Barbecue lovers who enjoy dining alfresco make the best of their outdoor living spaces to bridge the gaps in their culinary pursuits. Backyards and patios are being remodeled to make room for combo grills with smokers and outdoor pizza ovens. So far, we have discussed gas and charcoal grills with smoker attachments in our previous blogs; it is time to talk about the next favorite outdoor cooking method: the pizza oven.
Cutting fresh wooden logs to fuel your pizza oven holds a certain charm in knowing that you get to handcraft the baking process from the very beginning. Such stacks of fresh wood do require months to let all the moisture escape before becoming oven-usable. Cutting trees also depends on regional permits. Of course, you can always purchase various firewood from your local stores. A wood-fired pizza oven greatly eclipses electric ovens for the simple fact that no indoor appliance can truly imitate the rustic, organic appeal of smoldering charcoals on grills or burning wood in outdoor ovens. It is crucial to get the best wood for your pizza oven to turn your “at home” pizzeria into a handmade success.
Best wood for pizza oven
Hardwood is the best choice for oven firewood as it burns for longer durations in a virtually smokeless environment. Various fruitwoods burn at very high levels and allow their natural, aromatic flavors to diffuse into the pizza and create subtle combinations with cheese, tomatoes, basil, mushrooms, and olives. Hardwoods generate optimum heat levels, or BTUs, to bake pizzas to perfection. Here are a few varieties of firewood for outdoor pizza ovens; some of them can be purchased online through the links.
Kiln-dried hardwoods such as oak, maple, ash, and birch are common types of pizza oven firewood. Oak is easily accessible and the safest kind of firewood for ovens. It burns effectively better than its counterparts to leave a crispy texture on the pizza crust. Since oak burns so hot, it also takes away creosote layers in the oven and chimney.
Maple wood is abundant and very cost-effective for pizza ovens. Its dry bark burns extremely well for long-lasting flames that melt mozzarella cheese just perfectly over the toppings. Maple wood’s distinct sweetness also gets released on burning, and it pairs up well with BBQ-flavored pizzas. Like maple, ash wood is easy to find and comes with budget-friendly benefits in your pizza oven as it releases less smoke.
Birchwood has a waterproof bark that makes it easily combustible. The logs burn out faster than other wood, so you can add some oak to ensure flame longevity. Birch has an aesthetic appeal because its flames are blue in color and rise without sparking or releasing smoke.
Seasoned fruitwoods and nut woods
Dried fruitwoods take their scent from the fruits they produce, so you have a range of smoky sweetness to add to your pizzas. Hickory, apple, cherry, olive, almond, and pecan are some examples of fruitwoods that add a new dimension to pizza flavors, leaving a distinct aftertaste in their wake.
Burning hickory releases a deep aroma. The dense wood burns for quite long and withstands the oven’s high temperatures. Its smoky fragrance can be much more intense than that of oak wood, so you should use hickory selectively for certain toppings like beef and jalapenos to make sure that the smokiness does not become too overpowering.
Applewood saturates the pizza oven with its fruity fragrance and burns well to bring out the best fusion of flavors. For commercial applications, applewood helps to smoke the toppings slowly for longer durations to enhance the already cooked chicken or meat.
Like most fruitwoods, cherry wood is expensive. The trade-off lies in its natural aromatic flavors that permeate the chicken fajitas and peppers on a perfectly cooked, hand-tossed pizza dough.
Almond and pecan woods are also the best choices for pizza ovens as they incorporate a mild, earthy undertone that bakes into the pizza. Exports from orchard trees make a friendlier alternative to cutting native species as more fruit and nut trees can be re-planted immediately.
The kinds of firewood you should avoid
Resist the shortcut temptation of using laminated or painted wood such as plywood and old furniture pieces. Anything that has been coated and exposed to chemical treatments should be ruled out of your oven firewood choices. Such wooden pieces release toxic fumes on combustion; the harmful chemicals easily sneak into the food and deteriorate health over time. It is needless to say that the pizza flavor will catch traces of the toxins, making you lose your appetite. Excessive creosote accumulates in chimneys because of burning this kind of wood, thereby increasing the risk of fires.
Softwoods are another no-go. They come from evergreen trees and have a high sap content in their barks. As a result, their flames are not as resilient as hardwood fires, quickly reducing to ashes. More smoke is released which is not at all conducive to pizza baking. Some examples of softwood include pinewood, cedar, Douglas fir, and western hemlock.