Which Charcoal Is Best For Grilling?
I headed to my neighborhood home improvement shop to get some charcoal for my barbeque lately. There are a lot more possibilities now than there were before. That got me thinking about what kind of charcoal might be ideal for grilling. Is there a distinction at all? So I did some research to see what all the fuss was about, and this is what I discovered.
The finest grilling charcoal has always been a source of contention. The greatest briquettes, in my opinion, are those made entirely of natural materials. Briquettes are primarily manufactured from sawdust from timber mills and provide a wide range of benefits. When grilling, they feature a homogeneous shape that ensures equal heat distribution.
Briquettes, which we just discussed, and lump charcoal are the two most often utilized charcoals, at least in the United States. Natural charcoal and lump charcoal are both terms used to describe the same thing. Other varieties exist as well, although they aren’t widely utilized in the United States. So, what are them, and what is the difference between them? Before I get into further depth, here’s a brief summary.
Is a kind of Japanese charcoal that is also known as white charcoal or binch-zumi. It’s known for having a high carbon content and the ability to create intense heat.
Coconut Shell charcoal is created from discarded coconut shells, making it another another kind of recycled charcoal. Because it is a waste product, this might be the most ecologically friendly charcoal. It’s also renowned for producing exceptionally high heat.
Thai charcoal is recognized for having a very lengthy burn period. Some folks even put them out and then relight them the following time they grill.
So, why is there such a wide variety of charcoal types? It is, in fact, rather straightforward. They’re from all over the globe. Different civilizations, like many other things, have their own unique methods of doing things. Learning about the many varieties of charcoal and how they’re manufactured was really very instructive. So, in the interest of saving time for anybody else interested in learning more about charcoal, I’ve compiled a list of everything I’ve learned about it from across the globe.
As I previously said, you’re probably accustomed to seeing these first two varieties of charcoal when you go to the market to buy charcoal for grilling. Briquettes are undoubtedly familiar to you; they seem to be marketed in abundance. You’ve probably seen lump charcoal as well, depending on where you’re buying. They’re the same in terms of how you’ll use them in the kitchen, but they’re made in two distinct methods.
Due to how they were manufactured, they also burn in quite distinct ways.
It all began out as wood, regardless of the charcoal you chose or where it originates from. However, you’ve probably observed that not all charcoal resembles wood. This is because it was roasted at high temperatures in a low-oxygen atmosphere to reduce it to practically pure carbon. So, let’s take a closer look at each category to see how they were created and how they vary.
As a result, sawdust is used to make the majority of briquettes once again. Anthracite coal, lime, and cornstarch are among the other constituents in them. That may seem to be a large number of components, but when compared to other products we use, it isn’t.
Because it’s a produced item, you can expect it to have a consistent shape. The even burn is due to the consistent shape. As a result, while cooking with it, you won’t have to worry about chilly areas, something other forms of charcoals can’t provide.
Sawdust, which is the principal constituent, is recovered from timber mills. If you don’t use it to manufacture briquettes, it’s basically a waste product. To assist reduce waste, the first briquettes were manufactured from wood scraps from the Ford Model T production process. Back when automobiles used wood rim wheels, it was the case. When the spokes for the inside of the rim were turned, a lot of sawdust was produced.
It burns longer and hotter thanks to the anthracite coal. This eliminates the need to constantly monitor your charcoals or risk them burning out in the midst of a grilling session. When it’s completely illuminated, the lime is added to make it white. This serves as a visual cue when it’s time to cook. Finally, the cornstarch works as an adhesive, allowing them to stick together and form the familiar square shape.
Briquettes, which serve to add flavor to your cuisine, are available these days. If you want a smokey flavor without all the hassle of smoking your food or if you don’t have a smoker, you may purchase briquettes, which will lend the flavor of wood to your cuisine. They’re available in all of the same wood flavors that people use to smoke meat.
Briquettes feature grooves on the top and bottom, which you may not have seen. This is done to improve airflow in your grill when you’re utilizing them. It aids in the creation of a consistent burning bed of charcoals, resulting in the consistent heat I mentioned previously. It aids in the ease of grilling.
Now it’s only fair to inform you that some briquette manufacturers use different substances. So, before you purchase any briquetes, I suggest reading the label. Keep in mind that the gases from your charcoal may and will impact the flavor of your meal.
Finally, match-light and instant-light briquettes should never be used. To make them easier to ignite, these briquettes have been soaked in lighter fluid and other chemicals. You will utterly spoil the flavor of your meal if you do not wait long enough before placing it to the grill. I don’t know about you, but I avoid putting chemicals in my diet at any costs. It’s also not difficult to accomplish if you know how to fire charcoal.
Natural Charcoal / Lump
End cuttings of wood from lumber mills or discarded building debris are often used to make lump or natural charcoal. Unlike briquettes, lump charcoal has no additives. It’s just hardwood that has been reduced to carbon. That’s why it still seems to be charred wood. It’s recognized for burning hotter than briquettes and producing very little ash. For big BBQ pit masters, lump charcoal is the preferred fuel source.
If you’re going to utilize lump charcoal, make sure it’s manufactured from end cuts. The spherical pieces of the trees that may be converted into timber are known as end cuts. Take a thorough look at it before you use it if it’s created from recycled building materials. I’ve seen reports of individuals discovering computer bits and other items in their charcoal bag. That’s not something I’d want to use in the kitchen.
One issue with lump charcoal is that it comes in a variety of sizes and forms. As a result, it will burn at varying speeds. As a result, certain areas of your grill may get hotter than others. Because it burns quickly, you may need to use more lump charcoal than briquettes. This may be aggravating since lump charcoal is more expensive than briquettes.
Finally, the irregular form of lump charcoal makes me worry whether each piece has been fully roasted to get the highest carbon content possible. Because of the irregular forms, it seems to me that some parts may be overcooked, while others may not be entirely carbonized in the centre.
Charcoal that is less well-known
You now know all there is to know about the most prevalent varieties of charcoal. But what about the charcoals that aren’t so well-known? We’re seeking for the greatest grilled charcoal. Let’s take a look at some less well-known charcoals. There are more varieties of charcoal than you would believe, as I said before.
Charcoal from Binchotan
Binchotan charcoal is a Japanese charcoal. This charcoal is also known as binch-zumi or white charcoal. It is mostly manufactured in Japan’s Wakayama Prefecture and is created from the prefecture’s official tree.
Binchotan charcoal is created from the Ubame Oak or Ubame Kashi, a species of oak tree that is denser than regular oak trees. The origins of this charcoal may be traced back to the Edo era. It was the 17th century, if you’re like me and have no clue when it was.
Binchotan is created in the same way as lump charcoals are. Instead of end cuts, tiny diameter pieces of wood are used. This keeps the wood’s appearance after it’s been boiled down. There is one more process, known as Seiren or Refining.
The binchotan maker opens the kiln door and allows additional air in during the seiren process. The temperature in the kiln rises to almost 1000F as a result of this. They must exercise caution while doing so, since allowing too much air in too quickly can cause the charcoal to burn and leaving the creator with nothing but ash. Binchotan charcoal is roughly 95 percent, if not more, pure carbon as a result of this extra process.
Binchotan’s high carbon concentration makes it a little more difficult to fire, but it also allows it to burn hotter and longer than other charcoals. Binchotan is recognized for burning for up to 6 hours while maintaining a decent cooking temperature.
Charcoal made from coconut shell
Coconut shell charcoal is manufactured from coconut shells, as you may have guessed. It’s created in a similar manner as charcoal briquettes. Coconut shell charcoal, like briquettes, is created from a waste product. Coconut charcoal, unlike ordinary briquettes, does not need the felling of trees. It is particularly ecologically beneficial since it is manufactured without deforestation.
Coconut charcoal is usually crushed into cubes or log forms. I haven’t had the opportunity to put this to use yet. However, it is said to burn faster and longer than briquettes, reaching roughly 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Some people believe that one pound of coconut charcoal equals two pounds of briquettes. It also creates a very little amount of ash, which may be turned into fertilizer.
The coconut charcoal, according to most people, produces very little smoke. Coconut charcoal, I’ve heard, makes meals taste more like it was cooked over a wood fire rather than with charcoal. So, if you can get your hands on some coconut charcoal, it’s worth a go.
Charcoal from Thailand
Thai-Style log charcoal is a clean, natural, and long-burning charcoal. It’s created from orchard-grown rambutan fruit wood, which has a very mild taste. Try it out and let your grilled food do the talking. Thai charcoal produces a consistent heat and is simple to use. It’s perfect for any kind of solid-fuel cooking, including grilling, barbecuing, and indirect cooking, and it’s especially suitable where binchotan charcoal is often used.
Thai charcoal takes a little longer to ignite than other types of charcoal. It may take 30 minutes or more to light a chimney, even using a chimney starter. However, it is more adaptable. Once you’ve mastered how to use it, you may choose between high and low heat. If you’re using an egg type cooker for low and slow cooking, this is the way to go. You won’t have to touch the charcoal for 3 to 4 hours after you’ve established the temperature.
Thai charcoal is similarly odorless and produces little to no smoke when burned. Another one that creates very little ash is this one. Availability may be an issue, however I know I purchased it from Amazon. There are no shops that sell it near me, at least none that I’ve discovered.