Charcoal is an excellent source of fuels for grilling as it is rich in carbon, does not emit any chemical compounds that can affect the flavor and taste of the grilled food, and provides even, concentrated fire. In this article, I will share with you the many types of charcoal for grilling. Charcoals are the product of slowly cooked and thoroughly burnt wood. It can produce hot and clean fire for your meats and veggies. As a fan of grilling activity, you need to know that not all charcoals are the same, even though they all do have the same look and textures. I will help to lay down the different types of coals that you can use depending on your cooking needs.
1. Lump Charcoal
Lump charcoal is the original version of charcoal. It makes use of trees and logs, burnt in a sealed cave, kiln, and sometimes, deep in the ground. It is a little bit different than the regular briquettes. Lump charcoal is pure wood and does not incorporate the use of any petroleum-based accelerants or binders. Even without the accelerants, this type of coal can still produce hot and pure fire. Refueling it is also straightforward. You can toss an unlit coal into the fire without having it producing any acrid smoke. The only setback of this kind of fuel is that it is not consistent when it comes to the generated heat. It tends to be super high at the beginning, and it will start to get cooler at the end of the session. Because of this inconsistency, you will need to keep refueling the portable grill every 30 minutes or so, just to keep the heat evenly and hot all the time. If you are looking to purchase it, choose the ones with the labels of ‘Royal Oak Lump Charcoal’, ‘Charwood’, and ‘Natural Lump Charcoal.’ They are the same thing. Try to avoid the ones with straight-edged coal blocks that comes in a shape of a rectangular as it does not use pure wood.
Instead, it uses lumber scraps as the main material. One of the famous brands is Royal Oak, but if you would like to try something unique and exotic, you can give Fogo Premium Hardwood Charcoal a try. It is consists of natural Central American hardwoods that can get hot very quickly and lock the flavors of your meat!
2. Charcoal Briquettes
Charcoal briquette is one of the most popular types out there. Many grill masters and participants of top grilling competition like the ones in Memphis or Kansas love to use this sort of fuel for their meat. It can produce an even heat and maintain at that for as long as one hour without needing any refueling. The temperature of this fuel can go as high as 600 degrees Fahrenheit. While the type above makes use of pure woods, this particular one uses a mixture of sawdust, wood scraps, coal dust, petroleum binders, and borax. When you first lit the briquettes, you will notice an acrid-tasting smoke, and this is unavoidable due to the contents of this fuel. There is another type of briquette that uses a lighter fluid, known as instant light charcoal. The acrid smoke will usually subside once the coals turn orange and into ashes. Even if the binders and petroleum-based accelerants burn off completely, it can still produce an oily taste. As an alternative, some manufacturers have offered natural briquettes. It contains starch binders and wood scraps, without any petroleum-based substances. The majority of the grill enthusiasts who used this kind of fuels for their grilling had become winners, thanks to the quick and even fire it provides. One of the top brand options that you can select is Royal Oak Charcoal Briquets.
3. Binchotan Charcoal
Binchotan charcoal is a premium type of coals to be used in BBQ Smokers, originally hailed from the Southwest region of Japan. It comes from a family of lump charcoal, and the shape is in branchlike cylinders. If you would like to give Binchotan coal a try, make sure you spare some extra money as it can be quite expensive. It can cost a few dollars per piece! Despite the hefty price, many professional grillers, especially those in top yakitori parlors in Japan and America, prefer to use Binchotan in their grill. Yakitori is a type of shops that sells all kinds of grilled foods such as chicken, potatoes, asparagus, eggplant and many others, cooked together with the delicious yakitori sauce. Binchotan makes use of Ubamegashi Oak tree, and the Japanese would burn the oak logs in mud-sealed caves. When used for grillings, Binchotan can provide flavorless clean fire without producing any charcoal flavors. It is an excellent type of fuel to have if you wish to have charcoal-free flavored meats. The only drawback of this kind of coal is that it takes a long time to get ready for grilling. Make sure you light it inside a chimney starter, blowtorch, or electric starter and give yourself, at least, half an hour for it to be ready. However, once lit, it can last for hours and hours.
4. Coconut Shell Charcoal
Coconut Shell Charcoal is famous in the Southeast Asia regions. The street vendors in Thailand, Indonesia, and neighboring countries use coconut shell coals to burn thousands of chicken and meat skewers every single day. As the name indicates, it consists of coconut shells and not the traditional natural woods. The size of this coal is small and does not take a long time to light. These two criteria make it a perfect fuel for the grillers used in these Asian countries, which are small in size. Plus, it emits a neutral flavor and does not produce any ashes or smokes. It provides a scorching fire, sometimes at a temperature of 978 degrees Fahrenheit. Even though it is very convenient to use, it is not widely available in the United States. However, if you are to look at the right place, you can still find it. You can use it in your grills to fire up your Hibachi. Since coconut shell charcoals are tiny, you might need a whole lot of them to fill your North American charcoal grill. If you would like to give this Asian coals a try, there are coconut shells coals by Komodo Kamado available on the market for you to purchase.
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