|Not all wood supplier are like Smokinlicious®, cutting their product from forest grown fresh harvest. Rather they use recycled material.|
One of the things we do at SmokinLicious® for commercial-grade customers is take in a sample of their current smoking wood and analyze it. When you’re a Company producing a food product, you need consistency of the final product. When it comes to smoked foods, this can be a challenge as wood is a plant material that can be highly variable when put through the stages of combustion. If a mixture of woods is used in the process, combustion rate, biochar production, volatile burn off, and other parameters of the wood can be affected in a negative way.
Like a Game of RouletteIf price is the only factor guiding your decision on a wood supplier, then you are playing a game of roulette. Just like any other business transaction, you should be looking for authenticity of the wood. Let me give you an example:
Germany is the only country currently taking direct steps to protect woods on the endangered species list. Yes, there is such a list with 183 countries participating in some level of enforcement. The direct goal of The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is to prevent deforestation but the challenge, as with most lofty goals, is personnel to enforce the regulation. Germany is uncovering case after case of fraudulent wood sales and finding that less expensive woods in the manufacture while invoices reflect another more expensive wood.
Now look at smoking wood products. There are no regulations. A company can package wood product of pretty much any condition, label it as a specific species, and put it into the marketplace. There is no accounting for:
▪ how the wood was collected
▪ what the wood pieces are made from
▪ treatments conducted on the wood
▪ if the wood is 100% of a specific species
▪ the origination of the wood
▪ the age of the wood
Mixed Product DominatesI can’t even count how many times we’ve visited a Company’s location to view their wood supply and find that what they thought they were purchasing is not what’s present. Some suppliers have gone so far as including softwoods in the product labeled as hardwood! This doesn’t happen with just the larger pieces of wood either. Micro chips commonly used in industrial smokehouses rarely contain 100% of a said wood. Perhaps this is the reason why packaging regulations for a smokehouse bacon or ham can state it is Applewood smoked when Applewood may have only made up 10% of the wood used in the smoking process!
Ask and DemandThe budget for wood can be substantial for companies and restaurants. You have every right to demand a product’s accountability. Ask questions!
What is the origin of the wood? Remember, many smoking wood suppliers are not involved in the manufacturing process. They are the seller not the manufacturer meaning they likely have little or no knowledge of the history of the wood.
Has the wood undergone any processes? Kiln dried? Preservation chemical added? If the wood didn’t start out for cooking, it is likely that processes used to stabilize the wood for its main purpose, say flooring, were applied. That won’t make it the best choice for a cooking method or even a safe choice.
You have every right to request a Letter of Guarantee or Letter of Authenticity. Remember, woods used for food preparation or cooking currently have no universal regulations. The only wood regulation that exists in the USA is regarding moving firewood and that is regulated primarily by the individual states.
Why be so concerned about the wood when we don’t consume wood?We may not consume the wood in its natural form but we certainly consume food products cooked over or near that wood, that infuse many of the organic compounds of the wood. Not all organic compounds are good. There are many known toxicities in certain species of wood with softwoods containing the highest risk. That is the reason why you should never cook with a softwood. Other wood has the potential to cause sickness and in some cases if a person’s system is already compromised, death.
Take the time to learn about the wood you will use in the cooking method and ask the questions that could be the difference between a successful venture and partnership with your wood supplier or a disaster you simply didn’t need.