How best to "repurpose" a dead peach tree to smoking wood for the grill?
February 12, 2009 11:36 AM   Subscribe

How best to "repurpose" a dead peach tree to smoking wood for the grill?

I've got a mostly dead peach tree in my front yard that we need to cut down - it has a root infection of some sort of larvae which resulted in at least half of the tree dying (no leaves) and its dropping of gooey, jelly-like sap all last summer.

It's a real shame, because the year before (we did not own the house then) we were told by the mailman that the tree was so prolific, he used to pick a peach off it every day in the summer.

Anyway, I hear peach wood is good for use smoking in the grill or bbq, so I was wondering how best to cut the thing down and make usable chunks?

We'll use a chainsaw to get it down, but then what?
posted by schmoppa to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
The chunks I use in the bbq are roughly two inches in diameter and two inches long. A 30' high tree represents a lifetime's worth of wood for smoking. If you really want to use the big pieces from the trunk, it will take quite a bit of work to reduce them to manageable chunks.

In order to get lots of smoke, instead of simply fuel for the fire, the wood has to be damp. The bigger the chunk, the longer it takes to get it that way - for the chunks I mentioned (apple, from a tree one of whose main branches fell off) you soak them for a day or so.
posted by jet_silver at 11:47 AM on February 12, 2009

I don't have any direct advice on the smoking, but if you cut it down take a few clipping and put them in some rooting hormone. Then, in a year or so, you can replant the same tree in your front yard.
posted by 517 at 11:48 AM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Use the chainsaw to cut the trunk and larger limbs into the appropriate lengths. Then use a maul or, if it's a small tree, a kindling maul to split the lengths into sticks. Use a large lopper to cut up the small stuff. Don't throw anything away; even the small stuff is useable.
posted by bricoleur at 11:48 AM on February 12, 2009

Best answer: Yeah, cut it down, and piece the trunk into 1' chunks, then maul the chunks into pieces as bricoleur mentions.

Mauling the shit out of a log is the best stress relief known to man that doesn't involve murder or cigarettes. Be prepared to have it get you in shape.

(if you're in St. Louis, I'll come and split wood for free. I enjoy it that much.)
posted by notsnot at 11:54 AM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have the remains of an apricot tree that I've been using for the same thing. The pieces I'm using for smoking are pretty gnarled (all the straighter pieces have been sliced up for kitchen cabinet door panels -- the wood has a beautiful color and grain and smell), and so splitting the wood has been challenging. I've ended up cutting it just before I smoke with a band saw -- I use thinner slices (less than one-quarter inch) that I soak in water for about an hour. It's time and energy intensive, and I have been tempted to try running some of it through a wood chipper.
posted by Killick at 12:25 PM on February 12, 2009

Best answer: Oof, you'll kill yourself trying to split green wood. Use the chainsaw to cut it into manageable chunks, stack it, let it dry, then split.
posted by electroboy at 12:43 PM on February 12, 2009

Huh--it appears to be an urban legend that stone-fruit wood contains high level of cyanide, and is thus not suitable for smoking. I've believed this for many years, and came into this thread to warn you all of the deadly dangers of using peach wood on your grill, but, hey, crazy me, I thought I'd try to find documentation. No such luck, and, in fact, to the contrary, I found many sources saying that, while there is, indeed, cyanide in the smoke, it's at a very low level, and that it's present in all wood smoke. Don't I feel silly?
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:55 PM on February 12, 2009

Best answer: Almost all fruit wood is excellent for smoking.

What size your pieces will need to be will be dictated by what kind of smoker you're using. Something like a Brinkmann or a WSM will require smaller sticks/chunks. A larger barrel smoker might be okay with 3-4" diameter logs. Wetting chunks for use with charcoal is okay, but I would keep anything else dry. Too much moisture can produce creosote that will coat the meat and taste terrible.

The most imporant part is to season the wood (i.e. let it sit somewhere) for 6-12 months before use. Unseasoned wood can, again, produce that nasty creosote-y taste.

More than you ever wanted to know about smoking wood.

More than you ever wanted to know about BBQ in general.
posted by jluce50 at 2:44 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

if you use a gas grill you should get a smoke box so the ashes dont collect in the grill. I guess you could buy one but i just made one out of some spare sheet metal. It is just a small 6"x4"x3" box with holes cut in it. A lid is great too. Just throw the wood chips in it and place it in the grill (works best to put it right on the heat bricks
posted by Black_Umbrella at 5:25 PM on February 12, 2009

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