There are some woods that aren’t suitable for the smoker. Fortunately, peach isn’t one of them. In this guide, we’ll talk about the qualities that peach wood offers, so you’ll know how to use it to your best advantage at your next barbecue.
Peach Wood For Smoking
Although rumors persist about peach wood being toxic when burned, that’s not actually true. Peach wood is both safe and effective for cooking, as it provides a distinctive sweet taste reminiscent of the fruit itself. Try pairing it with poultry, fish, ham, or pork.
About Peach Wood
The wood from the peach tree is a hardwood, which puts in the category of woods that can be safely used for cooking. Softwoods like cedar and fir don’t qualify, because they contain resins that can be toxic when burned. But peach wood is perfectly safe.
You might have heard a rumor about peach wood not being suitable for cooking because it contains toxins. That’s true of peach and apricot pits, which include a compound known as cyanogenic glycoside. This toxin is poisonous when ingested, hence the myth.
In truth, these pits are the only toxic part of the peach tree. The fruit can be safely consumed, and there’s no reason you can’t use the wood to smoke food. There’s no toxicity in the smoke, the coals, or the resulting ash.
In fact, peach wood a lovely wood for the smoker because of its distinctively sweet flavor. If you’ve ever eaten a perfectly ripe peach, you’ll have some idea of how this wood smells when it’s set ablaze.
This wood burns for a long time and provides a steady smoke, which is a quality that all pitmasters should appreciate. Since the smoke flavor it gives off is fairly mild, it’s suitable for long cooking applications.
In general, you can expect the smoke from fruit woods to imbue foods with a flavor that’s similar to the fruit itself. These woods tend to offer a milder smoke taste than bold woods such as hickory, oak, and mesquite.
Remember that the food will have a stronger flavor if it’s exposed to the smoke for long periods of time. The more peach wood you use in the smoker, the more intense the peach flavor will be.
Will Peach Wood Turn The Food Orange?
This is a natural thing to be concerned about, considering what happens when you smoke meat using cherry wood. That wood can dye the meat a deep shade of ruby, depending on the duration of the smoke and the type of meat you’re cooking.
By contrast, the smoke from peach wood doesn’t have a distinctive color. Your food might darken up a bit, but no more than it normally would when smoke is involved.
Using Peach Wood For Smoking
This is a highly versatile wood that’s sold in several different forms. You can buy peach wood pellets, chunks, or chips, depending on which one works best with your smoker. It even makes good smoking wood in split log form.
What you need to remember is that all wood has to be seasoned before you can use it for smoking. When the wood is “green”—that is, newly cut and unseasoned—it doesn’t burn as well, and the smoke it produces will be inferior as a result.
You don’t have to worry about seasoning if you’re purchasing your wood from a retailer. The wood that’s sold for smoking is already seasoned and ready for use.
However, if you’ve opted to harvest your own firewood—or if a friend has given you some of theirs—it will be a while before you’ll be able to burn it. Let the wood rest in a cool, dry place for 6 to 12 months.
We don’t recommend harvesting your own wood for the smoker, in part because of this prohibitive wait. You also have to make absolutely sure that the wood came from the right type of tree. That’s especially tough to do if you’re relying on a friend to provide it.
That bring us to the bad news: Peach wood isn’t as common as more popular smoking woods like apple or cherry. Even if you’re able to find it in your preferred form, it might be pricier than what you’re used to.
If you have a pellet smoker, you’ll have to use the wood in pellet form. Charcoal smokers offer more versatility—you can use pellets, chips, chunks, or split logs. Gas and electric units work best with wood chips, but chunks might be an option if the smoker box is large enough.
Mixing it Up
Peach wood is an excellent wood for amateurs, because it won’t overwhelm your ingredients with excess amounts of heavy smoke. It’s so mild, in fact, that you might want to pair it with another wood to give it some backbone.
Try mixing a bit of hickory in with the peach wood, especially if you’re using it for poultry. Hickory can be too strong and bitter when used on its own, but with the sweetness of the peach to offset the rich taste, it will lend complexity to the dish.
Oak is another great option as a secondary wood choice. It has a more robust quality than fruit woods, but the smoke flavor itself is fairly neutral and earthy. In fact, oak is one of those rare woods that can be used to smoke just about anything.
To play up the sweetness, consider selecting another fruit wood to combine with the peach. Apple and pear offer crisp notes and are good choices for poultry products, while mulberry has a tangy flavor that goes well with smoked rabbit and game meats.
Selecting Your Meat
Most of the time, we pick which meat we’re going to smoke, and then select the smoking wood based on that. But if you have a supply of peach wood and are wondering what type of meat to buy, here are a few ideas.
We mentioned earlier that peach wood goes well with poultry and salmon, as well as ham. But it’s a nice foil for uncured pork products, too. Actually, pork chops and peaches are a classic combination, so it makes sense that pork would benefit from the peach wood.
Do you often smoke game meats such as venison? If so, give the peach wood a try. These meats can be naturally bitter, which can be tamed by the peach wood’s sweet qualities.
Your choices aren’t limited to the ones mentioned here. Feel free to use peach wood to smoke chuck roast or beef brisket if you’d like. Again, the smoke has a mild quality, so you won’t have to worry about it overpowering the meat.
If you’re able to find peach wood for smoking and it fits in your budget, consider keeping a supply on hand. It’s easiest to find at hardware stores, but some big-box retailers might stock the product as well.