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Thread: Which Woods Should I *Not* Burn In a Pizza Oven?

  1. #1
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    Which Woods Should I *Not* Burn In a Pizza Oven?

    I just bought an outdoor Pizza oven. It's an Ooni which can burn wood, charcoal or propane. I plan to start with propane as get accustomed to the pizza oven. Eventually, I want to switch to wood at least occasionally.

    So, like everyone else on this forum, I always have a lot of cut offs in my shop. Seems like a perfect source of fuel for my pizza oven. I'm thinking oak and maple would be OK, for example. But I suspect some species of wood should not be burned in a pizza oven.

    Does anyone know which species of wood should not be burned in a pizza oven?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Some people would have a bad reaction to rosewood. Elder is likely another that would be best not used in a cooking fire.

    Hickory or mesquite would likely be fine.

    My choice would be to only use the woods known to be safe.

    There are sites with information on toxicity of various woods.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  3. #3
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    Definitely no exotic woods . Woods with gum like eucalyptus smells horrible when it burns.
    Easy enough to burn some on the side if it smells like a tire fire youíll know.
    Wish I had a pizza oven I love pizza The fresh dough thatís sold at sprouts is really good
    Good Luck
    Aj

  4. #4
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    The general rule of thumb for smoking meats (which would also apply here) is to stick to fruit and nut woods. Oak, hickory, maple, apple, cherry, mesquite, and pecan are probably the most common woods used for smoking, and would all probably work well with pizza. We grill pizza occasionally over a wood/charcoal fire. I throw the dough on first to crisp up one side, then pull it, flip it, and put the toppings on the crisped side. Then it goes back over the fire to finish. It adds a lot of flavor that way, and it gets the crust done more thoroughly without overcooking the toppings.

    That said, if you're going for the really hot wood-fired pizza oven (like over 700įF), then I don't think the wood species makes as much of a difference in flavor as the wood's aromatics are burned off and destroyed by the higher temperatures. There's a lot more infrared cooking going on, and any smoke is going out the chimney before it imparts any flavor, good or bad.
    Jason

    "Don't get stuck on stupid." --Lt. Gen. Russel Honore


  5. #5
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    I'm thinking of just grilling a pizza on my Weber, it does have a grill plate to put in but I think its to small but the grates would work.
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa.HVAC/R , Cloudray Galvo Fiber , -Windows 10

  6. #6
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    I don't know the particulars of your oven, I have a home build Pompeii style oven. I fire it to reach a cooking temperature of 850 degrees on the floor (the dome gets over 1000), the pizzas take approximately 90 seconds to cook. They are on the brick floor of the oven, not up where the combustion gasses congregate. It takes about 2 hours to bring the oven to temperature, I can roast or bake in the oven for 2-3 days after the fire is gone out and it's not hot enough for pizza.

    All by way of saying I'm not very worried about organic compounds in the wood. Unlike when grilling there's no exposure to the flames, nor as in smoking intentional exposure to the combustion gasses. The temperatures are above those required for pyrolysis of the organic compounds that might be irritants found in wood.

    My shop scraps are just used as fire starter, I don't have enough, and certainly not of exotics, to actually fire the oven, so, aside from not burning pressure treated or painted lumber than could leave potentially problematic inorganics in the ash on the cooking surface at the bottom of the oven it's not an issue I worry about.

  7. #7
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    Thank you for the information, everyone. Sounds like you are confirming what I was thinking.

    Thus far I have been cooking pizza in my kitchen oven. It can get up to 550 degrees, which works pretty well. This Ooni pizza oven can get over 999 degrees, so I will have to move fast! I wanted to get an outdoor pizza oven for the higher cooking temperatures and so I don't have to heat up my house during the summer.

    As for pizza dough, it's surprisingly easy to make. I just throw some 00 flour into a plastic container, mix it with some yeast, water and salt, pop on the lid and let it rise for a while. Then I knead it just a bit and let it rise again. Done. And, wow, is it amazing! In case anyone is interested, my son gave me this book about making pizza. It includes a history of pizza in Italy and in the US. The author travelled to multiple areas in Italy to learn multiple styles of pizza making. He also has several videos on YouTube. I found it all pretty fascinating.

    https://www.amazon.com/Elements-Pizz...s%2C143&sr=8-3


    The Ooni has a small fire box where I can put small pieces of wood or lump charcoal. It can't hold nearly as much as a pompei style pizza oven. This it the one I got:

    https://ooni.com/collections/ovens/p...EaAocrEALw_wcB

    There is also a 12" model which is less expensive.

    The pizza oven also has a propane attachment which I ordered. As I said, I'm going to start with that. I just got the pizza oven and a steel cart assembled. (Sure, I could build a wooden cart, but I was concerned about a 900 degree oven sitting on a wooden cart and the Ooni steel cart is really nice.)

    Outdoor pizza ovens have come significantly down in price over the past couple of years. There are many brands and models. Check it out.

    Thanks again.
    Last edited by Pat Germain; 05-27-2024 at 9:10 AM.

  8. #8
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    The Elements book is great. To further enhance your pizza dough try including a cold fermentation stage (the 36-48 hr recipe in the Elements book)-- after the bulk rise, form the dough into balls and then put them into the fridge for 24-48 hours. Take them out about three hours before you want to make pizza. I think you'll be surprised and pleased at the enhanced flavor of the dough.

    If I knew what I know now after having done a full home built oven I would certainly have gone with a pre-made kit if not one like the Ooni!

    DSC_6323_AuroraHDR2019-edit.jpgIMG_1316 (1).jpgIMG_0538.jpgIMG_0534.jpg

  9. #9
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    I dont think you want "smoked" pizza. The wood is just a source of heat, higher temp than most ovens.
    < insert spurious quote here >

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by roger wiegand View Post
    The Elements book is great. To further enhance your pizza dough try including a cold fermentation stage (the 36-48 hr recipe in the Elements book)-- after the bulk rise, form the dough into balls and then put them into the fridge for 24-48 hours. Take them out about three hours before you want to make pizza. I think you'll be surprised and pleased at the enhanced flavor of the dough.

    If I knew what I know now after having done a full home built oven I would certainly have gone with a pre-made kit if not one like the Ooni!

    DSC_6323_AuroraHDR2019-edit.jpgIMG_1316 (1).jpgIMG_0538.jpgIMG_0534.jpg
    Wow, those are some major pizza ovens!

    Yes, I do refrigerate my dough overnight. Oh yeah, most excellent.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Calow View Post
    I dont think you want "smoked" pizza. The wood is just a source of heat, higher temp than most ovens.
    Some people claim the smoke from a wood fire enhances the flavor of the pizza. Other people say the pizza isn't in the oven long enough to absorb any smoke flavor. I'm thinking the latter is true, but I won't know until I've tried it.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat Germain View Post
    Some people claim the smoke from a wood fire enhances the flavor of the pizza. Other people say the pizza isn't in the oven long enough to absorb any smoke flavor. I'm thinking the latter is true, but I won't know until I've tried it.
    The latter is what I heard. That the source of heat was irrelevant. The wood fired pizza shops here bake for just a few minutes at 900+ degrees. I think being wood fired is just a marketing thing. Sometimes if you look close at a wood-fired steak place, you'll see gas jets in the grill. Seems like it would be difficult to control the temperature otherwise.
    Last edited by Stan Calow; 05-27-2024 at 10:14 PM.
    < insert spurious quote here >

  13. #13
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    I don't think wood or gas would make a difference to the taste of the pizza. Temperature and cooking on hot bricks does, at least if you're trying to replicate a "pizza napolitana". For Chicago style "pizza" all bets are off! The first pizza I made in my WF oven was about 10X better than the hundreds made previously in my home oven using all manner of stones, plates, etc. The oven spring from a high hydration dough hitting 850 degree bricks is something I could not accomplish in my regular oven. A barbecue grill can give you a hot enough stone but then lacks the thermal mass radiating down from the even hotter dome to properly finish the top.

    The cost of enough gas to properly fire a Pompeii oven is simply prohibitive for most of us, hence the use of wood. Plus that's the way they've done it in Naples for the last 3000 years.

    Because the thermal mass of a Pompeii-style oven is so high it's actually very easy to maintain a consistent cooking temperature over many hours with only a relatively small amount of fire management. A small fire that keeps a flame licking up to the top of the dome is about perfect, keeping the dome heat thigh enough that you can lift the pizza up to the top to achieve the perfect final finish while not overheating the floor of the oven. Gas might make sense in a commercial setting or for heat maintenance (eg bring it up to temp with wood then keep it there with gas). You definitely need practice to learn to maintain your oven at the right temperature. Presumably this is not an issue with these new small ovens.

    Most of the trendy wood fired pizza places in the US don't keep their ovens at Naples temperatures because cooking the pizzas then requires a skilled and attentive pizzaiolo to tend and turn them appropriately and to manage the fire-- there's about a 10 second window between perfectly cooked and burned. The WF oven in these places is mostly for show, their actual temperatures are closer to 600 degrees and cooking times are in the 5-10 minute range, not the 60-90 seconds specified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana for a certified DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) Pizza Napoletana. The AVPN rules do specify a wood fired oven, FWIW.

    NB-- some of us get wacko about things other than (in addition to?) the perfect method to sharpen a plane blade!

  14. #14
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    This is making me wonder. Should I through a pizza in the smoker on a stone for 10-20 minutes take it out and top it then through it on the screaming hot grill or oven to cook?

    Those Ooni grills are nice a buddy has one and it makes a delicious pizza. My wife wouldnt allow more outdoor cooking equipment, I have my eye on a blackstone as well.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by roger wiegand View Post
    I p.

    . . . specified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana for a certified DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) Pizza Napoletana. The AVPN rules do specify a wood fired oven, FWIW.
    !
    We have one restaurant certified as such in KC. That's where I had the enlightening discussion with the managers regarding pizza, wood and temperature. Because I, of course, wanted to know what kind of wood they used. I've since forgotten.
    < insert spurious quote here >

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