In the past, men’s intention was to dry the meat and keep it away from pests. Smoking is also a way to preserve and cook food. Evolving through the modern era, equipment for cooking are developed such as stove and grill. In the process of smoking, you have to use a burning material. Most often used is wood. Eventually, charcoal is produced by piling billets of wood. With both charcoal and wood available to use, we will find out factors about charcoal vs wood smoking. We will also determine the difference between charcoal and wood smoking. This comparison will help us learn more about smoking, that it is not limited to meat alone.
More About Charcoal Smoking
Evidently, you will use charcoal if you intend to do the charcoal smoking process. The benefit of charcoal is that it can both cook hot and fast or slow and on a small fire. Even with an open space, the heat keeps going. The way you place the charcoal determines how high or low the heat will be. Putting it all together at the center of the grill will produce high heat and putting it on the sides scattered will produce low heat. As mentioned, it retains heat even if smoking with an open space. You can add charcoal whenever it is necessary for continuous smoking. We might think there is only one type of charcoal as long as it is black and equipped for smoking. Little did we know, there are various types of charcoal. We must make sure that what we use is free from lighter fluid additives. You might get caught in the fire upon lighting it before you can even cook your food. These additives will also leave a bad taste on your food which is another good reason to avoid them beside you can burn yourself. You want to get the cleanest version of charcoal possible? Briquettes are a must try and a good choice as a type of charcoal. It is made of pressed sawdust and uses a sugar-based binding agent which is all natural.
Get To Know Wood Smoking
Wood and even its sawdust are sources of charcoal once they undergo the process. Basically, charcoal is out of wood. The difference between wood smoking and charcoal smoking is you can light the wood from one end and get a hold of the other end. The heat when using wood is also much more difficult to control compared to charcoal.
Health Risk of Smoking
There is no denying that cooking food through a smoking process is sumptuous. There is a different flavor you will want to taste over and over again. This cooking method has its fair share of risks. We will elaborate on charcoal and wood health risk and the effects to the environment. What is common to most of us is that smoked food contains carcinogens. It also produces hydrocarbons that pollutes the air. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) forms when meat fat drips to the charcoal. PAHs can get deposited on the food being cooked since they are rising with the smoke. Aside from imposing cancer risks to charcoal smoking pollutes the air for it releases polyunsaturated fatty acids. PAHs can be reduced by using zeolite filters as presented by Jane K. Parker, Ph.D. being the leader of the study during the 225th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society. Another way to avoid these risks is to use only natural charcoal which means not containing additives such as coal or petroleum. On the other hand, wood smoking produces carbon monoxide which is poison to the human body. Just like charcoal smoking, cooking food using wood in the smoking process produces good aroma. However, wood smoking does also generates microscopic particles called fine particulate matter (PM2.5). This may trigger asthma symptoms once it gets into the respiratory system. It can also trigger heart attacks, stroke and even heart failure.
How Long Does It Take Food To Being Cooked in Smoking?
Cooking time of smoking depends on how high or low the temperature is. It also varies on the food you cook. Vegetables require a short period of time while meat varies if you want it raw, medium or well done. It is also up to you what method to use when cooking with charcoal vs wood as smoking time also varies. Charcoal smoking if set to high heat takes only five to ten minutes but if you want it in the slow way, it will take from thirty minutes up to an hour. Make sure to open the vents to give way for oxygen. The wider the vents the higher the heat. Cold smoking and hot smoking are different things in wood smoking. Cold smoking is not really to cook the food. Hot smoking is done with high fire resulting to hotter temperatures. The end product is drier and firmer which is why you really have to do well in controlling the temperature.
Knowing that cooking time of smoking with charcoal or wood is almost the same, let us discover the differences between charcoal vs wood taste. You can get different flavors in wood smoking if you use different kinds of wood.
Hickory results in a strong flavor perfect for smoking barbecue same goes for Pecan. Apple tastes sweet and fruity best for cooking poultry, fish and ham. Mesquite burns fast so take caution when using it for smoking. Best wood for large slices of meat is oak which results in strong flavor but not as overpowering like Mesquite. While the taste of food varies from the type of wood you use, charcoal results in smoky flavor. But if you use charcoal with additives, the food may adapt that nasty taste. Natural charcoal is the best option to be used. You must also learn to control the heat to avoid food from burning. Compared to wood, charcoal heat is much easier to control and handle. Both methods result in tastier food and aroma.
Will It Be Charcoal Smoking or Wood Smoking?
Whatever you choose from wood smoking and charcoal smoking, both have their own perks and risks. We may enjoy sumptuous flavors of different dishes and delicacies. Both methods are also imposing health risks such as triggering asthma, heart problems and even cancer. Despite these risks smoking is the best way to cook food. It is one of the oldest methods used to preserve food as well. With all the comparisons, it will be easy to determine which methods you prefer to use. Caution must be taken especially in dealing with high heat. The types of wood you use will help you experiment in your cooking to enjoy meals with the family. Frequent smoking though has an impact on the environment causing pollution. With all the information being laid out, enjoy smoked food or freak out from the hazards if you are an environment and health freak. Enjoying both means smoking food with moderation and avoid frequently using it.