Using the correct type of wood or fuel in your wood fired pizza oven will ensure you can get the very high temperatures and sustained heat required to get the best tasting pizzas so here’s everything you need to know.
Hardwood is the best wood for a pizza oven
The ideal cooking environment for cooking in a pizza oven is with a fire providing high heat and no smoke, and this will give your pizza a lovely crisp base and that unique leopard-spotted crust that wood-fired cooking provides.
The best wood to use for your wood-fired pizza oven are various types of dense hardwood such as ash, birch, oak, maple and beech which have been seasoned and dried.
Hardwoods are perfect for this as they:
- Burn hotter
- Burn longer
- Less smoke
Which hardwoods should I use?
Here are a selection of easy to acquire woods to use in your oven:
Whilst there are a wide range of wood you could use, these are ones that you will find are easy to purchase.
Where can I buy wood for my pizza oven?
You can buy hardwood suitable for your pizza oven from a variety of shops, and You can get them from general stores, farms, etc and they’re relatively cheap too.
If you’re not too sure then you can actually buy firewood online via sites like Amazon! You can easily get a 40 litre bag of kiln-dried wood delivered direct to you door within a couple of days. It will be slightly more expensive than if you went and picked it up yourself but if you don’t have the time or don’t have your own transport then it’s a valid way of buying your wood.
If you want larger amounts of wood then you can get a truckload delivered direct to your home via a wide variety of suppliers.
Avoid using softwood
As we’ve explained you really should only use dried hardwood for your pizza oven and if you attempt to use softwood then you will not get the results you need to cook your food. Did you know that hardwoods can weigh up to three times more than softwoods so they give of more heat by volume? You may get a fire going from softwood but here are some of the issues you will face:
Your oven won’t reach the high temperatures needed as the softwood simply won’t burn as hot. Softwood will also retain more moisture, again affecting the ability to get that really hot flame.
Too much smoke
Softwoods and wood that hasn’t been dried correctly will have more moisture and that means your oven has to spend more time drying the wood and less time heating your oven, and will produce smoke as a by-product.
Poor tasting pizza
Couple low heats and that added smoke and you will end up with pizza that takes longer to cook, is tougher, isn’t crispy, and has a not-pleasant smoky aftertaste. Not what you want.
Wood with flavor
Apart from the traditional woods such as oak and birch you can also use fruitwoods to add a flavor and aroma to your meals. These can include ones such as apple, cherry, almond, pear, plum,hickory, maple, pecan, mesquite, chestnut, avocado, alder, apricot, and nectarine.
There are preferred woods that you can use depending on what you’re cooking, and here are our recommendations:
- Apple wood will burn very hot and is very good for cooking pizzas.
- Hickory gives a rich flavour to meats such as pork ribs. This won’t come as too much of a surprise to you.
- Walnut can really bring out the flavor of vegetables and potatoes.
- Apricot, Plum, Nectarine and Peach woods provide a milder and sweeter flavor so are good for meats if you want a less aggressive flavour than that of hickory.
Woods to avoid
The food you cook in your pizza oven will be in direct contact with the heat and flames from your wood so you do have to think about what wood you’re using to avoid any health implications.
For this reason avoid woods that have been treated with chemicals, are laminated, or have been painted. Also avoid wood like pine which has a high sap content and will coat your oven and food in soot.