Have you recently acquired or you are considering getting a wood burning pizza kit? One of the things you may be grappling with is choosing the right wood for your outdoor pizza oven. A few tips to guide you as you choose the firewood are given here.
- Firewood That Should Not Be Used
Never use wood which is chemically treated, laminated or which you suspect to be. This is because such wood produces toxins that can get into the air and even your food. You should also avoid using charcoal in your pizza oven. Using charcoal reduces the efficiency as it does not produce a direct flame which enhances heating capacity in the oven. Charcoal produces monoxide, which is a health risk. Wood with high oil or sap contents such as red pine should be avoided. If you decide to use oily wood for flavoring then the resinous bark should be removed to minimize sap content.
- Woods Best for Wood Fuel
The most suitable woods for your pizza oven are the hardwoods such as maple and birch. This is because they are heavier in weight and burn very hot. They produce more heat than other woods. You may choose to use fruitwoods, which are also popular. They are said to add flavor, especially the apple, which is alleged to burn very hot and produces great flavor and aroma. Some of the fruitwoods available include peer and hickory.
In a situation where you do not have hardwoods, you can still use softwoods. You just need to make sure the wood is properly cured and seasoned in order to reduce the sap content. If you remove the bark from the top, it will still reduce moisture and sap content more. You can use untreated woodchips and pellets as fuel and kindling. The amount of heat produced will not be the same amount as in using the wood fuel. The woodchips may not be sustainable as sole fuel for your oven.
- Levels of Moisture in Firewood
The level of moisture in the firewood you use matters. The wood fuel in your oven should not be too dry or have a high moisture content. A moisture content of between 15 % and 20% is acceptable. Wetness and dampness will produce a lot of smoke due to poor burning. This will result in soot and creosote buildup and ultimate reduction in temperatures. Excessively dry wood converts heat energy to undesirable smoke. Proper management of wood fuel demands that you harvest or get firewood in late winter or early in spring to give it time to dry out in summer. A wood moisture gauge would be a good gadget to have in cases where you do not harvest your own wood but depend on sources that you are not sure of.
- Management and Storage of Firewood
Ensure that you always have an adequate supply of quality wood fuel. If you have space, it is recommended that you put up a woodshed for storage of split wood. This will ensure you have a constant supply depending on your needs. This way, you will eliminate the need to hurriedly buy wood fuel from sources you do not know well. A practical woodshed should have a waterproof roof on a raised platform with gaps for sufficient flow of air. Should you find that the wood you have is slightly damp, you can put it in your oven and leave the door ajar after you are through with cooking with the oven.
- Preparation for Burning
You should always cut your wood into 15-inch-long, 3-inch diameter pieces. This is because cut wood burns much brighter and faster than huge round logs. Use much smaller pieces of kindling to start the fire and combine them with natural firelighters if necessary. Don’t use twigs and leaves to get the fire started as they will create too much smoke. Twigs also contain lots of resin that hinders the burn of the wood and can even damage the floor of outdoor pizza ovens.