Is it safe to use pear wood for smoking? And if it is, which smoked meats would it complement best? Does it pair well with any other type of wood, or does it work best on its own?
Our ultimate guide to pear wood will provide you with the answers to all of these questions—and perhaps a few that you never thought to ask.
Pear Wood For Smoking
Unlike softwoods, which are not suitable for the smoker due to the resins and compounds they contain, pear wood is a safe and effective choice. The wood imparts a mild, sweet flavor to smoked meats, cheeses, and vegetables. You can even use it to flavor grilled or smoked ingredients for desserts.
Can You Use Pear Wood For Smoking?
Pear wood is a great option for the smoker. It gives off a sweet-tasting yet mellow smoke that won’t overshadow your seasoning mixture—or the meat itself, for that matter.
Another nice thing about pear wood? It provides a decent amount of heat—but not too much—and burns very slowly. The heat distribution tends to be fairly even, too, which is ideal for lengthy cooking applications.
There are no toxic chemicals or hazardous compounds in pear wood. You can use it on the smoker without worrying. It helps if the wood is well seasoned and dry, as we’ll discuss in greater depth later on.
One thing to be aware of: If you don’t enjoy the taste of pears, you probably won’t like the fruity notes that the wood offers. Consider another type of fruit wood like apple or mulberry instead.
Which Meats Pair Best With Pear Wood?
Since pear is one of the milder woods on the spectrum, it goes best with delicate meats like fish and poultry. It also lends a lovely note to pork ribs.
If you’re smoking your own bacon, pear would be a wonderful substitute for the more common additions of apple and hickory. You could also add complexity to the flavor by combining all three.
We should also point out that you don’t need to stop with meats. Cold smoked cheeses will take well to the subtlety of the pear smoke. And the next time you’re making a dessert that includes grilled fruit, consider adding some pear wood to the fire.
What Is Bradford Pear Wood?
The Bradford pear tree has origins in Japan and Korea. Its gorgeous blossoms and distinctive appearance make it a popular choice for ornamental gardens. While it’s a delicate tree that requires a great deal of care, its wood is excellent for smoking.
Dry Bradford pear wood burns cleanly and gives off a mild, sweet smoke. You can expect the resulting flavor to be reminiscent of apples, only perhaps a step or two down on the intensity scale. The wood also burns well in fireplaces and wood stoves.
If you can find Bradford pear wood for the smoker, by all means use it. But we don’t advocate growing these trees just for their wood.
First and foremost, it’s not the best idea to use wood that you’ve cut yourself. In order to be safe for the smoker, wood needs to be treated to ensure that it’s free of carcinogens and other harmful substances. You’re better off buying it in bulk.
What’s more, Bradford pear trees give off a powerful, funky scent that can be off-putting. As if that weren’t enough of a deterrent, they’re an invasive species that will rob other nearby plants of their nutrients.
The fruit from a Bradford pear tree is not poisonous, but it consists only of small berries that aren’t all that appetizing anyway. Animals don’t seem to be attracted to them, but if your dog consumes a lot of the berries, it could result in stomach upset.
Tips on Using Pear Wood For Smoking
Dry it Out
The number one rule when it comes to smoking food using real wood: Make sure the wood is dry.
While some recipes advocate soaking the chips in water or another liquid, this causes the wood to steam for a while before it actually combusts. This “smoke” will be inferior in terms of flavor and overall quality, so it’s better if the wood is completely dry.
If you cut your own wood for the smoker (see the warning note above), allow it to dry out for several months before you use it. This process is known as “seasoning,” and it will give you a cleaner, richer-tasting smoke.
Choose The Right Type
You can find pear wood for smoking in a few different forms. Wood chips are the most common, but manufacturers also sell it in pellet form. You may be able to procure large chunks of it as well.
For those of you who smoke on a pellet grill, the choice is obvious. Pellets work on charcoal grills too, but they’re imperative for units that use the auger system.
With charcoal grills, you can choose between wood chunks and chips. The larger chunks will burn longer and make the meat more fragrant. However, wood chips produce smaller and more intense bursts of smoke that pack a punch in the flavor department.
Mix and Match
As we mentioned, you can use pear wood on its own if you enjoy the mellow sweetness it imparts. But it can be nice to add complexity to the flavor by combining it with other types of wood.
Apple and hickory are both good bets, particularly with pork products. Hickory can be too intense on its own, so the sweetness of the pear wood provides a good balance.
Maple is another wood with a sweet flavor profile, but its flavors are slightly richer. Try mixing these two together when you’re making a dessert with a grilled component.
Pitmasters who prefer a more robust smoke taste might consider blending pear with oak wood. Oak is more powerful than most fruit woods, but it isn’t as intense as mesquite or hickory. It gives some backbone to the pear smoke without robbing it of the sweet notes.
How Much Pear Wood Do You Need For Smoking?
One of the nice things about using a pellet smoker is having this question answered for you. Once you’ve set the temperature to the preferred setting, the auger should feed pellets into the firebox at the correct rate.
Depending on the size of the hopper, you might need to replenish the pellet supply at some point during the smoke. Unless you’re smoking the meat for 10 hours or more, though, it probably won’t be necessary.
When using wood chips or chunks, aim for 2 to 4 ounces for the first stage of the smoke. That should give you a few good-sized handfuls.
Continue to add the same amount of wood to the smoker every 2 to 4 hours for temperatures of 225 or higher. At lower temperatures, it might be 5 or 6 hours before you need to add more wood.
Note that the wood chips or chunks should not be your primary heat source in this case. If you’re only using wood to cook the food, you’ll need to add a lot more throughout the smoke. It’s best to use another heat source and rely on the wood for flavor only.
The Bottom Line
While pear wood doesn’t always show up on lists of the most popular smoking woods, it’s safe to use as long as the wood has been properly treated. Moreover, it has a wonderful delicate flavor that should appeal to just about everyone at your barbecue.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!