An outdoor pizza oven makes a great focal point in your garden entertaining space. It's important that you choose the right type of wood and cure it properly to ensure the best results. Using the wrong kind of timber could damage your pizza oven and adversely affect its performance. So, how do you make sure you get it right? Read on to find out more.
The kind of wood that you use in your pizza oven will depend to an extent on what's locally available to you.
Hard and medium-hard woods like oak or poplar make good fuel as they burn 'hot' and slowly. This means that your oven will be provided with a good level of heat for a long period of time without you having to continually top it up to maintain the temperature.
Fruit woods such as apple, cherry or pear are nice to use in the pizza oven as they not only burn well, but are also very fragrant.
Oily woods or those with high sap content, such as pine should be avoided. This is because the sap and oil in these types of woods can turn to creosote when burned, leaving a nasty coating on the inside of the pizza oven that's hard to remove. Stray sparks could also ignite the creosote deposits, posing a fire hazard. This type of wood also creates a lot of oily smoke and can give your food an unpleasant flavour.
Although you can burn off-cuts of construction timber or pallets in your pizza oven, you should ensure that the wood hasn't been treated with chemicals, painted and glued. The fumes given off by these products when they burn can be toxic or even explosive.
In order for your wood for pizza ovens to burn well and produce enough heat for your pizza oven, it must be properly 'cured'. This means that you need to dry the wood out and 'age' it for months so that it's completely free of moisture and sap.
Green wood that's not been properly cured won't burn properly and will give off a lot of smoke, which will form sooty deposits inside your oven. In addition, if the wood is damp, it won't burn hot enough for your oven to function properly. You can check to see if wood that you've purchased has been properly cured by looking for small radial cracks in the logs that will be present if the wood is ready for use. Another way of checking your wood is to use a special wood moisture gauge, available from good DIY stores and garden centres.
If you decide to cut your own wood, always do so during the winter months when the sap has not yet begun to rise, and allow the wood to cure properly before use. Split wood dries much faster than logs that are left 'in the round', so chopping your wood before curing it can help to speed up the process. It's also worth noting that split wood burns more easily and more brightly that logs.
A good way of making sure that you always have wood that is dry enough to burn well is to put enough for one cooking session in the space beneath your oven, where it will dry out in the residual heat of the fire burning above. That way, you know you'll have a dry fuel supply every time you use your oven.
If your pizza oven is to function to its optimum, you must choose the right wood with which to fuel it and cure the wood properly. Use this helpful guide to make sure that all you have to worry about on pizza nights is what toppings to serve!