Items you will need
- Ax, sledgehammer or wedge
- Chain saw
- Post oak
- 2 to 4 large stakes
Brisket is the quintessential barbecue meat in Texas, and Lone Star barbecue cooks value post oak for its long burn and light smoke. Seasoning brisket involves rubbing a secret blend of spices on the beef. Seasoning post oak involves little more than letting it dry out.
Using a chain saw, cut the wood into lengths that will fit into your smoker or pit. Look at the wood to see how green it is. The purpose of cutting and splitting the logs is to facilitate drying. Green wood imparts more smoke and a bitter flavor.
Split the wood along the grain with the ax or wedge. Place the wedge on the surface of the wood and set it using the back of the ax or a sledgehammer. Using the sledgehammer, drive the wedge into the wood to create a split. When the wood breaks, divide the halves again using the wedge to create quarters. Keep splitting the wood until it is about the size of your forearm. According to the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, the greater the surface area of the wood, the faster it will dry out.
Stack the wood. Find a level spot in an area where rainwater does not collect. Lay the sticks so the grains are parallel to one another. Drive stakes into the ground using the sledgehammer on either end of the bottom row of wood. Stack the next rows of wood higher and higher to form a wall. Check stakes to make sure they are secure, as the weight of the wood could cause them to collapse. If you have a lot of wood, consider building your "wall" between two trees.
Let wood sit three to six months at a minimum. Moisture content will evaporate in the air. Cover with a tarp during heavy or prolonged rains, but do not let the tarp remain, because circulating air will facilitate rapid drying. Wood can dry even longer if necessary.
Remove bark before burning. It imparts a bitter taste.
Cutting and splitting the wood requires some judgment. A longer, thicker piece will require a longer drying time but will burn longer, too. This might be desirable for brisket, which requires a long cooking time; spikes in heat from slender, fast-burning sticks could blacken the meat.
Be careful with the chain saw, ax and sledgehammer. All can cause serious injury, including loss of limbs, broken bones and death. Use proper lifting technique to avoid strain when stacking the wood.