So, you’ve just started grilling and smoking, but your food just isn’t getting the flavor you want. The problem you’re facing just might be the wood pellets that you’re using. Don’t fret over it any longer, as we are going to review the best wood pellets for smoking.
Our goal is to provide you with the right information to guide you in deciding what wood pellets to buy. Once you have the best wood pellets for grilling, you are pretty much assured of producing smoked and grilled dishes with a great taste for your friends and family.
Last update on 2023-12-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
All wood pellets you buy should let you get the right balance of heat and high-quality smoke so that it fuses with the meat you are grilling or smoking and creates a tantalizing aroma. If you don’t get that from your current wood pellets, then you might be better off looking for another variety.
The 10 Best Wood Pellets for Smoking in 2020
There are quite a few different types of wood pellets available on the market. These products are produced from different types of wood or trees and each type can affect the taste and aroma of your food.
Most smoking enthusiasts prefer to mix things up a bit so they can compare the differences in taste and flavor, but even as you try different types of wood, it’s best to keep your focus on quality products and brands like the ones we’ve listed here.
🥇 CookinPellets 40PM Perfect Mix Smoking Pellets
This bag of smoking pellets weighs in at 40 pounds; it is one of the favorite choices of grillers and smokers since Cookin’ Pellets is one of the best brands of pellets for smoking. If you count the cost per pound, you might consider it more expensive than other types of wood pellets or blends. However, it is a brand that gets down to business right from the start. In other words, these are high-quality pellets with no gimmicks or frills.
If you are really into cooking some perfectly smoked or grilled meat, then you’ll likely want to choose this brand. The packaging might not look fancy, but that’s because they have no reason to try and impress you … they already know these wood pellets are one of the best on the market.
These wood pellets consist of multiple types of wood, providing a diverse taste for your cooking. As a premium hardwood pellet, it has four wood types blended inside, which makes it one of the top listed mixtures on the market. Never containing any bark, these pellets are made using only the best heartwoods from the center of the tree log.
With a base of hickory wood, these pellets also have apple, cherry, and hard maple wood. It’s hard to argue when they call it the perfect mix. No matter what kind of food you are cooking, the combination is pretty much guaranteed to provide superior smoke flavor. No oil or filler wood has been added to these wood pellets.
Some grill manufacturers claim that using other types of pellet brands can void your warranty; many of them put misleading stickers on their machines to cause people to avoid using other brands of pellets. Although some low-quality pellets may cause some problems, CookinPellet’s Smoking Pellets will not likely void your guarantee; they are as good as any wood pellets made by the manufacturer’s brand and in some cases even better.
A quick review shows they use no filler wood, oak, or alder. For the price that it is offered, it is probably one of the best pellets for grilling that you are going to find on the market.
- High-quality wood
- Features four premium hardwoods
- CookinPellets also produce 100% Black Cherry packs
- You can get this premium pellet in Apple Mash aroma, as well
- Doesn’t contain any bark
- No oil or filler wood added
- Very simple and easy to use
- Convenient pellet size
- The price is on the high side
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🥇 Camp Chef Smoker Grill Competition Blend Hardwood Pellets
One great plus point about these pellets is that they are not expensive. Also, you don’t have to be an expert in smoking or grilling to use them. Newbies in smoking, as well as professionals, can work well with these wood pellets. These wood pellets are a blend of the best.
Although some people prefer to use one type of wood pellet, this wood pellet blend from Camp Chef is what gives the smoked meat its delectable flavor. Camp Chef’s pellets are some of the most solid pellets that you’ll get on the market. In other words, you’re pretty much guaranteed of the quality.
Camp Chef is one of the top companies that provide smoking and grilling pellet blends. You won’t have to check each and every detail when you get these pellets, nor will you have to work to create your own blend of wood in order to create a unique flavor. Camp Chef has done it all for you with these premium wood pellets.
These wood pellet blends are advertised as less dusty; similarly, many people have noticed that they leave behind less ash than other brands. The 20-pound bag has been well-received overall and the price is also reasonable.
These wood pellets are 100 natural. You can rest assured that these food grade pellets for pellet grills and smokers are some of the best pellets for smoking. With hickory, maple, and cherry, these wood pellets are made from a variety of premium hardwood. It is possible to smoke or grill just about anything with those wood pellets.
High quality, and made in the U.S.A., they come at a reasonable price with very good quality and taste overall.
- All-natural blend
- Less dust and ash
- Hardwood offers longer burn time
- Available in blend and Hickory wood types
- Convenient pellet size
- Some people might consider having a blend of several type of wood to be a drawback
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#3 Camp Chef Smoker Grill Premium Apple Hardwood Pellets
Camp Chef Apple Hardwood Pellets are not part of a blend. The pellets are made from premium apple hardwood; they are some of the best pellets for grilling. These wood pellets will also work great with any brand of grill or smoker.
This is probably your best bet for wood pellets if you prefer a smoky apple taste. Since there is no combination of other types of wood, the applewood flavor will stand out more compared to other combinations. If you wish, you also have the option to combine them with a variety of other wood pellets if you want to mix it up and find some new smoking flavors.
As mentioned above, these wood pellets can be used with a lot of grills, not necessarily only Camp Chef grills … from Pit Boss to Traeger, and much more. Made from 100% high-quality-burning apple hardwood, there is no added oil, flavors, or fillers. The standard for any home smoker, these wood pellets are made in the United States of America.
In addition to giving an incredible flavor, they burn extremely well, and the price isn’t so bad either. If you are looking to load up some applewood into your smoker or grill, this is usually the “go-to” brand.
- 100% applewood
- Perfect for smoky apple taste
- Works will all grills and smokers alike
- Offers longer burn time compared to many other wood types
- No added oils or flavors
- No filler woods
- The price is on the high side
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#4 Pit Boss BBQ Wood Pellets
In the world of smokers and grills, Pit Boss is another big name that produces some of the best wood pellets. It is possible to use them with pretty much any grill on the market; do not fall for the myth that the brand of pellets needs to match the brand of the smoker or grill. Depending on which flavor you prefer and what food you are going to be smoking, Pit Boss’ wood pellets are usually available in a variety of blends, including apple or hickory.
Pit Boss’ wood pellets will either come in twenty- or forty-pound bags most of the time. As mentioned above, these pellets work well with Pit Boss’s grills and smokers as well as any brand of smokers. The wood used to make these great wood pellets comes from the United States of America. Burning hotter and cleaner than lower-quality options, these pellets do not have any sort of glues, chemicals, or spray-on scents.
This blend has a great flavor profile: a combination of savory and sweet tones with a very mild tartness. In case you aren’t sure what to get, this particular blend combines maple, hickory, and cherry hardwoods. Offering a smoky taste as with a mild sweetness, these wood pellets are also available in the apple flavor, which go well with pork. It is also available in hickory, which has a rich flavor that will almost remind you of bacon.
Although hard to pick one over the other, they are all pretty much great for any sort of meat; however, if you are into turkey and chicken, then hickory wood pellets are recommended.
Although the 40-pound bag will last you a long time, you might opt to grab a couple of them at once. Then you might use one type of wood pellet one week, and another the next week, keeping a decent variety going. Ultimately, the flavor you use the most will come down to your own preferences, depending on what you are cooking. Once you get used to each type of wood pellet, you’ll know what temperatures to use as well as the perfect wood for different types of food.
- Great price
- 100% natural hardwoods
- Works well with all grills and smokers
- Combination of maple, hickory, and cherry wood gives a great aroma
- You can get this wood in apple flavor
- Good heat application
- Doesn’t produce too much ash
- Bulk pack will last a long time
- Blend of several woods (not to everyone’s liking)
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#5 Traeger PEL319 Grills Hickory 100% All-Natural Hardwood Pellets
This twenty-pound bag is another great choice. When cooking with Traeger, the hardest part is usually waiting for the food to be ready; the smoke rising from this hickory BBQ flavor will make you salivate.
A good feature of these pellets is that they are known to produce less ash than other wood pellets out there. Less ash also means that there is less to clean up afterward. Made from 100% hardwood, these pellets have no fillers or additives. While adding a lovely, smoky flavor, these pellets won’t harm the environment … or your food. They work well with most kinds of meats such as pork, poultry, beef, and even for smoking vegetables and cheeses.
Although Traeger has a variety of pellets to choose from, hickory will always be one of the best choices. If you are a newbie to pellet smokers and you can’t make a decision on which type of pellet to use, it is ideal to go with this hickory flavor from Traeger.
- Easily affordable
- Produces less ash than other options
- Traeger also offers other 100% wood types like apple, cherry, and pecan
- Good variety of flavors to choose from from a quality brand
- Small pellet size fits most pellet smokers
- We couldn’t find any cons for this brand of wood pellets
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#6 RecTec Grills Ultimate Blend Pellets
These RecTec wood pellets deserve a high rating; their blend is suitable for all types of smoking and grilling. It burns much better than your regular pellet and the flavor is very strong, although not overpowering. You are going to notice the difference instantly if you have used inferior kinds of wood pellets before.
If you take a closer look at those pellets, you will find that they are of uniform size and very compact. Lasting many hours, it is possible to use them to smoke and grill a wide assortment of food. These RecTec pellets can also be used with all kinds of grills.
Grilling and smoking are very straightforward when using these pellets. The end result is great for different types of fish and meat with a genuine smoky flavor infused throughout. The oak and hickory blend is more effective than you might have first thought. Many people will frown upon the fact that these pellets are a combination of oak and hickory; however, RecTec blended them in such a way that they are more potent when used together.
Since only fresh wood is used, this Ultimate Blend stands out from the others. Although most brands will claim that they use the freshest wood, once you use them, you will quickly notice that it is not the case. With RecTec, you only need to open the bag and you’ll quickly smell the difference. The wood pellets smell fresh – like they’ve just been cut.
Used to flavor a wide array of foods, these pellets are highly versatile.You’ll surely taste and smell the difference whether you are cooking steak, BBQ, briskets, or fish. These wood pellets compare positively against the best options out there when it comes to quality end results. If you spend a lot of time grilling, it is possible to taste the difference when it comes to flavor. The smoky flavor will be evident.
With adequate heat generation, the ash output is minimal compared to other brands.
- Compatible with various grills
- Doesn’t produce a lot of ash
- Dependable quality
- Fine blends
- Oak and hickory combination produces a delicious aroma
- Quality hardwood will burn for a long time
- It doesn’t provide details as far as the oak and hickory blend specs
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#7 BBQrs Delight Wood Smoking Pellets
If you are scouting about for a wood pellet with the common flavors, BBQrs Delight Wood Smoking Pellets are an ideal selection. The six popular flavors, in one-pound bags, include cherry, pecan, mesquite, hickory, apple, and Jack Daniel’s. Each and every flavor is suitable for any kind of smoker or grill you have, whether it be charcoal, gas, or electric.
Each pack can be used roughly 10 times as you use roughly 1/3 cup of pellets for each cooking session. You are free to mix two or more of the six flavors together to experience or even create your own flavor.
BBQrs Delight Wood Pellets, made of 100% applewood, provide a sweet and fruity smoke. It is ideal for grilling fish, pork, beef, poultry, or any wild game. Since they are made of 100% hickory wood, the hickory pellets are quite common and popular for barbequing.
The other flavors of wood pellets are also made of 100% of whatever their name is on the packaging. If you enjoy a stronger smoky flavor, it is better to choose the mesquite pellets. If you prefer a rosy color to the meat as well as a gentle, sweet smoke, go with the cherry pellets. Since it will ultimately come down to your own taste and preference, you just have to try out the flavors and stick with the one you want.
- Can be used with any grill
- Contains lots of flavors
- Ideal for beginner smokers who want to try different aromas
- Compatible with different smokers
- Packs offer guidance on the best meat types to use
- It is not really of high-quality wood
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#8 Lumber Jack 100-Percent Maple Wood BBQ Grilling Pellets, 40-Pound Bag
This bag of pellets from Lumber Jack is made of 100% maple wood. It has no fillers, additives, or oil and is made from 100% virgin wood. In order to provide you with the highest quality pellets on the market, the logs are specially selected from the Northwood of Wisconsin. The company starts with the whole tree and selects the right amount of bark to include in the pellet to impart a truly unique flavor. The grilling pellets are blended with specialty wood and Wisconsin seven-ring oak, making it one of the most high-quality pellets.
Each and every pellet is high in flavor since the wood is blended first. The process is time-consuming and expensive; however, this enables the pellets to burn hot and long, giving superior results. The product is insured as food-grade using independent testing laboratories.
- These pellets can be used with any grills or smokers
- They are affordable
- They are also of high quality
- A stronger bag is included for easy handling
- Lumber Jack produces pellets in other wood types
- Flavor rich pellets give off a good smoky aroma
- We couldn’t find any huge inconveniences to be considered as a con
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#9 CookinPellets 40H Hickory Smoking Pellets
The manufacturer of these wood pellets is the same as the first choice in this post, although the product has a few differences. You can expect the same quality from the 40H as from the 40M perfect-mix wood pellet. The difference between the 40H and 40M is that it’s not a mixture of various types of hardwood; rather, it’s made from 100% hickory wood as raw material.
You’ll see many people prefer hickory for barbecue and cooking because of its strong release of unique flavors. Now, there are a lot of other hickory pellets available in the market, so why the 40H from CookinPellets? Well, to get your expected flavor from the wood, you need a pellet that contains 100% of the wood. You’ll see a lot of pellets on the market that have a mixture of woods, but the ratio is not mentioned, so you don’t know what percentage of the wood you’re getting in the pellets, and that’s why you often lack the flavor you expect.
You need a pellet that lets you know exactly what material it’s made from, and what percentage. CookinPellets has maintained their company quality as they state exactly what’s in their pellets. If they say it’s 100% hickory, you can rest assured it’s 100% hickory.
- A unique aroma that you’d expect from a hickory pellet.
- 100% selected & fully pressed hickory material
- Provides consistent burns and high BTU.
- High-quality manufacturing process and raw material selection
- Trusted manufacturer with insurance of quality
- Might include higher levels of dust than other brands
- Wood pellets might not release enough smoke for a desirable flavor
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#10 Traeger PEL309 Grills Cherry 100% All-Natural Hardwood Pellets
This is another good product from a trusted name in the industry – Traeger. This cherry barbecue pellet is made from 100-percent natural hardwood that contains no fillers or additives. This cherry barbecue pellets produce very little ash, unlike other hardwood pellets. Yet it provides good levels of heat.
You’ll get a good and rich cherry flavor from these pellets, which is unmatched by regular charcoal. And the reduced ash will make the cleaning job easy for you. These pellets burn cleanly and they are safe for the environment.
- Good heat and safe for the environment.
- 100 percent hardwood
- Less ash than other hardwood pellets
- Contains no fillers or additives
- Very simple and easy to use
- The cherry flavor is not that strong; it could be more flavorful
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What to Look for in a High-Quality Pellet
Low Ash Content: This considers the amount of ash that is left in proportion to how many wood pellets were burned. Your smoker or grill will run less efficiently if there is lots of ash left or produced when burning. So it is better to look for pellets that claim to have low ash content.
No bark or additives: You’ll want to look for pellets without fillers including cardboard, bark, glue, or other materials that have been recycled to burn much hotter.
Low Moisture Content: The amount of moisture determines how much effort it will take to light up your pellet smoker or grill. It won’t take long to get a good burn going if you use low-moisture pellets. The best pellets you will find on the market have a moisture content of 6.5% and below.
Sometimes you might even see ‘moisture free’ on the label. Since you don’t store your pellets in a vacuum, those ratings can be unrealistic.
Heat output: The unit to measure the heat output is in BTUs. BTU stands for British Thermal Units. It is a straightforward way of measuring the heat output of a grill, oven, or other kinds of heating appliances.
In technical terms, one BTU is the energy needed to heat one pound of water by one degree (Fahrenheit). You will want to look for pellets that have much higher BTU ratings. Usually, 8000-8,500 is the best BTU range for pellets.
Types of Wood Pellets for Smoking and Grilling
For years, wood pellets have been used in the heating industries as well as by people who want to smoke, grill, and BBQ. Different types of wood pellets will allow for different levels of heating.
There are three main types of wood pellets:
- Standard wood pellets – Containing organic ash content at rates higher than 0.5%, this type of wood pellet is most often manufactured from forestry industry waste. You do not want to use this type of wood pellet in your smoker or grill, as chemicals and additives are frequently added, which might negatively affect the flavor and quality of your BBQ. When working with meats, you want the best flavor possible.
- Food-grade wood pellets – As long as no additives or binding agents are used in the manufacturing process, wood pellets that have been labeled as food-grade are fine to use in your grilling and smoking.
- Premium wood pellets – Generally not containing bark, these wood pellets contain less than 0.5 percent organic ash content. Costing more than the lower grade pellets, they are often made from oak or maple wood. Premium wood pellets made of 100% smoking wood will be more expensive than blended pellets, but that is because they have better quality and taste. While you can use either in your smoking and grilling, the choice really depends on your tastebuds and your pocketbook.
Choosing the Best Product for Your Pellet Grill or Smoker
With higher quality wood pellets, your wood pellet grill or smoker will operate at optimum levels. It is ideal to buy pellets with less than one percent organic ash content. Oak pellets naturally have a lower ash content than maple pellets, making them a better choice on average.
For your grill or smoker performance, moisture content of the wood pellets also makes a big difference. Dry pellets create more heat in less time; therefore, to obtain peak levels of efficiency, opt for lower moisture levels.
High-quality wood pellets, as well as most premium-grade pellets, contain less than five percent moisture. Even if it means paying more, less moisture in the pellets will save you money over the long term, as your wood pellet grill or smoker will crank out more heat from each pellet. Although they come at a higher price, the best quality wood pellets have lower levels of ash and moisture.
Best Smoking or Grilling Pellet Flavors
When people mention pellet flavors, they are talking about the type of wood that is used to make the pellets. From the usual BBQ flavors such as mesquite, hickory, apple, and cherry, to less celebrated woods like peach, pecan, and sugar maple, smoker pellets can come in a vast array of wood flavors. Each has its own unique taste. You’ll get a mild sweetness with cherry to the nutty hint of pecan.
The great thing about having different wood pellet flavors to choose from is that they can be paired with specific foods, highlighting and complementing their natural flavors. For instance, many BBQ professionals choose cedar wood pellets when smoking fish, as cedar has a rich flavor that offsets the strong flavor of fish. Similarly, maple is a great choice for pork and poultry because it adds a hint of sweetness to the meats. Additionally, by mixing and matching different woods, it is possible to create complex layers of flavors.
Don’t stock up on mesquite until you’ve tried it even though it is often thought of as the quintessential BBQ wood. It has a strong, assertive flavor than can overpower the food. Many people who are new to pellet smokers and BBQ immediately choose mesquite pellets. Make your BBQ stand out by choosing flavors that are versatile enough to be used with a variety of foods. This way, even when buying pellets for the first time, your smoking will stand out as memorable.
Hickory and apple are two of the most popular pellet flavors. Between the two you can cook just about anything since they are both classic BBQ woods. Although not so strong that it will overpower pork or poultry, the hickory produces a moderate smoke that’s strong enough to stand up to the bold flavor of beef. On the other hand, apple produces a sweet and mild smoke that complements lighter foods like seafood and vegetables. It is possible to pair other combinations of mild and moderate woods to incorporate a vast and tantalizing range of BBQ flavors.
Food Pairing Tips
It’s important to choose an appropriate wood pellet type and flavor for the type of food you want to prepare. Some aromas compliment certain food types better than others. It can be hard to pair foods and smoke aromas if you’re still a beginner.
Here’s a quick guide that most new smoke enthusiasts follow while they’re still learning the difference in tastes.
Beef cuts usually taste best when they’re prepared on charcoal, pecan, mesquite, and hickory woods. You can also invest in quality competition blend wood pellets to enhance the flavor of beef.
Most chefs would agree that poultry should be prepared on wood with lighter flavors. Wood types like 100% mesquite, hickory, and Applewood are all ideal, but you can also get a combination pellet type that contains these main hardwoods.
Pork is best prepared on wood that will enhance the natural sweet taste of the meat. Choose apple, fruit, mesquite, and hickory or go with a quality combination blend of these wood types.
The taste of seafood is easily masked if you use wood with an overpowering aroma. Apple or fruit wood pellets are preferable for seafood, but you can also use competition blends.
Fruits and Vegetables
To enhance the natural taste of fruits and vegetables, consider smoking these foods on hickory, apple, fruitwood, or combination blend woods with these ingredients.
Blend (Mixture) Vs. Flavored Food
Usually, BBQ pellets are made up of hundred percent natural hardwood; however, that doesn’t mean the pellets are 100% of the type of wood that is listed onto the packaging. If you decide to buy cherry wood chips or chunks, then you are getting 100% cherry wood. However, pellets usually consist of a blend of cherry and another type of wood, such as oak or alder.
There are good reasons for this practice even though it may sound deceptive. Mixing flavored woods with oak offers a couple of advantages, starting with the price. In addition to producing different levels of heat and smoke, different types of wood have different densities and burn at different rates.
Additionally, 100% flavored-wood pellets are more expensive than those that use a base of oak or alder, along with wood such as cherry and hickory; as these latter varieties aren’t nearly as plentiful as oak, they cost more. Since oak is fairly neutral, the cherry wood smoke flavor still shines through. By using a blend of oak and cherry, pellet makers can keep prices down.
Using an oak base also creates consistency in addition to providing savings. For example, if you were to use 100% cherry wood, you’d go through more pellets than if you used 100% hickory because cherry burns faster than hickory. These blends, therefore, provide consistency and the addition of oak allows every flavor to burn at a similar rate and with similar heat output.
Be aware, though, that all blends and combinations are not equal. Some will use a higher percentage of wood than others. A 70/30 ratio is pretty common, with 30% being flavored wood and 70% being oak. Some big brands, however, use a 2/3 ratio.
Pellet Grills and Smoker Issues
Abnormal temperature fluctuations are one of the most common problems people encounter with pellet grills and smokers. For example, grills can sometimes drop to 200°F then suddenly climb up to 325°F. People will often think that they are dealing with a mechanical issue and that the RTD or the controller needs replacing. However most of the time, the problem is simple and also has a simple solution.
When a pellet grill owner deals with temperature swings, it is mostly due to using low-quality and cheap brands of wood pellets. These inferior varieties often produce excessive ash, which can interfere with the sensors that help in regulating cooking temperatures. The solution is simple in that case; use higher quality pellets that burn cleanly and regularly clean ash from the grill.
Heating Pellets Vs. Smoking Pellets
There are normally two types of wood pellets: smoker pellets and heating pellets. They are not the same even though they look alike and are both made of compressed wood.
Made only from 100% hardwood, BBQ pellets are food-grade pellets. With the possible exception of vegetable oil that is sometimes used during the extrusion process, they contain no fillers, binders, or additives.
By contrast, heating pellets can consist of a variety of woods, which sometimes contain a resin that infuses food with a bitter, unappetizing taste. Since they sometimes include bark, it can leave other impurities that will, without a doubt, affect the flavor of your food and even pose health risks if ingested. Heating pellets are for the purpose of heating; therefore, it doesn’t matter what is in them, as long as they burn.
Heating pellets are less expensive than BBQ pellets, which makes them appealing to budget-conscious shoppers. Since they are cheap, less care goes into the manufacturing of heating pellets and they are really guaranteed to be 100% pure hardwood. It’s better to resist the temptation of using heating pellets in a pellet smoker since it might very well ruin your smoker.
There are a few things that you should keep in mind before buying a pack of wood pellets for your smoker or grill.
- Check if the wood pellets work on all brands.
- Verify how much ash they leave after burning.
- Consider the moisture level so that you can get the maximum BTU for the price you are paying.
After that, just use your common sense and personal preference as far as the flavor of the wood. While your choice will come down to your own tastes, that doesn’t mean you should just buy whatever you can get without analyzing the specifications. Take your time, get to know the products, read this review again if needed, and then make an educated choice.
Last Updated on September 2, 2021 by Judith Fertig