that the wood can burn better in the oven.