Lighting

Feel free to ask any questions, one of the experts will certainly respond, don't be afraid to ask anything, we were all beginners at some point.

Lighting

Postby Essex Bloke » 25 Feb 2010, 08:52

Hello all and what a great idea setting up a forum for that great summer experience of barbecueing !!

As a complete newbie can anyone advise on how best to:

A: Light a Barbecue using lumpwood charcoal
B: Light a Smoker (I have just purchased a ProQ Excel)
C: Purchase lumpwood charcoal - I live on the Herts/Essex border

After reading some of the posts on here I understand now that using self-lighting charcoal has been a schooloboy error so I would really like to know how to produce the best chemical-free flavours for the meat that I cook.

Any help would be much appreciated.

Great website once again !!

Thanks

Neil
Essex Bloke
Got Wood!
Got Wood!
 
Joined: 25 Feb 2010, 08:35

Re: Lighting

Postby Essex Bloke » 25 Feb 2010, 09:44

Can you also use different woods for cooking or are certain woods such as oak, cherry etc.. only used for flavour and not as the main heat source??
Essex Bloke
Got Wood!
Got Wood!
 
Joined: 25 Feb 2010, 08:35

Re: Lighting

Postby Steve » 25 Feb 2010, 11:09

Hi Neil,

Welcome to the forum.

to answer your questions....

A&B Use a chimney starter, the best one is the Weber one you should be able to find it any place that sells Weber BBQs for about £18. Using this, you just put a couple of sheets of newspaper in the bottom, fill with charcoal and light, you'll be cooking in about 20 minutes.

C. If you have a Makro or Booker card, these places sell restaurant grade lumpwood (look for the big blue bags) which is generally very good. If you can buy bulk you might be able to get Big K to deliver restaurant grade lump to you but you have to buy at least 5 bags. Another option is to look for local charcoal makers in your area.

If you're struggling to get decent lumpwood you can try CPL distribution for coconut briquettes, these are pretty good and I don't find they leave a chemical taste.

In terms of wood, we have a refernce table on here http://www.bbbqs.com/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=76 Don't be afraid to mix woods too, I combine oak and cherry for a lot of my cooking, when mixing you would typically use a heavier smoke with a lighter or fruity smoke.

You can use chips or chunks, I prefer to use big chunks but chips are more readily available at retail outlets. If using chips, don't soak them as this can give a damp woody taste to your food, make a pouch out of tin foil, place the chips in and pierce it a few times with a skewer. When you put this on your coals, the wood will smoulder producing a nice stream of smoke.

Hope this post has helped, if you've any more questions ask away.

P.S. BBQ is an all year round activity :lol:
User avatar
Steve
Site Admin
Site Admin
 
Joined: 17 Oct 2009, 12:17
Location: Reading, Berkshire, UK.

Re: Lighting

Postby Essex Bloke » 25 Feb 2010, 11:21

Thanks for the reply Steve. So would I use the same charcoal in the chimney starter as I would as my main heat source or use smaller pieces or different charcoal? Sorry if these questions sound so newbie !
Essex Bloke
Got Wood!
Got Wood!
 
Joined: 25 Feb 2010, 08:35

Re: Lighting

Postby Steve » 25 Feb 2010, 11:49

What I tend to use in the chimney is some unburned coals from a previous run at the bottom and top these off with fresh lump.

I use pieces that fit easily in the chimney starter. Some of the restaurant grade lumps are like tree trunks :lol:

When grilling on my Weber I stuff the starter full and this is often enough for my needs, if not I put some unlit in the kettle and pur the lit on top then leave it a while to let the unlit take.

When smoking I but some unlit in the basket and top with stuff from the chimney starter a-la minion method. When doing a minion burn the important thing is not to use too much lit charcoal because your fire will spike and burn out quicker.

It's difficult for me to give you exact ratios or anything because I just know what's right when I do it, just comes from experience. However it will work ok for you from first burn (as it did for me) you'll just learn over time how to set it up to make it more efficient.

And don't worry about newb questions - I was a newbie not that long ago and I asked loads of questions, it's the best way to learn. My advice is if you want quick answers post the questions here, there's a few of us who will generally answer your questions same day. If you want to do some background reading hit the BBQ brethren forums as well. This is an American forum with a huge following and masses of good information, we're still in our infancy here, we're growing fast but we appreciate there's great information all around the web that we've not covered yet. I learn something new from US BBQ sites almost every day :D
User avatar
Steve
Site Admin
Site Admin
 
Joined: 17 Oct 2009, 12:17
Location: Reading, Berkshire, UK.

Re: Lighting

Postby Essex Bloke » 26 Feb 2010, 07:42

Many thanks for your help Steve
Essex Bloke
Got Wood!
Got Wood!
 
Joined: 25 Feb 2010, 08:35

Re: Lighting

Postby County4x4 » 04 Mar 2010, 11:22

Hi there,

I'm new here, and whilst I don't know a lot about BBQs (that's why I'm here!) I do know about charcoal as I sell the stuff!

My advice would be to use a local producer wherever possible. Good quality locally made stuff is a million miles from the standard DIY store/garage forecourt bags - many of which are full of imported charcoal of dubious origins like the wholesale destruction of mangrove swamps to make oil palm plantations, though in fairness the UK situation has improved somewhat in recent years. I may not be allowed to post links yet as I'm new - but a google search for "local charcoal" will give you an obvious site at the top of the list, which details charcoal producers by county. I have no connection with the site at all btw - though I must add myself to it - only came across it the other day!

Local stuff is generally way hotter, and the stuff I sell up here will light with a few bits of newspaper and a bit of draught. No need for any lighter fluids or other chemical muck to get it going. It also produces much less smoke, as UK traditionally made stuff generally has a much better conversion to carbon than most of the imported varieties - less "brown ends" as the charcoal makers call them. Most imported stuff is around 60% converted - much UK stuff is 90%.

Briquettes I wouldn't touch with a barge pole, let alone eat anything cooked over them. They are made from the fines left over from lumpwood production, which don't have a lot of markets open to them, apart from some uses in commercial horticulture. Fines won't stick together, so they mix other stuff with them to make a briquette in a mould. This stuff includes - if you're sitting down and prepared for this - coal dust, clay, rice starch, ammonium nitrate, borax, sawdust and cement amongst other things. Would you want to cook over that little lot?!

There is one other option which we're looking at currently - and that's charcoal made from manufactured wood briquettes. In this case, the method of production is the same as usual - but the briquette is made first, and then charcoaled. The briquette is a 100% natural UK made product to begin with - with one ingredient - wood! There is absolutely nothing added to it at all. These charcoal briquettes are possibly more suitable for commercial operations with very long burn times and high heat output - but once we're up and running with these, we'll probably offer some out at a discount to see what domestic customers think of them. I think it's best to have ideas like this tested by people with some experience - I know a lot about woodfuels and so on, but have little BBQ experience, so best to hand them over to people who do and they can tell us what they think.

Hope that's some help to you!

Cheers,

Andy
County4x4
Got Wood!
Got Wood!
 
Joined: 04 Mar 2010, 10:03

Re: Lighting

Postby Steve » 04 Mar 2010, 12:45

Hi Andy,

I'm very interested in your wood briquette idea.

Are you talking about compressing sawdust to from a briquette with no binder added, much like wood pellets for pellet smokers are made now. But then charcoaling these briquettes?

The concept is great, especially for the low 'n' slow pit BBQ a lot of us specialise in here. We typically burn our Q's for 12 hours + so a long burning wood briquette would be a great idea.

The main thing for BBQers is the briquettes would have to be guaranteed free of woods which aren't suitable for cooking over. Those who use pellet smokers buy food grade pellets which are made of one type of wood only, this is the kind of thing that would be needed from a wood briquette.

I don't think you'd have a shortage of willing testers here though if they are food-safe :D
User avatar
Steve
Site Admin
Site Admin
 
Joined: 17 Oct 2009, 12:17
Location: Reading, Berkshire, UK.

Re: Lighting

Postby County4x4 » 04 Mar 2010, 13:45

Hi Steve,

That's very interesting information mate. Could you possibly let me know of unsuitable woods for use? From my firewood database (in my head ;) ) I'm thinking stuff like laburnum, laurel etc. Please put me right however - I'm always happy to learn new stuff! I'd also be very interested to know if the charcoaling process would convert woods considered unsuitable for firewood because of toxic releases etc - into suitable charcoal - all the volatiles having been driven off in the charcoaling process? My guess is that the answer may well be yes - but I'll try to find out for sure. Anyway - that's another conversation!

The briquettes as you suggested are pure 100% wood. The production is similar to wood pellets in that huge pressures heat up the feedstock and soften the lignins naturally present in the wood - these then act as a natural "glue" that holds the briquette together when it cools.

There is quite a variation in briquette type and quality across different manufacturers. Many are produced from predominantly softwood residues, and these types - generally cylindrical and having the appearance of a number of discs stuck together (like a pile of weetabix) tend to expand susbstantially when burning. They will also tend to fall to pieces resulting in a pile of hot sawdust if poked or disturbed by other briquettes being loaded on top of them. I don't know if it's ever been tried, but I'm guessing this type of briquette would not charcoal successfully.

The briquettes I deal with are produced in a screw extruder as opposed to a piston machine, and are made mainly from hardwood residues. They are harder and denser than the type above, and do not expand when burning. They also hold their shape until completely burned, and have a longer burning time, and a more even heat output throughout that time. Many other types (which are still a very good product by the way) tend to be high output to begin with, but then tail off fairly rapidly after an hour or so. The ones I deal with now - and I've trialled a lot over the years - are without a doubt the best I've had, and I believe they're the best on the market today.

Briquettes are traditionally (I say traditionally though these are a relatively new product to the UK market) used as a direct replacement for firewood, where they have a number of advantages. They are clean, dry and pleasant to handle. Compact and very dense so require minimal storage space - a tonne of briquettes occupies 0.9m3 - a tonne of firewood will be between 3 and 5m3 depending on species and moisture content. Have a much higher heat value than firewood - one tonne of briquettes has about the same energy as just over four tonnes of seasoned logs, due in a large part to the much lower moisture levels - around 6.6% for briquettes as opposed to around 25% for most seasoned logs. Even kiln dried logs have around twice as much moisture.

The idea of charcoaling these briquettes was originally to produce a fuel with similar properties to coal for people wishing to get the heat without the associated carbon footprint. Although we lose the flame picture you get with coal, the heat output of these briquettes is very close to that of anthracite on a per kilo basis - so it's pretty hot stuff. Because the briquettes it's made from are so dense to begin with - much denser than natural wood, you end up with a long burning high energy charcoal.

I'll certainly keep you guys posted with any developments - and stop here first for testers!

Cheers all,

Andy
County4x4
Got Wood!
Got Wood!
 
Joined: 04 Mar 2010, 10:03

Re: Lighting

Postby County4x4 » 04 Mar 2010, 16:48

Just as a follow up, I can confirm that the wood species used to produce these briquettes is almost exclusively oak - though there may be a little cedar included from time to time.

Hope that helps!

Andy
County4x4
Got Wood!
Got Wood!
 
Joined: 04 Mar 2010, 10:03

Next

Return to New To BBQ/Smoking - Help & Advice

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests