Cooking with firewood has to be one of our all time favourite methods for cooking outdoors. There’s simply no other outdoor cooking method that infuses food with such a distinct and delicious flavour. Whether you’re new to cooking with firewood or are looking to perfect and improve your skills, take a look at the following top tips:
Choose Quality Firewood
Our most important tip for cooking with firewood is choosing quality firewood. This is crucial for ensuring that your fire burns cleanly, safely and without hampering the taste of the food. 100% natural and with a moisture content below 20%, Lekto’s Kiln Dried Firewood burns at a high heat output with a sweet, natural aroma that flavours food delicately. Choosing the best wood is a key step in cooking with firewood successfully.
Use The Right Size Logs
A common mistake that people make when cooking with firewood is using logs that are too large in size. Wood can expand when it burns and so it’s essential to make sure that you’ve cut your wood to the right size. Depending on the size of your appliances, you may need to split our Kiln Dried Firewood into smaller pieces and split our Natural Fire Kindling in half. The key is ensuring that hot wood or embers won’t fall out and cause a safety hazard.
Start With A Small Fire
Building a fire that is too big will cause it to burn down quickly, leaving you with coals that are too hot. That’s why, when cooking with firewood you should always start with a smaller fire before adding bigger logs. This creates a nice, consistent base for cooking. Make a small fire with kindling and start with a Lekto Natural Firelighter to give it a kickstart.
Clean Cooking Appliances Regularly
Whatever appliances you are using to cook with, make sure to clean them regularly. When cooking with firewood it’s easy for creosote and ash to build up, alongside fats and oils from the food. These can negatively influence the flavours of the food, and more importantly, can cause a safety hazard if left to build up over a long period of time.
When cooking with firewood you should always prioritise safety. Make sure you’ve chosen a suitable location to build your fire, that’s away from any structures or flammable surfaces. If you have children or pets, make sure to keep them supervised when the fire is lit and once it’s been put out as embers, ashes and cooking surfaces will still be very hot.
Once you’ve lit the fire, it’s important to wait for the wood to burn and start to break down into embers before thinking about cooking. This usually takes between 30-45 minutes. Cooking over direct flames will burn the food and if you’re cooking with meat, will prevent the meat from cooking properly on the inside. Waiting for a bed of glowing coals to form creates the perfect conditions for cooking with firewood.
Adapt Your Technique For Different Foods
Different foods cook differently and so it’s important to adapt your technique according to this. For example, when cooking large joints of meat it’s best to seal the meat on a high heat to begin with, before moving it to a lower area of heat output where it can cook more gradually. The hot embers are perfect for cooking food wrapped in foil, such as jacket potatoes.
Control The Heat
When cooking with firewood, it’s important to maintain the fire to ensure that the food is cooking at the right temperature. To keep the fire going you can add wood to one side of the grill, whilst reserving the other side for cooking the food. Move the embers around to control the heat using a long metal rake, wearing heat-resistant gloves to keep yourself safe.
Cooking with firewood naturally infuses food with a delicious flavour and is great for smoking meat or vegetables. However, there are additional steps you can take to experiment with flavour. One of our favourite tips for cooking with firewood is to add Apple Wood Chips or Cherry Wood Chips. Apple Wood Chips provide a sweet, delicate flavour that’s perfect for smoking poultry, pork and vegetables, whilst Cherry Wood chips create a bolder, fruity flavour that’s perfect for enhancing the taste of fish and beef.
Ensure The Fire Is Properly Extinguished
Another key safety point to consider when cooking with firewood is to ensure that you extinguish the fire properly once you’ve finished cooking. Dampen down the fire and rake through the embers to make sure that there are no dangerous hot spots left over. It’s important to take the time to properly extinguish the fire in order to prevent a fire hazard.