Wood chips and pellets are used to enhance the flavor of food cooked in a barbecue or a smoker. These fragrant bits of wood or compressed sawdust slowly release both heat and flavor to give your grilled foods a unique, smoky taste. If you're looking for something different to do with your barbecuing, wood chips and wood pellets offer a simple, inexpensive way to mix things up a little bit.
- Wood chips are just that; bits of wood. They come in all different varieties, such as cedar, hickory, or apple wood. You can also purchase wood chips that have been coated with different flavors like mesquite or even whiskey.
- Wood pellets are made up of compressed hardwood sawdust. Pellets burn slowly, releasing their flavor and smoke just as wood chips do. The flavors are added to the pellets, and come in much the same varieties as you would find with wood chips.
- When selecting wood chips or wood pellets, think about what kind of taste you want to impart in your food, the method of cooking, and whether you want a natural wood or one with commercially prepared flavor added to it.
- There are a number of ways that you can use wood chips and wood pellets when grilling, depending on the type of grill or smoker you have and what you're looking for as the end result. Soaking the wood for several hours results in a longer burn time, and is recommended most of the time.
- If you're running short on time or want to grill something that doesn't require a long cooking time, you can wrap the wood chips or wood pellets in aluminum foil and poke several small holes in the foil. Place the packet on the grill when you turn it on, and proceed as usual.
- Smokers use wood chips and wood pellets to provide the smoky taste and aroma that permeates the food as it cooks slowly over low heat. Follow the directions that come with your smoker to safely use wood chips or pellets.
- While usually associated with meat, you can also use wood chips and wood pellets to add a smoky taste to everything from grilled vegetables to bread, fish, hardboiled eggs, and many other foods. Pick up a grilling book or look around online for new and inventive uses for wood smoking.
- To use wood chips or pellets in a gas or electric barbecue, there are special smoker trays available for purchase to make this task easier. These accessories are generally available wherever barbecues are sold.
- When you're finished using your wood chips or wood pellets, you can add the ash left over to your compost heap to further recycle the product.