Wood, wood, wood is good. It does much more than you think it should.

Hi all,

Winter is here, albeit mild so far, so here is The Braai Man’s guide to wood. What to burn, what not to burn and for what. Oh, and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; braaing is a year-round practice so get a coat! Actually its a sport, honestly..

I’d like to start with a great poem taken from Ray Mear’s Bushcraft, which eludes to several wood types and their uses….read it you might just interest yourself!

loves a braai!
loves a braai!

Oak logs will warm you well
That are old and dry
Logs of pine will sweetly smell
But the sparks will fly
Birch logs will burn too fast
Chestnut scarce at all sir
And hawthorn logs are good to last
That are cut while in the fall sir

Surely you will find
There´s no compare with the hard wood logs
That´s cut in winter time

Holly logs will burn like wax
You could burn them green
Elm logs burn like smouldering flax
With no flame to be seen
Beech logs for winter time
Yew logs as well sir
Green elder logs it is a crime
For any man to sell sir

Surely you will find
There´s no compare with the hard wood logs
That´s cut in winter time

Pear logs and apple logs
They will scent your room
and cherry logs across the dogs
They smell like flowers of broom
But ash logs smooth and grey
Buy them green or old, sir
and buy up all that come your way
For they´re worth their weight in gold sir

(Robin Williamson, The Woodcutter’s Song).

The very best braai wood is hard wood but you might want to use soft kindling to get your fire going. Oak, once seasoned, is one of the best as it burns very hot and lasts a long time. It smokes very well also if in chips and soaked in water over night…but that’s another blog coming soon. Although the preferred method of smoking is NOT with soaked wood, it is an easy option!

NB: Green wood should be seasoned (dried) for at least a year in our climate. Find a sheltered dry spot like a shed, garage or lean-to and place an old pallet on the ground and one against the back wall. This way the air will circulate nicely around our wood when you stack it. A man’s wood store is a thing of beauty and much importance (or a woman’s for that matter) and isn’t complete without a hand crafted axe which does the job! No sad, rotten and blunt choppers are acceptable. Get the best advice here on what can only be described as the best axe guide ever written….

If its flavour you’re after then we have some great wood species at our disposal in the British Isles. Cherry, apple, hawthorn to name but a few. When braaing over flame (not gas or charcoal) then wood choice is very important and should be compared to seasoning the food with herbs and spices. Its all down to experimentation to see which wood flavours you prefer.

Mopane - South African hardwood
Mopane – South African hardwood

If you want to stay true to the roots of the braai itself, then Braai Wood UK import seasoned logs from South Africa specifically for the purpose of braaing…Lekker!

TOP TIP: Over winter the English vineyards will be pruning unwanted wood from their vines whilst they are dormant. If you can get hold of some vine cuttings and season them in a dry, ventilated shed then they make for great braai wood. Tie your braai feast in with a good glass of English Sparkling and you’ve got a idyllic match made in heaven. Check here for your nearest vineyard.

Barbecue with brawn!

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