Larry Sylvester has been making great wood-based barbecue accessories for 25 years. Step inside his Katy, Texas workshop to see him assemble his famous Bag-of-Smoke.
Ten Steps to One Bag-of-Smoke: A Photo Tutorial
Meet Larry. He's a United States Navy Veteran, and the inventor and lone producer of an excellent little Texas-based product, Larry's Bag-Of-Smoke.
This is Larry's Bag-Of-Smoke:
The Bag-Of-Smoke is used when grilling or barbecuing to add genuine smoke flavor to your food. The bags come in a variety of flavors: hickory, mesquite, and pecan. Larry personally hand-makes every single Bag-Of-Smoke, from his workshop in Katy, Texas. After 18 years of practice with this product, he has the process down:
1) First, he makes the bag, cutting out rectangles of muslin using a template and rolling blade.
He continues until the pile is "high enough, about level with the top of the cutting table." Any higher, and Larry might have to retire early.
2). Next he adds the distinctive purple branding to the bag. Larry uses two stamps per bag—one for the front with his logo and the flavor, and the other with directions for the back.
The purple vegetable-based ink he uses is food-safe.
A little pounding on the stamp ensures the ink transfers to the fabric evenly.
3) Next, he sews the sides shut, leaving one end open to allow filling.
4). The wood shavings are stirred up, and the bag is filled. Yes, this box of wood smells as good as you imagine it does.
5). Larry tamps the wood filling to ensure evenness.
6) He then pins the bag closed and weighs it. The bag must be exactly 4oz, as required by Texas Department of Agriculture specifications. If he says it's 4oz, and he does, he has to be sure every single bag hits the mark. If it's too light, he will unpin the top and add as necessary. But, not surprisingly, he's done this enough times that he's pretty much spot on every time.
7) When the weigh-in is satisfactory, he sews the top of the bag closed permanently.
8) Larry then uses tiny scissors and trims any stray strings. This step is important because he doesn't want people to see a string, pull it, and have the bag come apart. He'd rather take the time to make sure each one is perfectly tidy than tempt fate.
9) Once the bag is de-stringed, Larry uses pinking shears to cut the edges. The sawtoothed edge of the shears are designed to be used with unfinished woven fabrics. Because of the zigzag cutting pattern, any frayed threads are relatively short, thus keeping damage to the fabric to a minimum, and keeping it from completely coming apart.
10) Larry attaches a tag to the bag, providing additional information and a little bit of extra Texas flair.
And there you have it. One handmade Larry's Bag-Of-Smoke completed, ready to add a delicious smokey flavor to your next barbecue.
Larry's Bag-Of-Smoke is available for purchase in our store, in three flavors — Mesquite, Texas Pecan, and Hickory — all of which come from woods harvested in Texas. Try the variety pack of all three flavors to find your favorite.