To soak or not to soak? That is the question?

Posted at 3:39 pm on 12/09/2017 by Ken Theobald
I have been an avid griller and smoker for over twelve years now.  In fact, when we started the grilling woods business here in Maine, I felt that it might be prudent if I actually learned how to use the product that we were selling!  I have been a student ever since.

While I am still learning and trying new recipes and techniques every day, sometimes it is necessary to go back to the basics to question some of the things that I have taken for granted.  I use all of our twelve varieties of grilling wood chips depending upon the smoke flavor that I want for a particular entree.  I have smoker boxes for my propane grill.  I use chips in my electric smoker and I throw on chips in my charcoal grill for flavor.

However, I have wrestled with the question as to whether or not it is best to soak the chips before use or not?  The common advice is to always soak your chips at least two hours before using.  I agree that this will reconstitute the wood to a near natural state as that is my recommendation when using our grilling planks. (see my  instructions for using grilling planks in your oven)

But, for chips that you want to burn (smoke) for flavor, what is the purpose of having steam rather than smoke for the first ten minutes of your grilling event?  In fact, one of two things happened to me when I soaked my chips: 1) the grilling event was almost over by the time I had flavorful smoke, or 2) I had to wait ten minutes for the chips to start smoking before I could begin grilling!

By this time, you probably have guessed MY answer to the question.  As for you, only you can answer the question!

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