When cooking with a pizza oven, the best choice of fire wood is a nice dried and seasoned hardwood like oak, maple, birch, ash, or alder. The reason for using hardwood over softwood is simple: hardwoods burn hotter. Hardwoods like oak are much more dense than softwoods like pine. In fact, some hardwoods can weigh almost times as much as softwoods of the same size. This means that hardwoods put out more BTU's.
What's a BTU? BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. One BTU measures the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of a pound of water by 1°F.
If you have to go with softwood for your fire, make sure that it is at least seasoned and dried well. This will help to get rid of sap and moisture. Removing the bark of the wood can help with this as well.
Also keep in mind to never choose green wood. Green wood is freshly cut and has not been seasoned or dried. It tends to smoke a lot when used in an oven and won't produce as much heat.
Pellets make for good kindling when you're getting your pizza oven started. Just be aware that you won't be able to use pellets as your only fuel source. You're going to need some firewood to get the oven up to cooking temperatures.
When choosing your wood, you can pick from many different varieties depending on your flavor preferences. One popular option is to use fruitwood. You may have seen this in BBQ smokers or grills. These are woods like hickory, apple, cherry, pear, and pecan. Fruitwoods have a little more flavor and aroma in their smoke. It can be fun to try out different woods and see how the flavor of your pizza changes.
Interestingly, some studies have shown that different climates can actually have more effect on wood flavor than species. This means that two cherry trees grown across the country from each other might have more flavor differences than a cherry and apple tree grown right next to each other. Region, climate, and soil can all play a role in how a type of firewood might flavor your pizza.
When choosing a flavor pairing, remember that some wood flavors pair better with different foods.
- Apple: Sweet and mild, pairs well with chicken, turkey, and fish.
- Cherry: Sweet and fruity, pairs well with red meat and turkey.
- Hickory: Sweet, strong, and smoky, pairs well with meats like pork, beef, and turkey.
- Pecan: Has a well-rounded, sweet, nutty flavor that will compliment almost all foods.
- Pear: Similar to applewood, pairs well with chicken, turkey, and fish
Why It Matters
Making great pizza means paying attention to the details. Right down to the firewood that you use. Different woods mean different flavors, so play around and enjoy! Experimenting with food is one of the great joys of life (It's also a great excuse to eat a ton pizza).
So try out something new, whether it's a new type of firewood, a new sauce, or a topping you've never had before. Experiment, and find your perfect pizza.