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Cooking your wood for your woodfired oven

Sometimes that lovely dried wood you bought might not be as dry as you’d like. This was the case with our latest batch – good length, easy to split but sadly a little over 20% moisture content when we’d really prefer it to be in the mid teens percentage wise.

Wood with too much moisture means the fire takes too long to get going, the wood sizzles and gives off moisture and the oven takes too long to heat up meaning it’s not as efficient as you’d like it to be. Everything takes a little longer and there is less control over the temperature of the oven. Frustrating!

With so many woodfired oven courses running at the moment, we can’t wait for the wood to miraculously dry itself and don’t have space to order in another batch so we used what resources we had to kiln dry our slightly moist wood.

Here’s what we did –

  • after one of our woodfired courses, there is enough heat left in the oven to dry out the wood
  • after a clear up and a cup of tea, we cleared the refractory oven of embers, putting them in the covered metal bucket.
  • then a stack of wood was packed into the oven with the temperature at around 130C – as much as would go in, using the dirty peel to get it right to the back of the oven.

    Not too hot

    Filling the oven with wood

  • the door was put on slightly ajar so the moisture from the wood could get out but the heat from the oven wouldn’t leach out too quickly.
  • went away and came back the next morning.

    Good job!

    Looking much the same but much drier

  • The slowly dried wood was now in the mid teens for moisture content, ready to split and use for the next lot of cooking. Good job!
    Good job

    Moisture content where we want it

    Blazing away

    Burning much better now the wood has dried out

If we were doing this in our metal Alfa oven with less retained heat we would have split the wood before drying it out so it has more surface area exposed to the heat and it dries out more quickly. We’d also put the wood into a hotter oven to allow for the faster heat loss but of course we’d get rid of any embers first.

So if you have tested your wood with a moisture meter and it’s not giving you the reading you want, then don’t worry – just dry your wood out like we did and you’ll have kiln dried wood for your next cooking session.

Remember we have lots more tips and recipes on our woodfired cooking channel on Youtube  so do subscribe to us there; we’d love it if you can join us.

Or join us for one of our woodfired courses – either here at the cooking school or you can download one of our online woodfired courses and learn with us wherever you are in the world.

Happy cooking!