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It's braai time: What type of wood to use?

Always wanted to build the best braai fire ever? It all starts with the wood you use!

by: Tessa Purdon | 06 Dec 2019
braai fire

You might be the type of person who doesn't give a second thought to the kind of wood with which you'll be baaing. In fact, it's likely you might not even be using wood at all. But for those purists who believe that a braai just isn't a braai without wood, then this is for you! 

ALSO READ: Are you one of these 6 characters found at a braai?

If you think of the concept of cooking with good ingredients from the start - the same can be applied to braaing; if you start with decent wood, your braai fire will thank you.  

There are loads of factors that go into choosing the right type of wood and one can get super scientific from exploring wood density to the size of the wood, but to keep it relatively simple and straight-forward, we've gathered a few tips that should get you off to a good start! 

1. Always make sure that the wood you braai with is dry 

Dry wood will make your life a lot easier and you’ll be able to get a fire going in less time. Plus, you'll have less smoke to deal with. Winning!

2. Stay away from indigenous wood if you can - suggests Jan Braai

SA's king of braai likes to use Rooikrans  and Blackwattle, which actually use up a lot of groundwater. Good to know! 

3. Think about what you're going to cook on the braai

Is it a pork chop? Or a slow-cooked potjie? Here is where wood density comes in because some pieces of wood burn faster than others. For pork or steak, you'll want a wood that burns faster.  


Types of wood to look out for: 


- It's an alien invader (enough said)

- A popular choice of wood in the Western Cape but can be found at a corner petrol station just about anywhere in SA. 


- Has a low moisture content - it doesn't create a lot of smoke - it produces slow-burning coals 


- Has a slightly sweet aroma that gently infuses into the food 


- This wood is termite resistant (just saying). 


- Good for a quick start to get things going but it doesn't last very long. 

TIP: Never let the braai fire go out, say our friends Greg and Karl from Beer Country who have just released a cookbook titled, Beer, Food, Fire. They also suggest that you make two fires (if you're feeling brave). One for cooking and one for "kakpraat". 

ALSO READ: Chicken on the braai 101 - the all-you-need cheat sheet

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