I am thinking of constructing a makeshift smoker and smoke some meat out in the woods this weekend. When burning spruce needles they produce a lot of smoke; is it suitable to smoke meat with spruce needles or are there any health concerns I should be aware of?

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    I think there is a health issue. I seem to remember that they are toxic. I'll look for a reference.
    – Jolenealaska
    Mar 29, 2016 at 9:54
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    This is where I saw it: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/16788/… So, tread carefully, even if you get answers that say it is safe.
    – Jolenealaska
    Mar 29, 2016 at 10:04
  • Retsina wine en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retsina is made with the resin from Pinus halepensis en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinus_halepensis, so something along that route is likely possible. But keep in mind that pines evolved back in the Jurassic period (200 MYBP). They contain plenty of odd chemicals that your modern run of the mill gymnosperm do not. I'd try marinating in Retsina before doing anything more exotic. Be sure of the species you're using, and stick with tested, successful recipes, if you can find them. If you can't find any recipes, there's probably a reason for that. Mar 30, 2016 at 16:01

1 Answer 1


It's feasible, but then you'd better really like the taste of turpentine and have the courage to take a chance on ingesting it. Turpentine comes from the oils of pine and -- you guessed it -- spruce. I wouldn't recommend taking a chance on smoking anything using coniferous materials. If you're in an area with spruce, then you probably have alder as well. There's your viable alternative.

Additional info: If you don't have alder handy or you just dislike alder smoke, then wild hazelnut or wild applewood will work just as well. (I use the applewood.) If you don't live where the trees are, most hardware stores that sell wood stove or pellet stove fuel will have wood chips made from hardwood trees. If you live anywhere near an orchard, take a drive to the country and ask a grower if you can buy or reserve some apple, cherry, or nut tree prunings. And finally, if you live in eastern North America, maple and butternut woods make excellent smoking materials.

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