Is Walnut Wood A Good Wood For Smoking Meat?

Hickory, Oak, and Mesquite. Every single one of those smoking woods goes great with a certain type of meat.

Want to take a guess at which one that is?

Well, all of those smoking hardwoods pair perfectly with red meat. And they can all make those BBQ ribs taste smoky, savory, and deliciously flavorful.

But, there are more options on the table if you want to slow-cook BBQ. For example, what kind of flavor can you expect to get from Walnut hardwood?

Well, in this post, you’ll discover what kind of flavor Walnut wood can add to meat. You’ll also learn why Walnut is often mixed with milder smoking woods.

is walnut wood good for smoking

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Which Wood Gives Meat The Strongest Smokiest Flavor?

Hickory wood is great for infusing red meat with an intense smoky taste.

It is not as strong as Mesquite wood, so Hickory isn’t going to make meat taste bitter. Although, that’s only provided you keep the temperature low when smoking with hickory. This will allow you to control the smoke, and slow-cook that food even longer.

What About Walnut Wood? What Kind Of Taste Will It Add To BBQ?

Walnut gives meat a strong flavor, but it’s even more intense than Mesquite wood when it comes to bitterness.

But, if you aren’t careful, Walnut wood will give meat a heavily bitter taste. Which is why Walnut is often mixed with other milder sweeter woods, when it comes to smoking meat.

Fruit-bearing trees, such as Peach and Plum trees, produce timber that will infuse meat with a mild sweet tang. That mild tang will take a lot of the bitter edge off of Walnut wood.

But, Is It Safe To Use Walnut Wood As a Smoking Wood?

Well, when it comes to smoking woods, you need to avoid smoking meat with any wood that contains a lot of sap or pitch.

You see, sap and pitch are resins that trees produce, and they can saturate the grain of lumber. So, if you burn resin-filled timber, a lot of that sap/pitch will vaporize. This, in turn, leads to all of that sap/pitch seeping into the meat itself.

Now, sap/pitch is not tasty. In fact, these resins are pretty funky tasting. And, at worst, if you consume them, they can leave you feeling pretty ill.

So, when it comes to smoking woods, avoid tree resin filled lumber, such as Cedar or Pine. Nevertheless, in the case of Walnut, the timber from this tree has little sap or pitch in it.

What Is Tree Sap/Pitch Exactly? Tree sap is a substance produced by trees in an attempt to fight off bug infestations. However, tree pitch is a thicker more viscous substance. That’s because pitch is secreted by trees to help seal over any damaged sections.

So, What’s The Best Wood For Smoking Meat?

You won’t go too far wrong by using Hickory or Oak to smoke beef and pork. And while Oak is a bit milder than Hickory, it will give a similarly strong taste to your food.

However, when it comes to poultry, rabbit and fish, you might prefer a more subtle flavor. In which case, fruit-bearing tree woods, such as Apple, Cherry, and even Mulberry wood, are ideal.

They’ll give meat a sweeter taste, that won’t overwhelm your taste buds.

Can You Mix Walnut Wood With Fruit Woods For Smoking Meat?

Absolutely you can. In fact, you probably should, since you’ll need a milder wood to cut back on Walnuts bitterness.

So, a ratio of one third Walnut wood and two thirds Apple wood can be ideal for smoking pork.

And What Can I Do To Make Walnut Wood Smoke Better?

The best thing you can do is to always make sure that Walnut wood has had time to season. Seasoning wood involves allowing freshly cut lumber time to dry-out.

You see, when wood is first cut, (referred to as ‘green wood’), it has a moisture content of 100%. This moisture content level is much too high for wood to catch light and burn. And even if it were to burn, that high moisture content will create an excessive amount of smoke.

Now, seasoned wood has a moisture content of below 20%. Although, to be honest, a range of between 13% to 17% is better for your smoker.

But, once wood is well seasoned, it won’t over-produce smoke. Which is exactly what you want, because the last thing you want is to over-smoke your food.

And How Can You Tell If Walnut Wood Is Seasoned?

Well, it takes green wood anywhere from 6-12 months to dry. And it can take even longer in humid climates.

Related Post: How To Season Wood (7 Tips)

But the easiest way to check, is to simply take a tiny chunk of that Walnut wood, and burn it. If it starts to bellow out too much smoke, then that Walnut wood needs more time to dry.

To Wrap Up, Here Are The 3 Key Takeaways From This Post…

  • 1). Walnut wood can be used to safely smoke red meat.
  • 2). However, Walnut wood gives meat a strong, almost bitter flavor. So, Walnut wood should be mixed with a milder smoking timber.
  • 3). A mix of 1/3rd Walnut wood with 2/3rd Apple wood can be a good blend for smoking pork.

References:

Husbands, A. and Cranford, S., 2019. A material perspective of wood, smoke, and BBQ. Matter, 1(5), pp.1092-1095.