Guide to Wood Fired Cooking
Basic guide to wood-fired cooking
If you have never used Firemasters hardwood for cooking before, then here are a few basic tips for getting your fire started, as well as some examples of the different styles of cooking that you can do with our product.
Our authentic Namibian hardwood is incredibly versatile and can be used across multiple cooking styles. Whether you are planning a traditional South African Braai; a British BBQ; an Argentinian open flame Asado; or perhaps you are baking pizza or bread in your wood-fired ovens; our hardwood is suitable for all these methods.
Let’s get started…
Firemasters hardwood logs can be used for Braai, BBQ, Offset Smokers, Asado, Firepits or Pizza Ovens. Our hardwood has a moisture content of around 2% which means it is very dry and will ignite quite easily, however, from time to time you may come across big logs that have not been split. These logs do take longer to ignite and so we recommend using kindling when starting your fire. Our hardwood logs are 50 to 60% more dense than Oak; please do not attempt to split these logs unless you are skilled with an axe. We suggest you avoid splitting them altogether, and rather keep the bigger logs aside and use them on the fire once it is already burning, as this will add longevity to your cook.
Lighting your fire
Firemasters hardwood is already very dry and should ignite with little difficulty. We suggest building your logs into a stack, (as seen in the below photos) positioning your firelighters at the bottom of the stack along with some kindling. As the firelighters start to burn out you may need to fan the flames to ensure the wood has caught alight. You may experience some smoking at the outset of lighting your fire; this is normal as the outer layer of bark is burning away. Once the fire is going, there will be minimal smoke as there is almost no moisture in the wood. If your fire continues to smoke, then it is probably smoldering, which means that perhaps there is not enough airflow, and you should fan the fire. Once it is going, it will take around 30-40 minutes until your coals are ready (there may still be a small flame – this is okay).
How much wood do I use?
This depends on several things, such as:
- How many people am I cooking for?
- What type of food am I cooking (meat/veggies/fish)?
- What am I cooking on (BBQ or wood-fired oven)?
- What cooking style/method am I going to use (roasting, baking, flame grilling)?
For a basic BBQ grill, we suggest starting your fire with 6 logs; this will be enough to grill a small family sized meal (i.e., 2 - 4 people consisting of a few burgers, sausages, chops, small steaks, chicken pieces, skewers, etc.). Add a log at the side of the coals if you need to cook for longer.
If you are making a BBQ for a larger group (4 - 8 people) then we suggest starting your fire with 8 logs. This will provide enough hot coals to grill over for longer and you can always add a log or two if you feel the fire needs it.
If you are doing a specialty cook, such as a slow roast, or perhaps a whole animal on an open flame, then slightly more time is required, and the most important thing is for the fire not to die out in the middle of your cook. We suggest starting your fire with at least 10 logs and continue to add to it as per your requirements
When it comes to wood-fired cooking for BBQ, timing is everything, but it is also important to remember to have fun and enjoy the experience. If you get distracted and allow the fire to die down whilst you are chatting with your mates, that is not a disaster. Our dense hardwood gets very hot, very quickly, so throw on another couple of logs and watch your fire leap back to life. That is the joy of cooking with authentic Namibian hardwood.
After your cook, throw on some more and enjoy ‘Bush TV’ at its finest.
If you are using a wood-fired oven then you will need to generate and maintain high temperatures. Firemasters hardwood retains heat very effectively and we suggest experimenting by mixing our Sekelbos and Kameeldoring together when attempting your next cook. Both the Kameeldoring & Sekelbos logs will generate long burning coals with high temperatures, giving your oven the energy that it needs to cook. By mixing the two hardwoods together you will notice the different flavour profiles pulling through your food.
Due to the dense and dry nature of Firemasters hardwood the coals generate heat for very long periods of time. This means that it can be used for longer cooks such as "Low 'n Slow" BBQ Smoking, or the the traditional South African ‘Poitjie-kos’ (Pot-food) such as a stew, or curry.
Another popular use for our hardwood is as a source of warmth and ‘bush ambience’ around a firepit. Burning our hardwood for warmth is economical in the long run, as you burn less wood, yet achieve greater temperatures, ultimately keeping you warmer for longer. Firemasters hardwood can also be used in a wood-burner - this is better for your chimneys as our hardwood burns clean with almost no smoke, which means less time/money spent on maintenance.
We hope that you have found this guide useful, however please remember that this is merely a basic guide. If you would like to learn more about wood-fired cooking, or improve your existing skills then please get in touch with us - we always enjoy a chat about cooking with Namibian hardwood.
Keep those fires lit!