In South Africa, there are many different types of wood that can be used in a braai. The most common (from my favorites to the ones I like the least) are the sekelbos, the kameeldoring, the swarthaak, the mopani, the rooikrans, the myrtle, the black wattle and the blue gum. Hardwood is considered the best for slow roasting, because its density and low moisture content cause it to produce a higher temperature for a longer cooking time. Hardwood is also easy to ignite and produces less smoke.
For many braai enthusiasts, this very dry and heavy wood is the queen of braai. Popular in the Western Cape, kameeldoring grows in arid climates, so it has the lowest humidity levels of all hardwoods. It gives off a musky scent. Because it is classified as exotic vegetation, black wattle is the eco-friendly choice.
Softer than other hardwoods, it produces good embers that burn for a long time and hot, and gives the meat a smoky flavor. Briquettes are another popular braai wood product, and are particularly suitable for boiled braai. Let's think of the Living Out range, where briquettes are made from natural woods, sustainably harvested from wild invasive shrubs. They are clean-burning and 100% organic, and have no artificial binders.
Because of its lower density and low carbon potential, soft wood doesn't usually have the longevity needed for a long, lazy braai, unless you have enough. It also tends to produce more smoke than hardwood. According to the website www, joburgfirewood, co, za, the type of wood you use to make braai will make the experience more pleasant. They also recommend always getting your wood from a reputable braai wood supplier.
Blue rubber, which comes from eucalyptus, does not burn with a flame as hot as forests like the Sekelbos do. However, it offers longevity and your braai will continue to burn for hours. You can also slightly moisten the blue rubber wood, as this will help it burn longer. Among the best in the business are Rooikrans, Black Wattle and the local favorite Kameeldoring.
Hardwood burns at a higher temperature for longer, this is partly due to the fact that the longer the wood burns, the more it heats up. To make your braai even better, try mixing different types of wood to get the temperature, longevity and scent you want. In addition to that, we all know that a braai is not just based on wood or food, but on experience and on bringing together friends and loved ones, or on my youth, just an excuse to drink and have fun with the way. Dry braai wood is the best, it will burn more easily and you can start the fire with much less effort.
The dryness of the wood is determined by the amount of time the wood has dried, the longer the better. Kameeldoring has the lowest moisture content of all known braai woods, since the African sun cooks it with a moisture content of between 0 and 1%.