Wood, wood, glorious wood

Updated: Nov 21, 2020

The Kiwi Outdoor Oven has been bringing families together since 2012, coming together for breakfast, lunch or dinner, talking and enjoying each other’s presence. As kiwi’s, it is in our nature to be outdoors as much as possible, but our evenings can be cold so to extend our time together outdoor fires are becoming a must have. This is what The Kiwi Outdoor is all about!


We always suggest using hardwoods in The Kiwi Outdoor Oven and staying away from softwoods, this is because hardwoods are cleaner and longer lasting. Softwoods contain a lot of sap and turpenes which produce a funny taste and can make people sick. Until recently pine was our stable wood for the fire afterwards but we noticed it was clogging up our flue with soot which would then drop out into the oven. To reduce smoke and get great heat, wood should be dry / seasoned with a moisture content of less than 20% for optimal results.


When it comes to cooking in the Kiwi Outdoor Oven, it is important to understand the type of wood to use for different meals and for a different taste. Smell is important, if the wood does not smell good before starting the fire, the taste will not be good either and remember everyone's taste is different, which is what enhances the experience. We enjoy trialing different woods for different heat temperatures and flavor and the best wood is normally locally grown, why?, because the smell and flavor are something that you may be familiar with and the senses recognise it.


Manuka / Kanuka Wood

It is well known among many Kiwis, especially fishermen, that Manuka / Kanuka wood is a favorite. The smell of it smoldering in a smoker or an outdoor fire / oven attaches itself to many memories.

Manuka / Kanuak is a wonderful wood that is perfect for smoking trout or kawahai, baking pizza or NZ lamb, producing a clean smoke, long lasting coals and a robust medium to strong flavor due to the density of the wood.

As a nation, we have branched out the use of Manuka wood and The Kiwi Outdoor Oven has found that for majority of meals, it produces amazing heat and flavor with a gorgeous aroma. Great for savory food and sweets such as peanut brownies.


Totara Wood

Totara wood is known best for burning while family and friends sit around talking and laughing. It burns ferociously producing a generous flame and large coals making it ideal for sitting around The Kiwi Outdoor Oven enjoying its heat.

It is a harder wood to find and should not be used for cooking, but on a cool night it works perfectly on keeping everyone warm and toasty.


Gum Wood

Gum is not a preferred type of wood to cook with, unless you are cooking wood fired pizzas in your Kiwi Outdoor Oven. This is because gum burns at a very high temperature - ideal for maximum heat output.

Gum wood does not produce a memorable flavor for food which can be noticed when you smell the wood before burning it. For pizzas, however, due to the high temperature required with maximum output of heat, it works well. This is because pizzas do not need a lot of time in the Kiwi Outdoor Oven if the temperature is correct.


Pohutukawa Wood

As the official Christmas tree of NZ, Pohutukawa trees are a staple within all Kiwis reminding us of family, friends, outdoor cooking and games on the lawn.

Pohutukawa wood is very dense and strong that produces high sustainable heat and a distinctive flavor. It is the perfect type of wood for smoking meat with and worked amazingly well with The Kiwi Outdoor Oven tomato paste.


Oak Wood

Oak is a very historical type of wood that is known for extreme hardness and toughness. It is a dense wood with a mild flavor. Stronger than most fruit trees, it has a smoky flavor which made our beef ribs spectacular. It will work well if blended with fruit trees which will enhance any meat, in particular white meats, that you are wanting to cook within your Kiwi Outdoor Oven.


Apple / Peach / Nectarine Wood

These fruit are very well known as being refreshing on any occasion. The wood these trees supply have a mildly sweet and fruity flavor which makes this ideal to smoke / cook chicken, turkey, pork and fish with. Not only that, the wood is great for biscuits, cakes and apple pie. The wood has a nice smell from the smoke and burns clean.


Plum Wood

Plum wood is a very mild fruit wood that is ideal for smoking or cooking chicken, pork and seafood. It adds a sweet smokey flavor to the meat and can be paired with Oak or Pohutukawa wood for a edge of difference. Plum wood is slightly heavier in taste that the other stone fruit but not as strong as the likes of manukau making it a favorite for family and friends that have never experienced wood fired food.

Plum wood smells amazing burning, the smell alone makes you hungry.


Every time you cook in The Kiwi Outdoor Oven you can change your experience by adjusting wood flavors, oven temperature and food coverings. Most wood fire cooks have to find their own happy medium and will test many different things with a variety of results. Sometimes you will feel like full flavor and leave food completely uncovered from start to finish, other times you just want a wiff of flavor so will cover the food with a lid or tin foil. The best part is that you get to choose, you get to experiment and it is always a lot of fun!


Photo. Starting the fire with Plum wood

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